Thus says the LORD, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what manner of house will you build to me? and what place shall be my rest? For all these things has my hand made, and [so] all these things came to be, says the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:1-2
Dominionist theology is an arrogant side step from biblical and historical Christianity. It insists that the Church is in the process of building God’s Kingdom on earth. It is a papist heresy which, along with a great many other doctrinal delusions, was overlooked at the Reformation, and has by consequence survived the ages manifesting in all its neon light glory, with the charismatic movement of today. But what does the above verse from Isaiah say about such a concept? … “... the earth is my footstool: what manner of house will you build to me? The earth is the Father’s footstool Ashley Evans... not the believer’s possession or destiny. Is it the rich, the powerful, the persuasive or the influential the Father smiles upon as Evans and his contemporaries insist? Notice to whom the Father looks with favour according to our text... “... to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.” Poor [and it literally means just that, i.e. not of material substance] and of a contrite spirit, not bejewelled, Armani wearing, self adulating, stage strutting, multi millionaire types ferociously feigning piety. Who “... trembles at my word” not one who engages in signs and wonder storm chasing, between the lines Scripture treasure hunting, nor one who jumps on the happy, clappy bandwagon pursuing one ethereal, biblically indefensible, goose bump generating event after another. And yet it is such as these who not only steer the course but aslo embody the heart of today’s charismatic movement.
One thing is for sure, what occurred in the first century church beginning at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, was nothing like what we see occurring in charismatic churches in this day and age! The error is apparent for those with eyes to see and yet one which is largely unacknowledged. The apostolic sign gifts given at Pentecost for the expressed and only purpose of establishing the church, ended 30 years later with Paul in prison. It was not, as most charismatic’s insist, an event in perpetuum for the ages that followed.
A fundamental misunderstanding of Scripture itself appears to undergird the false doctrine of ongoing apostolic ministry gifts. Most charismatic’s turn to the Book of Acts to justify their beliefs in these ongoing gifts. The book of Acts, however, is not didactic (instructional) as are the Epistles from which church doctrine comes. Rather, it is a chronological history of the birth and establishment of the church. The gifts given to the Apostles were known as ‘sign gifts’. These were those used to establish the power of God at and after Pentecost; to authenticate the office of Apostle and as a sign to unbelieving Jews of the day that Yahweh had fulfilled prophesy concerning His Son and His bride the Church. The gifts were therefore transient and applied only to the first century church; these sign gifts are no longer in operation. What is in operation today is what the Bible refers to as lying signs and wonders.
It is not within the scope of this series of reports to enter into exceptional detail concerning these gifts; however we will examine in some depth these gifts in comparison with what we contend is masquerading as them within the charismatic church today. We heartily recommend our readers acquire some excellent study material on the subject, some of which is listed below in the End Notes section of this Report1.
Charismatic’s are by and large obsessed with speaking in tongues, and as such, a clear delineation must here be made between the sign gift of tongues spoken in the first century church, and that of the meaningless babble uttered today in charismatic gatherings. They are by no means even vaguely similar.
As mentioned above, these tongues were temporarily given during the establishment of the church and were KNOWN HUMAN LANGUAGES unknown to the speaker. (Acts 2:6) They were given as a sign for unbelievers that Messiah had fulfilled His promise to send the Holy Spirit, not a sign for believers. (1 Corinthians 14:22) They were not some kind of angelic prayer language bestowed upon believers so that Satan would be unable to understand what was being said as many foolishly claim. These tongues were known human languages and NOTHING like the incoherent warbling one would hear at a charismatic gathering. Obviously speaking in a foreign language required interpretation and therefore this supernatural gift was also given for that purpose. What I found absolutely hilarious is that in 1976 Pentecostals held a worldwide conference in Jerusalem to celebrate what was referred to as the ‘ongoing miracle of Pentecost’. Amazingly the delegates at this conference had to have interpreters and headphones in order to hear and understand in their own language. In case you missed it, had the supernatural gifts of tongues and their interpretation been ongoing that would not have been necessary.
Merrill Unger wrote…
“Pentecost is as unrepeatable as the creation of the world or of man; as once for all as the incarnation and the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. This appears from the following simple facts…
The Spirit of God could only come, arrive and take up residence in the church once, which He did at Pentecost.
The Spirit of God could only be given, received and deposited in the church once, which occurred at Pentecost.
The event occurred at a specific time (Acts 2:1), in fulfillment of a specific Old Testament type (Leviticus 23:15-22), in a specific place (Jerusalem; cf. Luke 24:49), upon a specific few (Acts 1:13-14), for a specific purpose (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20), to introduce a new order. The event did not constitute the continuing and reoccurring features of the new order once it was introduced.”
Unger also noted…
“As Pentecost was introductory in the sense of inaugurating a new age, so Acts 10 is terminal in the sense of marking the consummation of the introductory period and the establishment of the normal course of the new age”.3
And what is the normal course of the new age? Pastor John MacArthur explains…
“The norm is salvation and reception of the Holy Spirit at the same time” 4
Not as a separate event which charismatic’s refer to as the “doctrine of subsequence”. It should be noted that NOT ONE Apostolic writer ever taught this doctrine which also teaches believers are to seek after tongues. It dares to suggest that when a believer is saved he or she receives the Holy Spirit in part, not fully, and that a second dispensation or in-filling of the Holy Spirit is required. What does the Bible say on the matter?
“In Him you have been made complete” Colossians 2:10 (emphasis mine)
“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” 2 Peter 1:3
How is this ‘everything pertaining to life and godliness’ granted? Asks John MacArthur…
Through “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” 2 Peter 1:2
There is no point therefore in seeking through a subsequent dispensation to salvation that which is already ours. Nowhere in the canon of scripture are believers instructed to earnestly desire and seek after the apostolic gift of tongues. Nowhere in the canon of scripture are believers instructed to sing or pray in tongues. Praying in the spirit is not an endorsement of praying in tongues but rather a charismatic assumption.
The Holy Spirit is received in His fullness at the moment of salvation not at a subsequent time. The only exceptions to this normative revealed in Scripture were for definitive reasons during and for the establishment of the church, and to reveal to all the authorship of the Almighty in that construction. These exceptions to the rule occurred firstly prior to Pentecost, there were believers not yet filled with the Holy Spirit because He had not yet been poured out. God was making the statement of statements with Pentecost. This exception clearly delineated the prophetic timeline and gave birth to the church. A second exception occurred with the salvation of the Samarians (Acts chapter 8) (deeply hated by the Jews) to show both Jew and Samarian that the church was an undivided one and that both Jew and Samarian were subject to the apostle’s authority; The salvation of Cornelius and other Gentiles is the third exception to show Peter (a sometimes hypocritical Jew) and the church as a whole by virtue of his testimony that salvation was now also extended to the gentiles making all one in the church; and finally to the Ephesian disciples (actually disciples of John) who were baptised by John but not yet into Christ thus transitioning them from the old into the new covenant. Paul’s laying on of hands here seems to be a decommissioning of discipleship to John and thereafter submission to the authority of the Apostles. As stated these four examples are exceptions to the rule that a believer receives the Holy Spirit in His entirety at the moment of salvation not at some time thereafter.
Where the charismatic application of tongues differs with that of the first century Church.
The apostles gave very specific guidelines5 for the operation of tongues in the early church; these guidelines are listed in 1 Corinthians 14. Charismatic’s violate those guidelines in almost all of the following...
Tongues were a sign for the unbeliever not the believer. (vs. 22)
Tongues were to be used for the edification of the church. (vs. 26)
No more than 3 people in the assembly were to speak in tongues during a service and even then each was to take his turn. (vs. 27)
There was to be no speaking in tongues unless they could be interpreted (vs.28)
Any confusion or disorder in the assembly was an indication of something that could not originate from God. (vs. 33)
Women were to keep silent and not to speak in tongues. (vs. 34)
To recognise these regulations as the commandments of the Lord was imperative. (vs. 37)
Though not forbidding tongues in the apostolic assembly, the predominant command was to covet prophesy. (vs. 39)
Throughout the entire book of Acts the word translated ‘tongues’ is the Greek word ‘glossa’ and always appears in the plural form. However in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul uses both the plural and singular form. Many commentators suggest the reason for this was because Paul was drawing a distinction between the true gift of tongues (languages) and the counterfeit babbling of the pagans of his day in their services. Since meaningless and incoherent utterings essentially sounded the same, Paul used the singular form of glossa because the plural was not applicable and was reserved for the genuine gift of languages. Not in the original text, the KJV translators inserted the word ‘unknown’ before ‘tongue’ only where glossa is singular. If the differentiation between the plural ‘tongues’ and the singular ‘tongue’ signifies the difference between a real languages and mere gibberish, then the KJV translators were correct in supplying the term. Thus understood, the ‘unknown tongue’ is not a manifestation of the true spiritual gift but a pagan corruption.
Further to this, because there is no definite article preceding the word ‘god’ in the Greek, 1 Corinthians 14:2 could otherwise be translated...
“One who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men but to a god” - referring to a pagan deity. Either way 1 Corinthians 14:2 is a condemnation not a commendation as charismatic’s’ falsely assume. The context of the verse demands that conclusion. There is clearly a comparison between two types of speakers and their motivation going on in verses 2-4.
It’s All About Wanting More
Derek Webb referring to Christ and His sufficiency sings in his poignant song “Wedding Dress”...
“... If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I’d ever need
or is there more I’m looking for?
And should I read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want?”
Michael Green writes...
“The charismatic’s [of Paul’s day and beyond] were always out for more, and Paul was always insisting that Christ and Christ alone was the blessing for Christians. Any doctrine that adds something to Christ, as some charismatic’s do in their cry, “Christ yes, but beyond Christ you need the Spirit,” stand self condemned. The charismatics were always out for power; they were elated by spiritual power, and were always seeking short cuts to power. It is the same today. Paul’s reply is to boast not of his power but of his weakness, through which alone the power of Christ can shine. Paul knew all about the marks of an apostle, in signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Corinthians 12:12) but he knew that the power of an apostle or of any other Christian, came from the patient endurance of suffering, such as he had with his thorn in the flesh, or the patient reviling and hardship such as he was submitted to in the course of his missionary work (1 Corinthians 4). The charismatic's had a theology the resurrection and its power; they needed to learn afresh the secret of the cross and its shame which yet produced the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).The charismatic's were always out for evidence. That is why tongues and healings and miracles were so highly esteemed among them. But Paul knows well that we walk by faith while we are in this life, not by sight. There are many times when God calls upon us to trust Him in the dark, without supporting evidence.” 6
John MacArthur further clarifies this point by writing...
“Charismatic's today share the same shortcomings. The thirst for something more, the quest for greater power, and the desire to see evidences are as familiar today as they were in Corinth. Yet they are more compatible with the spirit of Simon than with the Spirit of God. To deny what is clearly taught in God’s Word, to question God’s promise, and to seek by human effort what He has already given is wrong, no matter how euphoric an experience might be. Instead of seeking miraculous evidences, all Christians – charismatic and non charismatic alike – should seek to know Him, including the fellowship of His suffering and conformity to His death (cf. Phil 3:10-11). That is what releases the power of the resurrection, which God has given us already (cf. Romans 6:4-5).” 7
This has by no means been an exhaustive study on the topic of tongues and we therefore urge our readers to engage in further and more intense study in order to better understand the issue and the delusion within which so many are ensnared.
In our next Report we will address the issue of Healing. Is the apostolic sign gift of healing still in operation or is a counterfeit strutting the Church stage?