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"More About Tongues"

Dear Brother Pearson:

I received your email regarding my article on speaking in tongues and was very happy to hear from you. From the tone of your questions I felt that you may not believe in speaking in tongues, however I will answer according to my belief that you are a sincere seeker for the truth.

Number one, Brother Pearson, we must not get our doctrine from experience, no matter how profound, but from the eternal word of God, and we strive that our experience might fit the Bible.

Number two, you mentioned the names of many great men who obviously have done much for the kingdom of God, whom you say did not teach or practice speaking in tongues, and asked me to judge whether they were lost, backsliden or heretics. These are definitely not words that I would use to describe any of these servants of the Lord and neither would I set about to judge their walk with God. Nevertheless, from the scriptures we learn that some have done a good work for God, even tho their understanding of the truth was deficient and their message incomplete. Acts 19:24-28 tells of Apollos, a Jew who was "an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures." Verse 25 says he was "instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John." He was doing a good work for God. But verse 26 says Aquila and Priscilla "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" and his ministry became much greater (verse 28). If as you say, the men that you named never spoke in tongues, just think how much greater their ministries would have been had they practiced and taught this wonderful experience. They would have been in the company of many people, mightily used of God, who did speak in tongues, including Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14 and 2:1-4), His brother James (Acts 1:14 and 15:8-13), the apostle Peter (Acts 2:4-21) and the apostle Paul (I Corinthians 14:15-18).

My question to you Brother Pearson is, How do you know that the men you named never spoke in tongues? Take Billy Graham for instance. In his book "The Holy Spirit," in the chapter titled "The Sign Gifts," he says some wonderful things regarding speaking in tongues. He says on page 226 "I personally cannot find any biblical justification for saying the gift of tongues was meant exclusively for New Testament times." On page 228 he says, "The filling of the Spirit may result in many different experiences in our lives, of which tongues on occasion may be only one evidence." On page 231 Brother Graham says, "A number of friends have told me that after they had prayed for a long period of time, they suddenly found themselves speaking in an unknown language." He adds "The private use of tongues is implied by Paul when he remarks that 'I speak in tongues more than you all'." On page 233 Brother Graham expresses the need for believers to be filled with the Spirit and says, "on the occasion of a particular in-filling, tongues may be a sign God gives some." He says also on page 233 "to summarize, First, there is a real gift of tongues. Many of those who have been given this gift have been transformed spiritually. Second, God uses tongues at certain times, in certain places, especially on the frontiers of the Christian mission, to further the kingdom of God and to edify believers."

On page 218 Brother Graham gives this account, "A leading minister in the Church of Scotland lay in the Intensive Care Unit of a Glasgow infirmary. He knew that his life hung in the balance - at any minute he might be seeing his Lord face to face. And so, he began talking to Him. As he did, he found himself praying in a language he had never heard before. He recovered to serve his Lord for several more years." He makes this enlightening statement on page 221, "No one can escape the fact that the neo-Pentecostal emphasis has brought Protestants and Roman Catholics closer together in some parts of the world, not on the basis of having worked out their theological disagreements but on the basis of speaking in tongues and baptism with the Holy Spirit." While not professing to be an expert on speaking in tongues or saying whether or not he speaks in tongues, Brother Graham addressed the subject of "unknown tongues" on pages 224 and 225. He says "the question is whether or not the tongues in I Corinthians were known languages." He continues "some Bible students suggest they were, while others say they were simply some form of ecstatic utterance unrelated to any know human language. Personally, I lean toward the latter position." Also he gives a quote from I Corinthians chapter 13, "Paul mentions tongues of men and of angels. Now it should be apparent that angelic tongues are not known to any of us, yet the implication is there that some might speak in such tongues." Dr. Graham makes this awesome statement on page 234, "Indeed, tongues is a gift of the Spirit. Today there are Presbyterians, Baptists, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists, as well as Pentecostals, who speak or have spoken in tongues. And those who forbid it do the Church a disservice because they appear to contradict the teaching of the apostle Paul." Please consider, that as quoted by the Full Gospel Men's Voice he said, "In the main denominations we have looked a bit askance at our brethren from the Pentecostal churches because of their emphasis on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, but I believe the time has come to give the Holy Spirit His rightful place in our churches. We need to learn once again what it means to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Emphasis mine throughout) I do know that his daughter Anne Graham Lotz teaches and practices speaking in tongues.

Brother Pearson, you mentioned D.L. Moody. I think possibly he spoke in tongues, as this practice did appear in the wake of his preaching campaigns. Take this account by Robert Boyd of a service in Sunderland England in 1873. "When I got to the rooms of the YMCA, I found the meeting on fire. The young men were speaking in tongues and prophesying. What on earth did it mean? Only that Moody had been addressing them that afternoon."

You mentioned also John Wesley. While I have no proof that he spoke in tongues, he certainly did witness many strong manifestations of the Spirit in his meetings. One account from his journal states, "In the evening, such a spirit of laughter was among us, that many were much offended." Another says "It was a frequent occurrence for people to cry aloud or fall down as if dead in the meetings, so great was their anguish of heart, caused, no doubt, by the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin."

Concerning George Whitefield, an account of a service in 1740 says, "Mr. Whitefield had scarcely spoken for a minute on the same text when the whole auditorium could be seen to be deeply moved, to be in tears, and to be wringing hands, and the sighings, weeping, and shouting of the people could be heard."

Jonathan Edwards' ministry was accompanied by many manifestations of the Holy Ghost as well. His writings tell of congregations "that were moved by a mighty, invisible power" that sometimes caused "visible commotion." He writes of one service where "many others at the same time were overcome with distress about their sinful and miserable condition; so that the whole room was full of nothing but outcries, faintings, convulsions and the like. It was pretty often so, that there were some that were so affected, and their bodies so overcome, that they could not go home, but were obliged to stay all night where they were."

You mentioned William Booth, father of the Salvation Army. His grandson, the late William Booth-Cliburn, noted minister and songwriter who penned such great hymns as "Down From His Glory" and "He's Coming Soon," was a very dear friend of mine, and he preached and practiced speaking in tongues.

Brother Pearson, from my study of the history of the Church of Jesus there seems to be an unbroken line of the Holy Spirit poured out in this manner. St. Augustine, who lived in the fourth century, wrote, "We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them by the laying on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues." Tongues appeared in many of the great revivals. The early Waldensians, spoke in unknown languages. So did the Jansenists, and the Quakers and the Shakers, and the Methodists. "While waiting upon the Lord," wrote W.C. Braithwaite in an account of early Quaker meetings, "we received often the pouring down of the Spirit upon us and ...we spoke with new tongues."

You mentioned Martin Luther, and perhaps he was not baptized with the Holy Ghost. We owe him a great debt of gratitude for his part in the Reformation, but late in his ministry he turned bitter toward the Jews and wrote hateful things that are not consistent with scripture, nor someone filled with the Holy Spirit. He was quoted by Hitler in some of his speeches, and his erroneous doctrines helped lead to the horrible Holocaust. All doctrine, good and bad bears fruit, and it was said in a scholarly treatise on the Holocaust recently, written by rabbis Yoel Schwartz and Yitzchak Goldstein, "...without Christianity, the success of Nazism would not have been possible...Were it not for the fact that dozens of generations in Europe had been imbued with religious hatred, the growth of racist hatred towards Jewry in modern times could not have taken place." While I am not blaming Martin Luther for the Holocaust, some of his doctrine certainly did contribute to it. Perhaps it would have been different if Luther and others like him who taught this false doctrine, had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said, "will guide you into all truth...and show you things to come" (John 16:13). Please note also that the disciples, baptized with the Holy Spirit, and with Him as their inner guide, taught only what "seemed good to the Holy Ghost" (Acts 16:28). Brother Pearson, much of the error and divisions that are a part of Christianity today would go away if all were baptized with the Holy Ghost.

Dr. Pearson, a look at tongues such as this always begs the question, "What good is speaking in tongues?" Let's let the Bible answer.

1. It is a sign to unbelievers. (I Corinthians 14:22)

2. It is speaking to God, and speaking mysteries in the spirit. (I Corinthians 14:2, 28)

3. It edifies the speaker. (charges his spiritual battery) (I Corinthians 14:4)

4. It is prayer to God by the spirit of the speaker. (I Corinthians 14:14)

5. It is blessing and giving of thanks to God. (I Corinthians 14:16-17)

6. It magnifies God. (Acts 10:46)

7. It builds a person up in the Lord. (Jude verse 20 and I Corinthians 14:14-15)

Brother Pearson, I hope that you will read again prayerfully Acts chapters 2, 8, 10 and 19 and I Corinthians chapter 14. It is a serious thing to teach and preach error and not the "whole council of God." I will say of all Bible truths what Dr. Billy Graham says of the "gospel" in his book "The Holy Spirit," "Men and women do make decisions wherever the gospel is proclaimed; whether publicly or privately, some say yes, some say no, and some procrastinate. No one ever hears the gospel proclaimed without making some kind of decision." Paul says in I Corinthians chapter 3 that some who have worked for God, will on judgement day"suffer loss" of rewards, tho they themselves will be saved, because they were not careful how they built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, as laid down by the apostles. The Lord told me in 1986 that my reward was being weighed in regard to how I received His word. Perhaps it is the same for you.

Please open your mind and heart to all the God has for us as believers.

In Christian Love

Joel Hemphill


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