Thursday, March 08, 2007
A Bible Study Presenting the Cessationist Position on 1 Corinthians 14 The Purpose of Biblical Tongues
Acts 2:4-8 is the only passage in the New Testament that sheds light on the nature of tongues. At that event those who heard tongues spoken by the apostles were able to understand them in their own language. The apostles apparently spoke in languages they did not understand — but they spoke in known languages, understandable to the listeners. Why did God use tongues in the early church?
The First Theory — Church Edification I Corinthians 14:1-19 emphasize that tongues were worthless for this purpose.
The Second Theory — Evangelization (I Corinthians 14:23 and Acts 2:13).
The Third Theory — Proof of Spirit Baptism
The Fourth Theory — Devotional
The Fifth Theory — Condemnation According to I Corinthians 14:21, which quotes Isaiah 28:11,12, tongues were a sign to the nation of Israel that God was bringing judgment upon them for their sinfulness and rejection of Christ.
The Sixth Theory — Apostolic Authentication 2 Corinthians 12:11-13 Support for the Apostolic Authentication Theory There are five facts that show the distinctive character of the apostolic office:
The church was founded upon them (Ephesians 2:20).
They were eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22 and I Corinthians 15:7-9).
They were special authorized agents (Luke 6:13).
The fact of their appointment was authenticated by signs. The absence of miracles would invalidate the claim of one who asserted that he was an apostle (II Corinthians 12:12 and Acts 5:11-13). T
he fact of their apostolic authority (II Peter 3:2, 15-16; I Corinthians 4:12 and II Thessalonians 3:6,14).
Tongues as a sign
Mark 16:17-20 — While the canonical authority of this text is questionable, we nevertheless find that signs were to be manifested by the apostles and by those to whom they ministered. In verse 20 Mark already (by AD 68) considered these signs past. Acts 2:14-21; 4:3 — Only the apostles spoke in tongues or performed signs on these occasions. Acts 8:13 — Philip was not an apostle but had the apostles’ "hands" laid upon him (6:6). However, his converts performed no signs or wonders. Only when apostles came from Jerusalem and laid hands upon Philip’s converts was there any unusual demonstration of the Spirit’s presence in them (8:15-17). Note: Acts records new groups (Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and Old Testament believers) in the initial act of receiving the Holy Spirit which would later be the mark of all Christians (Romans 8:9). Acts 10 — God employed a series of supernatural visions in order to have Peter be the one to present the Gospel to Cornelius. Acts 19 — 19:2 should be translated, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" These men were not yet converted. In 19:6 tongues came to authenticate Paul as an apostle. II Corinthians 12:12 — Some at Corinth who had been converted under Paul received the gift of tongues to validate Paul’s claim to apostleship.
All signs are temporary
Jesus predicted signs only in association with the apostolic ministry. Mark considered the signs as past (AD 68). Hebrews 2:3-4 was written around the same time and also considered the signs as past. The last recorded miracles in the New Testament took place about AD 58 (Acts 28:3-9). In AD 60 Epaphroditus became sick but he was not healed miraculously (Philippians 2:25-30). About AD 62 Timothy had a stomach ailment which remained uncured (I Timothy 5:23). Around AD 64 one of Paul’s associates was so seriously ill that Paul had to leave him behind, uncured (II Timothy 4:20). Yet earlier Paul had been instrumental even in restoring life to the dead. Some gifts were temporary All signs may be considered as spiritual gifts, but not all spiritual gifts were signs. The gifts of miracles, healings and tongues were sign gifts. All the sign gifts were temporary (compare Acts 11:17 with Mark 16). As with the miracles of Jesus, they served to authenticate the position and authority of the apostles.
Tongues Have Ceased
I Corinthians 13:8-10 "Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away."
What is that which is perfect? Here are three views:
The Eternal State This is when we will see face to face, and is the best understanding of "perfect." The passage is therefore teaching that both prophecy and supernatural knowledge will cease forever at the point when God ushers in the eternal state. But carefully notice that tongues are not named among those gifts which are said to be made inoperative by the arrival of the perfect. Therefore, tongues could cease prior to this event. With prophecy and knowledge the verb "shall cease," meaning "to lay aside" or "render inoperative" is used. With tongues a different verb is used meaning "to stop" or "they will be done away" It carries with it the idea of a natural cessation. It is also important to note the voice changes: "will be done away," is in the passive voice, meaning that they will be forced to stop by an outside agent (i.e. that which is perfect). However, "cease" is in the middle voice, which allows for the possibility that, they could cease in and of themselves, naturally when their purpose is fulfilled. This passage of Scripture does not give definitive evidence that tongues have ceased and are no longer operative today — but it allows for such a view. Paul implies that tongues will cease when their purpose is fulfilled. If, as demonstrated above, the purpose of tongues was to authenticate the apostles and their message, and to serve as a sign to Israel of judgment for rejecting their Messiah, then tongues have fulfilled their purpose. Phrased another way, since there are no longer apostles to authenticate, and since Israel has already been judged (in AD 70), tongues no longer have a purpose in the church today. Tongues cessation should then be expected with the passing of the apostles and the judgment of Israel. Both the testimonies of Scripture and of church history verify this fact. There is no record of anyone speaking in tongues in the New Testament after AD 70.
What is the record of church history?
Church History Evidence
Apostolic Fathers It is significant that the gift of tongues is rarely alluded to, hinted at, or found in the Apostolic Fathers. The Fathers wrote to defend Christianity, to correct Christians, to explain doctrines, etc. after the death of the apostles. Yet they did not mention tongues in a favorable light, and for the most part totally ignored them. Some examples: J
ustin Martyr (AD 100-165) wrote about spiritual gifts but did not mention tongues. He never mentions anyone speaking in tongues.
Montanus (AD 126-180) did speak in tongues, but was regarded as demon-possessed by Christians of his day .
Irenaeus (AD 140-203) said he had heard that some spoke in tongues. He had, however, been influenced by the Montanists and did not speak in tongues nor apparently witness it.
Tertulian (AD 150-222) was converted to Montanism for a period of time. He wrote about one lady who spoke in tongues and was a Montanist. This was the last witness to tongues-speaking by any of the Church Fathers. Origen (AD 185-253) said that in his day no one spoke in tongues.
Chrysostom (AD 347-407) made no mention of tongues being spoken in his day.
Augustine (AD 354-430) no tongues spoken during his life. Church history does not prove any doctrinal issues. However, in this case church history verifies what we would expect from a study of the New Testament: That tongues, having fulfilled their purpose, ceased to exist by AD 70, and were not found in the history of the church.
Why the present interest in tongues?
The Affects of Charismatic Doctrine Upon Other Areas of Theology
So what? Why not live and let live, after all, what harm does the charismatics’ views cause? Why not just leave them alone? These are good questions. If all we are doing is nitpicking over the fine points of Christianity, then we should indeed back off. But charismatic doctrine undermines the teachings of Scripture and authentic Christian living. Below we will briefly outline how the teachings of the charismatics taints, to some degree, every doctrine found in the Word of God. The following are some examples:
Theology in General Bibliology Charismatic doctrines undermine the authority of Scripture. They believe in extrabiblical revelation. It is also their belief that prophets today make mistakes The charismatic view of revelation would throw the believer into a sea of subjectivity. God considered the authenticity of His Word as so important that He required the death penalty for Old Testament prophets whose prophecies did not come true (Deuteronomy 18:20).
Soteriology The emphasis is upon signs and wonders rather than Christ. Some are being attracted to the show rather than the cross. 1 Corinthians 1:17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Many within charismatic circles hold to some form of dominion theology, which confuses the church with Israel, and teaches that we are looking for a latter day revival that will sweep multitudes into the kingdom and transform society before the return of Christ. In addition, the majority of charismatics are highly, and unbiblically, ecumenical. Many are actively pursuing reunification with the Roman Catholic Church. The purpose of the church is often distorted as they concentrate on the showy gifts (miracles, tongues, prophecies) rather than the balanced functioning of the body.
Many believe in a second work of grace often called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" Angelology/Demonology
Angels, demons, and "spiritual warfare" are popular today in charismatic circles. Based upon experience, rather than Scripture, a whole new theology has been developed concerning angels and demons that completely misrepresents the teachings of the Word.
Tongues And The Keys Of The Kingdom
1. It was addressed to Peter. (Matt 16 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it
2. The theme of Acts is Acts 1:8... Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles.
3. Peter was the apostle chosen to "initiate" these three missions.
4. These missions were all "evidenced" with tongues. (Acts 2, Acts 10 , and I assume for Acts 8)
5. Tongues was a known foreign language unknown to the speaker, not "ecstatic language" or babble. Acts 2, Acts 10 and Acts 19.
6. Tongues had a dispensational purpose signifying the rejection of the Jewish covenant (1 Cor 14: 20 Brothers, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in evil and adult in your thinking. 21 It is written in the law: By people of other languages and by the lips of foreigners, I will speak to this people; and even then, they will not listen to Me, says the Lord. 22 It follows that speaking in other languages is intended as a sign, not to believers but to unbelievers. But prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together, and all are speaking in [other]languages, and people who are uninformed or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all are prophesying, and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all and is judged by all. 25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall down on his face and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.” )
7. And the introduction of the new covenant.