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The theology concerning the gift of tongues is usually viewed as tertiary and, therefore, is sometimes seen as less important to have correct. But, there is a great amount of heresy, deception, and confusion surrounding the subject of tongues, and many people have either been grossly misled out of ignorance, or worse, are deliberately deceiving others for selfish gain. As Christians, we should be aware of this so that we can guard against doctrine that is contrary to what Scripture teaches.

In this article, I have chosen to discuss 4 key points that I think are very important to know about the gift of tongues, why it was given, and how it was used.

1) It is the ability to speak a true language.

The Greek word for “tongue” is glossa and it can either mean, literally, “tongue” (the organ) or “the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.” In Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, those in the upper room began to speak in tongues. Those who were listening heard the truth spoken in their native languages (vs. 6-11). Unfortunately, the gift of tongues is often watered down to mean a spiritual, or prayer language that doesn’t have to be a language spoken by others. This view is extrapolated from a few New Testament verses in 1 Corinthians 14 that are taken out of context and misunderstood.

One of these verses is 1 Corinthians 14:2 which says, “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” This verse is often taken to mean that these “mysteries in the Spirit” are equivalent to unintelligible gibberish. The meaning of this verse is made clear in light of the chapter as a whole. What Paul is saying here is that if someone is speaking in a language that no one in the church understands, it is a mystery to them because they have no idea what he is saying (1 Corinthians 14:9-11). This brings me to my next point.

2) It should not be done without an interpreter.

This is one of the commands that gets ignored so often. Paul tells the church at Corinth that those who have the gift of tongues should not speak in church if there is no one to interpret (1 Corinthians 14:28). If someone comes to a church where they only speak Greek and, through his gift of tongues, starts speaking in Hebrew, he will not be understood. This is why Paul says that “he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church” (vs 4). Speaking in a language that no one understands is not profitable.

3) It was meant to be a sign to Israel that the new covenant had come and God’s salvation was offered to the Gentiles.

This was prophesied in the Old Testament, and the Jews knew this day would come. Paul even references this prophecy in Corinthians 14. The original verse is found in Isaiah 28 and says, “For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people” (vs 11). In Acts 10, when Peter went to the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles and the same sign of tongues that was given to the disciples at Pentecost was given to them, also. The Jews who were with Peter could not believe that God gave His Spirit to the Gentiles, but Peter replied, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (vs 47). In his sermon entitled “The Gift of Tongues,” John MacArthur says, “The Lord would now speak to all nations in all languages. The barriers were down. And so, the gift of languages symbolized not only the curse of God on a disobedient nation, but also the blessing of God on the whole world.”

4) It is not evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

A common teaching is that believers should pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that the only way they know that this baptism has occurred is by their ability to speak in tongues. This view is wrong for two reasons. Firstly, if someone is a true Christian, he or she has already been baptized by the Holy Spirit and placed into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” The filling of the Holy Spirit, however, is something that should happen over and over again in the life of the Christian.

We see believers in Scripture be filled with the Holy Spirit numerous times, and Paul urges us to do the same (Ephesians 5:18). Being filled with the Holy Spirit simply means walking in obedience to Christ. MacArthur says, “When you’re filled with the Spirit of God, it means that you have yielded to the total dominance of the Spirit in your life.” There were a few instances in Scripture when the filling of the Spirit led to believers speaking in tongues (Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19). However, we are never told that speaking in tongues is the only sign of being filled with the Spirit. In Ephesians 5, we see actions like a husband loving his wife, a wife submitting to her husband, children obeying their parents, Christians lifting each other up with spiritual songs and submitting to one another in humility, as the result of being filled with the Spirit.

What we see today from many charismatic churches and organizations is not the true and Biblical gift of tongues. It is often a self-glorifying heresy that is leading many people to believe they are experiencing a manifestation of the Spirit, when in reality, they are experiencing something far different. Whether you are a cessationist or a continuationist, we must be diligent to guard against false representations of the gift of tongues and to test all claims against the true and authentic gift found in Scripture.

You have probably heard the phrase, “women are more emotional and men are more rational.” I have believed and said this, myself, but it was not until recently that my perspective changed and I realized some issues with this statement and the consequences believing it may have.

The reciprocal of the statement better highlights the assumptions and implications being made: Women are less rational than men and men are less emotional than women. I think that many people believe this and as I said, I did too. However, I would like to explain why this is a wrong assumption, the harm that it can cause, and how we can all strive to be like Christ, no matter our shortcomings.

The first error here is the wrong definition of emotional. Women are very often pegged with this term because we are usually the ones who are seen expressing emotion in the form of tears. But is that the only way of showcasing emotion that warrants the label “emotional”? Merriam-Webster defines emotion as “a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.” Emotion is a basic part of being human. We all have various emotions every single day and we express those emotions in many different ways. But for some reason, the emotions of women are looked at as weak or irrational.

While it may be true that women’s emotions can cause them to make irrational decisions, I’d like to argue that men can be just as irrational or emotional. Have you ever seen a man get killed during a video game? Or watched him watch his favorite sports team lose? He will probably show a good bit of emotion at those times. Have you ever seen a man get very angry? That anger usually leads to irrational behavior if not dealt with properly. The Bible is very clear about anger and how it is an emotional driver that leads to sinfulness:

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Proverbs 15:18).

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

My objective here is not to bash men or make out their sinful tendencies to be worse than women’s. But, I want to make the argument that we all are emotional beings and because we are also sinful, we have the tendency to give in to those emotions and let them guide us instead of the Truth of God’s Word.

Emotional is defined as “dominated by or prone to emotion.” When we are dominated by our emotions, we are not applying the wisdom found in Scripture to our lives. Instead of practicing self-control, we are choosing to act according to our flesh, rather than the Spirit. However, this is the opposite of we are called to do as believers. Proverbs reminds us many times of the wisdom in self-control: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). Paul exhorts all Christians to “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). And of course we know that self-control is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Saying that women are naturally less rational than men, makes the claim that women are less capable of being like Christ. Most people wouldn’t come out and say that, but that is what the statement implies. It excuses behavior because of an assumed weakness. Being irrational is sinful. It is acting in haste, believing lies instead of truth, and dwelling on things of this world and not on things of God. Instead of being irrational, we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are to meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 119:15,23,27,48,78) and to “set [our] minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). When we obey these commands, we will not act irrationally, even when emotions arise. Whether it is worry, grief, fear, or anger, if we look to the Lord and let Him remind us of the Truth, we do not have to let our emotions guide us.

If we are all called to be like Christ, then we all have the same capability of doing so, by relying on the Lord's strength, even with our different weaknesses. As a whole, men may struggle with anger more and women may struggle with fear or anxiety more. But those struggles are never an excuse for our sin. On the contrary, we should lay those weaknesses at the foot of the cross and pray for strength from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Although Jesus is God, while on this earth, He subjected Himself to human flesh and had to fight the same sinful tendencies we do. Even though we see instances where His human emotion was evident (John 11:35, Mark 3:5), He never acted hastily, never doubted God, and never sinned. He chose to act according to the wisdom of God instead of letting His emotions guide Him. He is our perfect example to follow.

Labeling each other extra-Biblically is never healthy. It creates false assumptions and leads us to believe things about one another that aren’t true. Instead, let’s surrender our weaknesses and shortcomings to Christ and exhort one another to be like Him in all that we do.

  • Haley Maddox

Dogmatism is defined as “the expression of an opinion or belief as if it were a fact : an assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant.” We see plenty of dogmatism in our culture, but unfortunately, we also see it among Christians. So many divisions, arguments, confusion and hurt happen over people being dogmatic about what they believe and casting direct or indirect judgments on those who disagree. It is easy to call someone else dogmatic, and a lot harder to see it in yourself. I want to talk about why this is and discuss what the root of dogmatism is, what the Bible has to say about it, and ways that we can guard against it.

So, where does a dogmatic attitude come from? What is sinful about dogmatism?

It is not something that forms on its own. If someone is dogmatic, there is something that is rooted in their heart. Just like most actions, dogmatism is simply the result of something much deeper and more serious.

Dogmatism is an outflowing of a self-righteous and prideful heart.

The Bible may not specifically speak about dogmatism, but it does speak about pride. This is because dogmatism is a result of pride. It is what naturally flows from a heart that is self-righteous.

Proverbs 6 tells us about some sins that the Lord hates. A haughty spirit is number one on the list. What is it about pride that God hates? Why does the Bible warn so heavily against pride?

I have often heard that the Lord hates pride because when a man is prideful, he is exalting himself over God. While I do believe that is true, this explanation is very vague and does not get to the real issue. I think there is something deeper that reveals why pride is so dangerous and why one who is “arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 16:5).

During His ministry on Earth, Jesus received great opposition from the Pharisees. To the society around them, the Pharisees seemed to be very righteous and near to God. However, the One who knew their hearts saw the truth:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28).

The Pharisees thought themselves to be righteous, but on the inside, their hearts were dark. They could not believe that Jesus would dine with, teach, and save sinners. However, this is why Jesus came. In Luke 5, Jesus commands a tax collector named Matthew (or Levi) to follow Him. Matthew immediately drops everything and obeys. When Jesus goes to his house and dines with Matthew and other tax collectors, the Pharisees grumble and scoff at Him. But Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31).

The Pharisees were blind to their own sin. They could not see how wretched they really were. In attempts to make themselves feel more righteous than others, they created extra-Biblical commands and expected everyone else to follow them. Their self-righteousness and pride led them to dogmatism. They became calloused to the weight of their own sin and could only see the sin of others.

This is the danger of pride. Someone who is prideful cannot see their sin and their need for repentance. This pride can very easily and quickly lead to dogmatism. An inability to see the sin in your heart as well as an arrogant attitude toward your own beliefs can not only hurt your relationship with God, but also cripple your witness to others.

But until we truly humble ourselves and ask God to reveal the hidden sin in our hearts,

we won’t see it.

That is what is so dangerous.

You can have sin in your heart that you do not see and cannot see because of your pride.

Even those who want so badly to positively influence others can ruin their witness because of their pride.

This is why God hates it and why He “resists the proud” (1 Peter 5:5).

So how do we fight against pride and dogmatism if we may not be able to see it?

Here are some helpful steps that I believe are imperative in guarding our hearts from the sin of pride and from becoming dogmatic in our own beliefs.

1) Pray the prayer of King David and ask the Lord to search your heart and try your ways.

Our hearts have a bent toward sin, which is why, even as believers, we must constantly be asking the Lord to reveal any sin that is in our hearts and to give us the strength to deny ourselves and our sin.

2) Be willing to make a change if what you believe contradicts Truth that you are met with, no matter the cost.

Whether the Lord reveals sin in your heart or beliefs that are wrong or misguided, you must be willing to lay them down and to change, even if it costs you heavily. Maybe your family won’t understand. Maybe people will falsely accuse you. But rest assured in the fact that you are obeying the Lord and that He will be with you.

3) Realize that you are not always right about everything.

It is really easy to believe that your opinions about certain things are correct. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We wouldn’t have a certain opinion about something if we believed it to be false. However, it is so important to maintain a humble spirit and realize that even something you hold fast to may not be completely accurate.

4) Read and listen to other opinions to help you become well-rounded in your beliefs and sensitive to other perspectives.

This is so important, but it also takes discernment. Work on developing the skill of being able to read or listen to something and glean truth, while also being able to detect falsehood. We should always test what we hear or read with Scripture. In doing this, we may actually realize that something we have always believed is actually not based in Scripture, and we may need to change our perspective.

5) Know the difference between doctrinal issues and areas where we have Christian liberty.

There are certain things such as the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, and the sinfulness of man, that we should not waver on. However, there are also areas in which we have liberty to disagree and not judge each other. Topics such as spiritual gifts, end times, family dynamics (such as women working outside the home, where children should be schooled, who does what in the household, etc.) are matters in which believers should be able to disagree and still live in harmony with one another without fear of judgment.

Dogmatism is very damaging. It can hurt relationships and stunt spiritual growth. And what is most dangerous about it is that it is usually hard to detect in your own life. The root of it is pride, which is a sin that the Lord hates. We must take this sin seriously and constantly be asking the Lord to show us areas in which we have become prideful so that we can be diligent in the fight against it. And we can rest in the promise that Scripture gives that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).