"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
About "Speaking in Tongues"
By Fred O. Blakely
Concerning the agitation in neo-Pentecostal and other charismatic circles about "speaking in tongues," Given 0. Blakely had some pertinent remarks and observations in a timely message to us. Among them were these:
Revelation is the intelligible communication of God's mind on a given subject. Truth hidden, whether by an unknown tongue or a doctrine which cannot be reconciled with Scripture, is truth withheld. Unintelligible speech in the church, as well as unintelligible doctrines, are to be avoided. That is because
God's purpose in Christ is revelative, not concealive. His objective is to make His Word manifest, not to hide it (Tit. 1:2-3; cf. Eph. 3:8-9). To speak unintelligible mysteries in the church is contradictive of the genius of the new covenant, under which God is to be known, not obscured and mystified (Jer. 31:34).
The "gift of tongues," as employed by the Corinthian church, was not function- but experience-centered, and was censured by Paul because of that. It is to be noted that the Apostle's dealing, in First Corinthians 12 and 14, with the "tongues" problem was corrective, not doctrinal. Nowhere in Scripture is either the privilege or responsibility of speaking in or with tongues bound upon the church. The subject was not even mentioned in correspondence with the other churches.
In all three of the historical accounts of the bona fide possession and use of the gift of "tongues" (Acts 2; 10; and 19), the gift was of ability to speak a human language not native to the speaker, and was used for instruction and edification. In light of that circumstance, Brother Given raised a question as to the genuineness of the "tongues" of Corinth as a gift from God. It could have been a hangover from the heathenism out of which the Corinthians had come, and so a corruption of the gift of tongues previously experienced (cf. I Cor. 12:1-3).
There are a number of instances in which Scripture takes error at face value and deals with the subject involved as though the error were truth (see Mt. 18:37; 26:63-64; Lk. 19:20-26; Jn. 11:49-52; I Cor. 15:29). It was opined that it is possible that is what Paul did in his treatment of the Corinthians "tongues" confusion. It appears quite likely that was his technique in the case of those who were "baptized for the dead," of reference in chapter 15:29.
It is to be especially noted that Corinth, for all its vaunted "gifts." was "yet carnal," and walked "as men," making it impossible for the Apostle to address them as "spiritual" (I Cor. 3:1-3). That circumstance in itself should cause those who are caught up in the "tongues" rage of today to seriously reconsider the subject.
What the Corinthian church had clearly did not assist them in realizing God's purpose for His people, which is to develop in His grace and knowledge. Inasmuch as God does not contribute to His own frustration, that situation is against the validity of the "tongues" usage at Corinth.
Furthermore, it was remarked, since God is not the author of confusion, but of truth, light, and genuine revelation, it can be safely concluded that He is not the source of unintelligible gibberish which masquerades as a communication from him, but actually ministers darkness rather than light. With the principal function of Satan, which is to blind and confuse concerning God's truth, in mind, he can more logically be conceived of as the originator of such undecipherable chatter.
Although Paul said, "Forbid not to speak with tongues" (I Cor. 14:39), it is pointedly significant that he forbade it at Corinth, unless the claimed communication were interpreted in language understandable to the church. That requirement and proscription still stands.
A Challenge from Malachi
In his accustomed remarks at the Lord's table, Harold F. Lohse brought us a challenge from the Prophet Malachi. The text was Malachi 3:16-17. It commends those who, despite the murmuring and reproaching of God common to their time (vv. 13-15), feared God, thought upon His Name, and spoke often to one another of Him. God heard these conversations and "a book of remembrance was written before Him" concerning those involved in them. "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."
In our day, we have much more revelation of God--His grace and the salvation it has brought to us--to think upon and talk about to one another, Brother Harold pointed out. The case of the faithful ones referred to by Malachi is both an example and challenge to us. Particularly, as we come to the communion table on the Lord's day, we should meditate upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the justification and hope of heaven which it has brought to us.
The promise of Malachi, and other texts of Scripture (see also Ezek. 9:1-6) is that God takes special note of such people and practice, and will recognize them for what they are at the last day-His dear children who truly love Him and are genuinely devoted to His Person and kingdom. That blessed prospect should be more than enough to beget and sustain in us hearty and continued consecration to our God and His Christ, it was well concluded.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).