The Gift of Tongues: Part 1
Question #1: Hey Bob, in addition to your response to "Is "speaking in tongues" a sin?" found at this link, http://ichthys.com/mail-tongues.htm I would like to add: Paul told the Corinthian believers who were using the sign gifts to make themselves look more spiritual than others present, Paul said that i one speaks in tongues and no interpretation is given, then the one who spoke in tongues should go pray quietly between himself and God. As Paul being a pastor to the members of the church, I believe he was telling them that they should go repent for faking the Holy Spirit. In fact Paul put such requirements on speaking in tongues that no one could do it. The only recordings of Speaking in Tongues were of the Apostles (Jews) speaking in tongues the dialects of the circumcised Jews who came to celebrate the Pentecost. The second instance is of Cornelius household (Gentiles) speaking in the tongues of the circumcised Jews (Hebrew). It was a sign to the Jew that Gods Kingdom extended to more then just the Jew. God wants a personal relationship with all people, not just the Jews.
Pentecost was the coming of the Kingdom of God with Power to ALL men who would believe. The Holy Spirit could now live in the vessel it was created to dwell in at the garden because of Christ. Man now has the ability to walk in communion with God through Christ.
When in the end of his book Mark says that those who believe will speak in tongues... He is referring to the Apostles at Pentecost. At the end Mayk says "And these things were DONE to confirm Christ's words.
Paul said he spoke in tongues more than all of the Corinthians, He was saying that he spoke in other languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) and he knew that what they were doing was not a language, and no one was present who could understand that message as did the Jews at Pentecost and Cornelius house.
Paul put the issue of speaking in tongues to rest in 1 Corinthians 14.
Anything outside of that is what the Jews would call blaspheming the Holy Spirit, something that is not forgivable.
Response #1: You make some good points. I find the suggestion that Paul is dealing with a situation where the Corinthian believers were "faking it" particularly intriguing. Two things weigh against the interpretation to some degree: 1) Paul is not shy with this congregation and in this epistle about condemning abuse directly and bluntly, so why a delicate approach in this case? Still, that is certainly possible since he does vary his tone in these epistles. 2) He does also say "Do not forbid speaking in tongues"; that could be the use of the legitimate gift in a non-church setting, but it does imply that there was some legitimate functioning of the true gift of tongues in that congregation. Of course, you are certainly correct that if he knew that the interpretative gift had already ceased, this stipulation would have the effect of making the practice illegitimate in fact. It certainly does so today (and most likely also had that very same effect very shortly after when the canon closed in the 60's).
One last thing here. We don't have to worry about Mark 16:17 since verses 9-20 are not part of the Bible (please see the link, question #6 in "Combating Legalism II").
Thanks for the well-thought out comment! I will most certainly include this email the next time I post something about tongues.
Now also please see: The Gift of Tongues Part 2
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Thought this might amuse you given our recent dialogue:
On another level, it's sad because this is so spot-on and captures the whole aspect of Laodiceans as empty shells, all surface and no substance.
Actually, I think I've been to this church (I think they threw me out).
I am embarrassed to admit that I was half-way through the clip before I realized it was a spoof. It was only when they admitted they were all about the money that if found myself thinking "wait a minute . . . they would never actually admit that!"
Just a little scary how well this pegs the mega-church travesty.
I'm not sure what I just watched (http://vimeo.com/11501569). What church was it you kicked out of?
Anyway, I recently got into it with a tonguer that tried to lead someone else astray, then another that was fixin' to...that's texas talk...was fixin' to turn my home church into a grassroots charasmatic tongue church. I told him, "if you can't pray without feeling like you are going to grieve the Spirit if He is telling you to speak in tongues, then you just can't speak...in so many words. What can I say? I'm sure you've done something on 1Cor 12-14, but it sure looks to me like the gift [by the way a known tongue limited to the gospel...but never mind the whole of Scripture]...like the gift was to be used one at a time...with another interpreting. And doesn't the grammar prove that the gifts were distributed at salvation or is that an eisegetical thing?
If this clip was unfamiliar to you, you have never experienced the modern American mega-church before (lucky you!). This is a perfect spoof, because it is a perfect template wherein a new mega-church could just plug in their own names and faces every week.
Of course you are right-on regarding tongues. When it comes to the practical question of someone who claims to be speaking in tongues, I always ask them "what language?" This usually shuts them up. Tongues are languages. And if they are languages, they can be understood by the people who speak the language. And if there is no one on earth who speaks the language, then there is no purpose behind giving the gift of speaking that language. What passes for tongues today is a self-willed, emotional, vocalization (akin to chanting very common in non-Christian religions). It may be mysterious; it may be fun; it is not true tongues. If it were true tongues, someone would be able to understand it. If it is claimed to be a real language, let's get to the bottom of that, call up the language dept., find a native speaker, and ask him/her what the person is saying.
In all of my personal investigations, I have never heard a case with my own ears where there was any indication that it was a question of a real language. This is often claimed as a fact in testimonies, but we know that 1) some people lie; and 2) some people are crazy. Given that 1) there is a very good scriptural case to be made for why tongues are no longer being given (see links below); 2) there is no longer any need for either the "sign" of tongues or the function of tongues (we have the Bible now); 3) the other apostolic gifts are likewise not being given; 4) there is no evidence of genuine tongues in operation, well, one is right to be skeptical (at the very least).
I usually approach it this way. God can certainly do whatever He wants. He is free to give someone the gift of tongues if He chooses. But He is also free not to give it. The question is one of fact: has He given you the gift? Either He has (in which case you are speaking a real language, and, with a little investigation, we will be able find someone to interpret the message God is sending through you personally) . . . or He has not. If the latter is the case, who are you to claim that God has given you something He has not given you?
Clearly, we all have the Holy Spirit; all of us, that is, who are genuine believers in Jesus Christ:
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by
the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone
does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to
The baptism of the Spirit is the only Christian baptism, and it is just another side-effect of teaching water-baptism to see as a result Spirit baptism as something "extra". In truth, without the Spirit, we do not belong to Christ; for without the Spirit, we would not be in the Body of Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether
Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one
Spirit to drink.
Here are those links on tongues:
I hope to have something more on all this posted at Ichthys eventually, but the above will certainly get you started.
Keep on fighting the good fight of faith in the truth!
Yours in Jesus,
I live in New Orleans, LA. I brushed across one of your threads on the topic of speaking in tongues. Well I believe that doing so is a gift from God and a special gift. My point is, I have a friend that attends a church where I believe the pastor teaches the congregation to speak in tongues! I personally believe that it's an insult to God! If they are not being taught then I feel as thought they are mocking him and taking his precious word for granted! For example, I attended a service where everyone stood to their feet and "spoke in tongues" and I found that to be a little suspicious! I do not doubt the power of God as you mentioned in your thread but I feel as though they are faking. I am not sure how to take this. I feel as though my father God is being mistreated and I feel insulted. Also when I was in the church I had a bad feeling from the moment I arrived! Please help me to understand.
Very good to make your acquaintance. I quite agree with your perspective in every regard. As Paul makes very clear in 1st Corinthians 12:30, "not all speak in tongues". Therefore, organizations which claim that such a thing is possible for everyone are clearly about the business of, as you say, "faking it". Ecstatic chanting is something which many religions engage in, and it is certainly not impossible for Christians to work themselves up into similar states through the mouthing of repetitive sounds. But that is not the gift of tongues, that is not a "fruit of the Spirit". The examples in the book of Acts are clear enough. These were, as Acts chapter two make very clear, cases of individual believers being empowered to speak actual languages which they did not previously know. This would be a very valuable "sign gift" to unbelievers as it was on that day of the first post-resurrection Pentecost ("Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not": 1Cor.14:22 KJV), and a help for evangelists in spreading of the gospel during the early apostolic days to gentiles who spoke a wide variety of languages (no doubt the reason that Paul proclaims, "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all": 1Cor.14:18). This is not what is going on in the churches today. Whenever I run into someone who "speaks in tongues", I am always quick to ask what language it is that they have been given to speak. In general, replies are not forthcoming.
Without any question, God is capable of giving this gift to anyone at any time. But that does not mean that He is presently giving it, and it would be most understandable if it turns out (as I more than suspect) He is not currently giving the gift ("whether there be tongues, they shall cease": 1Cor.13:8 KJV). We no longer have apostles (the 12 have long since passed), and we no longer have a situation where the Church is just beginning to expand beyond its Jewish roots to the gentiles at large without any organizational structure, history, tradition, cadre of prepared men, seminaries, or, most important by far, a completed canon of New Testament scripture. Indeed, today, with all the electronic resources available, we find more opportunities to learn everything the Word of Truth has to say than ever before in human history, explaining how it would be understandable that if ever in the past tongues became unnecessary in the prosecution of God's plan, they certainly are so now. So it is somewhat ironic and incredibly sad that so many of our fellow Christians are chasing after "experiences" of one sort or another when they have the mandate to grow in grace through learning and applying the truth of scripture – and a greater opportunity to do so than any previous generation. It is not for no reason that scripture deems us the lukewarm "Laodicean era" of the Church (please see the link: Laodicea). If interested, you can find more articles listed in the following, most recently posted link on this subject: "The baptism of the Holy Spirit as distinct from speaking in tongues."
I do hope this helps with your question. Please feel free to email me back about any of this.
In Jesus our Lord,
I was searching the web for articles on Interpreting Tongues and saw your page and was bummed out. You say that that which is perfect is the bible and since that came there are no more tongues because of 1st Cor 13:8. I won't spend too much time on this but had to drop you a line at least.
You can read our testimony here if you want:
But anyways we just finished a 17 week bible study with a group of Jehovah's Witnesses because over the years hundreds of them come to our door ( we live right behind a Kingdom Hall).
But they have 100 of theories in their little books they hand out and decided to finally go through that book with them doctrine by docrine and our of 17 we found 2 scriptural.
The point is this though, they have no visible evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
"And my word and my preaching was not in enticing words of human wisdom, but in proof of the Spirit and of power, " (1Co 2:4 LITV)
So they basically will take one verse (out of harmony with the rest of the scriptures) and make a doctrine that fits their preconceived notion.
Every time a pair of them comes to the door over the years I'd ask them -- can you pray for healing for my crippled friend? If he get's well I'll believe you. They'd say no -- in the Kingdom he'll be healed.
I'd ask them if they cast out demons. Oh no -- we don't do that. Even though Mat 10 says to do that (that's they're door to door verse.)
I'd ask them if they believed Mark 16:17-18 and they'd say -- no those verses were added to the bible.
Anyway I'd ask them why do you believe that the Baptism of the Spirit is done away with? (they don't even usually know what the Baptism of the Spirit is) and they'd go to their "Reasoning from the Scriptures Book" and say your verse -- "When that which is perfect comes tongues will ceases." But to them Jesus is the perfect one and he came in 1914 accodring to them. Then I'd say did you guys do miracles and speak in tongues and prophecy before that?
And they'd still say no.
Anyway -- you and many like you say the "bible" was that perfect thing which came and did away with the gifts of the Spirit.
You need 2 or 3 scriptural witnesses to make a doctrine in the scripture. I only see one conjecture in your case.
Usually though what happens is that spiritually dead churches who are leavened feel that because they are the "true" church they have every gift possible and so if they don't see evidence of Pentecostal age in their church it must be over. That's just pride (leaven).
And through this attitude of pride they keep all their sheep feeding on milk and spiritually dry and immature.
You need the Word for sure but without the Holy Spirit to guide you get a smart guy Jehovah's Witness style of understanding with is human reasoning with no power of the Holy Spirit and a pseudo politeness that ends as soon as one of your man made doctrines is questioned like I'm doing to you now.
I was brought up in a dead church "The World Wide Church of God" and am familiar with powerless "annointed" ones who study and have thick glasses.
But unless there's power, healing, and miracles, going on it's just human wisdom. Also 2 or 3 witnesses and harmony in the bible.
No where do the scriptures teach that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or signs and wonders would cease.
Anyway to be a lawyer as well -- until what the 7 thunders uttered is revealed that which is perfect hasn't come. That's JW style preaching right there.
Seriously -- drop your pride and ask Jesus to Baptize you in the Holy Spirit. Because until your annointed by Jesus for ministry your no different than a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, or 7th Day Adventist, all talk and no action.
Stop robbing Christians of the Pentecostal annointing on the basis of one conjecture.
PS After being in a spiritually dead but intellectually leavened church for many years and I was baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit just like the bible promised and speak in tongues, pray for healing and the whole nine yards. It was the best thing that ever happened. But preachers like you kept it hidden from us for so many years through smug teaching and human wisdom.
I would like to address what I believe is a misconception on your part evident in this statement you made: "So they basically will take one verse (out of harmony with the rest of the scriptures) and make a doctrine that fits their preconceived notion. Like You" (emphasis added).
You might be surprised to learn that I have no problem with the possibility of a believer speaking in tongues. That was clearly the case in the time of the apostles, and there are scriptural indications that it may possibly happen again at Christ's return (cf. Joel 2:28-29).
However, whether or not a person is speaking in tongues is a factual question, not a spiritual one. There is a gift of tongues. God did give this gift during apostolic times are there are plenty of scriptures which illustrate this fact (Acts 2 in particular). God is certainly capable of giving anyone He wishes this gift today as well. The question is not can God but has God. I do not doubt God. But I do not automatically believe other people who make claims about their own experience. I know of people who have claimed to be Jesus Christ. That does not make them Jesus Christ. Similarly, I know and have known of many people and groups who claim to speak or to have spoken in tongues. The fact of making the claim is not the same thing as having the gift of tongues. Moreover, anyone can become emotional and vocalize indistinct sounds; that is also not the gift of tongues. When I have witnessed or seen reports or claims of speaking in tongues, it has been a case of the latter. As I say, I have complete confidence in God's ability to give you or me or anyone else that gift or any other gift should He choose to do so. But because I or you or someone else wants to speak in tongues or heal by touch or call down fire from heaven or any perform any other sort of unique or miraculous activity does not obligate God to oblige. He has His own plan, and we are well-advised to follow Him rather than try to dictate to Him what He will do for us.
The bottom line is this: If you do in fact have the truly God-given gift of tongues to enable you to speak in a genuine human language you otherwise have never learned or studied for the purpose of evangelizing others (as in Acts 2), then I praise God for His goodness! But if you are producing indistinct sounds which are not a genuine human language and doing so of your own will for the purpose of emotional exhilaration, then that is spiritually dangerous in the extreme. It is certainly true that there are plenty of "dead" churches out there where there is very little spiritual power. In my experience, observation, and exegesis of scripture, this is inevitably because they are not interested in the Bible and have not made spiritual growth through learning and applying the truth of the Word of God their number one priority. It is not a question of being experientially dull (e.g., traditional Protestant churches) or experientially exciting (e.g., most Charismatic churches), but rather it is an issue of whether or not the group in question is truly seeking God through His Word in a way that puts what is really in His Word above what their eyes see and their ears hear.
I did go to your website, and I am extremely distressed, "bummed out", as you put it, by your teachings because I find them non-biblical. You can't read the Bible seriously and believe it and doubt eternal damnation for those who reject Jesus Christ (Rev.20:11-15). You can't read the Bible seriously and believe it and fail to understand that all who believe in Jesus have the Spirit (Rom.8:9; 2Tim.2:1). Scripture gives no support for those who wish to force their members to pretend to be members of the nation Israel and "tithe" – Christian giving is for the willing and is based on the ability to give, not on a percentage (cf. 1Cor.16:2; 2Cor.9:7). There is only "one baptism" as Paul states unequivocally (Eph.4:5). And "no one has seen or can see God" (1Tim.6:16; cf. 1Jn.4:20). Finally, Mark 16:9-20 is not part of the Bible (please see the link, question #6 in "Combating Legalism II").
It is a terrible mistake to assume that the Spirit, whose small, still voice empowers everything and everyone in the true Church, must manifest Himself in the behavior you are approving or else is not present at all. Don't judge only by what your eyes see. Antichrist will perform all sorts of miracles that will put anything we have yet seen, whether true or false, far into the shade (cf. 2Thes.2:8-12; Rev.13:1-8; cf. Matt.24:23-25). Further, he will claim to be Jesus Christ, and for all those who are not solidly grounded in the Word will seem to be so (see the link: "Antichrist and his kingdom"). Those who are impressed by the visible to the detriment of what the Word of God says are destined and are predicted to follow after the beast. In those dark days to come, it will take faith which is solidly based on truth in the heart – rather than on emotion responding to experience – to weather the storms of the Tribulation.
In Jesus Christ our Lord.
Is it not possible that the parable of the sower is not a reference to someone never having belief or losing their belief or retaining their belief to the end? I will read the parable of the sower once again, but in my Southern Baptist upbringing, I always presumed that the sprouts that sprung forth in these parables were a reference to the good works that we do in response to our belief and faith in Jesus Christ. I am not completely sold on the doctrine of eternal security (even though I was raised most of my youth as a Southern Baptist) nor am I completely sold on the pre-trib rapture, but I do think it is important when we are studying scripture that we do it from the perspective that we are open to the differences between referenced to belief/faith and references to the good works that stem out of that belief/faith.
Also, I would like to comment that it is quite frustrating to me that any time I try to express these views to someone who is a public figure, that their patience is much shorter with what I have to say than what they have to say. I am not saying that you have been guilty of this, but when I noticed that you told someone on one of your web pages that their document was too lengthy to completely take in and that they went about expressing themselves all wrong, it brought back bad memories of my having similar experiences after spending hours trying to express my viewpoints to public figures. That very person had already predicted that he (or she..can't remember) was having trouble overcoming the obstacle of knowing that what he or she said was not going to be as well-embraced as if he/she were a publicly respected theologian and that there was concern that the length would be more than you would care to absorb and you basically fulfilled that prophecy.
Please understand that I have had very bad experiences with trying to approach public Christian figures that fully expect people to spend hours pouring through their books and workbooks and listening to their videos, but act like they can barely read anything beyond a "You go girl!" or "Wow you are awesome!" comment on their blog sites. Maybe I am addressing this to the wrong person, but it has been very disheartening to me to often discover that Christian public figures seem to be as in love with their own voices (at the expense of anyone else's viewpoints) as celebrity figures in Hollywood. Just something to think about. I am not saying you are like these people and I have no clue how long this person's "document" was, but I am just giving you the heads up that it is easy to fall in to that pit of not caring what those not in the public limelight think and feel.
Good to make your acquaintance. Let me start by addressing your concerns about a "fair hearing". That is something I always try to give. The comment to which you refer in the posting at the link "The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security" was in the context of an extremely long document, one which because of the nature of its length and in particular its interconnected "logic" to which it would have been impossible to respond without writing a book of several chapters. If you will note, the person in question had said (in all caps) "You do not have to respond". Well, I felt it my duty to respond as I always try to respond with the truth to any and all who give the impression of really seeking the truth. The best way for me to do so was to suggest a dialog over manageable "bits", and I picked two from the person's epistle because they highlighted the method he was using. It has been my experience in some of these e-mail conversations that people will sometimes attempt to overwhelm with quantity rather than engage in meaningful discussion. Now I certainly am not averse either to giving or receiving a complete answer, and that may indeed take several pages, but when it gets past ten pages (or twenty or thirty), we are not having a discussion over a theological point anymore. We are reviewing each others books. Nothing wrong with that either, however, this ministry is designed for Bible study and answering questions pertinent thereto. If someone has written, say, 25 pages on a subject and then "shares" that unsolicited, that is not the same thing as asking a question; it is also not the same thing as contesting a point in a reasonable way. So while I always try to keep the discussion open, I know of no other way to respond to large treatises sent my way than this. Were I on the other side, I like to think that I would open a discussion on a key point and expand as necessary according to the response received. As it is, while I always link to key places at Ichthys where associated matters are covered, I make it a point never to send unsolicited attachments of large files as "answers". Everyone (everyone that is who is seeking the truth of the Word) deserves their own answer, and I try to deliver as best I can. Even with the benefit of hindsight and time gone by, I don't think I would have answered this person any other way. A full book review critique is beyond my capacity and outside the parameters of this ministry; a simple "thanks" or, as you put it, "you go girl!" is just a cheesy way to get things out of one's in-box. This was the best I could do with the file and mail received.
Your e-mail is for me a perfect case in point of the right way to go about things. It is clear from your e-mail that you have given these issues much thought and could (and perhaps have) written about them at much greater length. Yet you confine yourself to one question about scriptural interpretation and one comment about etiquette and methodology. I applaud your manners and you common sense.
As to the biblical question and questions generally, I do try to make it a policy to be open to all possibilities. As I have said repeatedly, it was the desire to be open to the Lord and His truth that led me to discover that the pre-trib rapture and the extreme position on eternal security were in error. Perhaps this "openness" is not always obvious in my responses. If not, that is because I think and consider and check and search before answering. Once I am satisfied of the truth of the issue in question, I respond; and, as always, it is the truth that comes first for me. Not because "I thought of it" but because it is the truth. Indeed, I certainly hope that there is nothing truly original in this ministry, because, ideally, everything taught here precisely reflects the truth of scripture in the power of the Spirit to the building up of the Church of Christ and the glory of the Father. That is perhaps an impossible standard, but it is certainly the one I have set for myself and this ministry. If I find out I am in error about any point, great or small, I cannot change my position too quickly.
As to the parable of the Sower, in my understanding of the symbolism, since the seed is the Word of God (Mk.4:14) and is sown on four types of ground or soil which represent different types of people and their response to the Word (Mk.4:15; 4:16; 4:18; 4:20), then each category should be meaningful in its own right (something I can't reconcile with a levels-of-production only interpretation). It is certainly logical for the Word-seed in good soil to produce legitimate good works, but please note that only in the case of the "good soil" is "production" mentioned (Mk.4:20). Not only that, but in the first case of the hard-packed ground the Word never sprouts in the first place, and in the second case of the rocky ground it actually dies out. The third case is ambiguous, and I believe deliberately so. If we believe in Jesus, we should emulate His production and should not allow the cares of this world to choke off all of our production. Is the third case a believer? It is possible, but if so it is someone whose "works" are not legitimate and who will have all such false production incinerated at Christ's judgment seat (1Cor.3:11-15).
One other important point for me in this parable is its likely universal application. Many if not most of our Lord's general parables deal with unbelievers as well as believers. That is because the Word is available to all (and Christ came to save all), and so I would be inclined to think that this parable applies to all human beings (unless I found something therein which points decisively in another direction). All human beings are here on earth for the purpose of responding to the Word of God, and all human beings (whose intelligence is not decisively impaired or who fail to reach maturity) are, sooner or later, brought to the point of understanding that there is a God and that He is their only hope of achieving life and avoiding death. The mechanism by which this truth is taught to all is historically called "natural revelation":
The heavens recount the glory of God, and the firmament tells
of the work of His hands. One day after another pours forth
[His] words, and one night after another declares [His]
knowledge. There is no tongue or culture that cannot understand
their voice (i.e., of the heavens/firmament). Their design has
gone out into (i.e., "is visible throughout") the entire earth,
and their words to the end of the world. He has set a tent for
the sun within them (i.e., hidden it in the heavens/firmament's
night sky), and from this it goes forth like a [resplendent]
bridegroom from his [wedding] canopy. [The sun] exults to run
its course like an athlete [does]. Its starting line is at one
end of the heavens, and its circuit [takes it] to the ends [of
the sky]. And nothing is hidden from its view.
Thus the sowing of the Word is something that happens not just for believers, but it is something which only has a chance of growing and then producing in believers who respond in the appropriate way. Sadly, in the history of the world, by far the majority of people have fallen into the first category, hardening their hearts so as not to accept the Word at all, and this was even our Lord's experience among those He had come to personally.
In any case, I would certainly be happy to entertain your views on this subject and respond honestly and in accordance with the truth as I am able to discern it with God's gracious help.
In the One we are all here to serve and glorify, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I certainly understand where you are coming from now. I fully understand that it isn't possible to run a ministry and read responses of that length from everyone. My objections in the past have been when God has shown me something that I feel is imperative to address to public people that can get the message out there (an issue within the Body of Christ) and I can't get any kind of response from people because all they are receptive to is general comments about how wonderful people think they are. I could go in to detail, but I think it is enough to say that I am sensitive on the topic but I understand now what the situation below entailed.
As far as eternal security goes, I have to admit that growing up, I was unaware of what set Southern Baptist doctrine apart from other denominational doctrine (other than the baptism by immersion issue and the "original sin" issue that causes other denominations to baptize babies). It wasn't until I started attending a Methodist church that I learned that not every denomination embraces the doctrine of eternal security. I don't mean to get all hung up on what each denomination thinks because I fully understand that your conclusions about these matters have been drawn based upon in depth bible study and not based upon what a particular denomination has to say about a matter, but I am just pointing out that what sets certain denominations apart from others is their interpretation of what scripture has to say about a matter and for many years, I was ignorant to the reality that not all Christians believe in eternal security (regarding the matter of salvation).
I must say that I am much more comfortable with the "eternal security" issue than the "no free will predestination election" issue embraced by the Presbyterian church. I believe that if you can lose your salvation (as the talk in scripture of apostasy in the church seems to point to), that it isn't a matter of falling in to sin on occasion. It is a matter of willfully turning your back on God and completely denying Christ as your Lord and Savior. So, because I don't believe that we can accidentally fall out of grace with God, it isn't all that offensive to me to contemplate the possibility that we can lose our salvation. However, there are some verses in scripture that do point toward eternal security. I understand that we can remove ourselves from God's hands even if nobody else can snatch us from God's hands, but the verse about being "sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of our redemption" verse seems to point much more so toward the concept of eternal security than the possibility that we can lose our salvation. I have heard the "you can lose your salvation" arguments that explain what that verse actually means, but when I think of Christ being the only one who has authority to break the seals in the book of Revelation, a seal to me implies something that is unbreakable until our redemption (not an official stamp on a document). I suppose it is possible that we can break or remove the seal ourselves and I do realize that the seals that Christ breaks in Revelation relate to the disasters that will be poured out on the earth in the end times, but anyway, I would be interested to hear what your take is on what image is conjured up in your mind when you picture someone being "sealed by the Holy Spirit" as a believer and follower of Christ.
As far as the parable of the sower goes, I agree that the number 2 scenario does point to the possibility that we can lose our salvation. My thinking about this, though, was that the seed is the Word, but what sprouts forth from the seed could be the works that follow faith (the things that we build on the foundation of our faith). The seed (the Word) could still be there, but nothing is sprouting forth from that seed just like those that build on the foundation of their salvation with flammable materials will be saved, but there will be loss of reward (or no reward). The foundation will be there, but not what is built on the foundation. It is so different for me to hear this parable from the perspective of someone who is pretty resolved that you can lose your salvation because if I had heard that parable a million times growing up in a Baptist church, I would've just presumed that what grew forth from the seed had to do with the type of Christian we are (not whether we are a Christian or not). Here is how I always pictured each scenario:
1. The first scenario is the group of people who hear and never receive the Word (Christ). I would even take this a step further and say that the soil is the individual receiving the seed and that the seed never takes root at all in the soil (person) in scenario number one (and I recall now that you pointed out that the soil is the individual in question). It is pretty straightforward that they are the unbelievers that fall in to the devouring hands of Satan (isn't Satan often referred to as a bird of the air?).
2. These are the people that receive Christ (the Word) and they are all happy about it because it feels so good at first (you know..that emotional high that people experience at youth camp or some revival or whatever), but their good works die out because their roots don't run very deep. They are shallow Christians (just like people can be shallow friends or spouses or whatever) because they are only in it for the fun, feel good part and are very resistant to growth that only comes through trials. They may be believers in Christ, but they aren't very productive Christians because they don't want to go to the deep, not fun places of growing in the Lord and in serving the Lord.
3. The third group seems to be just another version of the second group to me. It is just that the third group is shallow in a different way. Group 2 doesn't care to produce anything because it isn't fun for them to do so and Group 3 may have good intentions, but they take their eye of the prize from time to time because they take their eyes off of God too often and thus, fall in to the pit of not being as productive at they would like to be.
4. This group is the group of highly effective Christians that keep their eyes on God's will for their lives.
Again, I am looking at all of this from the perspective of the seed and what springs forth from the seed as being two separate things. There seems to be a difference between the Word (someone's belief in Christ) being devoured by the evil one and the seed remaining in rocky soil, but not producing any fruit that can survive for long because it is planted in shallow ground. Again, I could be wrong about this, but it seems consistent with scripture to say that a person can be saved without being a fruitful, productive Christian. I know it may sound sometimes like Christians just want to believe that because it gives them a false sense of security, but there is scriptural evidence that there will be people that will be saved that will have all their rewards burned to nothing. Indeed, this is a very hard parable to interpret and I do embrace the possibility that group 2 are those that have their salvation and lose it and that group 3 are those that retain their salvation, but aren't very strong Christians. The only thing that keeps me curious about interpreting the parable in that manner is that I don't see how being a "feel good, shallow Christian" that doesn't want to grow from enduring trials is any more of a sin than being a Christian who is consumed with the lusts of the world. They just seem like two different pitfalls that can affect the productivity of a Christian. In one case, the seed can't sustain the fruit (Christian growth) because the soil is shallow and rocky and in one case, the seed produce a lot of fruit because what does get produced is affected by the world stepping in.
If you examine I Corinthians 3:11-15 closer (especially verse 15), these verses you shared fall right in to alignment with everything I am saying. The foundation is analogous with "the seed" and what is built upon that foundation could be what springs forth from the seed. Verse 15 makes it very clear that the foundation is all that is necessary to be saved, but that only those things that remain (that are built on the foundation) after being tried by fire will determine how much reward (or loss of reward) a Christian receives. There is no reference in these verses (as far as I can see) to the judgement of unbelievers (the fire that will consume the souls of those that do not believe). The foundation (salvation) will remain in the case of these verses in spite of how much reward a Christian receives or doesn't receive. Now, I am not completely discounting the fact that maybe Group 2 had already thrown away their foundation before this type of judgement takes place (the judgement seat of Christ for believers).
While we are on deep topics, I would be curious to know what your stand is on modern-day speaking in tongues and predestination/election. If you have already written extensively about these topics, please refer me to where I can find what you have to say about these matters.
Also, regarding your belief that the pre-tribulation rapture is not accurate from a biblical perspective, I have been quite surprised how biblical theories are rarely "just pulled out of thin air". Most beliefs that Christians have come from some biblical reference (though sometimes it seems like a real stretch trying to make the link about how some Christians glean an idea from a verse) My take on the rapture theory thing is that it is almost impossible to definitively believe one theory over another, but there is much scriptural evidence that Jesus will return for the church unexpectedly (like a thief in the night) when everyone in the world is just going about their business. I don't have the verses off-hand, but scripture says that just like in the Days of Noah, people will be marrying and doing things as normal when Christ returns. No matter what a person's belief system is, I doubt anything that goes on during the Tribulation will appear to be "life as usual". There again, if I only went on what scripture has to say, developing a theory on this topic would be all but impossible for me. The references to the rapture and the tribulation and various end time events are so scattered about and hard to understand completely that it almost seems as if God wishes this whole topic to be a mystery that is only revealed over the course of time to those who seek the truth as one seeks buried treasure. I am not sure if you believe in modern-day prophetic dreams given to people by God, but I have had many dreams/visions that I whole-heartedly believe were messages from God and one of the dreams showed my family about to go off a cliff in to the sea and being snatched back in to the air before we fell. The dream had a strong feel to me of the righteous being preserved from the troubles that are to come for the world as Satan's wrath grows greater and the antichrist spirit comes to power. I can share that dream at another time (in its entirety) if you are interested.
Thanks so much for your reply. I am pleased to make your acquaintance as well.
Thanks for your e-mail. It is certainly true that denominations vary on some of these points, however the number of people in them these days who are really this or that or the other because of these points is very small. Most people belong to x or y or z denomination because of tradition or because of inertia or because of some other superficial consideration. Those Christians who are really looking for depth of Bible teaching and an understanding of doctrine beyond dogma learned by rote generally find that none of these traditional "flavors" are much interested in delivering the same, and even if they prove strong on one point are invariably weak on most others. On the issue of Christian security, I entirely agree with your assessment about not being "much worried" since it does indeed take willful rebellion to fall from grace – apostasy is not an accident or the result of a single mis-step.
On the sealing of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:30, this is a good point and one which I would say can be applied to a whole host of positive things that we as believers share "in Christ". For example, we are "sons of God" (Jn.1:12-13) – how could we ever be thrown out of the family? We are born again (Jn.1:13; 3:3-8) – how could we ever be un-born? We are heirs of God (1Pet.1:4) – how could we ever lose an inheritance given us by God? We are reconciled to God (2Cor.5:18) – how could we ever be un-reconciled? One could go on at length, and it is precisely this list of wonderful and indeed extremely secure benefits which we as believers enjoy which forms the basis for many a defense of hyper-eternal security. I say again, that we as believers enjoy. Salvation is very secure – for those who believe. The only thing which can militate against salvation is in fact our own free will exercised in deliberate un-belief in place of prior belief. For the one thing that could never be secured against is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ – and sadly that is possible, even for believers, until we exit this world. It is not likely for those of us who love Jesus more than anything, but there are more than enough scriptures which warn against the possibility not to dismiss it for the sake of a tradition (and especially given, as you remind us, that during the Tribulation the Great Apostasy will claim many who once professed Christ). The process of apostasy is not accidental and not generally swift; it involves turning back to sin and sinful behavior in such an extreme and reprobate way so as to undermine and than finally kill off faith (see the link: in BB 3A: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").
I have found that all of these sorts of passages referenced in the paragraph above, while making a case for very solid security, never ever actually indicate directly or even suggest that the persons in question are not believers in Jesus Christ or that we have lost all ability to choose after salvation or that we are sinless after putting our faith in Christ or that there is no need to continue to be concerned about our walk after salvation. Far from it. This race of ours only ends after we cross the finish line. Every gospel, every epistle, every context where these assurances of salvation occur also contain encouragements, commands, and warnings for us to behave in a godly Christian way, doing so often enough in such a dire fashion that concentration on those passages alone might cause a person to doubt their salvation. Happily, we are never to consider scripture without its context. So while assurance passages might (falsely) lead some to believe that no matter what, salvation was absolutely and eternally secure (even for those who throw away their faith and enlist once again in the devil's ranks), and while this other set of passages might (falsely) lead some to believe that any mistake or sin which shocks them has cost them their salvation, we see as is often the case in scripture that the truth lies in-between. Since both extremes are true (i.e., security forever for believers and damnation for those who willfully cease to believe), both sides of the proposition are stated in the Bible in very expressive and powerful ways.
I will also say that when one gets to the particulars of any of these passages, on either side of the matter, there is in my opinion no justification to state with authority that scripture teaches either absolute eternal security or continual insecurity. What scripture teaches is that we are safe "in Christ" and will stay out of trouble if only we continue to "follow Christ". Any other position or path is fraught with danger. Ephesians 4:30, for example, tells us that we are sealed by the Spirit, and as you rightly point out, seals may be broken. In that very passage we are warned not to "grieve the Spirit . . . with whom we were sealed"; clearly then, it is possible for us not to follow the Spirit's guidance perfectly; and if it is possible to resist the Spirit's influence in our behavior to the point of grieving Him (the very thing this passage warns against), then it seems to me that to assume that the seal will endure regardless of the level of "grieving" is to read far too much into the analogy (especially given what we know from scripture elsewhere and considering that this assurance is being appended to a warning). Moreover it seems to me that the phrase which is really responsible for the over-emphasis on security here is the "temporal" phrase, "until the day of redemption". Now that is not an impossible translation, but the word translated in your e-mail "until" is the Greek preposition eis which admits of a variety of other possibilities. KJV: "unto the day of redemption"; NIV and NASB: "for the day of redemption". In the understanding of these translators (and I would concur) the idea is more one of purpose than of time. That is to say, it is God's purpose in sealing us to mark us out as His with the purpose of bringing us safe to heaven-home with our salvation intact. Nothing anyone outside can do can ever break this seal. But it goes without saying that if we decide to violate His purpose, if we take it upon ourselves to turn away from Jesus, that it will "grieve the Spirit"; and we also know that ultimately the only unpardonable sin is the sin against the Spirit, the sin of rejecting His testimony about Jesus Christ, the sin of unbelief (Matt.12:31; Mk.3:29).
As to the parable of the Sower, there is much upon which we agree. However let me note from the beginning that the scripture very clearly teaches us that "the Sower sows the Word" (Mk.4:14; Lk.8:11). The plant then is indeed separate from the Word-seed which produces it, but that plant must then be whatever comes out of the combination of the person (soil) and his/her response to the Word (seed), which to me is best expressed as "faith response". I also entirely agree that it is possible to be saved yet largely unproductive; that possibility is summed up for me by group #3 (and, as you say, presented as a negative alternative in 1Cor.3 – I have much to say about this in the part 6 of Coming Tribulation re: the Judgment of the Church; see the link). Whether or not everyone in that third group truly believes is a moot point since anyone reading this parable and becoming concerned about it must by definition be a Christian who is or soon will "get on the stick" and begin the process of spiritual growth from which all true production flows.
I would certainly agree with what you have to say about #1. As to group #2 and #3, I think it is fair to assume that Jesus meant these four groups as teaching four different lessons. If we assume that #2 are poor believers, we have a problem because then there would be no significant difference between the #2 and #3. Moreover, if the plant = works, then neither #2 or #3 produces anything worthwhile (i.e., for my money they would then be exactly the same in every important detail, merely expressed differently for some unknown reason). However, notice that group #3 is unproductive because while the plant does grow (I would call this faith), it is choked by weeds so that it does not produce a crop. That has two very important applications for our purposes. First, it shows that it is the fruit of the plant and not the plant itself which represents acceptable production. As an agricultural analogy that certainly makes sense. After all, if I am growing corn, what good does it do me to have a field full of wonderful green corn plants if there are no ears of corn on them? Secondly, since the plant is what does producing – or what should do the producing – the plant would seem to me to best represent the faith of the believer from which response and production flows (Phil.2:17; 1Thes.1:3; 2Thes.1:11; 1Tim.1:4; Heb.11:4ff.). We believe, and so we respond. The stronger our faith, the better our response. That makes sense from the standpoint of the first group, doesn't it? If they are the ground and the seed is the Word, the plant would be the response to the Word. It never comes for the first group, it doesn't produce for the third group, but it does result in a crop for the fourth group, the group to which we should all aspire, true believers who not only receive the Word with faith and joy, but respond throughout our lives so as to produce something with which our Lord Jesus will be pleased on that day when we stand before Him. That only leaves group number two. In them, the Word does receive an initial response of faith (i.e., a plant sprouts), but their faith does not prove strong enough to withstand the pressures of life (no question of choking production since the faith plant dies before things get to that point). They (the ground) remain, but faith (the plant) dies, so that there is not even a possibility of production (i.e., no matter whether the plot is weeded or not after the plants die). Please note what the scriptures say about this process:
And he who was sown on the rocky places, this is the one who
hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. He has no
roots, however, but lasts only a short time. So when tribulation
or persecution occurs on account of the Word, he is immediately
And these [second types] who are sown on the rocky places are
similar. Whenever they hear the Word they immediately receive it
with joy, although they have no root in themselves, but are only
temporary. When tribulation or persecution because of the Word
comes [their way], they are immediately tripped up.
And those [whose seed fell] on the rock do receive the Word
with joy when they hear it. However these [types] have no root.
They believe for a while, but in time of testing
In the last passage, notice the juxtaposition where the loss of faith is actually stated: "they have no root [and as a result] they believe [only] for a while". This loss of faith results in apostasy (falling away), and that to my mind settles the issue. For we can argue about what being "tripped up" might mean in Matthew and Mark (although in these passages too it is closely connected to ephemeral behavior: "[the plant] lasts only a short time" in Matt.13:21 and is "temporary" in Mk.4:17). But in Luke 8:13 this group is clearly said to apostatize (Greek aphistantai – "rebel – against God – the very word whence "apostasy" is derived). So it seems to me that while some contortion is necessary in order to avoid the second scenario being one of believers who fall away, accepting the above as the correct interpretation makes the whole parable flow naturally and smoothly.
On other issues, yes indeed I have written quite a lot about tongues and the rapture (please see the link):
On tongues, please see these links (they will guide you to even more material):
I am not at all sure why the false teaching of the rapture has proved such a huge success (though I suspect the devil has a lot to do with it: what better way to set this generation up for a fall than leading them to believe they will miss the Tribulation). I have never found anyone who has been able to trace the theory back beyond Darby in the 19th century (the issue of history and the like is briefly addressed at the link: "The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory").
As to the passages you reference about our Lord's unexpected return, that unexpectedness will apply equally and I may say more forcefully to the Second Advent (and that is their proper temporal application in my view). For the context of the surprise is the divine judgment immediately following (not only Armageddon, but all seven of the Second Advent judgments). For example, "just like the days of Noah" is meant to remind us of the flood that happened immediately after Noah entered the ark. The eschatological destruction of unbelievers and judgments upon Satan and those who serve him happen at the Second Advent.
I certainly do believe that the righteous will be preserved, one way or the other. We do not know precisely what God has in store for us. We may be blessedly removed from this life before the Tribulation begins. We may be given the grace to endure through it and experience the true "rapture", the resurrection that will take place when our Lord returns once more to reign, or we may be called upon to honor our Lord in one of the most significant possible ways imaginable, that is, through martyrdom at the hands of the beast. But whatever Jesus has in store for us, we would be making a huge mistake to assume that we are going to be spared the pressure of the difficult times ahead, and so fail to prepare ourselves spiritually out of a false sense of security – especially since there is in my reading of scripture not a shred of evidence to suggest that we would be in any way justified in doing so (though many are doing precisely this).
Yours in the One we love and seek to serve, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I read a couple of your links about tongues speaking and I would have to say that I whole-heartedly disagree (based on experience) with the view that tongues speaking ceased with the completion of the bible. I do agree that there are denominations that pressure all their members to receive the gift of speaking in tongues when that is not the area of service that God calls them to serve in and I am often wary that maybe some people in those denominations fake having the gift out of fear that they aren't saved if they don't speak in tongues. There does seem to be a large bit of confusion within certain charismatic circles between the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and receiving the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul is very clear that not all speak in tongues and that it is gift of the spirit given to some in the Body of Christ as an area of service (intercessory prayer, prophetic messages, etc.).
However, I come from a Baptist and Methodist background (primarily) and never gave speaking in tongues a second thought until I started having dreams and visions of Jesus and prophetic dreams about things that came to pass (some relating to the times that we live in). I realize that people who are not from charismatic backgrounds often shy away from the reality that people still do prophesy the future through dreams and visions and speak messages from the Holy Spirit in tongues, but there are passages in scripture that do not deny this reality. Joel 2:28-31 is clearly speaking of the Church Age because it is declared in Acts 2 that the disciples speaking in tongues at Pentecost were the very fulfillment of what Joel had written in Joel 2:28-31. The time period for this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit was clearly marked by the onset of the Church Age to the very end times when Christ would return for the millennial reign (because there are references in Joel 2 to things that will happen upon the earth in the Tribulation Period that are also mentioned in Revelation). I will send you a link that defends the perpetuity of the spiritual gifts argument along with the verses from Joel and Acts. When I started having these dreams, I prayed asking God to give me any other gifts He would have me to have and I have been praying prayers of intercession and speaking prophetic messages in tongues for nearly four years now. I have spoken words that were later defined for me in bible studies and I have had words defined by God Himself for me. It is undeniable when I speak words that I have never heard before and then find their very definitions in a bible study I am studying a year or two later or in a book I am reading on a given Christian topic. I could go on and on, but I can assure you that there is no way that I am just babbling sounds that I have generated out of emotion. Sometimes I don't always understand what I am saying and because I have never spoken before an assembly, I accept that perhaps these are private prayers of intercession being prayed through me (the Holy Spirit praying for the things which I know not to pray for myself). It is also possible I am praying things that I am not currently not meant to understand at the current time in some cases because sometimes I understand the words through a natural means of interpretation (because I have a strong understanding of the meaning of some words in other languages) and sometimes I receive the interpretation at a later date and sometimes I don't receive an interpretation at all. Remember, the languages spoken by the disciples in Acts 2 were an earthly language, but Paul wrote, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels"...so it does appear that there is a heavenly language that is not interpreted through natural means.
I Corinthians speaks of prophecy as being the gift that is the most edifying to the church because it is easily understood by man whereas tongues is primarily a thing between man and God (although if someone who is present can interpret tongues than that is a different matter). Paul is pointing out that prophecy was a gift more designed for the edification of the church whereas while tongues speaking can often be interpreted that it is more between man and God (so is not as much for the edification of the whole church). This might explain why I have come to discover that so much of the tongues speaking I do seems to be form of allowing the Holy Spirit to pray things through me that I know not to pray for myself.
Also, regarding prophecy, it is forthtelling, but the very definition of the word is to "foretell" (to speak beforehand) and there is nowhere in scripture that specifically forbids God imparting information about things yet to come to a believer beforehand after the year 70 A.D. (or speaking personal messages imparted from God to the believer that aren't canonized in scripture). As I have pointed out to so many of my friends, people speak of God speaking to their hearts about personal matters all the time so God still does impart revelation to us that is not canonized in scripture even if He doesn't do it through the mode of speaking in tongues. To say that the only way God speaks to us is through scripture is very limiting and inaccurate (I am not saying you have ever said this. I didn't read every word yet that you have written about tongues speaking). However, I do agree that scripture is the standard. No prophecy spoken should be greater than or in contrast to what is written in scripture and no message I have ever spoken has been in contradiction to scripture. If anything, what I have spoken has confirmed what is written in scripture (and sometimes it even confirms what is written there before I even read that particular passage in scripture). This is true of the dreams I have had as well. One time, I had a dream that specifically illustrated the sins of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in OT scripture before I had even studied much about the split between Israel and Judah.
I know it is very hard to make a convincing point on topics such as this. I have Christian friends that have witnessed what a completely sane person I am for so many years that have even seen me accurately speak of a thing before it comes to pass and they don't even want to discuss such things with me nor do they want to hear any further about what God has shared with me. Many have honestly abandoned me (not overtly...but spiritually they have abandoned me) and it is a lonely road, but Jesus felt alone a lot of the time as well so I try to understand what He felt like (otherwise I would drown in self-pity). It is not easy having people witness such things and choose greater allegiance to denominational doctrine (which in many cases could be wrong) or choose to imply I am riddled with demons or losing my mind or maybe even a liar rather than let me share what God has shown me with them. Paul forbids infighting about who has what gift as opposed to another within the body of Christ, but it seems that the Body of Christ will always operate ineffectively due to the fact that people are all caught up in what they are doing as opposed to what God is showing someone else or they don't trust the gifts that someone else has as being part of our modern times. Even the people that might believe me about all of this don't want to give what God is showing me a second thought. If you want to talk about being unprepared for Christ's second coming, whenever the rapture will occur, God speaks to me over and over again about the imminence of Christ's return and very few (even strong Christians heading out to the mission field) seem terribly interested in the whole topic.
As far as the parable of the sower goes, I guess we are focusing on different things in that parable. I do see Groups 2 and 3 as different types that teach a lesson, but not necessarily because of their salvation status. I see them as two different groups of people because of the pitfalls that they fall in to (one group is rendered less effective or maybe even unsaved because they are not very deep and the other group is rendered less effective of maybe even unsaved because they are consumed by the lusts of this world). Either way, you and I are in agreement that apostasy doesn't happen by accident. The question about "eternal security" is really this..How much free will do we really have from the point the Holy Spirit takes over? Reformed Theology teaches that we have no free will from the get-go. They believe that the Perseverance of the Saints is the result of the fact that God creates us to be saved or not saved and if we are created to be saved, then there is nothing we can do to resist God's grace. However, the Baptist Church teaches a brand of perseverance of the saints that doesn't factor out free will. There are Christians that believe that we have free will to surrender to the Holy Spirit, but that in doing so, we permanently turn ourselves over to the grace and will of God. They believe that it isn't possible to surrender to the Holy Spirit even that once and not fall under the influence of the Holy Spirit to at least the extent that we are guaranteed our salvation. I am not saying that I completely agree with this theology, but I am just explaining why some believe that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is irrevocable (because once the Holy Spirit seals you, it is the belief of these people that the believer has surrendered a measure of their free will to reject God to the Holy Spirit). Obviously, people don't believe we completely surrender our free will or there would be no such thing as rewards and loss of rewards.
I guess the part of me that is still very uncomfortable with the fact that there could be no eternal security is that I don't really know what differentiates one sinner from another. I know that apostasy (if it happens to those that were saved and lose their salvation) is not something that happens by accident, but when you said in your e-mail that it tends to sneak up on people over the course of time because the person gives in to small sins at first, that "slow fade" argument does imply that apostasy is out of our hands. It hasn't been my experience in my walk with Christ that even if I willingly sinned (thought it was worth the cost to sin for a time) that God didn't find me again and do everything in His power to convict me of that sin and show me what the cost was of that sin. It has never been my experience that God sat back and said, "Okay, thought this little thing was worth it so I am going to sit here without intervening and let her get so far off-course before she even knows what she is doing that she can't find her way back to me." All Christians do things in the Group 2 and 3 categories in different seasons of their walk with Christ so it is sort of hard for me to think of any Group 4 Christian (and I don't truly know many...which makes it scary if they are the only ones that are saved in the end) that hasn't been a Group 2 or Group 3 Christian at one time or another. King David was consumed with lust when it came to Bathsheba and Peter denied Christ the night before Christ's crucifixion because it didn't feel good in the moment to be a follower of Christ. I guess the "big picture" is what counts, but when we go to the area where we say that you have to have a certain level of depth or a certain ability to resist temptation to be saved, it does sound like we are going to the area of being "saved by works" rather than belief/faith. Ultimately, God judges whether we truly believed or had faith in Him despite how much we did or didn't sin or did or didn't do to serve Him and the Body of Christ. There is a verse somewhere in scripture that says that those that commit apostasy go out from us because they were never really of us. I will find that verse for you as well when I send you the link to that article about the charismatic gifts.
You are certainly free to disagree. However, I would hope that you would agree that, whatever your personal gifts and experience, much that passes for tongues today is clearly not genuine, and the false practice of pseudo-tongues is a very dangerous thing, both for the Church in general and also for the individual believer.
The passage from Joel and Peter's quotation of it in Acts 2 establish precisely what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 14:22, namely, that "tongues are for a sign". And the thing being called attention to by the sign is the Second Advent. That is very clear in Joel chapter two (cf. vv.31-32). Peter can correctly apply the passage to Pentecost because Jesus' coming, sacrifice, resurrection, ascension and session has brought an end to the old order of things and brought us into "the last days" where we anticipate Christ's return every day (Acts 2:17; cf. Heb.1:2; 2Pet.3:3; etc.). Since Pentecost, we have been on the threshold of the Second Advent, and, theologically speaking, Jesus' return has been imminent (see the link: in CT 1,"Because the time is near"), despite the fact that two additional millennial days were part of the plan from the beginning (as seen from the seven days re-creation in Genesis; see the link: "The Seven Days of Human History" in SR 5). Old Testament prophecy sees the end times through a "crowded lens" and very often is expressed in terms of "prophetic foreshortening" wherein, for example, prophetic events actually separated by long periods of time are frequently telescoped together (as in the case of Christ's sufferings in Isaiah 53 followed by the glories of His return in the very next chapter; see the link: in CT 1, "Prophetic Foreshortening"). All this is by way of saying that nothing in Joel or Acts suggests that the exceptional miracles of the apostolic era must continue throughout the Church Age. Joel 2 does suggest a revival of dreams and visions in the Millennium (and so possibly tongues as well). For verse 28 begins with "And afterwards", that is, after the destruction of antichrist's armies at Armageddon (as prefigured by the plague of locust).
Your experience with tongues is quite in line with what is familiar to me, and with what I have previously written on the subject.
1) When in 1st Corinthians 13:1 Paul mentions "tongues of men and angels", he does so not to confirm a present reality but with deliberate hyperbole to show that even if he were able to do things which cannot or should not be done, without love even these extreme impossible examples would be meaningless. For "knowing all the mysteries" is something no one claims; "having all knowledge" is something no one does; "possessing perfect faith" is beyond even the greatest believer; and finally "selling everything" including oneself into slavery to benefit others is clearly a wrong thing to do (cf. 1Cor.7:23). Therefore while there may well be angelic languages, there is no indication from scripture that any human being here on earth has ever been able to understand one or to speak in one, even in apostolic times and even with the genuine gift of tongues.
2) In 1st Corinthians 14:2 Paul is not, in fact, either authorizing or describing "private use of tongues", but is instead presenting his opening salvo for correcting the abuse of the public use of tongues in the Corinthian church. Here is my expanded translation of that verse:
The reason I say this (i.e., in v.1, that you should rather
desire gifts that give content such as prophecy) is that a
person who speaks [by the Spirit] in a language [not otherwise
known to him or his listeners] is speaking not to people (i.e.,
since his audience doesn't in that case understand the language
he's speaking) but to God (who understands everything). For [in
such a case] no one is listening to him (i.e., no one is going
to even pay attention to a person speaking in another language
they don't speak, let alone gain any edification from the
experience), but he is speaking by the Spirit (i.e., he himself
doesn't even understand the sounds he's making) mysteries (i.e.,
things that can't be understood without an interpreter).
3) I am not in any position to judge anyone else's experience. God has the authority and the power to do whatever He pleases. He can certainly give and empower the gift of tongues at the present time; He can also cause it to cease (as Paul says: 1Cor.13:8). Indeed, I am as deeply desirous of miracles and miraculous gifts as any other Christian, especially to the end that such gifts should edify the Church. And that really is and remains the "tongues test" for me. Because ultimately it is not a question of whether God can (He certainly can!), but whether God truly is giving and empowering that gift at the present day. To claim that He is if He isn't is equally as dangerous as denying that His isn't if He is. Thus there most certainly is a need for a "test" before accepting what otherwise would be a very strange event in the Church. For the rationale for tongues ceasing as Paul predicts is clear enough: with an established Church and completed canon of scripture, the continuation of temporary, "stop-gap" gifts would not only be unnecessary, but distracting, and would tend to diminish in practice the authority of the Bible and the men who teach it (since everyone, or nearly everyone, would assume they had their own font of personal wisdom which for them trumped both). Add to this the fact that what we would have this phenomenon occurring only now, nearly two thousand years into the Church Age (whereas if the gifts were meant to continue throughout, it is more than odd that we have so little report of them over the centuries prior). But when I apply the "test" to your report, I must confess that I find no overwhelming evidence to convince me that what we have here is a genuine case of biblical tongues. No doubt you have a different opinion – to which you are entitled. But for me to believe let alone teach that tongues are presently operational when all the biblical evidence points in the other direction, I would have to see convincing examples of cases which pass the "test".
The Test: Paul's description of tongues throughout 1st Corinthians along with the examples in Acts have several key points consistently in common which any claim of tongues must pass:
1) True tongues always occur in a corporate not a private setting. I would include 1Cor.14:28, first because the "let him speak" is given as a sop in place of clearly misguided behavior, and, secondly, because Paul gives the true standard at 1Cor.14:14-19, where the objective is edification which comes from making the meaning of what is being said understandable to the church, not from unknown utterance. I find no scriptural support for the private use of a tongue in prayer ministry, therefore whether or not private use of tongues ever existed or was ever legitimate or does or is today is really a moot point. Scripture is concerned with their public use and function, and it is of course only that public use and function which can be vetted.
2) True tongues always supply meaningful, coherent content, not random noise. That means they can be interpreted, either by someone who has the gift of interpretation or by someone who speaks the language uttered. Why, then, even have "tongues"? Because they are "for a sign" to unbelievers (1Cor.14:22), and most particularly to unbelieving Israel (cf. Is.28:9-13). That point had long since been made at Pentecost, and thereafter it was no longer necessary to continue to keep making it, and in fact it had even become counterproductive in the mixed Jewish-gentile church at Corinth, a point regarding which Paul goes on at great length (i.e., throughout 1Cor.14, esp. vv. 6-17; 22-25), so that even the "for a sign" passage occurs in the context of avoiding tongues (without interpretation).
3) True tongues will always be capable of interpretation. We are told not to speak in tongues without an interpreter. For that reason, no one should do so (even assuming they have the true gift) unless there is someone present with the ability to give a full and accurate rendition of what is being said. A random word or two which may be understood falls far short of this standard. In some ways this is the most important point. Given what Paul says about how tongues should be employed and what must be avoided, why and in what manner would it ever come about that a believer would even seek to speak in tongues unless the interpretation function were present? Even if they felt moved to do so, in the absence of complete and accurate interpretation, it seems to me that Paul in 1st Corinthians 14 is telling them to stop – even assuming that the gift is real and the tongue is genuine. The fact that we see much use of "tongues" without any convincing interpretation and most usually without any attempt at interpretation whatsoever is a clear proof to me that what we have to do with under that name at present is not legitimate.
As I say, I have never seen nor have I ever been provided with convincing evidence of the true gift of tongues in our day (although I have witnessed and had reported to me numerous instances along the lines you rehearse above). I am happy to be convinced otherwise, but since scripture points to this gift being presently in abeyance, it would take a truly genuine case.
For the sake of clarity, I'll confine myself to these comments for the present to give you a chance to catch up on those links.
In the One who is the Truth, which truth is our spiritual life-blood, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I don't have time to read your links at the moment, but will get back to them later. For now, all I have to say is that this is a situation where trying to disprove something that someone has experienced for themselves is a little dangerous because the only options that are left if someone is not experiencing the true gift of speaking in tongues is that that person is a liar or they not completely mentally/emotionally balanced or that person is being influenced and deceived by demons. Seeing as you and I don't really know each other, I believe that you may really want to be convinced other than what your opinion is on this topic, but even if you genuinely want to believe and are doubtful, it would take your witnessing me speaking prophetic words in tongues that come to pass (that nobody could know beforehand) or it would take my speaking a language that you know that there is no way I can know naturally in front of you. Truly, this is something that is hard to convince other people of if they have a strong biblical belief that modern-day prophecy or tongues speaking is wrong or if they have no way of proving that someone genuinely has the Holy Spirit speaking through them. However, I have been sort of stunned by how people who know me very well would rather believe I was losing it or possessed by demons or lying than that this gift could actually still exist. It is rather disconcerting when I tell someone I have been close friends with for years something before it happens and she witnesses the thing come to pass and completely avoids the topic or says things to me like, "If you were losing your mind, you wouldn't know it" That, to me, seems like a very dangerous spiritual practice as well (not even giving a close Christian friend the benefit of the doubt when there is wide-open evidence in scripture that these gifts still could exist).
I am happy to await your detailed reply. Let me say for the moment, however, that the list of alternative possibilities you offer is not complete. You say of me "I believe that you may really want to be convinced other than what your opinion is on this topic". People are able to convince themselves of quite a lot if the desire is great enough, and I have seen and experienced that first hand (indeed, history is replete with such examples). I do not in fact think that you are lying or ill or possessed. I even allow of the (remote) possibility that all you say is true. But in my experience and exegesis of the Bible, the details could indeed all be true without any of your list of possibilities being the case . . . and also without a genuine function of the biblical gift of tongues.
I would be curious to know: when and under what circumstances did you begin speaking in tongues? I know of many instances where a person who would never dream of such activity has either gradually or immediately been led into it by situational and group pressure, often very subtly applied and working in tandem with a genuine desire to have such a gift, so that they really did believe that the sounds they were manufacturing were coming at God's behest. They were neither lying nor ill nor possessed when engaged in such activity, and they did so with a certain amount of humility and sincerity. After the fact, however, that is, after extricating themselves from that environment, they generally report what I have written: it wasn't truly tongues.
In Jesus who is the truth,
It would be rather difficult to be speaking words I have never heard before and what would the probability be that I would speak words that were later defined for me in a Daniel bible study and a book I was reading? The odds of that would be very, very low.
Really, this is a very difficult topic because if someone thinks it is against doctrine to speak in tongues or if they don't want to believe that the Holy Spirit still speaks through people in this manner, it is very hard to convince the outsider that the Holy Spirit is truly speaking through someone. I don't come from a congregation that ever asked me to speak in tongues as a sign of my salvation. I don't even believe tongues speaking and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are the same thing. I have been on both sides of the fence. I have spoken in tongues and I have listened to others that have spoken in tongues and if you are resistant to believing it someone is really speaking in tongues, it is hard to convince that person to believe otherwise. I am not the one controlling my speech and I am not the one speaking foreign words that later have definitions in books and bible studies I have never read before. I guess, in the end, all I can count on on this topic is that God knows and that I know what is really happening.
I read most of your e-mail and I simply don't think I can defend this experience to you any longer beyond this e-mail because it would take us down a very long road of painful debate in which I believe we would both remain unchanged. I can't argue with someone who believes that what is said in Joel 2 and Acts 2 is not a reference to the age in which these signs and wonders would be poured out on the church (Peter was specifically defending the fact that the disciples weren't drunk because what they were speaking in tongues and then he stated that what Joel had prophesied was beginning at the onset of the Church Age). I also can't argue with someone who read the link I sent and still believes that "coming face to face with that which is perfect" is a reference to canon and not a reference to the Second Advent of Christ. And I certainly can't argue with someone who thinks that Paul isn't referring to the fact that he spoke in the tongues of men and angels (or at least that speaking in the tongues of men and angels is what one who has the gift of speaking in tongues is capable of doing). Just because Paul gives the Corinthians instructions for how to pray WHEN IN THE ASSEMBLY doesn't mean that speaking in tongues is only something that is reserved for the assembly and must be interpreted by the assembly. What Paul was saying was that if you are speaking in tongues to edify the church, that it won't edify the whole Body of Christ if there isn't someone to interpret the message there.
The fact that Paul says that tongues speaking is man speaking to God rather than man speaking to man confirms that tongues speaking is something that is done accurately in the absence of others at times (but that if it is done in the presence of others, that an interpretation needs to be offered up so the person doesn't think what is being said is gibberish that doesn't edify the whole Body). There are verses in scripture that speak of the Holy Spirit praying prayers of intercession through us for things which we know not to pray for ourselves. I can't prove definitively that this is specifically a reference to speaking in tongues, but I can't prove it isn't either. Scripture also says that God looks across the whole earth for one man to intercede (stand in the gap). Intercessory Prayer is biblical and I don't have a clue how I could ever intercede in prayer for matters unknown to me if the Holy Spirit weren't speaking the prayer through me. Until I received this gift, praying was very difficult and unnatural for me unless I was praying for known matters.
It seems things are getting a bit legalistic here and I can't be the judge of why it always comes to this on this topic, but it always does. People who claim they don't believe in tongues speaking in the modern-day church rarely accept what I am saying with ease. In most cases, I think people are very slow to give up their allegiance to some denominational doctrine they adhere to (even if it is at the expense of the feelings of a close Christian brother or sister and at the expense of them being edified by what God is showing me). In other cases, I think it freaks people out. In other cases, I think it is just human nature not to want to be wrong about something. I am not saying you fit in any of those three molds. You may truly want me to be right with all your heart and you just don't want to be duped in to believing in a false teaching. However, even if that is truly what is in your heart, I feel that we are going to an area of arguing just for the sake of argument and that is a very painful road for me to go down if it is going to be an unfruitful road.
All I can do is speak what God has shown me and what He has shown me (through tongues speaking and dreams/visions) is that in short order, that judgement will come upon our nation for turning our backs on the nation of Israel. America will not stand as the leader of the free world if our policies toward Israel do not change. America is a key player in the events leading up to the end times. We were once a spiritual Israel and now we are Judas betrayers to Israel. The other fact that remains is that people are not naturally capable of speaking words in Hebrew that they have never head and then finding those precise words written in bible studies and books months or years later (defined for them in a manner that makes complete sense...that the message is conveying to speak of the time of completion and perfection on this earth at Christ's return and that we are entering an age when God is offering up revelation to the beloved of God in a way He has not in the past). It may be that because I am not a member of a Pentecostal church (or Assembly of God church) or whatever that God is interpreting these things for me through His voice and through things I read. If most of the Body of Christ has rejected modern day tongues speaking, then clearly those called to truly interpret are not there to interpret. God can do whatever He wishes and He has conveyed a message to me that people are free to hear and free to call upon God (asking Him if they are to believe what I am saying). But, if we get all caught up in rules and semantics of how God is supposed to do something (when the church is functioning as He called it to function, but the majority of the church is not), then there will be nobody listening. I am not saying anything that is contradiction or is a distraction from scripture. I am just confirming what scripture has already prophesied and saying that the Holy Spirit is telling me that the time is drawing much closer to the end than people realize and to be prepared for a jarring judgement to come upon this nation at the beginning of the end and to see signs and wonders as the church has never witnessed before.
We can certainly let the matter drop if you wish. However, I wish to clarify some misconceptions. In a few of the things you respond, you present my position as quite different from what I have written to you:
1) I certainly do not believe that it is "against doctrine" to speak in tongues. Paul very forcefully tells the Corinthians not to prevent the practice (1Cor.14:39). You yourself mentioned earlier that you are in agreement with Paul's statement to the effect that "not all speak in tongues" (1Cor.12:30). Yet you must be aware that there are putatively Christian groups out there which effectively equate speaking in tongues with the baptism of the Spirit and even with salvation. Therefore, without any question, at least some in the Church are practicing pseudo-tongues and not true tongues. My only concern is not to be drawn in by the false. I have stated and written repeatedly that the gift of tongues was real, and that God is certainly capable of empowering it at any time. It is not "against doctrine". My complaint is with the notion that everyone who claims to speak in tongues is for the very reason of that claim alone really speaking in tongues as the Bible presents that wonderful gift.
2) I did not say that Joel chapter 2 as quoted in Acts chapter two is "not a reference to the Church Age". Clearly, Peter does apply it to what is happening at Pentecost. My main point is that nothing in Joel or Peter's application of the quote suggests let alone necessitates that the gift of tongues will continue throughout the Church Age. That is to say, these passages do not "prove" that the gift is being given today. The apostolic age was a time very different from what obtains today. For one thing, there were apostles who directed the Church, men who by their miraculous gifts were clearly marked out as the heads of the Church personally chosen by Jesus Christ (2Cor.12:12). No such men exist today. And if the gift of apostleship is no longer being given (being unnecessary now primarily because the canon of scripture is complete), it would certainly stand to reason that other gifts designed for the period before the Bible was written might also now be in abeyance. Please note: I do not say that they must be abeyance; but these verses you cite do not say that they must be operational. I am certainly satisfied that the Bible gives a reasonable rationale for their abeyance, but I do not go so far as to say that they must be or always have been or will not be re-instituted in the final days. What I do say is that healthy skepticism in not only permissible but, I would argue, necessary, since much false teaching is the order of the day, and since once we accept without proper testing the claims of those who say they have direct revelation from God (be it from tongues or prophecy or what have you), then we also must accept that what they say as true. This is precisely how the beast and his false prophet will draw many to their destruction. Thus, this is far more than just a matter of semantics. If a person truly has the gift, then without doubt the person will know it. But how are others to know? When people tell me unsolicited that they do have it, it is my duty to investigate before I believe it. I believe the scriptures without questioning; my faith in other people's reported experiences depends upon evidence.
Finally, I do have to say a word about your comments regarding Israel. As a confirmed opponent of all things anti-Semitic and a person with a deep desire for the salvation of the Jewish people, I feel the need to point out that politics are the devil's play-pen. I have seen almost as many Christians become distracted from true spiritual growth and production from politics as I have from sin. This issue of support for the secular nation-state of Israel is a particularly troubling one in this regard, especially as we find ourselves currently on the cusp of the Tribulation. In my reading of Revelation and the other scriptures which lay out the history of the coming apocalypse, the beast is not some foreign Jihadist, but arises from this very country. And he will actually gain prominence not as an anti-Semite but as a crusader for Israel against the foes of Israel. This is something Christians ought to anticipate seeing as how antichrist is an anti-Christ. What better way to sell himself to sheep without deep faith and spiritual wisdom than to tell them that he IS Christ, and to "prove it" by enlisting the west to "save Israel". Never mind that in the end he will attempt to destroy the Jews; for political expediency, in the early days of the Tribulation, he will portray himself as Israel's champion.
God is fully capable of contesting all of Satan's political machinations. He always has been and always will be, now as well as in the Tribulation. The only thing we do by becoming preoccupied with politics or, worse still, by becoming involved in politics is to distract ourselves and weaken ourselves spiritually by playing the devil's game (and he always wins his own game). During the Tribulation, however, the dangers are greatly heightened, because a good percentage of those involved in the Great Apostasy will be weak believers who have bought in to antichrist's false claim that he is "the Messiah", and it will be the beast's initially favorable policy towards a threatened Israel that convinces many and leads them into the lie to their own self-destruction. In the parable of the Sower, politics and political involvement are some of those "weeds" that strangle growth and production; during the Tribulation they may just be the scorching sun that kills off faith altogether. For more on all this please see: The Coming Tribulation part 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom.
Offered in the love of Jesus Christ in the hope of your continuing edification for His glory,
I looked up the verses regarding the place where the antichrist will arise out of and I can't find the precise references now, but you could probably find them as easily as I could. There were articles that were stating that the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Micah refer directly to "the Assyrian" as being the one who would set himself up as God in the temple and create an abomination of desolation as is mentioned in Revelation and I believe the book of Daniel as well.
This does create a lot of confusion for people so when people make a reference to the antichrist as being some Jihadist Muslim, they aren't doing so just because they have sold themselves out to secular politics. They are doing so based on some general references made to the antichrist as being an Assyrian in the Old Testament. I don't even believe it is fair to accuse people of being overly political because they support the now secular Israel or because they are aware of what is going on on the political arena (we need to be aware of what is going on on the political arena so as NOT to be deceived by the antichrist). It may be true that some of the people who do this that don't have the discernment of the Holy Spirit may fall under the deception of the Antichrist or the spirit of iniquity (if the Antichrist is not on the seen in short order), but some of the strongest Christians I know are ones that recognize and pray for the spiritual restoration of Israel and are also keenly aware of how the spirit of iniquity is working within earthly, powerful political systems. Just because they support the right of the nation of Israel to currently exist does not mean that they are unaware that Israel is not a Godly nation at the current time. Scripture even acknowledges the Jewish people must be physically gathered up and returned physically to their homeland (as they have been doing since 1948) before they are spiritually restored in the end times. So, it isn't that Christians that support Israel are supporting pure politics or pure secularism...they are supporting the promise God has given for the future Israel that will be restored to their God and their Messiah Jesus Christ and in turn, because of this, they don't support politic policies that seek to divide up the land in the nation of Israel and turn this land over to Israel's enemies for the sake of false peace. Christ Himself will return to and reign from Jerusalem during the Millennium. Also, scripture does specifically reference those descending from Ishmael and Esau as being opposed to end time Israel. Just as King Herod wanted Christ destroyed, the spirit of iniquity which is part of the whole Muslim movement wants to see the nation of Israel destroyed.
The confusion that comes in is that it seems quite clear as time passes that the antichrist will rise out of the western portion of the Iron Kingdom (which is the offshoot of the Roman Empire). This is why many believe the antichrist will arise out of the United States or the European Union. And this interpretation is very understandable as well because it is only the west in our current times that has the power and trust of Israel that can betray this nation by turning her over to her enemies. What, after all is a betrayer than someone that appears to be one of us (one of those that is a Christian westerner that supports the rebirth of the nation of Israel), but is really one of them (one of the eastern world that would like to see Israel destroyed). Remember, I am not making derogatory statements about all people of the west or the east. There are many fine, Christian people of India, China, Russia, and Arabic nations that are on God's side just as there are many in the west that are Judas betrayers to the nation of Israel (the whole liberal movement that doesn't recognize that all of our blessings as a nation flow from our Christian heritage and our support of the nation of Israel).
If you are a believer in Covenant Theology (Replacement Theology) and don't believe that any prophetic references in scripture to "Israel" are a reference to the future reestablishment of the nation of Israel rather than the church, then you will not agree with me in any of my interpretations of what I believe scripture is revealing. I am not saying you are a believer in this brand of theology, but I just want to clarify that you aren't a believer in what this theology teaches because I can't make any headway beyond that if you think that Israel, the nation is not literally part of God's future promise when Jesus returns to restore this fallen world.
Even if you believe that it is possible that tongues speaking could still exist in the modern church, you doubt that it does because you don't think there is any scriptural evidence which points to the fact that it does indeed still exist. I personally believe that Acts 2:14-21 was referring to the act of speaking in tongues because Paul was stating that the men weren't drunk, but were doing what Joel had prophesied would be done in the church age (that God would pour His spirit out on His church in the Church Age). One thing to remember is that in Joel's time, the Holy Spirit was present, but His function was very different in the Old Testament times. As a general rule in OT times, common, everyday man could not be filled with or access the power of the Holy Spirit and even those rare people that were filled with the Holy Spirit did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them for good. Even King David had to prayerfully plead for God's spirit to not leave him. However, at the commencement of the Church Age, one of the things that markedly changed was that any man who called on the name of the Lord believing in Christ as their savior could receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit's power (although I don't believe that each believer is called to receive the same type of powers from the Holy Spirit). In the Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit would fill a king or a prophet or whoever God willed it to fill for a time, but the Holy Spirit did not function in the believer in the same manner that it does under the New Testament covenant.
Even if Acts 2 is not definitive evidence that the gift of tongues was for the entire duration of the Church Age, I have never ever interpreted those verses about prophecies and tongues ceasing to be about the completion of canon. Long before I even had an opinion about modern-day tongues speaking, when I would read those verses on my own or hear them spoken continuously in just about every Christian wedding I attended, I always interpreted those verses as being about Christ coming back to set all the wrongs in this world right. We aren't in a perfect state now on this fallen earth just because we have the completion of canon. Scripture certainly is the irrefutable revelation of who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and any divine revelation a person claims to have that is not in accordance with scripture is not of God, but we are not more "known" by God or more "perfect" because the last word in the book of Revelation was penned. That kind of knowing and perfection will only come when Christ blots out all the effects of sin on this fallen earth.
As far as how another person is to know if someone is falsely prophesying or not, scripture says that we are to test the prophets. I am not saying that a person who prophesies under the new testament covenant is the equivalent of a prophet or prophetess in the Old Testament, but Paul does acknowledge that that office did exist in the church of his time and just as I don't believe that it says anywhere that tongues would cease to exist with the completion of scripture, I don't believe that there is anywhere that specifies that certain offices that were established in the first century church have ceased to exist. There is a verse that says that we no longer rely strictly on the word of a prophet to speak for God for us now that we have the testimony of Christ and the Holy Spirit in us, but that verse was written before the completion of scripture so there is some question about whether a person who prophesies now is a prophet/prophetess of the Church Age or whether they are just a person prophesying by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the case, the point is that New Testament scripture verifies that prophesying did not cease with the onset of the Church Age (it just changed its function from the OT times where prophets were the only ones that generally spoke on God's behalf to prophesying being one of the ways that a believer hears from God...other ways being by the witness of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, through reading scripture, through the teachings in a sermon or bible study lesson, etc.).
Also, I don't know definitively about what my stand is about the roles of apostles in the modern-day church. If the point-blank definition of an apostle is one that had to be appointed by Jesus (during the times of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) to lay the foundation of the church, then I guess there would be no more apostles, but the Apostle Paul was not appointed by Jesus during Christ's time on this earth. Jesus called Paul to be an apostle after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension, but Jesus could still do that same thing for anyone called to play the role of an apostle in the church today. The key thing is to look up the definition of apostle (it could be any senior pastor that founds a church or someone that steps in with the key role of establishing a church and then moves on to help establish other churches) and then carefully consider that Paul was an Apostle who never even knew Jesus in his life on this earth (the time of the 4 Gospels and the first chapter of the book of Acts). Ultimately, I don't get hung up on mere semantics about what this or that person is called so much as whether there are people still called to do the things that people were called to do in the time of the early Church and the way I see things, there doesn't seem to be any clear-cut place in scripture that indicates that the function of the church would dramatically change after the completion of scripture. On the contrary, there seems to be more evidence that the role of the church is still supposed to function as it did from the second chapter of Acts to the current time.
Anyway, back to "testing the prophets" (or those who prophesy through the power of the Holy Spirit), I don't really think it is possible to prove or disprove to you that I am truly receiving divine revelation from God at this point in time. You will probably never know me personally in this life before Christ's return and even if you got to know me as well as a person can get to know someone over e-mail, you would have to know me long enough that I spoke something to you before it happened and then you would have to witness it coming to pass. However, this still wouldn't be fail-proof because there are people I know that have witnessed me being a completely sound-minded, kind, stable person for years and I have spoken things to them that I could never know before they happened through natural means and these people are still resistant to the truth. People get very touchy about God revealing something to another person to share with them rather than God revealing that thing to them directly. There is a lot of ego that has to be broken down for someone to accept that the Holy Spirit is passing a message to them through another person. Under the New Testament covenant, most people choose to believe that God can just "tell them themselves" because they have the Holy Spirit as well. However, I don't see this as being scriptural. Certainly there are cases where the Holy Spirit speaks directly to a person about themselves and that may be the rule rather than the exception, but there is nothing in scripture that I can see that definitively discounts messages being passed by the Holy Spirit from one person to another under the new testament covenant. As a matter of fact, bringing a third party in to a situation is further confirmation of what God is speaking to an individual about themselves.
It is clear to me that God granted different parts of the Body of Christ different functions and that we are all to be edified by the functions of each different part without being all hung up in whose part is more important. Paul forbid the church to do that very thing when He spoke of how we all have the Holy Spirit, but have each been granted different gifts from that same spirit. Part of the reason the church is not functioning as it should is because people are all hung up on what God gives to what person and often times, people will even claim a gift no longer exists just so they don't have to acknowledge the validity of what another Christian is trying to share with them. However, only God can be the judge of whether most people that resist believing in modern-day tongues speaking (or modern-day prophetic revelation) are doing so because they are truly guarding against false prophets of the end times or whether they are just dismissing the importance of what God has given to another member of the Body of Christ to edify that body. I can't be the judge of what is going on. I just know that I feel as if my hands have been tied while other parts of the body are regarded and I am dismissed.
As far as Israel goes, if what you were saying in your e-mail is that you believe that the antichrist will (or could) arise from this nation (the USA), I am not in disagreement with you regarding that matter at all. I believe firmly that the antichrist will arise out of the Iron Kingdom mixed with clay referred to in the book of Daniel and that the location of the place the antichrist will arise out of will be somewhere in the western portion of the world (either the U.S. or the European Union). Based on what God is showing me now, it is most likely that the antichrist would be an American president because we are the only nation that currently has the power to force Israel to make covenants of false peace with Israel's enemies (and her enemies are those that are the descendents of Ishmael and Esau..the Arabic world...scripture is very clear that the Arabic descendants of those from the Old Testament would oppose end-time Israel). However, there are others that literally interpret Mystery, Babylon and the antichrist as all arising out of the eastern portion of the world. I don't see what is such a mystery about Mystery, Babylon being in the original location of Babylon (around the border of modern-day Iraq/Iran) and I don't see at this point in time how any leader of an eastern nation would have the power (or be trusted enough by Israel) to pressure Israel in to signing a peace treaty that would bring "false peace" with Israel's enemies. Yet, scripture does clearly describe the antichrist as being an Assyrian (I will find those verses..I think they are in Ezekiel, but not sure). This can be quite confusing and often misleads people in to think that this Assyrian must literally come from the eastern part of the world.
God has shown me over and over that America is heading in to certain disaster. He showed me in a dream that Anglican History (from the inception of the nation of England to the founding of our nation that was birthed out of England) and its reign of power on this earth is coming to a halt in short order and that our nation will be crushed by the Iron Kingdom just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything in its path. I haven't been given a definitive timeline and if I had a precise date, that wouldn't be scriptural because even Jesus doesn't know when the end is, but I have been shown that we are at the end of the second to last chapter in the book of Anglican History. I don't know how long each chapter is or if the final chapter includes the Tribulation Period...I just know judgement is coming on this nation faster than even most Christians would imagine and it will most people by complete surprise. If there was a way for to prove to you how my soul aches when God shows me this, maybe you would understand better.
Thank you for your e-mail. In case you are interested in what I have found in scripture about antichrist, that information is mostly available at the following link: CT 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom. In my reading of the Bible, the beast is half Jewish, and half a Nephilim (i.e., the devil is his physical father). Whether or not there is any Assyrian blood in the picture or what that might mean I have no indication from scripture (people who believe he is "the Assyrian" are relying on English translations of Isaiah 14:25 and the like where Hebrew 'ashur, lit., "Assyria", is translated "the Assyrian", leading those not schooled in Hebrew to assume antichrist is meant, an impossibility in the original language). I would certainly agree that antichrist is not a Jihadist. As I wrote you earlier, there will be such a person, the "king of the south" who will be portrayed by antichrist as "the antichrist", even as he falsely portrays himself as "Christ". I find that we are the eschatological "Babylon", I would certainly agree that Babylon is going to be destroyed in the waning days of the Tribulation (please see the link: "The Probable Identification of Mystery Babylon").
If a person is receiving divine revelation about political events in a context of coming eschatology, that would not be the same thing as acting upon this in a personal and political way. And I would certainly share your concern and disgust for those who want to betray and damage Israel (your e-mail seems to demonstrate some misconceptions about my positions here; please see as a start the links: "The Uniqueness of Israel"; and "Some Jewish Issues"). My problem with an individual Christian being involved in active political support for Israel is, first, my problem with being political at all: God works things out for us as individuals; we are here for an individual spiritual purpose, not a collective political one; getting involved in politics is always spiritually dangerous, no matter how wonderful the cause may be. Secondly, in the future, this is precisely how antichrist will win many to his colors, namely, by being Israel's champion, Israel's savior, as "the" Savior (so he will falsely assert). Christians who are leaning in the direction of "anything to support Israel is good" will be very apt to be duped by the beast. And it is so unnecessary. Even though almost all of them over there reject Christ (though that will change at the Second Advent), God is not going to let anything happen to that country before the time, and will work things out precisely as He has predicted in His Word. There is much detail to be mined. So far, my series on the Coming Tribulation currently runs well over 400,000 words, and is preceded by a preliminary series (The Satanic Rebellion) of over 200,000 words, and I dare say I have not gotten to the bottom of everything scripture has to say on the subject.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,