Monday, April 12, 2021

Tongues Prophecy

 

Tongues And Prophecy…Are They Gifts In The Church Today?

Ishmael Abrahams, Biblical Authority Ministries, April 12, 2021

Introduction 

Have you been at a church gathering and suddenly you hear a bunch of sounds that are reminiscent of gibberish (i.e., speaking in tongues)? Did you feel out of place? I’ve been to some from time to time.

Perhaps you grew up in a charismatic church like this and you don’t think much about it. If so, did you ever wonder why most other churches don’t speak in tongues or prophecy in their services?

These are the things I’m going to discuss—in a kind and civil manner but also with boldness while using a lot of historical and biblical information as well. 

Leading Up To Modern History 

Did you ever hear about Martin Luther or John Calvin speaking in tongues? Nope. Did you ever hear of the early church fathers from the second century forward speaking in tongues? Nope. From the completion of the New Testament in 1st century until 1900s, you’d be hard pressed to find churches from the Orthodox, to the Oriental, to the Roman Catholic, to Protestants that were speaking in tongues (FYI, these are the four major church splits since the inception of the church in the first century)!

You might find a scattered person here or there that had deviated into this type of thinking (tongues or prophecy) throughout church history, but nothing like what we see today. Yet in the early 1900s, a few churches began blaring in tongues and interpretations. Stop for a moment and ask a serious question—why is this the case? What happened? Let’s (author and reader) analyze this, but you need some crucial background information before we dive into the meat.

The 1800’s: That Time Of “Reinterpreting” The Bible   

The 1800s were an odd time for the church as a whole. There were a lot of great individual local churches particularly in the West like Europe and the USA. But something began to happen in their midst that would baffle even the most ardent Bible believer. Massive numbers of people began reinterpreting the Bible—sometimes due to influence of alleged new “prophets” or other outside ideas being imposed on Scripture. These precursors are important to this discussion. 

Advent of Genesis Compromise

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, secularists (anti-God, non-Bible believers) and deists (those who believe some sort of “god” exists but not a revelatory God like that of the Bible, but instead, a “distant god” who merely set things in motion) began discussing long ages and denying the commonly held ~6,000 year old age of the earth. Many Christians, accepted what these Bible attackers were saying and reinterpreted Genesis to mean that God created over long ages instead of six normal-length days and that man showed up millions of years later than land animals that had come and gone.

They also reinterpreted the worldwide, global Flood of Noah to be a little local flood in the Middle East. The idea of millions of years comes from geologic rock layers. These layers, were largely produced in the Flood of Noah over the course of about a year. So Christians who were compromising with long ages, had to get rid of a global flood so they could have the rock layers as evidence of millions of years. So Genesis 6-8 were reinterpreted. 

This movement still exists today where Christians are influenced to believe in millions of years prior to Adam. Gap theory, day-age (like progressive creation), theistic evolution/evolutionary creation, framework hypothesis, and many other forms of reinterpretations now plague many churches as a result.

Sadly, many Christian proponents of long ages accept the anti-Genesis understanding of origins and reinterpret what God says. This is called syncretism or compromise, where Christians are mixing their religion with secular religion.

Advent Of Modern Cults 

Many cults began springing up in the 1800s too. Mormons reinterpreted the Bible to have many gods and Jesus is but one of them—and they claim that you can become one too! The Mormons changed many passages in the Bible (Joseph Smith Translation, aka., King James Version [of 1833], New Translation, or Inspired Version) and reinterpreted the Bible in light of its alleged new prophet Joseph Smith (d. 1844).

Jehovah’s Witnesses also claimed to have a new prophet, Charles Taze Russell, and changed the Bible (New World Translation) and reinterpreted Jesus to be a created being—the archangel Michael, and published his "Studies in the Scripture" in 1886.  They came out with new prophecies in their Watchtower, now Awake!, magazine, many of which have proved to be false but they are still promoting their religion nonetheless.  

Adventist Movement 

Jehovah’s Witnesses were one group that came out of the Adventist movement. Adventists were in the vein of William Miller (d. 1849), which is why Adventists are often called Millerites or Millerism as well. William Miller and other Adventists fervently believed the end of the world was imminent and would occur at any moment. Therefore, they often made claims of when Christ would return. Of course, that all turned out to be wrong.

Jehovah’s Witnesses were no differently in that they repeatedly claimed by prophetic knowledge exactly when Christ would return to the year—but these turned out to be false prophecies too. 

Seventh Day Adventists (SDA’s) also came out of the Millerite movement. Claiming to be a prophetess, Ellen White (d. 1915) reinterpreted the Bible and had subsequent “prophetic” writings to be vegetarian and so on. Like Jehovah's Witnesses, White held that the soul is not eternal and that the unsaved would be annihilated instead of spending eternity in hell. This is a subtle denial of man being made in the image of an eternal God. White was a prolific writer in the last half of the 1800s and early 1900s. 

More cultic groups arose out of this movement. Christandelphians, Branch Davidians, and the Worldwide Church of God all came out of the Adventist movement and they reinterpreted the Bible to be unitarian and have Jesus as a created being. Some of these other Adventist groups also do not believe the soul to be eternal, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and SDA’s.

Advent Of Dispensationalism 

John Nelson Darby (d. 1882) was most responsible for modern views of dispensationalism and the “rapture” in the 1820s-1830s. He was instrumental in the early Plymouth Brethren denomination and then later founded the Exclusive Brethren churches (also called Darbyites or a sect called Darbyism).

His futurism eschatological scheme ended up with a two-fold return of Christ due to influence by alleged prophetess Margret MacDonald. It is frustrating that some claim that she invented the rapture or that she was purely responsible for influencing Darby, but that is without warrant. At most, she did have a small influence. Furthermore, Darby disagreed with MacDonald on many things but the point of a twofold return, he utilized.

Like Adventists, Darby saw the return of Jesus being immanent very soon. An extremely influential dispensational leader Clarence Larkin saw the return of Christ a little bit later than Darby. In his 1918-1920 book, Dispensational Truth (p. 16), Larkin predicted Jesus would return in the year AD 2000. Again, from an historical perspective, that prediction as well as Darby’s immanent return view turned out to be wrong.

Being schooled as a lawyer, Darby developed a new method of interpreting the Bible unseen in any church in history, particularly the law. He saw previous laws  (in total) be done away in his 7 [newly defined] “dispensations”. So the only rules to follow were the new ones as the old ones were tossed out at particular times/dispensations in history. In other words, all Old Testament law is done away with and the only law to follow now is if a new law is stated or reaffirmed in the New Testament. So history is seen as a series of 7 dispensations with different laws at each dispensation (hence, the name dispensationalism).

Dispensationalism also sees among the saved—one through Christ and the other by the nation of Israel. Dispensationalism sees distinctions between the church and Israel and one day the church will end (at the rapture) and God will return His focus to the new nation of Israel.

Dispensationalism, both its interpretive themes and eschatology, quickly found its way into many churches in the 1900s. Particularly, many Baptist churches today use the Exclusive Brethren dispensationalism for interpreting the Bible and its eschatology. Darby’s pre-tribulation, pre-millennial rapture scheme is an easy test to see if people hold to Exclusive Brethren teachings of dispensationalism.

The point is that the 1800s saw some crazy things happening where churches were neglecting what the Bible clearly says and were happy to reinterpret the Bible to have whatever they wanted. These churches became cults or to otherwise compromised with millions of years, dispensationalism, false prophets, or other doctrines that deviate from the clear teachings in the Bible. The 1800s saw movements with new prophets and prophetesses, as well as other biblically deviations.  This bring us to…the Holiness movement—which is what triggered a campaign that would develop into modern tongues and prophecy.

The Holiness Movement 

The Holiness movement began in the 1840s by a Methodist Episcopal named Phoebe Palmer. She was a very influential evangelist and writer. Palmer held that belief in God was enough to assure salvation and that Jesus was to return very soon, like contemporaries Darby and Miller. But again, this never happened. Even so, this gave an urgency of her evangelism.

Palmer also held a position that a person can be entirely free from sin and attain perfection on this earth. This is in opposition to traditional church teachings that we all have original sin inherent from when we sinned in Adam and our perfection will not be complete until the general resurrection with new bodies. But this new view held that with effort, one can attain personal perfection in this life.

This influence led to Pentecostalism. If you work to attain this “perfection” or “sinless state”, often through emotional experience, you can have a “second blessing” of the Spirit which opens the door to prophecy and tongues and seals you in perfect sinless state of being.

A big problem with this is that only Christ is sinless and it is his sinless righteousness that needs to be imputed (i.e., transferred) to us for entrance into a perfect heaven. Thus, we are seen as spotless because of Christ, not because of our works. Even Paul in Romans 7:14-23 was not able to be sinless yet he could speak in tongues and prophecy (e.g., 1 Corinthians 13:2, 14:18). According to Matthew 7:22-23, prophesying is not a sign of true faith either.

Though many in the Holiness Moment (and its “daughter” Pentecostalism—more in a moment) do not hold to a works-based salvation, some can be led into it if they are not careful. Nevertheless, in the 1800s, there were movements that opened the door to supposed new prophets and a movement that that led to alleged new prophecies, miraculous healing, and tongues.

Pentecostalism And Charles Parham 

The Holiness movement lead to a charismatic system known as Pentecostalism where those who get saved are migrating to a post-conversion religious experience called “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Thus in a similar fashion to what happened at Pentecost, believers are supposed to experience prophecy and tongues like what happened at Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2). Hence the name “Pentecostal” or “Pentecostalism”.

There are two levels to this “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” in Pentecostalism. The first is initial signs. Then when one moves on to maturity (perfectionism), then they can be fully immersed in prophecy or speaking in tongues. Many Pentecostals also believe in another gift—that of miraculous healing.

Leading the charge for Pentecostalism was Bethel College in Topeka, Kansas, with its director and founder Charles Parham, a former Methodist who was heavily influenced by the Wesleyan Holiness movement. Parham believed that the Holy Spirit directly communicated with him (i.e., like other alleged prophets often claimed).

Parham didn’t believe in hell for the unsaved, but rather annihilationism (i.e., that the soul would cease to exist for the unsaved) like Jehovah's Witnesses and Ellen White. He also believed in a partial rapture where only tongue-speakers would be raptured—note the influence by Dispensationalism and Exclusive Brethren teachings from Darby. Parham also believed that Adam was not the first man that God created. This is but a small list of deviations to which he held.  

He pushed his students to await the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1901, his first student to speak in tongues was Agnes Oznam (later, LaBerge)—speaking in an unknown tongue, that onlookers thought might be Chinese. But upon further analysis, it was not Chinese or any other known language. Then more students joined in. Parham and his class began viewing these as signs that the end was near; therefore there was an urgency to begin evangelizing—though it was met with little success. From an historical perspective, the end wasn’t near by the way.

In 1903, Parham began teaching faith healing. Then the charismatic movement began to grow, particularly in 1906 in Los Angeles. There was a major evangelical event called the Azusa Street Revival. Many people in LA  began “speaking in tongues” and expressing other alleged "gifts". William J. Seymour, another of Parham’s students, saw what was occurring in LA and saw it as demonic as opposed to spirit-filled. As a result, he and Parham parted ways.  

As the Pentecostal movement grew, it took over certain churches that became Pentecostal or in other cases, they formed their own denominations and grew from there. There are three major groups of Pentecostals today:

1.     One group teaches that Baptism of the Holy Spirit was only for people who have been [1] converted and [2] have been sanctified (made holy or perfect). This comes directly from the Holiness movement and is largely held by those came out of the Methodist and Nazarene denominations that switched to become Pentecostal such as the Church of God and the Church of God in Christ denominations. They hold to a three step process--having these two points as precursors to Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

a.       Justification or forgiveness of sins when one puts their faith in Christ

b.      Sanctification or “the second blessing” when you are being made perfect

c.       “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” when you have been sanctified and receive the gift of tongues, prophecy, and/or healing

2.     Another group that says that the Holy Spirit was for every believer. This was largely for those churches that became Pentecostal that were originally Baptist. The Assemblies of God denomination is an example here. The step of sanctification is obviously null and void for this group to attain the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”.

3.     The third group of Pentecostals is modalistic and oneness (i.e., God is unitarian). Thus, they are cultic like Charles Taze Russell's Jehovah's Witnesses. They deny that God is Triune (one God, three persons). They hold that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just different modes of the same person as opposed to distinct persons or that Jesus is a created being spoken into existence. Any oneness Pentecostal church holds to an unitarian view of God such as the Apostolic Pentecostals or United Pentecostals.    

This brief introduction is really just a taste of the influence of the Pentecostal and Holiness Movements sitting in our backyards today. Among the many popular Pentecostals today are Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn.  

What Does The Old Testament Say? 

From the end of the first century to almost AD 1900, churches were not speaking in tongues, doing miraculous healings, or prophesying in the spirit for church services. This now brings up an obvious issue. Was the church wrong for about 1800 years, was there a "reopening" of gifts, or is this new movement of Pentecostalism in error?

This is a big deal if you aren’t paying attention. Bear in mind that most churches that came out of the Reformation oppose Pentecostalism—still to this day! 

Note some parallels to this modern movement. Mormons in the 1800s said the church had it wrong for 1800 years and the Joseph Smith, a self-proclaimed prophet, and his followers are here set everyone straight. Jehovah’s Witnesses said the church had it wrong for 1800 years and another self-proclaimed prophet Charles Taze Russell and his followers are here to set the church straight. Now Charles Parham and his followers are saying the same basic thing! This should be a red flag. Let’s check this against Scripture.

What does God say? The Old Testament prophesied that prophecy (i.e., there will be no more prophets) would cease upon the destruction of the Temple’s sanctuary, when it would be burned with fire per Psalm 74:3–9:

Lift up Your feet to the perpetual desolations. The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; They set up their banners for signs. They seem like men who lift up Axes among the thick trees. And now they break down its carved work, all at once, With axes and hammers. They have set fire to Your sanctuary; They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground. They said in their hearts, "Let us destroy them altogether." They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land. We do not see our signs; There is no longer any prophet; Nor is there any among us who knows how long. (Psalm 74:3-9 NKJV, emphasis added)

Building on this, Daniel points out that when the sanctuary is destroyed and the things in it with fire and broken down and all the meeting places (e.g., synagogues in Israel) are destroyed, there will no longer be any prophet in the land. Daniel 9:24-27 says:

"Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. "And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate." (Daniel 9:24-27 NKJV, emphasis added)

Vision and prophecy shall cease when the Holy City (that is, Jerusalem per Nehemiah 11:1, Isaiah 52:1) and sanctuary (that is, the Temple; e.g., 1 Kings 6:19) are destroyed which occurred in the first century around AD 70.

One might initially object and say this is in reference to the first time the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586-588 BC. After all, the Psalms were written well before that destruction. However, prophets like Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Obadiah still existed when the Babylonians came in and destroyed Solomon’s Temple. They were prophesying before, during, and afterward. There were prophets afterwards too (think of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). Biblically, vision and prophecy didn’t cease when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple.

Also, the prophecy doesn’t exactly match the Babylonian captivity. For instance, the items were largely taken out of the Temple by the Babylonians and were later returned and not destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:7, Ezra 5:14, etc.). Contextually, the event in question is clearly in reference to the first century because Jesus, the Messiah, must bring an end to all sacrifice and make and end of sins per Daniel.

No doubt these prophecies are about the destruction of the Temple when the Romans carried off and destroyed the items from the Temple in AD 70. It was after Jesus sacrificed Himself to solve the sin problem. The Romans burned up all the synagogues in the land (meeting places). This is why the Psalm passage and the Daniel passage are referring to the first century event.

So vision and prophecy (i.e., new prophets) are no longer possible after the New Testament was completed by AD 70. God has sealed it up when the Bible was completed. This means Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Margret MacDonald, or anyone else claiming a prophetic word is not a prophetic word from God. 

So for 1800 years, the church was largely silent on prophecies in church for a good reason.

What Does The New Testament Say? 

Apostles of Christ were given authority over prophets and, together with the prophets of the Old Testament, are the foundation with Christ as the chief cornerstone (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:28–29; Ephesians 2:20; 2 Peter 3:2). The implication is that any alleged prophets after the Apostles of Christ are still subject to the Apostles’ teachings as superior to any of their alleged writings or sayings (i.e., the New Testament which holds authority over any of them).

This is consistent with previous revelation being used to judge any alleged new revelation. The New Testament was defended by using the Old Testament for example (e.g., Acts 17:2, 18:28).

In the New Testament, Jude 1:3 affirms that the faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Christians) now that Christ fulfilled the Old Testament (e.g., Matthew 5:17; Acts 3:18). So there is no reason for the faith to have to change; it was completed and salvation was made possible once and for all

If it is once for all, then no new prophecy is required as the completed Bible is sufficient for all. Thus, Scripture is sufficient (i.e., the doctrine of sufficiency would be called into question if new prophecy is afforded). The gift of the Holy Spirit is for those who believe the Gospel and in obedience repent and get baptized. As Acts 2 says, "37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38  Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (NKJV).

Furthermore, the New Testament affirms that tongues and prophecy were to cease as well (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will not cease, e.g.,  Ezekiel 26:27; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 1:14). The discussion of cessation is contained in 3 chapters in 1 Corinthians. It is lengthy but the context is vital. 1 Corinthians  12:27 – 14:40 (NKJV) says:

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2  For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3  But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4  He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5  I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? 7  Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 8  For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9  So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11  Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. 12  Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 13  Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 16  Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17  For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

18  I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19  yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20  Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.

21 In the law it is written: "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me," says the Lord. 22  Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23  Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24  But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25  And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

27  If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28  But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29  Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30  But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31  For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33  For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35  And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37  If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38  But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39  Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40  Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians  12:27 – 14:40 NKJV, emphasis added)

Until AD 70 when vision and prophecy were sealed up, the Corinthian church regularly had tongues and prophecy. But tongues and prophecy were to cease as prophesied by Paul. Paul stated, “But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

In the context of tongues and prophecy at church services to the Corinthians, Paul instructed that women are not to engage in these things and if they had a problem with understanding tongues or prophecy at the service, then they should wait and ask their husbands at home (1 Corinthians 14:27-35). At the church in Corinth prior to AD 70, they were to have no more that 3 people doing tongues or prophecy at the service.

But when the perfect had come, the written Word of the Holy Spirit (i.e., the complete Bible with 66 books), these gifts were no longer necessary. The prophetic mysteries were now revealed to the saints (e.g., Colossians 1:26-27, Romans 16:25, and Ephesians 3:8-11). Unlike Daniel (Daniel 12:4-9) or Abraham (John 8:56) who had to look forward to it mysteriously, the mystery of Christ has been made known to us through prophecy in the New Testament books.

Tongues, prophecy, and knowledge [of understanding prophetic mysteries] came to an end just as Paul had prophesied and just as the Psalmist prophesied and just as Daniel had prophesied. God’s perfect Word was complete by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, these temporary gifts can now be done away with: tongues, prophecy, and knowledge (regarding prophetic mysteries). 

Consider the converse. If these things did not cease, then Paul would be a false prophet. Daniel would be a false prophet too. So would Asaph, the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 74.  

Objection: What about Joel’s prophecy which reopens prophecy and spiritual divine gifts as “latter rain”? 

In an effort to get around this problem of silence for so long since the First Century, some Pentecostals argue that there was indeed a silence and an end to the gifts but in AD 1900, things were reopened. This idea from the Holiness movement was expanded as the Latter Rain movement. Now with the Pentecostal movement, to become fully whole, one is to expect the “latter rain” gifts as mentioned in the book of Joel to allow speaking in tongues and prophecy [as a result of Baptism of the Holy Spirit]. 

This is supposed to occur immediately prior to the second coming of Christ and the judgment. Joel 2:21-27 says:

Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things! Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you — The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God And there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. (Joel 2:21-27 NKJV, emphasis added)

Then Joel continues:

"And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:28-32 NKJV)

This latter rain in Joel 2:23 is no different from any other latter rain mentioned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 11:14; Proverbs 16:15; Jeremiah 3:3, 5:24; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1; and James 5:7). It was favorable physical rain in the context of watering the crops—with the exception of Proverbs 16:15 which uses this favorable rain cloud (based on literal latter rain) as a metaphor for receiving positive favor from a king. 

Using Joel 2:23 as a springboard, some Pentecostals relate that this is similar to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our modern times. In other words, the “initial rain” was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, then it ceased, and now with the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900s, this is the “latter rain” where tongues and prophecy are reopened.

The problem with this is the context. Joel 2:28 only mentions one outpouring of the Holy Spirit with no hints at a secondary one. This prophecy entails its occurrence after the restored blessing to Israel. Thus Joel’s prophecy, which is explained in the book of Acts, is seen as fulfilled per Peter speaking in the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and this outpouring preceded the judgment of Israel (e.g., Luke 11:50; Hebrews 10:29). Therefore, the prophecy is fulfilled. 

This outpouring is discussed in detail in Acts 2:1-12. Peter, by the power of the Holy Spirit which was now poured out, explains:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:14-21 NKJV)

This outpouring reopened the canon of Scripture so the New Testament could be written as God had been silent regarding additions to His written Word for 400 years. The prophecy of the turning point from silence is given in Malachi 4:5-6 regarding the coming of Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13).

Of course Christ, the Living Word, spoke directly to man during His incarnation (Hebrews 1:2). And the Holy Spirit, now poured out, was responsible for reminding the Apostles and guiding them into all truth (John 16:13; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10).

Apostles were appointed first in the church followed by New Testament prophets (who were under the authority of the apostles) who are responsible for the sufficient 27 books of the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; 2 Peter 3:2; Jude 1:3).

Peter reiterated that Joel was fulfilled when he said, "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear" (Acts 2:33). Any application of this to modern times is not warranted from the Scriptures and is a mere conjecture (arbitrary). 

Furthermore, if this latter rain was supposed to come just before the judgment, did we miss the judgment? From 1901 to today (2021), its been 120 years of supposed latter rain and still no judgment. Take note that the duration of supposed latter rain far exceeds the time from Pentecost, which was just after the Ascension of Christ (AD 33) to the close of the New Testament (AD 70). Judgment came in AD 70 on the Jews, Jerusalem, and the Temple (e.g., Hebrews 10:29) only about 47 years after the supposed initial rain!

Conclusion 

The Scriptures are complete and no new prophecy is required. The Christian faith has once for all been delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). The canon is closed and the temporary gifts poured out in apostolic times ceased in the first century. And Scripture doesn’t reveal that these special gifts will be reopened on this side of heaven.   

Parham and Pentecostalism is part of a movement that came at a time of reinterpreting Scripture and an open door to hosts of false prophets in the 1800s. There is no need to deviate from the clear passages in Scripture to reinterpret it so that tongues and prophecy can come back.

Interestingly, churches who are not part of this movement often get criticized for not placing an emphasis on the Holy Spirit. However, this is an arbitrary charge. For 1900 years, churches honored the Holy Spirit by honoring Christ’s work and honoring the Word of the Holy Spirit—the Bible. If one is to place an emphasis on the Holy Spirit (which isn’t a bad thing by the way), it had better be done in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s teaching in Scripture, in contrast to the new allegations presented by Parham et al. 

The Elephant In The Room 

So let’s now deal with the elephant in the room. If these tongues and prophecies in Pentecostal churches are not from God, then who are they from?

·        It is possible they are from oneself. A person can deceive themselves into believing things (James 1:14-15).

·      Another possibility is that it is Satan and demons. The Bible reveals that they have spoken too. Satan spoke and/or worked through a serpent (Genesis 3:1-4; Revelation 12:9, 20:2), the King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:12-17), Judas (John 13:27), and Peter (Matthew 16:23). Demons have spoken and taken over people as well such as Legion in Mark 5:9, the little girl in Mark 7:29, the mute man in Luke 11:14, or the slave girl in Acts 16:16.

·      There were also false prophets (e.g., Bar-Jesus, that is, False-Jesus in Acts 13:6) and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1) that permeate the church from the earliest days until now. These can be known by testing them against the absolute authority of the 66 books of God’s Word.

God commands:

Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV) 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 NKJV)

God is not a God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Test the spirits against the Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) seeing whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Keep in mind that the Pentecostal movement can be traced back to one man, a teacher named Charles Parham, who put his students to the fire to do this. One of his prized students later parted ways with him because he was convinced Parham’s movement was becoming demonic (William Seymour).

A Call To Repentance 

If you have been involved  in prophecies and tongues, then what you’ve read here might be a bit of a wake-up call. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not enemies with my Pentecostal brothers—we’ve stood side-by-side praising God together. But in truth, this is where the rubber hits the road with most Christians outside the Pentecostal movement and why they do not affirm Pentecostal teachings.

Imagine standing before God and when questioned about tongues and prophecy, the best response is “well, I trusted Parham and his followers”. Perhaps it is time to humbly reevaluate these issues and be in prayer. It’s time to get back to God’s Word.

Tongues Prophecy

  Tongues And Prophecy…Are They Gifts In The Church Today? Ishmael Abrahams, Biblical Authority Ministries, April 12, 2021 Introduct...