Why the Gift of Tongues is Not an Active Ministry in Today’s Church


Why the Gift of Tongues is not an Active Ministry in Today's Church

A large part of putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. With this indwelling comes a spiritual gift to each believer to use for the building up of the church.

Spiritual gifts are gifts of God given to those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and who have received the gift of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul instructs the purpose of gifts quite clearly: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12, ESV). As members of His body He equips us with gifts (1 Cor. 12:6) which we are then empowered to use, by the Holy Spirit (12:11), so that we are able to “[build] up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).

Something that may be confused with spiritual gifts are the fruit of the Spirit. While both

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areas are given by and empowered by the same source (1 Cor. 12:6, 11; Gal. 5:18) there is a distinct difference. Spiritual gifts are given on an individual basis: “But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor. 7:7). The fruit of the Spirit is how those who have put their faith in Christ are able to live (Gal. 5:22-24), as opposed to those who have not (vv. 19-21).

With that being said, one’s spiritual maturity is not determined by having and using a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are for ministering and building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12). But, as stated in Galatians 5:24, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Fruit of the Spirit is a continual walk, spiritual gifts are used at specific times for specific purposes.

There is one gift that seems to draw the most attention. The gift of tongues is, “Speak[ing] not to men but to God…utter[ing] mysteries in the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:2). The purpose of this gift is twofold. First, if the one in possession of such a gift is able to interpret what he says, he must use it as a witness to unbelievers (v. 21) or, in order to, minister to a body of believers (vv. 26-27). Second, one can use this gift to offer such tongues to the Lord as prayers and worship (vv. 14-17).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit can be associated with speaking in tongues. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of the Spirit, as promised by Christ (Acts 1:5), to all those who put their faith in Him (15:7-9).

Is speaking in tongues the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit? No. While there are instances recorded in scripture of after receiving the Holy Spirit individuals speak in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-48), it is important to remember that tongues are a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:10) and are given as directed by God (vv. 4-7).

Another question is whether or not tongues are still valid today. The positive group, made up of Pentecostals and most charismatics, hold that tongues are for everyone as a result of baptism in the Spirit, and as such should be sought out. The negative group “[asserts] that the ‘perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:10 (KJV) meant the canon, and therefore at the close of the canon tongues ‘ceased in and of themselves.”[1]

This author sides with the negative camp but disagrees with their assertion that the “perfect” represents the close of the canon. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul states that prophesies and knowledge will “pass away” and tongues will “cease.” The Greek verb used for prophesies and knowledge is “be abolished”, meaning that something will put an end to them.[2] For tongues, the Greek verb used means that they will cease by themselves, and since the “perfect,” which will put an end to prophesies and knowledge in verse ten, does not put an end to tongues, it should be understood that they are not present to be abolished by the “perfect.”[3]

Since we now have God’s Word delivered to us in it’s complete, inerrant, and inspired form (Rev. 22:18-19), there is no longer a need for the use of tongues. So then, what is the “perfect” spoken of? In light of 1 Corinthians 13:9 it must be when we are given full knowledge and understanding, which is not until we see our Lord face to face in eternity (v. 4).

Considering the final paragraphs examining the gift of tongues it is appropriate to conclude by restating the purpose of spiritual gifts: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).

What is the point of ‘Points to Remember’ and Questions to Promote Discussion and Bible Study?’ 

Points to Remember

  • Spiritual gifts are given to each believer to use for the building up of the church.
  • Spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are given by and empowered by the same source (the Spirit) but are not the same (see question #1 below).
  • Since we now have God’s Word delivered to us in it’s complete, inerrant, and inspired form (Rev. 22:18-19), there is no longer a need for the use of tongues.

Questions to Promote Discussion and Bible Study

(feel free to share your answers (and questions!) in the comments below)

  1. What is the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts? What verses support your view?
  2. What are the two original purposes of the gift of speaking in tongues?
  3. What is baptism in the Holy Spirit? Is speaking in tongues the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit?
  4. Do you believe that tongues are still in use today? Please explain why or why not with Scripture as your source.

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Why is the Hypostatic Union of Christ Necessary?


Why is the Hypostatic Union of Christ Necessary

The nature of Christ is a difficult nature to understand. He is two in one. Completely God while at the same time completely man. While this may be hard to understand, this dual nature of Christ was required so that he could accomplish His redemptive work on the cross.

While there are numerous instances in Scripture where it is evident that Jesus was fully human, this author believes that there are two instances that stand out from the rest. These are His birth (Luke 2:1-7) and His death (John 19:31-35). Like the rest of humanity, He was born from a woman. And, like the rest of humanity, He died a physical death.
While Jesus was fully human He was also fully God. John 1:1 and 1:14 state this fact explicitly. Verse one states that “the Word was God” (ESV). Then, in verse fourteen, it states that, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In addition to this passage, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30).

These facts are referred to as the Hypostatic Union. Stated simply, if such a doctrine can be, through the birth of Jesus His human nature was forever added to His divine nature. This addition of the human nature did not mix with the divine nature, but instead, “[remained] distinct, whole, and unchanged…so that the one person, Jesus Christ, was truly God and truly man.”[1]

With Jesus being both God and man carries enormous weight for the history of God’s

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relationship with man. Man was fallen before God, full of sin and unworthy of being in the presence of God (Romans 3:23). God promised a redeemer to save the world from eternal separation from Him (Genesis 12:1-3). This redeemer was Jesus (Romans 5:9-11). Because Jesus was God and man, He was able to become the one and only human being to live a blameless life before God (Hebrews 7:26) and offer His life as a sacrifice for the entire world (v. 27).

This sacrifice for all could not have been accomplished in any other way. Through His becoming human, He was able to identify with humanity (Hebrews 2:9), remain without sin (4:15), and give His life as a sacrifice for all (9:12), so that all those who would believe in Him can enter into a new relationship with God that is eternal in nature (Romans 5:2).
It is important to realize that in order for the redemptive nature of Christ to be adequate, both natures must remain at one hundred percent each. To make Him more human than God would eradicate His being able to remain blameless. And to make Him more God than human would eradicate His ability to completely self-identify with those He came to save.

Although Scripture is very clear that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14) there are objections to this view of Christ. The first is Ebionitism, which states that Christ was a man born naturally on whom the Spirit came at his baptism. A fairly simple objection to this view is to restate the verses above. These verses are clear that God became man. Therefore, Christ could not be just man, He is also God.

Another view, Sabellianism, said that Jesus was a second God next to God. A simple objection to this is John 10:30, where Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus was one with the Father, not in addition to Him or separate from Him. A third major view was Arianism, which believed Jesus was a subordinate entity to God. While He was subordinate in duty (Matthew 26:39, 42), He was not subordinate in nature (John 17:11).
Christ in His humanity is an example to all humans for how to live our lives. Personally, this author views Christ as an example of what our relationship to our heavenly Father should be like. Jesus was very clear that we are to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our mind (Matthew 22:37). Alongside of this love, Jesus is a perfect example of doing the will of God because of our love for Him, which requires putting our wishes to the side (Matthew 26:39, 42). With these two examples in mind a life which is glorifying to God is the natural (though not always easy) result.

As can be seen, the nature of Christ is not easy to grasp. But it is the beauty of His dual nature, the Hypostatic Union, and the work that He accomplished because of this union, that offers us eternal life, with Him, if we believe in Him.

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The Inerrancy and Inspiration of The Bible


The Bible, Van Gogh, 1885

Upon sitting down to read and study the Bible, one needs to have several questions answered before they can begin to allow the Scripture to have an impact on their life. These questions should address the authority of the Bible (which will also address the author of the Bible), the inspiration of the Bible, and the inerrancy of the Bible.

The first question stated above is the most important question to answer before one can begin to take what the Bible says and try to live by it. When it is said that the Bible has authority, what is being said is: on any topic, issue, question, etc., that the Bible speaks to, one is to defer to what is says. In other words, the Bible is the authority on everything that it speaks to.

The answer above presupposes one very important belief, that God is the author of the

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Bible. Because of this, the authority that the Bible holds is much greater than if man were the author. The writer of a law must have the authority to enforce that law. The same principle applies to the authority of Scripture.

The main reason the Bible holds so much authority is because God is the author. One question off of this is how did God write it? The answer, He inspired man to do so. What is meant is that under guidance from the Holy Spirit, God gave the inspiration of what was to be written, to the human authors of the Bible. This does not mean that he dictated to them what He wanted written, he merely inspired them with what was to be written. They were free to use the language of their day, and write with their personalities intact.

This author bases his belief of inspiration on the following passage: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.[1]

A major component of the inspiration of Scripture is that it is also inerrant. This author subscribes to the inerrancy of Scripture and bases his belief on the first, and strongest of four arguments, which is the Biblical argument. This argument has five main points that support its views, but the most important is the first and last. The first point states that “the Bible teaches its own inspiration, and this requires inerrancy. The Scriptures are the breath of God (2. Tim. 3:16), which guarantees they are without error”.[2]  And the breath of God statement is addressed in the fifth point which says, “Repeatedly, the Scriptures teach that God cannot lie…If, then, the Bible is from God and his character is behind it, it must be inerrant and infallible”.[3]

A second popular argument for inerrancy is the Historical argument. This argument believes that the Bible is inerrant because from the Apostles all the way through Church history, the truths in the Bible were assumed, not defended.[4]  A third argument is the Epistemological argument, which says, “If the Bible is not inerrant, then any claim it makes may be false”.[5]  This holds that every statement made in Scripture must be true for the entire text to be inerrant. The fourth, and final argument for the inerrancy of Scripture, is the Slippery Slope argument. This belief is quite simple: if one gives up the inerrancy of scripture they also surrender other Christian doctrines as well.[6]

Of the last three arguments listed, the weakest argument is the Slippery Slope argument. While this argument may be true, that a “denial of inerrancy starts one down a slope that is slippery,”[7] it is by no means a substantial argument to base one’s belief of inerrancy upon. This author argues for inerrancy and bases his argument on the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate authority, as it was written by God, and as God cannot lie, because it is not in His character to do so, everything written through the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, by the human authors, is without error.

As stated in the paragraphs above, this author believes: 1) that the Bible holds the final authority on all topics contained within its text, 2) that God is the author of the Bible, 3) that the Bible was written by human authors under the inspired guidance of the Holy Spirit, and 4) that the Bible is inerrant. As a result of these beliefs, this author looks to God’s Word for guidance on how to live his life on a day to day basis. This author believes that as he gets into God’s Word, God’s Word will get into him.

Footnotes:

  • [1] 2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV.
  • [2] Feinberg, P.D. “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book house Company, 2001), 157.
  • [3] Ibid., 158.
  • [4] Ibid., 157.
  • [5] Ibid.
  • [6] Ibid., 158.
  • [7] Ibid.

Photo Credit:

Article header photo credit: The Bible by Vincent van Gogh (1885) http://www.terminartors.com/artworkprofile/Van_Gogh_Vincent-Still_Life_with_Bible

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

Bibliography

Feinberg, P.D. “Bible, Inerrancy and Infallibility of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 156-159. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book house Company, 2001.

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The Inerrancy and Inspiration of The Bible by Aaron M. Aiken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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What Does the Bible Say about Women in Ministry?


St. Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens (1615)

The early church in the book of Acts gives churches and Christians today a framework of how Christ intended his church to function. Part of this includes two offices, elders and deacons, that are used to accomplish Kingdom work in local churches and the surrounding areas. Today, there is not so much confusion over what these offices are to do, but who is permitted to hold them.

The office of “elder” is fulfilled primarily through that of teaching, oversight of the flock, and sharing in the ministry of Christ.[1] The role of a deacon, or deaconess, is fulfilled by service. If the elder is an overseer and teacher, than a deacon is a doer. The deacons are those that do service within the church for the church, “they are to be practical servants (and not necessarily teachers).”[2]

The requirements for an elder can be found quite clearly in 1 Timothy 3:2-7: “Therefore an

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overseer must be above reproach…husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive…He must not be a recent convert…he must be well thought of by outsiders” (ESV). Likewise, the requirements for a deacon are found in the next passage: “Deacons…must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain…wives must be dignified…husband of one wife, managing their children and households well” (vv. 8, 11, 12).

In light of the role women may play in ministry, it is important to understand Biblically what was the case and to be careful to apply this to our current Church practice. First, a woman may not be an elder. Paul is quite clear that women are not permitted to teach men (2:12), and that an elder must be able to teach (3:2). These two verses quickly rule out women filling the role of an elder. Also, woman are not permitted to rule over men (2:12) and as an elder one is an overseer (3:2) that must care for God’s church (v. 5).

The office of deacon is different than an elder in qualifications, responsibilities, and in that women are permitted to fill this office. Although Paul states that a deacon is to be the husband of one wife (v. 12) he also records that there were women who filled this office by serving in the New Testament church during his time of ministry (specifically Phoebe who was “a servant of the church at Canchreae” (Rom 16:1)).

Some hold to the view that women are permitted to hold the office of elder and will reference Titus 2:3. What they fail to realize is that Paul states specifically, in verse four of Titus chapter two, that women are to teach “young women,” if they are going to teach. If Paul was permitting women to teach anyone of any age he would not have clarified his statement made in verse three. Some may also use Galatians 3:28 as a verse permitting woman to teach and be overseers. If they do use that verse for such a purpose they are grossly using it out of it’s context.

Others say that women should not be permitted to have any role in the church. There is simply no solid Biblical argument for such a view. Women played a large role in the ministry of Jesus (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3), were present at his crucifixion (Luke 23:27, 49, 55-56), instructed by an angel after his resurrection (Luke 24:6-8), and were present as helpers in the early church (Acts 1:14; 2:17-18; 9:36-43; 21:8-9; Rom. 16).

As far as limitations on women outside of the church go, there are none. Women can and do hold positions of authority over men (specifically in the workplace). In such a case, the wise man (and woman) will heed Romans 13: “be subject to the governing authorities…those that exist have been instituted by God” (v. 1).

With all of this being said, women can, and do, play a very important role in the local church. They can raise questions to have theological issues clarified. They can have leadership roles in the teaching of younger woman and children, and can also have very important roles in the management (specifically administration responsibilities) of the local church.

As stated previously, Jesus used women in his ministry. As this is the case, and where Biblically permitted, the church of today should not keep women from playing active roles in their ministry.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Wallace, R.S. “Elder.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 369.
  • [2] Burge, G.M. “Deacon, Deaconess.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 320.

BibliographyBurge, G.M. “Deacon, Deaconess.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 320. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Wallace, R.S. “Elder.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 369. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Photo Credits:

Article header photo credit: St. Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens (1615). http://wp.me/p1EaDQ-24

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

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Marriage and Divorce


La Demande en Mariage If there are two doctrines that are taught clearly in the Bible it is marriage and divorce. If there is one doctrine that is most confused, either on purpose or accident, it is, most specifically, the doctrine of divorce. Just as Jesus met the question of divorce head-on in Matthew 19:1-9 so shall we do here.

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The biblical teaching on marriage is simple: “It is not good that the man should be alone…therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 24).  Marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman in a union that was created by God, and completed by the couple becoming “one flesh.” Once married, the role of the wife is primarily “to be mother of sons…[as well as] manag[er of] the Household” and the role of the husband is primarily to “provide for his wife and family.”[1] The main limitation of marriage is that it is an exclusive relationship, meaning that promiscuity and adultery are “ruled out.”[2] Also, indissolubility is only allowed when certain conditions are present. The Bible is clear that “what therefore God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

In Genesis 2:24 one can see that God views a couple married when the man leaves his mother and father (a new primary relationship/responsibility), the couple is joined together (a covenant with one another and God), and finally, join their two bodies together to create a complete whole, “one flesh.” There is one distinct way that this biblical view stands out from common practice today: becoming “one flesh” is solely intended for the marriage relationship, not any other relationship(s) (1 Cor. 6:16).

The Bible is clear about divorce as well: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). God abhors divorce and does not encourage it. “A marriage is intended to be a relationship, healing and growing and maturing through time, a ‘harvest of the Spirit,’ which is patterned on and in turn displays something of God’s covenant relationship.”[3] A marriage union is not meant to be severed.

Although divorce is discouraged in the Bible, it is allowed under certain circumstances. The only grounds for divorce (or release from the marriage covenant, in the case of death) that are mentioned in the New Testament are “sexual immorality” (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9), death (Rom. 7:2), and if an unbeliever in the relationship wishes to leave (1 Cor. 7:15).  This differs from what is witnessed in our current society. Money is a large, but decreasing, reason for divorce, as are emotional factors[4]; neither of which are biblical reasons for divorce.

The main objection to the view this author stands by (above) is that divorce is not biblically allowed under any circumstances (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). A second objection goes to the opposite extreme and says that a divorce can take place for any reason (Deuteronomy 24:1). This author stands by his interpretation of scripture (shown above) and believes that in the case of “sexual immorality,” death, or an unbeliever leaving the marriage, divorce is permitted to take place.

The topic of divorce may raise questions concerning remarriage. Specifically, is remarriage allowed? Yes. If a spouse dies, the living spouse is permitted to marry again without committing adultery (Romans 7:3). Also, if a divorce takes place due to “sexual immorality” then an individual is free to remarry due to the first marriage covenant being severed. That being said, if there is even the slightest chance of reconciliation to the first marriage, a second marriage should not take place. “Remarriage always falls under the cloud of the broken covenant of the first marriage.”[5]

When divorce happens in the church and society, it harms the immediate family as well as society. Ultimately what is at play in divorce is love and sin. A marriage starts with love, and sin enters into the relationship to destroy it. Giving sin the victory (divorce) may lead those in the church and society to believe that God will stop loving them as a result of their sin. This is not the case, but there is no doubt that divorce, if allowed to happen, will not just affect how individuals view one another, but also how individuals view God.

God created the union of a man and a woman in the marriage covenant as a means to complete the incomplete. He did not make man to be alone (Gen. 2:18) and when one enters into marriage they are able to experience a relationship that is unlike any other relationship on earth.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 742.
  • [2] Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 743.
  • [3] Atkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 347.
  • [4] “The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. (Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage Project, 2009), 45.
  • [5] Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 1007.

BibliographyAtkinson, D.J. “Divorce.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 345.    Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Atkinson, D.J. “Remarriage.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 1007. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Granberg, L.I and Root, J.R. “Marriage, Theology of.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 743. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Perkin, H.W. “Marriage, Marriage Customs in Bible Times.” in Evangelical Dictionary of    Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 740. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

“The State of our Unions.” ed. Wilcox, W. Bradford. Charlottesville, VA: National Marriage     Project, 2009. http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/pdfs/Union_11_25_09.pdf     (accessed September 16, 2011).

Photo Credits:

Article header Photo Credit: “La Demande En Mariage [The Marriage Proposal]”
http://www.topart168.com/showpic.asp?id=5795

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

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