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Why I No Longer Speak in Tongues

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The main point that I would argue in the paragraphs that follow is that “Tongues” was a gift given by God for a particular time and reason. Once that time and reason passed, Tongues ceased to operate in the Church. This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit has no function in the Church: He has a very important function, but I do not believe it is “signs and wonders.” I heard a preacher once say that if you got all the Charismatic leaders in the world together on one stage, they couldn’t produce a single sign, except one that’d make you wonder! And the man who said that was a Pentecostal!An argument to which I will appeal a little later on, presented by Conyers Middleton, is that the gift Tongues is the stand-out, or primary gift of the extraordinary charismata. Hence, if they have ceased, then it is only reasonable to conclude the same for the other extraordinary charismata. Therefore, I assert that if the gift of Tongues was a sign gift for a temporary time and purpose, then we are not to seek it today.

Those who would argue that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, hence the gift is for all ages, neglect the clear Scriptural fact that God has often given gifts for a distinctively limited time. Israel ate manna in the wilderness for 40 years, but Joshua 5:12 tells us that the very day after Israel ate the produce of Canaan, the manna ceased forever. In 1 Kings 17, God miraculously increased the oil and flour of the widow until it rained again.

Furthermore, the desire for Tongues, or for that matter any of the extraordinary charismata, neglects the true work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Many people don’t have a clear idea of the Spirit’s work, thus the Pentecostal argument seems at least plausible

Another thing I want to assert right from the beginning is this: As a former Pentecostal, I am not being simply reactionary. I am not throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am not, upon seeing fraudulent gifts, making an unwarranted leap to the conclusion that there are no real gifts. It seems to me that each generation has to relearn these things. There would be no Arminianism had people learned from the Pelagian/Augustinian debate. I talk with people all the time who are completely unaware that these issues were dealt with in more than sufficient detail by the Fathers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, never mind men closer to our own age. I repeat: Cessationism is not throwing out the baby with the bath water. In fact, I would assert that Pentecostalism is throwing out the baby and keeping the bath water. Why do I say that? Well for starters, Tongues was a sign gift. You don’t need to take my word for it. Jesus Himself called Tongues a sign. Mark 16:17, Jesus said, “These signs…” (This word is sometimes translated “miracle”). “These signs [these sign miracles] shall follow them that believe.” And part of the text says, “In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.” It is a sign miracle. Then Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Tongues are for a sign.”

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