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THEO201 Fall B01 201040

Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599

Short Essay #3
The Gift of Tongues

Allen Cooke
Student ID# L23197599

THEO 201

Dr. Don Allard

Liberty University September 23, 2010

THEO201 Fall B01 201040
Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599

Over the years I have had many friends, both Christian and non-Christian, from

just about every denomination imaginable. Some of our dearest friends are in the

Christian Church while we have been predominately Baptist in our beliefs. We believe in

eternal security; they do not. We believe that baptism is an act of obedience after

salvation; they believe it is essential to salvation and if death occurs before baptism then

you will spend eternity in hell. Even though we have these differences, I have never

questioned the authenticity of their faith in Jesus Christ and they have never questioned

ours. We made the decision early in our friendship to look beyond the doctrinal

differences and not discuss them since that could cause an argument that could strain or

end our friendship.

There are many well-meaning and authentically Christian people who believe in

the gift of speaking in tongues. They take the verses from the experience of the apostles

in Acts 2 and the list of Grace-gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and interpret them to mean that

the gift of speaking in tongues is evidence of the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of tongues is given the same status as the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in

Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit differs from the gifts of the Spirit. The fruit of

the Spirit are nine visible attributes of the Christian life. They are a sign of spiritual

maturity and all Christians should display some degree of these fruits.

The gifts of the Spirit are given to the Christian as a way of doing what God has

called you to do. Some are given only one gift, others are given more than one. I,

personally, have the gift of discernment but I also have the gift of encouragement and

teaching. Elwell, in his book “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology” indicated that the

gift of tongues are not a foreign language at all but instead was “disjointed, highly
THEO201 Fall B01 201040
Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599
pitched, ecstatic series of ejaculations, similar to the tongues spoke in times of spiritual

awakening experienced intermittently by the church”. I have found that everyone seems

to have a different opinion and that I must rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit. I also

must follow the example that Jesus set for me. I can’t find in scripture an instance where

Christ spoke in tongues. We are never told to follow the lifestyles of the disciples or

apostles; we are told, however; to follow the example and pattern our lives after the life

of Christ. After all, isn’t that what the journey is all about?

I believe that the gift of speaking in tongues was given as a sign gift to the

apostles to authenticate their faith and belief in Jesus Christ. ”Now there were staying in

Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this

sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in

his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking

Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,

Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene;

visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear

them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Acts 2:5-11 I think it is

important to point out that Jerusalem was filled with God-fearing Jews from every nation.

Even though the Bible says they were God-fearing Jews; they were not believers. The

“wonders of God” were being declared to the God-fearing Jews. Many teach that what

they heard was the Gospel in their language. They each heard these words in their tongue

of origin. This feat would have been impossible aside from the power of the Holy Spirit.
THEO201 Fall B01 201040
Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599
The apostles were for the most part uneducated men and had no way of knowing a

language other than their own.

Even though there are those who teach that the gift of speaking in tongues is no

longer a valid gift, in 1 Corinthians 13 we are told that at some time the sign gifts will

cease. Some theologians say that the word “perfect” in verse 10 refers to the completion

of the Revelation of God. 1 Others teach that it refers to the resurrection. 2 I believe that

God can do whatever He wants. I don’t believe that the way we see this gift portrayed

today is either edifying to the church or honoring to God. I remember as a child in

church that we had a mission conference where a missionary came and spoke to us. I

can’t remember the country he was called to or even remember his name, but I do

remember the story he told. He told us that he was scheduled to visit a remote region of

some country where the language had never been written. There was no one to teach the

language to him or his family but they felt the call of God to go there so they obeyed. As

they landed the plane and stepped on the soil they immediately felt a “knowing” and

realized that they would be able to communicate with the people. When they reached the

area of this tribe of people who spoke this unwritten language, the missionaries were able

to communicate with them. The missionary told us that he did not know whether he was

speaking their language or whether God was taking his attempt at their language and

translating it into their language. I don’t know if this would be considered the gift of

tongues or just a miracle of God. If the gifts such as healing and speaking in tongues are

still viable today, I believe that the gifts would be used in such a way as to never bring

attention or glory to the one who possesses the gift, which is the opposite of what we see

THEO201 Fall B01 201040
Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a

hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these

must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or

at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no

interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.”

1Corinthians 14:26-28. In this passage Paul gave instructions for orderly worship. In his

instructions we are told that if anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be two or three at the

most and someone must interpret. What we see in most charismatic churches is contrary

to these guidelines. I have visited several Pentecostal churches and have never seen a

scriptural display of the gift of tongues. As I said before, if the gifts such as tongues and

healing are still viable today, they would be used in such a way as to not draw attention to

one person. What I have seen did not edify the church and it did glorify God. The sign

gifts were given to confirm apostolic revelation. In “Theology Today”, Elmer Towns

states, “When constructing a building, it is necessary to erect scaffolding to aid

construction. When the building is built, the scaffolding is removed. The sign gifts were

the spiritual scaffolding that God used as His authority to build the church…When the

authority of the written Word of God was complete, God took the scaffolding down.”

Whenever I come in contact with someone who objects to my views on tongues I

just explain that the Bible spends so little time on the subject yet we spend too much our

time arguing about it. We make mountains out of what should be molehills. Along with

the gift of tongues, there are other gifts listed that are still viable and useful and could be

used in service to edify the church. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment
THEO201 Fall B01 201040
Allen Cooke Student ID# L23197599
of salvation. We are all given the same portion of the Holy Spirit; but the Christian life is

all about the Holy Spirit gaining more territory in us.

1379 Words

Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13”, “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and
New Testament. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999
Gill, John. “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:10. “The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible”.


Towns, Elmer. Theology for Today. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008, 2002

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book

House Company, 1984, 2001