And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number 04
In this issue:
There are people who earnestly believe they “speak with the tongues of angels”. They attribute the phenomenon to the Holy Spirit, as evident of present day miracles, attesting to their Christ-filled life. They are sadly mistaken and sorely deceived. The following is from The Spirit’s Sword (Oct. 22, 2000), and offered here with slight revisions.
“Speaking in Tongues” Phenomenon Grows in Popularity
The phenomenon of tongue speaking is growing in this country. By its advocates it is regarded as the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is viewed as a “personal prayer language” by those who claim its power and presence. What does the Bible say about speaking in tongues?
1) Speaking in tongues was always speaking a language known by men and was spoken by one who was untaught in that language (Acts 2:4, 6-8, 11). This miracle was not the gibberish of an undecipherable collection of consonants and vowels, rhythmic cadences and onomatopoetic sounds. The tongue spoken was unknown to the speaker, but understood by the hearer (Acts 2:4, 6). Hence, the miracle of tongue speaking proved the presence of divine power so people would listen to the message of the gospel spoken by the tongue-speaker (Acts 2:14-21, 22).
2) Speaking in tongues was always in the presence of either those who understood the language being spoken or an inspired interpreter (1 Cor. 14:9, 27-28). The miracle of speaking in tongues was not an angelic language spoken by man (1 Cor. 13:1 is not a contradiction, where Paul builds his case that even if he did speak the language of angels – not that he did so.) Neither was tongue speaking given to men as a “personal prayer language.” (God knows our hearts and needs before we pray - do we really believe He must give man a special language for prayer to be heard, Matt. 6:8?) If nobody was present who understood the language, or there was no interpreter present, the speaker was to be silent (1 Cor. 14:27-28). It was to be used in an orderly way (1 Cor. 14:27). Tongue speaking was not a chaotic display of unrestrained spiritual ecstasy (1 Cor. 14:28).
3) Speaking in tongues served the purpose of teaching and edification (1 Cor. 14:6, 19, 26). It was not a display of holiness or spiritual superiority. It was not a way of “exciting” the people to greater faith. It was a gift intended to benefit those who heard the teaching of the gospel by means of the miracle. The ability proved that God was sending the message and should be received and obeyed. The present-day phenomenon teaches error about tongue-speaking and the true gospel of Christ.
4) Speaking in tongues ended when the gospel of Christ was fully revealed and written (1 Cor. 13:8-10). The Holy Spirit speaks to every person today by means of the scriptures He revealed, confirmed and inspired. We would all do well to hear and obey His written word instead of falling for the delusions of error (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Ths. 2:10-12).
The following request, sent out to an unknown number of brethren, came through my email box this week:
“What are your thoughts on hymns with instrumental accompaniment, as a form of entertainment? How about a Christian performing spiritual songs with instrumentation? I am looking for any and all opinions on the subject, and would be most grateful if you would be willing to share your opinions with me.”
Here is the reply I sent back (with minor corrections and additions):
I am completely convinced that the Scriptures reveal God’s truth on this matter; it is not a matter of opinion. I wanted to state this from the outset, since you asked for “opinions on the subject”. I want to be clear that I am not offering a personal opinion, but what God’s word teaches us on the subject (Eph. 3:3-4; 5:17). The nature of the topic you raise (worship related) makes it evident that this is an issue of “what does the Scripture say” and not one of private opinion (Rom. 4:3). If I misapply the Scriptures, please let me know so I can carefully consider it and correct every error made.
First, one must establish the Bible authority for adding instrumental music to the singing of hymns (1 Ths. 5:21-22). And, for that matter, provide the Bible authority to remove singing and replacing it with playing only. The exclusive New Testament pattern of “singing” is binding and allows for no alterations. To add “playing”, regardless of its purpose, is a violation of the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17; 2 Jno. 9).
Secondly, “songs, hymns and spiritual songs” are designed for worship, not entertainment (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; Jas. 5:13). The whole notion of performing spiritual songs as a form of entertainment is foreign to the word of God. That purpose is an addition of men. To add entertainment to the God-given purpose (which is worship) goes beyond what is written concerning the purpose of singing praises (1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:6-10).
Thirdly, to turn worship activity (like singing hymns) into a form of entertainment is an act of irreverence toward God; it certainly is not worship (Jno. 4:24). In truth, to turn any activity of worship into entertainment (a self-willed purpose) is akin to offering “strange fire” to the Lord (Lev. 10:1-3). In this case, the difference is that it is not even overtly for the Lord – it is for men (to entertain them)! We would not dream of offering prayers as “entertainment”, for such makes a mockery of God and of prayer. Similarly, changing the music God approves (by adding playing) and then altering its purpose (from worship to entertainment) are acts of disobedient irreverence toward God (Jno. 4:23-24).
Fourthly, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 et al. exclude solos, quartets, and other entertainment performances inasmuch as Christians speak to “one another” and teach and admonish “one another” in song. This is the interaction of saints blending their voices in praise to God. By doing so, they engage in concurrent teaching and admonition. Individuals may indeed sing praises out of joy (Jas. 5:13); but that is not performing for the entertainment of others (since worship is not entertainment).
Finally, the Christian who engages in the instrumental presentation of hymns (with or without vocal accompaniment) must consider the influence he is having as he does so (1 Pet. 2:11-12). By his conduct he is leaving the real impression that the instrumental presentation of hymns is acceptable to God. He will have a hard time convincing others that only singing is the God-approved music of worship when he has (at least by his behavior) re-defined the music of worship to include instrumental music (as well as adding the additional purpose of entertainment). His influence for the truth of the gospel is thus tarnished (even as those who use instrumental music as a form of worship accept him). He becomes their excuse for continuing to use instrumental music in their vain worship. He taught them it was OK; not an enviable position for the Christian (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
[Editor Note: We increasingly hear of brethren viewing worship as a matter of “custom” and “tradition”, thus emboldening them to alter it for contemporary and unscriptural desires. While incidentals that expedite worship will change, authorized worship will not (Jno. 4:23-24; Col. 3:17). Altering God’s approved worship is off limits (2 Jno. 9-11). God’s word reveals acceptable worship; we are bound by faith to offer it and it alone to God.]
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8-12
1. That which is faithful can be believed in; reliable, trustworthy.
I. CHRIST CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS, 1 Tim 1:15.
A. The Purpose of His Life and
Death, Matt 1:21; 20:28; Rom 5:8; 1 Jno 3:5.
II. DESIRE THE OFFICE OF AN ELDER: A GOOD WORK, 1 Tim 3:1 (Heb 13:17).
A. Elders will not Appear out of Nowhere.
III. GODLINESS IS PROFITABLE FOR ALL THINGS, 1 Tim 4:7-9 (6:6).
A. Way Life must be Lived, Titus 2:11-12; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 5:8-10; Rom 6:11-13.
IV. IF WE DIED WITH CHRIST, WE SHALL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM, 2 Tim 2:11.
A. We “Die” with Christ in
Baptism, Ro 6:1-8.
V. WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS, Titus 3:8.
A. Redeemed for this Purpose, Titus 2:14 (Eph 2:10); 2 Pet 2:11-12; 2 Tim 3:17 (1 Pet 4:11).
AWOL Won't Get the Work Done
As this is being written, the Wisconsin State Senate democrats continue to be AWOL from their congressional duties. In opposing proposed legislation (which will pass when they return), they have left the state to prevent the bill from becoming law. They say they are doing the peoples’ business by blocking its passage. Regardless, the fact is their senate seats are empty when they ought to be occupied.
Some Christians use a similar tactic when they get upset at brethren. They decide to pull back and stop being involved in the work because “they don’t agree with the elders”, or “the preacher preaches too long”, or “sister so-and-so won’t speak to me”. They may even pick up and leave. Maybe they go to another congregation (if one is nearby), or maybe they stop attending the worship services all together. And invariably, it is someone else’s fault that they are AWOL.
Imaginary wrongdoing by others against us is among the tricks used by the devil to draw Christians away from being dependable, faithful members of the congregation (see 1 Tim. 6:3-5, where envy, strife, reviling and evil suspicions contribute to disputes among brethren). Blaming others and biting and devouring each other renders everyone AWOL (Gal. 5:13-15).
Running from and ignoring responsibility does not make it disappear. Typically, it only makes things worse. Jesus shows us the value of working while we can (“while it is day”, Jno. 9:4). Night is coming, when we will no longer be able to work for the Lord. Instead of rationalizing why we are not working for the Lord, let us do God’s will. Jesus never went AWOL from the Father’s business, and neither should we (Lk. 2:49).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 02/27/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA