Pentecostal Apologetics

Least Gift
Tongues are The Least of The Gifts For Teaching, but For Praise They are #1


  It is Said That Pentecostals Over-Emphasize Tongues. But Actually, According to The Verse Below, Tongues are as Important as Prophecy--For Their Interpretation is "Prophecy"
"For greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." 1 Cor. 14: 5

There are four passages of scripture (below) that cessationists use to "show" that tongues-speaking is not very important. In passages #1, and #2, cessationists say that "tongues" is listed near the bottom of the lists of spiritual gifts. They say that by placing "tongues" near the bottom of the lists, Paul is showing us that tongues are not very important. In passages #3, and #4, cessationists say that "tongues" is not even mentioned as a gift. This is again, to show us (supposedly) that tongues are not very important:

1) "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:" 1 Cor. 12: 7-10

Cessationist Error

First of all, the obvious problem with cessationist thinking is that Paul never says that he is listing the gifts of the Spirit in a descending ranking order. Also, to be consistent in their thinking, they would have to say that the interpretation of tongues is not as important as tongues-speaking, because it is listed below "tongues." Thirdly, the message of wisdom and knowledge ("ranked" first and second on the list above) are actually "prophecy" just as tongues-interpreted is. When cessationists say that tongues is not very important, they are saying that prophesying is not important either.
2) "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues... But covet earnestly the best gifts" 1 Cor. 12: 28-31
In passage #2 the cessationist confusion lies in that only the first three gifts are listed in ranking order, with all the other gifts lumped together as fourth. Notice that the gifts of miracles, and healings, are listed above the gifts of administration (leadership). Now what cessationist would admit that? Also, if cessationist theology is correct; those who are in leadership positions (administration) are not as important as those who help them ("those able to help others"). For they are lower on the "list." The "best gifts," according to Paul (in 1 Cor. 12-14) are "prophecy," and "interpretation." But, of course, "love" is most important. But it must be mentioned that Paul was writing to the Corinthians concerning their church-services. Therefore, for the church proper: interpretation, and prophecy are the most important gifts, with "apostles," and "prophets" being the most important offices.

3) "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness." Romans 12: 6-8

In #3, tongues is not listed; but neither is pastoring. Do cessationists really want to say that pastoring is not important because it is not even on the list? Actually, tongues-speaking and interpretations are included in "prophesying" and pastoring is included in "leadership" in the verse above.

4) "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" Eph. 4: 11-12
Although tongues is not listed, it is included in "prophets;" that is, if one has the "gift" of tongues for God to use to speak to a church by such a prophet. Number 4 is a blatent statement that prophetic speaking (prophets) will be here for the church-age. In short; tongues-speaking is so important that God allows every person to do it. That is why, when you read of someone speaking in tongues, you read that "all" (everyone praying) also speaks in tongues:

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2: 4

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word... speak with tongues" Acts 10: 44-46
"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them [on all them, unless someone was left out]; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." Acts 19: 6

Cessation Confusion

Cessationists are confused because there is a tongues-speaking that all may do (a prayer- praise language), and there is also a "gift" of tongues (that is, the ability to give a message in tongues from God to another person) that is used often in church services. Just as there is an amount of faith that all Christians have, and an amount of discernment that all Christians have, but there also is a "gift" of faith, and a "gift" of discernment that not all Christians have. Someone once said that the most common prayer God hears is, "Lord, bless my finances." Chances are, that if you are talking to someone who tells you that prophetic speaking is not very important, you are talking to someone who thinks that praying for financial blessings (worldy possessions) are important. 

Copyright 2006 - 2007. Peter Kwiatkowski. All rights reserved.