THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF TONGUES

25 Sep

 I believe that running neck and neck with being slain in the spirit, speaking in other tongues is at the top of the list of doctrinal controversy. Shortly after I got saved in 1977, I knew about the baptisms of water and fire, but I had not yet heard that tongues was believed to be the “initial evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as taught by Pentecostal, Charismatic and Word of Faith Believers.

 A few days after I was saved, I received supernaturally the name of a pentecostal church that was on Ferry Street  in my town. I searched the yellow pages, and to my amazement, there it was. At that time, I had never even heard the words “pentecostal,” “tongues” or even being “baptized” in the Holy Ghost. So accompanied by my friend Vivian, we headed for Ferry Street to St. Johns Church of God in Christ.

 When we entered the church, the service was already in progress. The thing that I found so astounding was the music. It seemed like the sounds of the musical instruments were actually coming through the walls. It was there that I first got introduced to what I believed then was “the presence of the Holy Ghost.” It was absolutely awesome!

 No words were ever spoken to either one of us. Yet right in the middle of the service, a group of the members gathered together, walked to the back of the church and encircled us. To my amazement, Vivian fell to the ground and began to roll around on the floor. She began to froth at the mouth, jerk, twist, appearing as though she was having a seizure. Apparently pleased with this manifestation, those who encircled us also went into a kind of ecstatic experience which ordinarily would have frightened me, but I was feeling so much peace from the power than seemed to be both inside and upon me, that I was in no way disquieted.

Yet, the ecstasy left me when the gathered group and the rest of those assembled all turned to me, with the unspoken expectation that “it was my turn” to fall out and roll on the floor. I didn’t want to be disrespectful but once Vivian “came to her senses,” we quickly eased our way out the door,while the worship service continued without missing a beat. Not one word was ever spoken between us and them. For thirty years, I have marked that day as my”baptism in the Holy Ghost”, yet without tongues as the initial evidence.

 Even though I myself have spoken in various tongues fluently since 1983, I have had serious reservations about this practice for almost two decades. As I continue to perservere to “try the spirits” in my own very supernatural spiritual life, I have placed several dreams, signs,miracles and wonders to the test. Simply put, I seek God continually to expose the truth, no matter the results or the consequences.

 It turns out that some of my most treasured spiritual experiences, when examined or “tried,” have proven to be sent by a religious demon. Am I hurt or disappointed? Not at all. For as a result of “trying the spirits,” I not only have been liberated by truth, but I have been flooded with an abundance of knowledge and wisdom since 2004, particularly in the year 2007. If 2012 will be more revelatory than 2007, I pray for continued peace and strength to continue to adjust to the stark reality of unadulterated truth.

 I believe that the reason why I have not been troubled by recent spiritual exposures of error and deception is because truly, I have had nothing to lose. Each day that yet another deception is exposed, I am reminded of the words of the Lord about building your foundation upon the solid rock. My salvation experience that occurred on March 29th, 1977 at 4pm on a Monday afternoon is MY SOLID ROCK. When I came into the kingdom, I had nothing else built into my “religious” foundation. No church background at all. No doctrine. No memorized scriptures. No prayers. Nothing. I was at ground zero. A hardened atheist. No religion to lose. At ground zero, the Holy Ghost was able to reveal in the twinkling of an eye what would last and become in me “a solid rock.. It was so simple yet so unforgettable.

I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus Christ paid for my sins in His death and that He also defeated death by being raised from the dead. That was it!!!! Therefore, my rebirth experience has been my anchor, my solid Rock. Surely I experience a feeling that is difficult to describe. It is not disappointment exactly. The closest word to describe what truth brings is a sense of awesome humility. I suspect what I feel is “the fear of the Lord.” Truly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. For with every revelation I receive about error and deception, my foundation  continues to remain unmoved. Therefore, outside of any personal revelations received from the Spirit of God or from the religious demon masquarading as God, all that I have lost are the traditions and doctrines of men.

 NOT MUCH TO LOSE!!!! Once I sent an article  wherein I expressed my reservations on tongues, I received emails from well meaning “tongue talkers,” who tried to convince me with scripture that “a prayer language is for every Christian.” There is no denying that Christians on both sides of the tongues debate have been clearly devisive as the speaking in tongues has become an extremely emotional issue. I myself prefer to take a rational, objective approach which also includes an examination of tongues throughout church history.

With the fluency that I myself had in tongues, I could obviously let this issue rest by simply accepting both the doctrine and the practice with my own experience as confirmation of its reality and acceptability. I could matter of factly declare, “Oh, well, since I speak in tongues, it MUST be from God and not a counterfeit.” No, I do not try the spirits by my own personal experience. For example, as a woman in ministry, I was called by several dreams and visions. Yet I never argued with anyone whether or not women should be preaching or not preaching. In all honesty, I really didn’t know. I was prepared to step down anytime in obedience to God, if my stepping forward to preach was presumptuous. I read the same scriptures from the letters of Paul that antagonists used to deny women as ministers, yet I was not convinced by their interpretations that “a woman ought not to teach.” I have simply followed the leading of the Holy Ghost, expecting that the Lord would reveal the truth, “bye and bye.”

Today, 30 years later, I believe that I know the truth about the “woman question.” The answer to the debate is rather simple. With few exceptions, women were not called to ministry during the age of the organized church in the first 1965 years of its history. God had His reasons for restraining women in Christian ministry. Only in the last 10-15 years have women come forward in significant numbers. Apparently it must be “the time.” Personally speaking,  I was drafted as a forerunner, just a little “out of season.”

I approach the debate of tongues in a similar way. As with the “woman in ministry question,” I did some research on the speaking in tongues throughout t church age. As with all controversial doctrines and practices, people who claim to “know the word”, defend tongues with a few key scriptures, with no consideration of cultural or historic variables. Without a socio-cultural perspective, mass confusion is the consequence. In fact, those who speak in tongues use specific verses taken out of context from predominately two books to support their position: I Corinthians 12 and 14 and some key scriptures in Acts. In “Food for Thought,”

 I will take the very same scriptures and present a position that may surprise you, but will hopefully shed some light on whether or not tongues is to be used “as a prayer language.”   I received tongues at a meeting held in Albany New York through the ministry ofthe late Kenneth Hagin. Hagin is really the founder of the word of faith movement as it is operating today. I have no idea whether or not Hagin was a false prophet or a deceived one. I simply look around as I view Charismania, and I know Hagin by his fruits—charismatic witchcraft!.

Anyway, I never truly embraced the way that I received tongues because it had no resemblance to the way the early church received this gift as revealed in the book of Acts. Yet, I grew to speak prolifically, at my own will, what charismatics call  “a prayer language.” The reason why I have not been convinced about tongues is that in 25 years, I was not been able to find a bonafide interpreter, nor have I been able to interpret myself.

 So I ask, “Where are the interpreters?” The Holy Ghost does not expect me to throw away my commonsense. If I have prayed off and on for decades to receive the gift of interpretation of tongues as Paul suggests that we all do, 25 years have passed and I still have no one, including myself to interpret my “prayer language”, good sense ought to suggest to me that the tongue that I have received is not from God.

So if it is not from God, then who did it come from? Well, its obvious. It didn’t come from me. I suspect that it came from one of the Ascended Masters, perhaps Sananda or Ashtar. What would be the reason for the demons to desire to imitate tongues?

Well, if we don’t know what we are saying when we speak in an “unknown” tongue, we could very possibly be used by demonic beings to “decree and declare” that their will, purposes and agenda be done on earth, rather than that of the will of the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One, True and Only Creator–the one that Lucifer rebelled against in the first place.  On 1/8/2007, when I first spoke out on tongues, I certainly drew a bunch of folk out into the open with this one!!! lol. For some, it seems that tongues is really a “sacred cow,” practically an “untouchable.” 

 I don’t presume to have ALL the answers about anything. So if you have a need to “set me straight”, I can take it.!!!  There are some key statements that I believe are important to make from the outset. The first statement is this. From the words and warnings of Jesus Christ, I believe that the greatest danger of our time is deception.

The elect have been deceived. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am among the elect of God, yet I myself have been deceived many times. But thanks be to God, those who will be obedient, those who will resist Satan by humbling themselves before God will be undeceived in due season. For me, “this is due season.”

The next statement that I believe is important is this: To rightly divide the word, one must be careful of making assumptions.

For example, as we study the word, is it “right”—does it make sense—for us to assume that JUST BECAUSE God did something in the past, that He is obligated to do the same thing in the future? In other words,should we use biblical history to “box in” God into ALWAYS doing what He once did, the way He once did it? Conversely speaking, just because we do not find in the bible where God did this or that, must we assume that if a sign or a manifestation is not an exact duplication of something that we can find in the word of God, that it cannot be a manifestation of God today?

 Taking this a step further, how does one “rightly divide” the bible? For example, when I read Job, I am careful NOT to read thelengthy discourses of Job’s friends. Why? Because at the end of the book I find God’s words to one of Job’s friends: “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” When I first studied the advice of Job’s friends, I myself didn’t see anything wrong with it. But once I got to Job 42:7, I usually skip over what Job’s friends have to say, to prevent myself from ingesting wrong spiritual precepts.

Along these lines, a general statement of warning is in order, relative to taking scriptures out of context without connecting the selected verse to the the “who,what, where, how and why” of the entire book. With these general statements made and without throwing out of context scriptures back and forth in a useless debate, I think we can all agree that God is a God of order, and within his order, there is always a divine purpose.

 When we look at tongues and the culture and history ofthe people in the early church, we find that in one local community, there were people who had different native tongues or languages: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians,Judeans,Cappadocians, Pontus and Asia, Phyrgia,Pamphylia, Egyptians, those from Lybia, Cyrene, Romans, Jews, Cretans, and Arabs. I count here 17 different languages. People gathered on the day of Pentecost heard the disciples speak in their own native tongues “the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2: 11)

What are the wonderful works of God? That God so loved the world that He sent His Son as a propitiation or “peace offering” to appease His wrath toward sin and that His Son became sin at the cross, died and was raised from the dead.” In other words, through the speaking in other tongues by unlearned Galileans, sinners could hear the gospel preached in their own language and be converted. How was this done? Either everyone heard their own language in their inner ear while one person was speaking, or each of the disciples was speaking at least one of 17 different languages.

Therefore, the major purpose of tongues was “to preach the gospel” to those who did not understand the native dialect of the Galileans. Was tongues a supernatural evidence that God was with them and in them? Most definitely. Yet the purpose of tongues was NOT self edification and that is the correction that Paul brought to the Corinthians in Ch.12, 13 and 14. In a nutshell, Pauls message to the Corinthians was based upon their misuse of tongues. Their major misuse of tongues is that they were using it “as a prayer language,” trying to “edify themselves”, by speaking mysteries to God when Paul nicely corrected them.

Simply put, in present day vernacular, Paul was saying, “I appreciate your zeal. But you must remember, brethren that once “you were carried away by dumb idols.” In other words, once you were worshipping demons. (I Cor.12:2) In the doctrinal footnotes associated with this scripture found in the King James Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson, it is noted that prior to their conversion to Christianity, the Corinthians had a pagan practice of speaking in tongues for the purpose of making contact with the gods. “Pagan worship at Corinth involved a chanting exercise of “tongues,”—- a practice of ecstatic utterances, common in the cults and in the worship of various Greek gods and goddesses.

Isn’t it ironic that present day tongue talkers use this very scripture to justify their explanation about “a prayer language”, without rightly dividing the context. First of all, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are different from his letters to the Romans and the Ephesians because the Corinthian letters consist of Paul’s response to a letter that they had sent to him. Furthermore, Paul points out that those in the household of Chloe had also informed him of various divisive issues. So when you read both the first and the second books to the believers in Corinth, you have to read it, keeping in mind, “who is saying what towhom?” Are these the words of those from Chloe’s household?, or is Paul repeating the words sent to him in a letter from the Corinthians that we have no access to? or are these Paul’s own words?” It makes all of the difference in “rightly dividing the word.”

Here is an example that has held women in bondage for centuries. Clearly, the “women keep silent in the church, learn at home from your husbands, etc. etc. etc. were NOT PAUL’S WORDS. Paul was repeating back to them excerpts or quotations from the letter that he had received from them. How do I know? LOOK AT 1 Corinthians 14: 36. In response to all of that, Paul writes, “WHAT! Did the word ofGod come originally from YOU only?” This verse is very insulting to the men as if Paul is saying, “boys, get a grip!!!” What’s wrong with you? Are you ignorant for writing such a thing to me????!!!. Look at the verse in the original King James.

Yet for centuries, the church has been misreading practically ALL of I Corinthians Chapter 14. In that same chapter, those who hold with the prayer language doctrine of tongues for “personal” edification have misapplied and misunderstood Paul’s intent. Everyone focuses on the love theme of Chapter 13, but the main subject is really tongues, ie. though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. Tongues is the main subject. Paul was being very kind to the Corinthians because “they were fervent and zealous, yet they were babes in Christ. So Paul is gentle with them, writing, if you will be zealous about spiritual gifts, seek not a self gratifying prayer language but seek a gift like interpretation of tongues so that through love, you can benefit the entire church.

 In the study notes, I found yet another important statement to refute the prayer language for “self edification”: “This is best understood as a general reference of divine power evidenced in the exercise of the gift. Its purpose was to demonstrate divine power to the unbeliever. However, if an unbeliever should visit a congregation where gifts are being exercised without regard for order or understanding, the results will be just the opposite. The key purpose of the gift is destroyed by the unbridled exercise of it. Considering Paul’s entire point of view about tongues, when he wrote: “I speak in tongues more than you all,” I don’t believe he was talking about a prayer language.

Paul was a travelling evangelist so the speaking in tongues other than his own native language was most purposeful. Yet consider the evangelists of today. Where can we go in the United States and find large populations of people that do not speak English? The predominant “other tongue” of this country is Spanish. I have had Spanish speaking people in my worship services. I speak in tongues and I have never studied Spanish. Yet, did I preach to them in their language? No, I did not. Did I interpret what I spoke in English to them in Spanish? No. I had a bi-lingual member to translate for me. All over the world, charismatic evangelists are preaching in English with translators, yet they “speak in tongues.” SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. COULD IT BE THAT TONGUES HAS CEASED AS PAUL SAID IT WOULD? In the next blog, you will find that tongues ceased for 1900 years or 19 centuries.

 

2 Responses to “THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF TONGUES”

  1. ladyelenauk September 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I admire your transparency in writing. There are so many things I don’t understand in churches today but as you wrote: We should try the spirits.

    I would love to know your take on Benny Hinn whom I admire and have attended his prayer conference in Edexel London. How is it that people fall when he just raises his hands? i’ve always wondered. The anointing?
    Thanks

    • Pam Sheppard Publishing September 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

      I generally look to the root of things. Hinn admits to having gone to the gravesite of Kathryn Kulhman to receive a double portion of her anointing and power. That is the practice of necrmancy, which God forbids in His word.Jesus said that if the root is evil, so is the fruit.

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