Ishmael Abrahams, Biblical Authority Ministries, April 12, 2021
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
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
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.
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
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 biblical deviations. This
bring us to…the Holiness movement—which
is what triggered a campaign that would develop into modern tongues and
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”
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
1. One group teaches that Baptism of the Holy Spirit was
only for people who have been  converted and  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:
Justification or forgiveness of sins when one
puts their faith in Christ
Sanctification or “the second blessing” when you
are being made perfect
“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
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
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
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:
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
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 an 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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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!
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
· 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.
all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
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.