Pentecostal Apologetics

"Tongues Were Only for a Sign of God's Judgement Upon Israel"

The Above Assertion, That Tongues Were Sent by God as a Judgement Against Israel, Cannot be Supported by Holy Scripture.

Tongues, along with dreams, visions, and other prophetic speech are given to the church to empower the believers to live a life that is saturated by the Holy Spirit. The result of the Holy Spirit annointed church, is that Christians everywhere will stop what they are doing, stop studying theology, and simply praise the Lord--with enthusiasm. God will see a people desiring to praise His holy name. This new life in the Holy Spirit is described by Paul:
"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Eph 5: 17-20

Tongues are not for judgement, but for power:

"For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost... But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" Acts 1: 5-8

A big part of the power that the believers received when the Holy Spirit was poured out (at Pentecost, and ever after) was the ability to praise God through the Holy Spirit; that is, the Holy Spirit actually praying to God--through the mouth of a believer!

"we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" Acts 2: 11 "They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God" Acts 10: 46

God, since Pentecost, has given believers the power to live as New Testament priests; therefore Peter gives these instructions:

"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" 1 Peter 2: 5

The spiritual sacrifices that God is pleased with, is not animal sacrifices at a temple; but, rather, He seeks the true worship of His name by people of the Spirit:

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." 1 Peter 2: 9

Tongues Praise God

That is why, when the Holy Spirit was given (at the Acts 2 Pentecost--and at many other times); the resulting tongues and prophecies (and all other spiritual gifts) were not to ridicule the Jews in judgement, but to bring praises to God's holy name. And remember that sometimes tongues-speaking is not God's Holy Spirit coming down to speak through man (supposedly cursing the Jews in judgement), but it may be the prophetic spirit inside of a man that sends praises up to God (in no way would that be words of judgement against the Jews).

The idea that tongues were given as a judgement against the Jews, is just an assumption that cessationists have decided is true. Tongues, are part of the prophetic gift to strengthen the church. If tongues were given to judge the Jews, then so was every other prophetic gift. And every prophetic dream that someone has is just the Lord saying that the Jews are wicked! Actually, prophetic gifts are given to edify (build up) the church:
"He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church" 1 Cor. 14: 3-4

How in the world can one be edified by speaking words of judgement against the Jews. Paul teaches, in chapter 14, that prophecies [which include the interpretation of tongues] in the church service causes people [Jews and Gentiles] to get saved:
"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: 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" 1 Cor 14: 24-25
How could it be that a tongues-message is a judgement against the Jews, but the interpretation of those very words could get him saved. In Acts chapter 10 it is recorded that the Gentiles began speaking in tongues while Peter was there. If cessationist ideas are correct; then the Gentiles were speaking words of judgement against Peter and his entourage because they are Jewish! And in Acts 19 it is recorded that Jewish believers at Ephesus were speaking in tongues. Again, if cessationists are correct that tongues are a sign of Judgement against the Jews; then they were speaking words of judgement aginst themselves, against Paul (who was there), and against every other Jew.
Picture this absurdity: A Jewish man gets saved, and he works real hard trying to get a Gentile neighbor of his saved also. Finally, one day, after much hard work and long-suffering, the Jewish man leads the Gentile to salvation in Christ. Later that same evening they are at a prayer meeting. The Gentile speaking in tongues is saying, "You evil Jew! You have been judged as wicked!-- At least you got me saved." And the Jewish man saying in tongues. "I am wicked indeed. I wish I was a Gentile, instead of a wicked Jew."

Cessationists might say that tongues were only to judge the unbelieving Jews. This idea is proved false because there were no unbelieving Jews to hear the words of "judgement" at Cornelius' house (Acts 10) or at Ephesus (Acts 19). The Scriptures that cessationists use to support their idea is below (notice the absence of the word, "judgement."):
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 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. 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." 1 Cor. 14: 20-22

Assyria What?
It is easy to see why cessationists assume that tongues are for a judgement against the Jews. The Old Testament qoute within 1 Cor 14: 20-22 (above) is from Isaiah 28, where God is basically telling Israel (the Northern kingdom) that they have been so wicked that He will allow them to be conquered by Assyria. Therefore cessationists have come to the conclusion that hearing a foriegn language is a judgement. And because the unbelieving Jews in New Testament times heard a strange tongue (particularly at Pentecost where there were many actual foriegn dialects spoken); they assume that tongues is a sign that someone has been judged. However, the judgement against the Israel in Isaiah's day was not a strange tongue. The judgement against Israel was that they would be taken captive by Assyria.

The fact that the Assyrians spoke a strange language is irrelevant. If the Assyrians had spoken the same language that Israel spoke; God would still have allowed them to conqour Israel. The strange language was not a judgement, but a consequence of the judgement. Likewise, in the New Testament, tongues are not a judgement against the Jews for being wicked (not accepting Christ) or unbeliving. This is where the cessationists are confused. They confuse the "reason" with the "consequence." Cessationists think that the reason for tongues is a "sign" to show that God has judged the Jews (as unworthy of something). And they belive that the consequence of God judgeing the Jews is that Christians will speak in tongues (to show judgment). But actually, just the opposite is true. The reason God sent tongues (prophetic speech, and gifts) to the believers, is for power and praise. The consequence of tongues-speaking is that unbeleivers (Jew and Gentile) do not understand what is being spoken. Therefore, to them, it is just a "sign." It must be noted that the Greek word, "semeion" which has been translated as "sign," in verse 22, above, does not mean, "sign" as a street sign stating that "The Jews have been judged." In this case it means, a "sign," as in a "wonder," or a "mystery,: or "perplexity." This same Greek word is used in the following verses from the book of revelation:
"And there appeared a great wonder [semeion] in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun" Rev. 12:1

"And there appeared another wonder [semeion] in heaven; and behold a great red dragon having seven heads " Rev. 12: 3
"And I saw another sign [semeion] in heaven, great and marvellous," Rev. 15:1

Therefore, verse 22 is not saying that tongues are a sign showing that the Jews have been judged by God. Rather; Paul, wrote 1Cor 14 to show that tongues without interpretation does not benifit anyone except the speaker; therefore, do not speak tongues loudly in the church service (without interpretation) because for others, it is just a mystery/sign. And just as the Old Testament Jews were perplexed by the Assyrian dialect; so they are perplexed today by tongues, and it will not help them--so do not do it in the church when it is time for learning--unless there is interpretation, "let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret" (1 Cor. 14: 13). If tongues are a sign of judgement against the Jews, because they do not understand it. Then it is also a sign of judgement against everybody (including apostles) because no one can understand, unless it is interpreted.

In chapter 14 (of 1 Cor.), Paul says, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." (1 Cor. 14: 18) Notice, that he did not say, "I thank God that I judge the Jews more than you all." The Old Testament qoute (from Isaiah 28, below) that cessationists try to construe into saying that tongues are a judgement (by Christians) against the Jews, cannot be a prophecy that is fulfilled by the church because Christians did not take the Jews captive to a foriegn land.
"For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people... But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Isaiah 28: 11-13

Germany, under the sick Adolf Hitler, could have fulfilled that prophecy better than the Christian church could have. But the prophecy of Isaiah 28 was only to be fulfilled once--in the 7oo's B.C. Isaiah 28 is not a prophecy of the church age. Paul did not say that, or imply it. Paul is speaking of prophecies and tongues in the church service; that is the context of his words. Therefore, he is telling the Corinthians that the church is made up of believers and prophecy is for believers in the church-service (for their instruction) and that prophecy convicts a stray unbeliever that happens to be there; therefore prophecy is better than tongues in the church unless there is an interpretation. Now, cessationists might agree that tongues-speaking is not actually "words" of judgement against the Jews. And they might even agree that tongues edifies the church. Nevertheless they often say that tongues are still a judgement against the Jews, as God is showing them that they are no longer His exclusive people who are to act as His mouthpiece to the world. That is all fine. That is why the "reason" and the "consequence" for tongues (written above) needs to be examined.

God's Plan

Remember that "tongues-praise" is God's plan for His church. The verses below speak of tongues and prophecies (that began on Pentecost-- Acts 2) as living water flowing from the believers' heart:

"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given [He was given at the Acts 2 Penetecost] because Jesus was not yet glorified.)" John 7: 37-39

Copyright 2006 - 2007. Peter Kwiatkowski. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License. http://www.pentecostal-tongues-theology.org Peter Kent Kwiatkowski -