The Gift of Prayer Part 3: The Babbling Counterfeit

I Corinthians 14:23
      If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak in tongues, and there come in those that unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): [Some] things are an offence against good sense and good taste.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There seems, as I lately observed, something monstrous in this determination to hold converse with God in sounds which fall without meaning from the tongue. Even if God did not declare His displeasure, nature herself, without a monitor, rejects it. Besides, it is easy to infer from the whole tenor of Scripture how deeply God abominates such an invention. As to the public prayers of the church, the words of Paul are clear―the unlearned cannot say Amen if the benediction is pronounced in an unknown tongue [I Corinthians 14:16]. And this makes it the more strange, that those who first introduced this perverse practice ultimately had the effrontery to maintain that the very thing which Paul regards as ineffably absurd was conducive to the majesty of prayer.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Another point is that the gift of tongues is not meant for all. The Apostle asks, ‘Do all speak with tongues?’ [I Corinthians 12:30] And the answer is, of course, ‘No, all do not speak in tongues, all do not have the gifts of healing, all do not interpret,’ and so on.

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): And the apostle’s questions “Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?” make it clear beyond all doubt that only some of the saints possessed those gifts. Indeed the questions are asked for the very purpose of enforcing the argument that, as in the human body there are many members, each with its own special function, to be exercised for the benefit of all, so in the church there are different gifts and duties assigned to the several members; yet, inasmuch as all belong to one and the same body, the gifts all pertain to that one body, regardless of what members have them. According to the inspired argument of that chapter it would be as absurd to expect every member of the church to have the gift of tongues as to expect that every member of the human body should be a tongue endowed with power to speak (vs.17).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And you will notice that Paul always puts the gift of tongues last in his list. In chapter 14, he is at great pains to say that everything must be done ‘decently and in order’, for God is not the author of confusion (vss. 40, 33). So if you meet people who say they speak in tongues, or if you have been at a meeting where this is claimed, and if there was disorder and confusion, then you are entitled to say, in terms of the scriptural teaching, that whatever else it may have been, it was not the gift of tongues as described in the church at Corinth. The Apostle always emphasises the order and the control which must be exercised.

PHILIP MAURO: As regards the strange modern idea that speaking in tongues is to be sought as the “Bible-sign” of having received the Holy Spirit we would point out that faith does not seek after a sign, but rests upon the simple Word of God…If those who have received the Holy Spirit are seen walking after the Spirit, manifesting the love of the Spirit, and bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, there will be no need of any “signs” whereby they may be distinguished. Appeal is frequently made to the words of Mark 16:17,18, as if they contained the promise that all that believe should be endowed with the gift of tongues. But the words will bear no such interpretation. They declare that certain signs, of which speaking with new tongues was one, should follow them that believe. The Lord no more promised that all believers should speak with tongues than He promised that all should cast out devils, take up serpents, and drink poison without receiving hurt. Speaking with tongues, therefore, is no more the “Bible sign” of having received the Holy Spirit than is the casting out of devils, or the taking up of serpents.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles or speaking with tongues.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): [The Pentecostal tongues movement] has magnified one single gift above all others and that one gift, as Paul said, was the least. Now, that does not cause me to have great confidence in the movement that would do that. Then there is an unscriptural exhibition of that gift, which incidentally began in the United States about 1904.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Gifts which in their own nature exceed the whole power of our faculties, that dispensation of the Spirit has long since ceased, and where it is pretended unto by any, it may justly be suspected as enthusiastic delusion.

PHILIP MAURO: We believe that the modern error regarding tongues, as made prominent by those who call themselves “pentecostals,” is one of the most dangerous of these last days. Many true, earnest, and zealous children of God have been deluded by it. The appeal it makes is very attractive to saints who groan and sigh for something different from the shams and dead formalities of religious Christendom. We have had it under observation from the start. Its phenomena—ecstasies, transports, prostrations, yielding to “the power,” displaced personality, etc.—are the very same as we had already become familiar with in our previous investigations of hypnotism, spiritism, and other psychic and occult phenomena. We know by personal observation some of the terrible havoc—moral and spiritual—it has wrought. Most earnestly, therefore, do we warn the beloved people of God against it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is a difficult subject, but if we constantly heed the injunctions and the warnings, and the teaching of the Scripture, we shall be saved from much trouble.

WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH (1646): Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of His Spirit, according to His will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue (I Corinthians 14:14-16).


This entry was posted in Prayer and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply