PCG on Tongues


PCG’s Eric Anderson reported the following:

The Plain Truth About “Speaking in Tongues”…

The Basic Doctrine

The late Herbert W. Armstrong made it plain that “the gift of ‘tongues’ spoken of in the Bible is the ability to speak of God in other languages—languages that are foreign and previously unknown to the speaker” (Tomorrow’s World, February 1972).

In other words, the gift of tongues is the God-given, miraculous ability to speak in a human language that one has not learned in any normal manner. But it is certainly not those demonstrations of emotional and indecipherable gibberish that some religious groups today call “speaking in tongues.”

Usual Teachings of This World

The 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the “gift of tongues, also called glossolalia (from [the] Greek glossa, ‘tongue,’ and lalia, ‘talking’), [includes] utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious excitement. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected, the tongue moves without the conscious control of the speaker, and unintelligible speech pours forth. According to religious interpretations of the phenomenon, the speaker is considered to be possessed by a supernatural spirit, is in conversation with divine beings, or is the channel of a divine proclamation …”

Some groups view this experience as absolute proof one has the Spirit of God. Others allow that Christians who do not speak in tongues in this manner may have the Spirit, but that those who do speak in tongues have obtained a higher degree of the Spirit with such “inspired” speaking. Glossolalia is a greatly prized spiritual goal in all tongues-speaking circles…

Most all who do such speaking take the greatest pride in the fact that they “spoke in tongues”—not in what they babbled that might have been meaningful.

Few, it seems, stop and ask themselves whether their “gift” agrees with the biblical definition of tongues…

The day God established for this special bestowing of His Spirit was on His annual festival of Pentecost—also known as the feast of weeks or feast of firstfruits—which was observed 50 days after the day on which Christ was resurrected. The word pentekoste is a Greek word meaning “50th [day],” or “count fifty.” Leviticus 23:15-21 tells us that Pentecost is an annual holy day which true Christians are commanded to observe every year in the late spring. Strangely, and significantly, the modern Pentecostal groups of this world do not even keep this biblically commanded day!…

Pentecost, A.D. 31

At last, when the day of Pentecost had “fully come,” something truly amazing happened. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit arrived with a great display of power! (Acts 2:2-4, 8, 11)…

Then Peter, the chief apostle, stood and delivered a sermon (Acts 2:14-21). Again, the tongues he spoke in were known languages of the day that were clearly understood by those listening. The listeners marveled because Peter, to their ears, seemed to be speaking in their native, local dialects, although he obviously hadn’t learned all these languages by going to school or through some other normal method of study.

Obviously, Peter was not speaking incomprehensible, meaningless clack. He did not work up the crowd with rhythmically chanted, vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Further, we see no descriptions of wildly gyrating bodies, waving hands or people rolling around on the ground.

Concerning this utterly unique and amazing account of the gift of tongues, Mr. Armstrong concluded that “the miracle was in the hearing as well as the speaking” (ibid., emphasis mine)…

The Gift of Tongues

The book of 1 Corinthians has much to say about the subject of tongues. The gift is mentioned in verses 1 and 10 of 1 Corinthians 12, but verses 27-31 are the most critical.

In verse 28, Paul lists the governmental offices of the church, including the ranks of apostle and prophet. Then, beginning in verse 29, through a series of rhetorical questions, Paul decidedly proves that not all have the gift of tongues (or any of a number of other gifts for that matter). Clearly, having the gift of tongues cannot be the only proof one has God’s Spirit. Nor is it proof of superior righteousness, for verse 31, along with 1 Corinthians 13, declares absolutely that love is a greater gift of the Spirit than speaking in tongues! 1 Corinthians 13:1 says that even if one has the power to speak in the “tongues of … angels,” he is spiritually worthless unless he has love.

It is important to note that these verses do not imply that the Corinthians spoke in angelic language. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, Paul lists a number of incredible feats, all of them beyond human capability (i.e., moving mountains with faith, and understanding every single mystery of life)… It is clear that Paul spoke of the tongues of angels also as something beyond the Corinthians’ natural abilities, just like moving mountains.

A point that I would like to emphasize that PCG did not is that we in the Living Church of God suspect that God may pour out this gift again relatively soon, whereas it is not clear (to me at least) if PCG believes it will happen again anytime soon.

The late Living Church of God evangelist John Ogwyn wrote:

Paul emphasized in 1 Corinthians 14 that the gifts God gives are for edifying or strengthening the Church. He encouraged his readers to seek God’s gifts for the purpose of serving others—not for self-aggrandizement. As for tongues or languages, Paul explained that it was better to speak just a few words that were understandable and helpful, rather than ten thousand words in a language no one could understand (v. 19). For unless the content is helpful and instructive, words in and of themselves lack benefit to the hearers (v. 6, 9).
A prophecy in Joel 2:28–32 foretells an end-time outpouring of God’s Spirit in a miraculous way. Peter quoted this scripture and applied it to the miracle that occurred on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is apparent upon close scrutiny, however, that a much greater fulfillment of this prophecy is for the time just prior to the Day of the Lord (v. 31). Thus, many of the miraculous outpourings of God’s Spirit that happened in the first century will undoubtedly occur again in the end time.
However, from what we have seen, it should be clear that the “speaking in tongues” commonly practiced today in the charismatic movement—with its incoherent babbling often accompanied by uncontrollable shrieks and spasms—is most certainly not from God. “For,” as Paul says in his discussion on tongues, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Indeed, we may rightly discern that most of the “speaking in tongues” that goes on today has a different author—either demonic spirits or simply human imagination. For just as demons were involved in the pagan Greek religion of long ago with its babbling oracles (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20), so also are they involved in false religion today…If the author of individuals’ ecstatic speech is the human mind, it is either an outright fraudulent act, some form of mental illness or simply a frenzy of human emotion.
True miracles, however, are not brought about by human emotion. They are, rather, the result of God supernaturally working through His true servants—those who genuinely obey Him and are yielded to His will. As mentioned at the outset, in the spiritual confusion of modern religion, many today recognize a great void in their lives. Without real understanding of God’s ultimate purpose and plan, they are accepting a counterfeit of true
spirituality. They are pursuing a feeling—and are therefore setting themselves up to be deceived by the end-time false miracles of which Christ warned (Matthew 24:24). We should seek God and His ways—not feelings.
If we do so with all our heart and continue to genuinely walk with Him, the true miracles will certainly follow in God’s own time.

LCG’s R.C. Meredith mentioned tongues a few months back:

Remember that Jesus Christ told us, “‘And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:17-20).
Brethren, we really need to “cry out” for God to help us, teach us every lesson we need to learn, draw us closer to Him and begin to give us the “accompanying signs” of which Jesus spoke. This certainly would be a powerful witness that God was, in fact, “confirming the word” which we preached if we begin to have these powerful signs from our Father in heaven.
Also, we are told to pray for the Holy Spirit. And God shows us in His Word, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) (Meredith RC. Church Fast Reminder. Email to ministry, March 20, 2009).

And while tongues will likely be a gift relatively soon, we in the Living Church of God do not accept that that the current “Pentecostal movement” has it.

An article of possibly related interest may be Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?

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