Tag Archives: theology

Don’t Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

No, I’m not the anti-Christ, but I can already hear the backlash simply from the post title alone.  However, I’m serious.  Don’t do it.  Don’t ask Jesus into your heart.  Maybe I should explain…wrong-way-go-back

I’ve heard it said many times, by many different preachers, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart…”  That’s what Christians refer to as an “alter call”.  It’s the time at the end of the service that is usually reserved to see if someone needs to be saved – to “ask Jesus into your heart and be the Lord of your life.”  You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with that?  Aren’t we supposed to see people saved?”  Absolutely.  Salvation is number one, yet the way that the vast majority of preachers go about it is all wrong un-Biblical.  That’s right: asking Jesus into your heart is un-Biblical.

Case in point: Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

That is how someone is saved.  I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that says to ask Jesus into your heart or any other concoction of words to give us warm fuzzies.  Paul out of his own mouth to the Corinthians in 1:2 that he was determined to deal with one subject only: Jesus Christ and him crucified.  In fact, Acts 3:5; 4:10; 13:30; 13:34; 17:31, Romans 4:24; 6:4;6:9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9, Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 1:21 – just to name a few, all deal with Jesus being raised from the dead!  I’d say that the resurrection was a pretty big deal.  It has to be.

That’s the true Gospel.  The true good news is that Jesus was crucified – in that he took on all of our sins while on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father.  He is NOT residing in your heart.  If, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17, Jesus was never raised from the dead, then we are all still in our sins.  If we are still in our sins then we are in an “un-saved” state, still separated from God.

If, in fact, the way to salvation is through believing that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with your mouth that he is Lord, then what about the millions who have only “asked him into their heart?”  I don’t know.

That’s right.  I don’t know.  And I’m not afraid to say that.  I don’t know their hearts and I don’t know what was revealed to them at that moment.  Maybe they did get the revelation of what Jesus did at that moment regardless of how the preacher called it.  I don’t know, nevertheless, that doesn’t make the scriptures any less true.  We were told the way of salvation and we shouldn’t make up our own way.  An inconvenient truth doesn’t make it any less the truth.

So why do people do it the other way?  Why is it presented as asking Jesus into your heart?  Because it’s more warm and fuzzy that way.  It sounds so cuddly, who wouldn’t want to respond to that?  Slap some butter or frosting on it and who could resist?  <–Sarcasm.

Well, I know my answer is going to cause a ruckus, but we can thank the devil for that.

Think about it.  The devil has crept into the “church” and convinced people to do things a certain way because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ahhh…tradition.  It’s a killer.  Jesus told the most religious people of his day that tradition nullifies the word of God.  The devil doesn’t want us to change what we are doing, and if he can’t get us to be stagnate, then he’ll convince us of small changes in the way we do things so they no longer line with the Word of God.  If you think the devil doesn’t know scripture, you’re wrong.  He was around when it was being written.  If he could convince us to do something that would render the power of God of none effect, don’t you think he’d try it?

Am I splitting hairs?  Being too picky?  Or whatever else?  Yes.   Yes, I am.  This involves THE most important thing a person will ever choose.

Look, even if it’s not the devil that’s caused this different way of salvation, it’s still a different way no matter what. It’s not the way it’s presented in the Bible.  Shouldn’t that be enough …shouldn’t that be enough for us as Christians to re-examine how we do things?


Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 2

Although I diverted a few times since I introduced this topic, I decided it was time to revisit it.  I introduced a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about is who Jesus really was.  Not who we “think” he was or who people make Him out to be, but who the Jesus of the Bible was and what He actually did and said.  I personally use this approach for everything I believe and teach.  If there’s something I believe and it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then I must be wrong.  You shouldn’t lower the Bible to match what you believe or have experienced, nor base what you believe on what someone else has experience..  We must believe God to raise our experiences to match the Bible.

Maybe this should be a separate topic, but I think there’s something that needs to be established before we really hit this hard.  The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels, were all written after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven.  However, those books were recording accounts BEFORE Jesus died, rose and ascended.  What I mean is that we often read the words and works of Jesus as if they were New Testament things.  They weren’t!  Jesus lived under the Old Testament law, spoke in regards to Old Testament promises, yet at the same time revealed things that were going to change as a result of his pending death and resurrection.  With those thoughts in mind, we really need to be careful of how we interpret what Jesus spoke.  Not all of what Jesus said is applicable to Christians today.  Yes, I just said not everything Jesus said should be applied to us today.

Now, before you call me the anit-Christ, you really need to re-read what I just got done explaining.  Jesus spoke as one under the “law”, the old covenant, that was based on performance.  We are under a different covenant that is based upon grace – the finished work of Jesus.  Once Jesus had died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the new covenant was then in effect, negating the old covenant or the “law” as many call it.  That being stated, if we are no longer under that covenant, then things spoke up under that convent are not necessarily applicable to us who are under a DIFFERENT covenant.  Can we glean truth, instruction, correction and guidance from things spoke under the Old Convenant?  Of course, and we should.  We just have to be careful not to apply certain things to our lives since we are not living under the same laws.  Clear as mud?  I’ll probably elaborate on that in the near future, but I really need to get back to the topic at hand.

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to a world view of Jesus, is that people will try to say that Jesus preached “love and acceptance”.  OK, let me rant here for just a minute.  We really need to watch out for and correct those who claim to know what Jesus taught, yet they never step foot in a church or have read a Bible consistently.  How could you possible know who Jesus was or what he talked about if you’ve never met him?  Simple…you can’t.  So suffice it to say, Jesus never preached love and acceptance.

Matthew 4:17          •Matthew 4:23          •Matthew 9:35          •Mark 1:14-15          •Luke 5:31-32          •Luke 24:46-47

So after reading those scriptures, would you say Jesus preached love and acceptance?  No, and those were just a few examples.  In fact, out of 154 times the word Kingdom is used in the New Testament, 121 of those times it appears in the Gospels.  The vast majority of those times Jesus is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven typically in a parable.  Why were these issues so prevalent in his teachings?  Glad you asked…

The first time that Jesus is recorded using the word “repent” is in Matthew 4:17.  In the Greek, it simply means to “change one’s mind”.  In other words, Jesus said, “Change your way of thinking because the Kingdom of Heaven has come to join you.”  For thousands of years, Israel had thought a certain way.  They had been trained to think about the Kingdom in a particular manner, in a literal sense.  That the Messiah was going come and establish the Kingdom literally and overthrow the Roman government.  Jesus came to tell them they were wrong.  How they had interpreted things were wrong.  That wasn’t very popular at the time.  In fact, it’s not popular now…to tell people how they have been thinking is wrong will not win you any friends in this day and age; especially if we talked to them how Jesus talked to some of the most “religious” leader of his day.  He branded those leaders as “hypocrites” and he said the were like white-washed graves that appeared nice on the outside, but inside were full of decay and deceit.  He said they were the blind leading blind and they both would fall into a pit.  Needless to say, Jesus was not pleased how the “leaders” of his day were representing the Kingdom.  All the more important for Jesus to introduce a new way to think about Kingdom.  (I cannot do it justice here or can I do as it as thorough as necessary, so I would encourage you to look into the book series that Miles Munroe has written that called Kingdom Principles and others titled similar to it.)

People will also use the incident with the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example of Jesus accepting people and probably to justify themselves in what they are doing wrong.  I wouldn’t say that he accepted her for who she was, but rather didn’t condemn her for who she was or what she had done.  Even when Jesus sent her away, he specifically said to her, “Go and sin no more.”  He in no way shape or form approved or accepted her lifestyle.  In fact the opposite was true: he told here to stop doing it.  Those who are living a sinful lifestyle today will do so under the guise that Jesus is OK with how they choose to live and who they choose to love.  He is most certainly not.  In fact, he would do today as he did back then…tell them to stop.  Would he condemn them?  No.  Should we?  No.  However at the same time, we don’t have to accept what they do as right and if we are branded as bigots or anything else they choose to brand us, then we are in good company because if they call us a bigot then they are calling Jesus a bigot.

How about the this incident in John 5:1-14?  Did he seriously just say what I think he said?  Oh, no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  He basically told that man, his infirmity was a result of his sinning and if he continued to do so, he would suffer something worse.  Can you imagine the backlash if we told someone with some type of debilitating disease that it was their sin that caused it?  I really think they might legalize stoning for that!  Yet, I’m supposed to believe Jesus preached love and acceptance?  I NEVER read Jesus telling anyone to “do what makes them happy” or any type coddling response to peoples sin.

Jesus did not accept sinful lifestyles.  Did he love those who sinned?  Absolutely.  Was he OK with their lifestyles?  No.  Should we love those who sin?  Absolutely.  Should we be OK with those lifestyles?  No, nor do we have to accept other people’s or “society’s” standard of what is right and wrong.  We have an absolute standard from the Word of God and that’s the one I’ll accept even if it’s inconvenient.  At the same time, it does not absolve us of our duties to love others as Jesus did.  Jesus never shoved his finger in someone’s face and spewed “SINNER!” all over them.  He did, however, correct those that were in need of correction and said what needed to be said regardless of who it would offend.

Don’t accept anyone version of Jesus if it does not line up with only true one.




This Is The End

Beautiful, friend.  This it the end.  My only friend, the end.  Of our elaborate plans, the end.

Ok.  So I ripped that off from The Doors song.  And yes, maybe I thought it would get some attention.  It was either that or “REPENT!  THE END IS NEAR!  TURN OR BURN!”  And, yes.  I used to listen to The Doors.  That’s probably why that song popped into my head when I was wanting to post about this topic.  Getting back on track now…

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” – Revelation 1:7

It very easy to get caught up in making fun of “dooms-dayers”.  It’s probably easier to get caught up poking fun at Christians that put up billboards announcing the end of the world on a certain date.  I even made the comment on my Facebook page, after an extended absence, stating that, “I thought the Mayans had it right so I was held up in my Zombie-proof bunker and lost track of time.”  Yet as much flack as people get for proclaiming an end to the world, there is an end coming.

Paul wrote in the Bible about a time coming when Jesus will return to the earth one last time.  Peter wrote about and end time as well.  Jesus himself proclaimed that there was an end to this world, yet even said he wasn’t even aware of the time.  We may not no the time, but rest assured, there is an end coming.

The problem is that too many Christians are wrapped up in the whole “end time” things.  Will there be a rapture, then the tribulation?  Tribulation first?  Bowls and vials being poured out, plagues, waters turning to blood…  Who is the anti-Christ?  What about the mark of the beast?  Will nuclear war be Armageddon?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fascinating stuff.  I enjoy listening to preachers talk about it.  Many of them I’m sure have some good revelation concerning the end times.  The problem is we focus on when the end is coming rather than what we should be doing when it comes.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” – Mark 13:32-37

Watch.  That’s a pretty simple instruction.  Be aware of what’s going on.  Jesus didn’t say to run around and proclaim the end of the world is coming by strapping signs to ourselves and standing on the street corners.  In fact, one of the last orders of the head of the Church before he ascended into Heaven was in Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  He told the disciples in Acts that they would be witnesses unto Him.  Our orders are simple.  Proclaim the good news.  Water turning to blood is not good news.

The good news Jesus told us to preach was not about something to come.  It was about something that had already happened.  I can’t put it any better than Paul did in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus walked this earth as a sinless man, yet suffered the punishment for sin for the entire world so that we wouldn’t have to.  Jesus became everything we were so that we could be come everything He is.  If Jesus suffered for it, then we don’t have to.  There is no more sacrifice for sin.  The perfect sacrifice for sin has been made and it’s good for all eternity for everyone that believes.  You can be made right with God through what Jesus did.  You don’t have to work for it and you certainly can’t earn it.  Now THAT’S good news!  That’s the good news we were meant to proclaim to the uttermost parts of the earth.

So you know what?  Go preach an end.  An end to condemnation.  An end to sickness.  An end to poverty.  An end to shame.  An end to weakness and an end to chains.  An end to darkness.  An end to fears.  An end to bondage and an end to tears.

Surely I come quickly.” – Jesus, Revelation 22:20

Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – Pt. 1

Yes, once again, it’s time for a series.  I think it’s nearly impossible to coverany particular topic in one post, yet at the same time too much can be a bad thing as well.  What I mean is overload.  Take general college classes for example, of which I am taking a few.  I can only read in one text-book on one subject for so long before I have to change my focus.  I think the same thing is true when it comes to blog posts.  Yes, I did six posts on speaking in tongues, but that didn’t nearly cover everything there is to say on that topic, nor am I completely finished.  It was enough to chew on for now and now it’s time to chew on something different.

There is a big misconception amongst Christians and non-Christians alike as to who Jesus was, along with what he actually did and taught.   There is a very skewed perception on Jesus that needs to be straightened out.  Let’s not look at my opinion or anyone else’s.  I think it’s time to actually look at the definitive source for all things Jesus…THE BIBLE!

There are a lot of things that people claim Jesus did that’s not in the Bible.  There’s a lot of misquotation surrounding what He said.  Much of what people get right when they quote Him is taken out of context.  Call me picky, but if I’m going to affirm or rebuke someone or myself, I want to make sure I have the correct scriptures taken in the right context to back me up.  Although there is a TON of scriptures that are misused and abused, I’m going to focus specifically on Jesus for now.

You see, the world (and many Christians) want to make Jesus out to be someone He wasn’t.  They want to make Him out to be someone who fits their lifestyles and choices.  They tailor Him to meet whatever they need Him to be so they can tell Christians that we need to be more like Him.  They are right about one thing.  We need to be more like Jesus.  We just need to be more like the REAL Jesus.

Christians are doing the same.  They are changing who He was to fit their agendas.  We so easily neglect that many of the people Jesus rebuked were the most religious people of His time.  We can’t pick and choose who we make Jesus out to be.  He is who He was and the Bible is very clear on that.  We can’t make Jesus to be someone He wasn’t.  Well, I guess we can if we so choose, but to do so would be an affront to the LORD.

Just so I’m clear, I will be pointing the finger at “sinner” and “saint” alike.  In fact for that reason, I’ll be pointing the finger at us first.  After all, He did say to take the beam out of our own eye before trying to remove the spec from our brother’s eye.  Yes, that was taken in context.

Well, this turned out to be more of an introduction than anything.  At least for those of you who read, you’ll know what’s coming up.  I do invite comments if there’s anything in particular that you feel has been an area where Jesus has been misrepresented.  It’s time for the real Jesus to be known.

Judging Others

I read something someone wrote the other day on a blog.  (I’m not going to link to the blog nor mention their name because neither of which are of any intrinsic value to what I’m writing about today.)  In it, was a quote that I’ve seen going around lately.  Here it is:

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” – Harlan Ellison

I’m figuring they got the quote off of Facebook, because that’s where I’ve seen it plastered the most.  The person that posted it had something to say concerning the quote.  They said, “No one is entitled to tell someone else what they are entitled to or to determine the level of someone else’s ignorance. Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves.”  The last two sentences really got my theological juices flowing.  Is that true?  Are we not supposed to judge others or ourselves?

It’s real easy to jump on the bandwagon of “who are you to judge” or “how dare you judge me” or “you’re not my judge” or “what gives you the right to judge me“…  Do I need to continue?  As Christians, generally we will concede that God is the true Judge and that we have no business judging others.  But is that really what the Bible tells us?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

That was a quote from Jesus.  So that should clear things up, right?  Well, I’m not quite convinced yet.  Let’s look at some other scriptures and see.

  • Romans 14:3 – Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
  • Romans 14:13 – Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

So there is a few more that tell us not to judge.  However, what are the context of those scriptures?  Romans 14:3 is Paul is talking about those who think that eating certain foods is wrong, not about moral or social behavior.  He is still referencing the incident in verse 13.  apparently there was some debate surrounding what was ok to eat and what wasn’t.  That’s not surprising considering the strict dietary laws the Jews followed then and many still do today.

The reference in 1 Corinthians Paul is talking about whether or not he’s or anyone else has been a good steward over the things the LORD has entrusted him with.  He’s basically saying that we have no idea the motives behind what people do, so it’s difficult for us to decide whether or not things are being done with good intentions.

There are some other scriptures that mention judging but in a slightly different way.  Let’s look at those.  The first is in 1 Corinthians 5 verse 3:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed

Whoa!  Hold up.  Did Paul just say he judged someone for something they did?!?  Oh no he didn’t!  Oh, yes he did!  What the heck Paul, don’t you remember what Jesus said?  So what gives?

First off, this is a pretty strong statement.  But what prompted it?  A man, who was supposed to be a Christian, was having an illicit affair with his father’s wife!  Paul even says this is not even heard of among the unbelievers in the area.  It was nothing to be proud of for sure, so Paul instructs them to not only  kick the man out of the church, but to ostracize him.  Look for yourself.  This is out of the New Living Translation because I think it really captures the heart of what Paul is saying.

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.  But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.  I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believeryet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. – 1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Now that’s harsh!  It also spits in the face of many Christians and “churches”.  Paul flat-out says DO NOT associate with Christians that indulge in those things.  Boot ’em out and lock the door!  (Not permanently of course.)  Listen to what he says in verse 12:

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.  God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

Would you look at that!  Paul instructs Christians to JUDGE other Christians inside the church.  Listen to what else the Paul says to Christians about judging.  1 Corinthians 6:2-3 NLT:

Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?  Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.

Paul’s instructions were for them to bring their disputes before the church NOT in a “secular” court.  What’s even more surprising is that he likens that to judging the world AND angels!  I admit that I don’t know exactly what “judging angels” means, but it would seem to me that if we are unfit to judge disputes here on earth between believers, we are going to be unfit to judge the angels.

It would seem that those statements contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 7, but it doesn’t.  Jesus isn’t saying not to judge.  He is saying that we need to be very aware of how we judge since how lenient we are with others is how lenient they will be with us.  It is not a command not to judge.  It can’t be or else Paul was contradicting Jesus.

Even in the OT testament, Moses was a judge over the people.  In fact, the Hebrew word for God, ‘elohiym, means rulers or judges.  Were we not created in the image of God and in that were we not given the power of dominion (to rule) over the earth?  Is that not what rulers do, is to judge?  If we were created in the image of God, then we were created to judge.  That takes us back to the comments I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.  The comment, “Humans are not created to be judges. Not even of themselves,” is itself contradictory to the word of God.  We were created gto

Paul even tells us to judge ourselves.  When he was instructing the Corinthians on the proper way to partake of communion, he told them:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-32

If we are to judge ourselves in such an important thing as communion, then surely we are not to leave the lesser things un-judged.  In closing, let me remind us all of something Peter said:

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? – 1 Peter 4:17 – NLT

Once again, we Christians have missed it.  We’ve been guilty of what Paul said in Romans 2:1 NLT:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.

We, Christians, are called to a higher standard of living.  Yet we act like we’re still lost.  If we would hold each other to the standards that Paul, through the Spirit of God, gave us, perhaps the world would have less evidence to judge us as hypocrites.  No wonder the world doesn’t want to be like us.  We act worse than them.

Our directives on judgement doesn’t absolve us of our requirements to show compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  It’s just the opposite.  The more we step up and begin to correctly judge things, it will also increase the amount of mercy, compassion and forgiveness we’ll need to administer as well.

The Truth About Speaking In Tongues – Pt. 4 – Church Tongues

I don’t know how typical this is for a blog to have so many parts to one subject.  However, this is a controversial subject and it may take some time to really dig into.  To be honest, I’d prefer to preach this rather than type it, but alas, I don’t have the “platform” for that yet, so I must make do.

I’m going to dive right in, so if you haven’t read the previous posts about tongues or aren’t familiar with this subject, this will definitely throw you a curve ball.  So I encourage you to go back and read at least a couple of the posts before continuing.

I want to compare and contrast the church and personal use of speaking in tongues.  I would use the terms public and private, but I think those are too general of terms.  Public makes it sound like you are walking down the street or shopping in the mall and you start speaking in tongues and private makes it sound like you are trying to keep it a secret.  Neither of which are very accurate.

After the book of Acts, speaking in tongues is not mentioned in great detail until 1 Corinthians.  In chapter 12 verses 1-11 talks about “spiritual gifts” and in verse 10 specifically mentions tongues and interpretation of tongues.  These gifts, which I won’t go into great detail here, are also widely debated amongst Christians.  I believe that not any one person has a certain gift but that the gifts are manifested at the proper times in church settings.  That’s not to say that there aren’t certain people who excel in one particular gift or the other, but I don’t believe that those gifts are limited in that way.  I believe that any person who is baptized in the Holy Spirit has the ability to operate in any of those particular gifts if needed, but those aren’t anything we can “make” happen.

Now, real quick, don’t let my use of the terms “church or church setting” throw you off.  The “church” is the entire body of Christ.  Every single Christian is a part of the “church”.  You don’t have to be in a building with a Pastor preaching to be in a church setting.  Jesus talked in Matthew chapter 18 about this new thing called the “church” and verse 20 he said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  I personally believe that it takes no more than two or three people to be gathered together to constitute a church setting.  Moving on…

I believe the Christians at Corinth didn’t fully understand the different types of speaking in tongues so Paul had to devote an entire portion of his letter to them explaining the proper uses.  I want to also note here that in the King James Version, only the word “unknown” is in italics. That means it wasn’t in the original text but was added by the translators.  Let’s begin:

1Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

  • This is the beginning of Paul’s explanation of tongues.  He starts by saying this because the Corinthians were using tongues out-of-order.  Prophesy should be sought after more than tongues in a church setting if there is no interpretation, which we read Paul mentions this specifically later on.

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.

  • Here Paul is saying that the most common use of speaking in tongues is simply communication with God.  Prayer.  That’s why you hear Christians refer to speaking in tongues as their “prayer language”.  That’s what used for.  Don’t be thrown of by “speaking mysteries”.  That word mystery means something that is not obvious to the understanding.  This type of tongue is not to be spoken to people.

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

  • The purpose or benefit of prophesy in a church setting is explained.   To build up, encourage and comfort those who hear.  Who couldn’t use some of that?

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

  • Here we get another benefit of the personal use of tongues.  You build yourself up.  It’s intresting…the first definition of edify,according to Strong’s, is “to build a house”.  Prophesy by contrast is utterance in a known language (no need for an interpreter).  So it’s better for a church setting so that many will be built up not just yourself.

I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

  • This definitely shows the importance of speaking in another language, however, again, not in a church setting.  Paul is speaking to the church, or the gathering of believers, in Corinth.  So his instructions, especially in this section of the letter, are directed at believers gathered together.

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

  • The obvious answer here is that it wouldn’t do them any good.  Again, he’s talking about his personal use of tongues.  If he came to them speaking in another language with no interpretation, it would be of no use to them.  So he contrasts that by saying in a church setting, speaking by inspiration in a known language is definitely more beneficial.

And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

  • Here Paul compares using the personal side to speaking in tongues to something in the natural.  At that time, it was common place for a city to use a trumpet as a warning signal to the city that there was something wrong.  If the person whose job it was to sound the alarm made an unfamiliar melody, it would be confusing to the whole city.  Likewise when someone speaking in tongues that is reserved for personal use in a public setting, it’s going to be confusing to everyone around them.

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

  • I think a great way to put this in our vernacular would be “you will be blowing smoke.”

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

  • Barbarian – one whose speech is rude, rough and harsh; one who speaks a foreign or strange language which is not understood by another; used by the Greeks of any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language, whether mental or moral, with the added notion after the Persian war, of rudeness and brutality. The word is used in the N.T. without the idea of reproachfulness.  Those are the three definitions from Strong’s.  So the point of Paul to use that name to describe someone who is using tongues out-of-order was dead on.  I’m sure that’s how we as Christians sound today when we speak in tongues out-of-order…we sound like barbarians.

12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

  • Just like he pointed out in the previous verses: we should be looking to build others up when we gather together.  We shouldn’t be looking for ways to get attention.  Unfortunately,  speaking in tongues is a way for many people to shout “look at me!”  However, he says that if tongues are spoken, then pray for them to be interpreted.  I believe that the spiritual gift of tongues and interpretation as mentioned in chapter 12 are what God intended us to use in the church.  If you do miss it and speak in tongues out-of-order, then at least, Paul is saying, pray to interpret so that everyone may be encouraged, not just yourself.  Keep in mind that back in verse 5, Paul says that tongues with interpretation is greater than prophesy.  Again, that’s why I believe we were given the gifts of tongues and interpretation.

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

  • Remember, back in verse 2 Paul mentioned that speaking in tongues is speaking mysteries.  So your human understanding is not going to be increased at that moment.  However, that’s not to say that it won’t at all.  Remember, the personal use of tongues is another way to pray.  Our understanding doesn’t always benefit when we pray in our native tongue right away either.

15 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.

  • I believe Paul is referring to interpretation here.  Just back in verse 13, he says that if you do pray in tongues, pray to interpret.  So he’s saying if he is to pray or sing in the church in tongues he is confident there will be an interpretation.

16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

  • Again, without interpretation, those that are around don’t’ know what you’re saying, so why would they give an amen (so be it) in agreement if they don’t know what was spoken?  Sure you may give thanks to God in that language, but you’ve not built anyone else up in the process.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

  • That’s a pretty bold statement.  Obviously Paul was a fanatic about speaking in tongues, but he also knew the proper place for them.  He wants to do what is best for everyone.  We should, as Jesus did, look for ways to serve our fellow believers.  So if that meant he didn’t speak in tongues, then so be it.  He would that others benefit rather than himself.

20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

  • Verse 20: Grow up!  That’s what I gather Paul is saying.  They were like little kids left to themselves…what happens when kids are left with no direction?  Things get out of control real quick.  Verse 21 is Paul giving us the O.T. prophesy concerning this N.T. reality.  Paul is also specifically referring to the tongues that occurred in the book of Acts.  In my previous post, I touched on the fact that there were a specific type of speaking in tongues that were for unbelievers.  That type of tongues don’t need and interpreter because its spoken in languages that the unbelievers will recognize.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

  • This refers back to verse 10 and is apparently what the Corinthians were doing.  Everyone was speaking in tongues in their services and it was not good.  This would also seem to be a contradiction to verse 22, however it’s not.  Verse 22 was speaking about the signs type of tongues and Paul is talking about them speaking in their personal prayer language.  It’s that type of tongues that shouldn’t be used around unbelievers because they will think we are insane.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happened and is why there is so much confusion about speaking in tongues.  I’ve watched “meetings” where everyone is going bonkers speaking in tongues and, yes, I agree with Paul…they appear to be “mad”.

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

  • Here is Paul going back to what he said at the beginning.  Unless you have an interpreter, prophesy should be sought after in a church setting and he even gives a benefit to what can happen when it occurs.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

  • There was obviously some selfish motives going on there, because not every single person in the church setting is going to have some type of psalm, teaching, tongues or revelation at the same time.  They were zealous of spiritual gifts, yet they were still very new to the things of God and they took it overboard.  Like I mentioned earlier about seeing meetings where everyone was speaking in tongues…that typically happens when people get on fire for the things of God and the moves of the Spirit.  Children have to be taught to control themselves.  We have to be taught the same.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

  • All throughout this chapter, Paul is not forbidding the use of tongues in a church setting, just ones without an interpretation.  He also refers again to our personal use of tongues, that it is speaking directly to God.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.  (Yes, I am skipping verses because 34-38 do not specifically pertain to my topic.) 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Those were some great instructions for Paul to end that section with.  So, to sum things up, speaking in tongues in a church setting (where there is preaching and teaching), needs to be followed by interpretation so that everyone may reap the benefits.  It also needs to be done in an orderly manner as well as taking into account the likely hood of unbelievers in the midst.  I’m not suggesting that we never speak in tongues around unbelievers since I’ve shown that there are tongues specific for unbelievers.  However, we need to be sure that if we are about to publicly speak in tongues, that either we pray we will interpret or we must be sure that someone there will interpret, as in the gift of interpretations.

I realize this was a bit lengthy, but this is a very important chapter on the subject of speaking in tongues and I thought it best to approach it in a commentary style.  This didn’t touch too much on the personal benefits of speaking in tongues or what the purpose of that is.  There are other scriptures that go into more detail on that type of tongues and that’s what’s in store for my next installment, but this time I mainly wanted to show the use of the “church tongues” and how it differs from our personal “prayer language”.

If you’ve read all my posts on this topic, thanks for hanging in there.  I sure don’t have it all figured out yet, so if you’ve got any insight or feedback concerning these posts up to this point, it’s most welcome.

The Truth About Speaking In Tongues – Pt. 3 – Tongues As A Sign

In my first installment on speaking in tongues, I talked about what it actually means to speak in tongues.  The second part dealt with the three different types of speaking in tongues that the New Testament talks about.  This post and the next two after will talk about more depth about each of the three different types of speaking in tongues.  If you haven’t read the first two posts, I would encourage you to so you will have a better understanding.

Ok, so what does that sign have anything to do with speaking in tongues?  NOTHING!  I was looking for a picture to represent this post about the “signs tongues” and when I hit Google images for something to insert, this popped up and I thought it was funny!

Moving on…

The first instance of speaking in tongues was in Acts 2.  This was what I referred to as “signs” tongues.  It was a sign that the Holy Spirit had been poured out as Peter referred to in the book of Joel.  Those that heard the disciples speaking in a language other than their own, hear them speaking “the wonderful works of God.”  What exactly were they saying?  I don’t know.  All  I know is that after the disciples got accused of being drunk, Peter spoke to the crowd and 3000 people got saved that day.  No one freaked out.  No one accused them of being “of the devil.”  They spoke in other languages the wonderful works of God and it was a sign to those who heard.

Acts 10:44-48 also records people speaking in other languages and people got saved that day too.  Acts 19:5-7 records the first instance with Paul.  It doesn’t specifically record that it was the signs type of tongues, but I have to presume that it was since both other instances in the book of Acts deals with that type.  Again, no one freaked out.

This type of tongue is used as a sign to unbelievers.  Yes, that’s right.  Unbelievers.  Each time, aside from the time with Paul, when people spoke with tongues there were people around who did not belive in Jesus.  Afterward, those same people got saved.

This is not a type of tongues that you should go out on the street corner of your neighborhood and try to start speaking.  Take the place and circumstance into consideration when this occurred.  It is highly unlikely that where you are currently at, is similar to their situation at that time.  Unlikely, but still possible.

I have to believe that for this type of speaking in tongues to manifest, the conditions are going to have to be similar to what the disciples experienced.  They were surrounded by people who simply did not believe in Jesus.  In fact, some of the same people who got saved that day, out of the 3000, could have witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus.  Obviously that circumstance will never be replicated again, however, the spirit of it can and is replicated everyday.

The disciples were surrounded by people who hated Jesus.  They were surrounded by people who hated those that followed Him.  The disciples were probably in that upper room hiding from the very people who hated them.  In the midst of what was probably a very fearful situation, God used a sign to get the attention of those people and created an opportunity for the Word to get preached.  As a result, people got saved.  It needs to be noted here that no interpreter was necessary.

The bottom line is that this type of speaking in tongues was a sign to signify fulfillment of prophesy.  However, just because the prophesy has been fulfilled doesn’t mean that this type of speaking in tongues has “ceased”.  I don’t think we see it operate because we Christians, at least here in America, aren’t in the position for this type of speaking in tongues to manifest.  Think about it like this: if you are around everyone who only speaks English, and you speak English, why would this type of tongues manifest?  No one would understand you and they would think you are mad.

I do have a story that I want to share with you.  It was told to me first hand by a woman who I believe to be of honesty and integrity.  It was about her experience of this type of tongues.  There are some terms and such that are going to raise questions that I will answer in another post dealing with the myths of speaking in tongues.  I would ask that you put that aside and get the heart of this story.  I don’t think she would mind if I shared this, since she has shared it on public radio before.

JoAnn was teaching a Bible study with a group of teenage students in a classroom type setting.  During her talk, she kept noticing a young man who looked like he was trying to intently listen.  He would lean up in his chair and extend his neck like he was hanging on her every word, and then he would suddenly fall asleep.  This happened quite a few times during the study.  When it was over, she went to this young man and spoke with him for a few minutes.  She felt like God wanted her to pray for him, so she asked if that was OK.  He agreed, but she said she had no idea what she was supposed to pray for.  She decided to pray in tongues over him.  As soon as she began to, she noticed that what she was speaking was a language different from what she was used to hearing when she would pray in tongues by herself.  A few minutes past and she noticed something different about the young man, so she decided to stop.  When she got up to leave, a young woman who was near by stopped her on the way out.  The young woman asked if JoAnn knew what she said.  She told the young woman that she didn’t know what she prayed and briefly shared about speaking in tongues.  The young woman was stunned and proceeded to tell JoAnn that she in fact knew what was said.  The young woman said JoAnn had spoken in Yugoslavian!  She also told JoAnn that she had heard some teaching about speaking in tongues and didn’t’ believe in it, but this changed her mind!

JoAnn might not have necessarily been around those who hated Jesus, but she was in a place where this type of tongue could manifest and be used as a sign.  This has happened to JoAnn one other time that I know of and the other time she spoke in French and something similar happened.  Someone was there that spoke French and it was a sign to them.  This type of speaking in tongues is very real and is still in operation today.  We just may not be in the right places for it to happen or we simply might not be willing enough to step out and do what JoAnn did without thought of embarrassment, ridicule or fear of what others may think.

I want to close with this: the act of speaking in tongues in the book of Acts came as a result from the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This is a different experience from being born again, however, you cannot receive the baptism until you are born again.  I also believe that speaking in tongues can be evidence that the baptism of the Holy Spirit has occurred, but even if you don’t speak in tongues, it doesn’t mean you didn’t get the baptism.  You don’t have to speak in tongues, you get to.  If a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit today, they will still receive the ability to speak in tongues, it just might not be this type of tongues.  It’s most likely going to be the one that’s reserved for personal use, unless there is an occasion for the signs type of tongues to occur.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is like a pair of shoes: they always come with tongues.

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