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I Corinthians 14:5 "I wish that you all spoke with tongues..."

Dear Friend,

I know from study of the Bible and personal experience what a blessing it is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to pray to God in languages that are unknown to me. This is called "speaking in tongues". Therefore, when I heard a noted minister on the radio recently preaching against speaking in tongues, I felt that I should write him this letter, and also share it with you who seek scriptural truth and desire all of God's best for your life.

Dear Brother Morris*

I have heard you on the radio for many years and respect you as a minister, and appreciate your work for God, but I felt the need to write you concerning some statements you made on your broadcast of July 11, 1998 regarding speaking in tongues. Sir, I must respectfully say that your comments on this subject revealed a serious lack of understanding of scripture. For example, you said twice on your broadcast that I Corinthians chapters 12-13-14 were written by the apostle Paul to "discourage speaking with tongues", but he plainly says in I Corinthians 14:5 "I would that ye all spoke with tongues." You quoted Paul as saying that he had rather speak one word that people understood than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue but you failed to point out that he prefaced that statement by saying "in the church....", therefore making a distinction between speaking in tongues in church, where there must be an interpreter, and speaking in tongues during personal prayer time. (See I Cor. 14:27) Please note that Paul or no other writer in the bible ever said or hinted that in a persons private devotion, one word of understanding was equal to 10,000 words in an unknown tongue. If so, that would have meant that tongues was a total waste of time and Paul would have not said in I Cor. 14.18 "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." He certainly knew it's value. Paul says in I Cor. 14:4 "If I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit prayeth but my understanding is unfruitful." Verse 15 says "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also. Paul even sang in tongues which he did not understand. I Cor. 14:2 says, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God: for no man understandeth him: howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. This word mysteries means divine secrets. Verse 17 says, "For thou verily givest thanks....".

Dr. Morris the bible makes a distinction between "the gift of tongues" which is one of the nine ministry gifts, (I Cor. 12:10) and "speaking in tongues" as the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:4 says of the 120 people, including Mary the mother of Jesus, who were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, "and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance." Because this happened on the day of Pentecost speaking in tongues has been mostly associated with so called Pentecostal people, but may I remind you that tens of millions of believers of all denominations, around the world have experienced the baptism with the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues. St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, a large congregation here in Nashville, recently had a great revival which included healings, miracles, and according to our Nashville Tennessean newspaper, speaking in tongues. As on the day of Pentecost, sometimes God still allows those speaking in tongues to be understood by people who know other languages. Several years ago I met a lady in Miami, a Roman Catholic from Hungary, and whose brother was a Catholic Cardinal. A woman stood up in a tent revival and spoke in tongues not realizing she was speaking in the Hungarian language. The Catholic lady came to this woman after church and spoke to her in Hungarian and was shocked that the woman who spoke in tongues could not understand her. She said "you do speak Hungarian for I heard you speak it fluently when you stood in the service tonight." The Catholic lady was soon converted to the "full gospel" message when she was told by this woman that she only spoke English and did not know one word of the Hungarian language. Only God could cause an English speaking woman to stand up in service and speak fluent Hungarian. The Catholic lady herself soon experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and was used by God in another service to speak Chinese, which she did not know a word of, and win a Chinese speaking man to God. There are many such accounts. My Dad, who preached the "full gospel" for 68 years, was on several occasions heard speaking French and German in praise to God, although he had no knowledge of these languages. As a rule, it is true as Paul says in I Cor. 14:2. "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue....no man understandeth him" but there are times when it pleases the Lord to cause tongues to be understood, as He did on the day of Pentecost.

Sir, there are many more scriptures regarding the baptism of the Holy Ghost with speaking in other tongues. In Acts chapter 8, Philip went down to Samaria and preached Jesus and the people believed and were baptized. See verses 12 and 16. However the church at Jerusalem sent Peter and John, verse 15, "Who when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost", verse 16, "For as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Verse 17 says, "Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost ." Sir, this receiving of the Holy Ghost was an experience distinct from believing and being baptized for verse 18 says "....Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles hands the Holy Ghost was given. What manifestation did he see?

Brother Morris, Acts chapter 10 tells of Cornelius, a gentile Roman general, who along with his household received the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) while Peter was preaching to them. Those who had accompanied Peter from Jerusalem down to Caesarea for this occasion, knew these gentiles had received the Holy Ghost (verse 46) "For (because) they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God." Then answered Peter (verse 47) "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" In Acts chapter 19 we are told how Paul went to Ephesus (a gentile city of Asia Minor) and finding certain disciples asked them (verse 2) "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? They understood that they needed more, so after being baptized in water in the name of the Lord Jesus (verse 5) we are told in verse 6, "and when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them and they spoke with tongues (languages) and prophesied."

Dr. Morris, on your radio program you made light of a certain lady, and others, who had written to you and described how good, or how much joy they felt while speaking in tongues. You inferred that this was just a self gratifying thing. Should a person not feel joy while speaking in tongues if (1) "He is speaking to God" I Cor. 14:2 (2) He is "edifying" himself or charging his spiritual battery I Cor. 14:4. Jude verse 20 says "But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost." (3) He is speaking mysteries I Cor. 14:2 (this word mysteries means divine secrets) (4) He is giving thanks to God, I Cor. 14.17. (5) His spirit is praying. I Cor. 14:14.

Dr. Morris, although you obviously have not experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit as in these bible examples, you should be very careful what you say in regard to this matter as the opinions you stated on radio July 11, 1998 are not based on scripture. Many people listen to you and are influenced by your teachings and you could be the cause of multitudes being misinformed on this important subject, and missing God's best for them. Sir, I would ask you as Jesus asked Nicodemus in John 3:10 "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"

Brother Morris, please study these scriptures prayerfully and see if God will show more light to you regarding the baptism of the Holy Ghost with initial evidence of speaking in tongues. You are missing a great blessing by not "praying in the spirit". Romans 8.26 says "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Sir, have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?

In Christian love,

~ Joel Hemphill

*I have not used his real name in this tract.

Facts concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

  1. Do all Christian believers speak in tongues? No, I Corinthians 12:30. It may not be a requirement but it certainly is a privilege.
  2. Should we desire to speak with tongues? Yes, I Corinthians 14:1.
  3. Does the bible make a distinction between baptism in water and 'the baptism of the Holy Spirit'? Yes, Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26. John the Baptist says, "I indeed baptize you with water Unto repentance, but he (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost..."
  4. Is the promise of the baptism of the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues for everyone? Yes, Acts 2:33-39, Joel 2:28, Luke 24:49.
  5. Is the baptism of the Holy Ghost accompanied by power for living and witnessing? Yes, Acts 1:4-14.
  6. Does speaking in tongues in church require wisdom for proper use and was it misused in Pauls day? Yes, see the entire I4th chapter off Corinthians.
  7. Should we throw the baby out with the bath water? No, I Corinthians 14:39 says "Forbid not to speak with tongues."
  8. Did Jesus speak with tongues? Yes, John 11:33 says Jesus "groaned in the spirit" which was an unintelligible utterance. In Mark 15:34 Jesus spoke to God in a language unknown to those who heard when he said, "Eloi, EIoi, lama sabachthani". They thought he was calling for Elias (Elijah) but the gospel writer Mark interpreted it for us as "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" See also Mark 5:41, Hebrews 5:7 says that before Jesus went to the cross he "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears." (Sometimes desperate situations require desperate prayer)
  9. Did anyone speak with tongues in the Old Testament? Possibly. Isaiah 38:14, When Hezekiah travailed before God for his life he says, "Like a crane or a swallow so did I chatter.' I did mourn as a dove." See a/so Isaiah 28:1! where he speaks of "Stammering lips and another tongue".

*To tell someone who has been anointed of God to speak with tongues that tongues have ceased, is like telling someone who had dreamed many dreams, that dreaming has ceased. You just know, that you know that you know. Dear reader, if you are hungry for more of God and what He has for you, do not seek tongues, seek Him. Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask...seek...knock..." God is love...joy...peace...righteousness. Romans 14:17 says "For the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace and, joy In the Holy Ghost". It is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

I Corinthians 14:4 "A person speaking in tongues helps himself grow spiritually."


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