Is speaking in tongues and prophesying included in the dispensation of grace?

I hope everything is going well with you and the Church! So this past Thursday a couple of friends that I have been hanging out with, asked me to come to worship with them at their church. Well towards the end of the service, a lady started praying pretty intensely over J. and she collapsed, looking almost unconscious and starting bawling, tears and sobbing, the whole nine yards. In the meantime, this lady was holding her speaking in what she refers to as “tongues.” Not ever seeing anything like it, I was really confused and after the service asked D. if she could explain to me what went on during worship. D. continued to tell me though we are baptized into the Body of Christ upon salvation; we must be baptized by the Holy Ghost in order to grow more with the Lord. This second baptism is kind of like an agreement that you follow God. This happens by lying on hands I guess, which will allow God to reveal your spiritual gifts that every believer has.  Not only that, but on the way home my friend was telling me that he considers his gift as a prophet. I have been looking at scripture and have found plenty of verses on gifts and tongues, but am having trouble linking them with an explanation and conclusion. I think any scripture rightly divided will help right now at this point. Thanks a lot Pastor Tom!

Hello: I have been waiting to hear from you. I was wondering how things were going. It sounds like you are entering the battle for “sound doctrine.” Many times we think that “spiritual warfare” is the personal struggles we face in life, but doctrine is really where the front line is at. Welcome to the front lines!

The question concerning the gift of prophecy and tongues is a critical issue. One that if you start down the wrong road will take you further and further away from the truth of God and His will for your life.

As you said this could be a long study, but I am going to make it short and to the point. The conclusion which would follow a longer study would show from Ephesians 4:7-16 that there are no gifts of the Spirit in operation today. But let’s just deal with prophecy and tongues and you will be on your way to understand.

There is an extreme danger in believing that someone can prophecy today. Prophecy is God speaking out of the mouth of a prophet so that what that man is saying is “The Word of God.” If that man then would write out his prophecy it would make his writings “Scripture.” That would also mean that someone else in the Body of Christ would know things of God that other members of the Body could not. This is how the Catholic Church brought about the dark ages. They claimed the doctrines and decisions of the Pope and Council of Bishops were equal to the Bible, and then came all the false doctrines of that church (Mary worship, penance, transubstantiation, purgatory and so on.) The very foundation of the reformation and fundamentalism is the belief that the Bible is the final authority in all faith and practice. It cannot be the final authority if God is still prophesying.

This is the very point of I Corinthians 12-14. Since idols are “dumb” (I Corinthians 12:2) someone deceived the Corinthians in the past to worship them. They were false prophets of God. So Paul now warns and teaches about spiritual gifts. Note that all spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12 center around God giving revelation “the word of wisdom … the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith” i.e. what God would have us believe. Then the gifts of “healing” and “the working of miracles” are gifts given to “confirm the Word” – see Mark 16:20 and Exodus 4:1-9 (this is the first time the word “sign” shows up in the Bible). Then the last set of gifts in I Corinthians 12 is: “prophecy …discerning of spirits … divers kinds of tongues ..(and).. the interpretation of tongues.” All these are communication gifts, enabling men to speak God’s revelation to others – especially to those of other languages. So spiritual gifts all centered around God continuing to give revelation supernaturally.

At the end of chapter 12 Paul says: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.” In chapter 13 that better way is love – “charity” because the chapter ends by saying: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Charity will abide through the age of grace, but in contrast to love abiding, I Corinthians 13:9 tells us: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” These are not going to abide through the age of grace. They are going to fail (because God will stop prophesying through men) and will cease (God will not communicate by the gift of tongues) and vanish away (because God will not give knowledge supernaturally). In the next verse Paul speaks of the present and the rest of the passages contrasts present and future by saying “now”and “then.” I Corinthians 13:9 speaks of the present: “we know in part, and we prophesy in part” because God is still giving him revelation (see II Corinthians 12:1). “But” (in contrast to the present) he goes on to say: “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” In the context the word “perfect” is the completion of that which is “in part.” That is, perfect or complete prophecy and perfect or complete knowledge.

When God reveals to Paul His final revelation and Paul writes it into Scripture this fulfills what the Lord said in John 14:25,26 and John 16:12,13 “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told you” … “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” They were promised the Spirit would teach them “all things” and “all truth.” So someone cannot come along in 2011 AD and tell you things God did not tell them, or truths they did not know.

Concerning the mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul he says in Colossians 1:25,26 “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” To “fulfil” means to fill it full. It’s now complete. That is why Revelation 22:18,19 says it cannot be added to or taken from. It is why II Timothy 3:16,17 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The now completed Scripture is everything and all we need for doctrine and spiritual development in life. It is why Paul’s last word to Timothy (in II Timothy 4:1-4) is a charge to: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” He told Timothy to preach the Word, not to prophecy, and those who will not stick with the Scriptures will be turned unto fables.

You are being tested. Will you stick to the Scriptures, preach the Word or be turned unto fables?

Now about tongues; while God was still giving revelation when I Corinthians was being written, Paul said to covet the best gift. In chapter 13 love would continue when the revelation gifts end, but until then chapter 14 encourages the Corinthians to choose prophecy over tongues. Prophecy is better than tongues because it edifies all. I Corinthians 14:1 reads: “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” Now if you read the whole chapter understanding that its purpose is to show why a person should prophecy rather than speak in tongues, you will understand why the chapter limits tongue speaking. And then you will also see that every verse those who claim to speak in tongues use to defend speaking in tongues is actually a verse that tells them why they should not speak in tongues. I’ll let you read the chapter and study that out and see it for yourself. When you read the chapter underline all the contrasting words such as “but” or “rather.”

The most important thing about tongues in the Bible is to realize that they are languages. God confused man’s languages at the tower of Babel and now he has a message for all men and declared in by giving His Apostles and Prophets the gift of tongues. This was true in Israel’s Kingdom program – compare Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:4-11. It is also true in this age of the gospel of the grace of God. This is why Paul says in I Corinthians 14:18-22 “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (because he traveled the world preaching the gospel) and the verses go on to say: “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men…. 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.” There is no such thing as God giving man the language of Angels in order to pray. No one without leaning another language speaks in tongues today by a supernatural gift of the Spirit. Even those who think they do only speak in gibberish. I Corinthians 14:33 says: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

Gibberish is confusion and not tongues. Since tongues in the Bible is always a language I don’t let people call gibberish tongues. Even unknown tongues are human languages. They are unknown in areas where people speak another language but they are not unknowable tongues. There is a difference.

Lastly, there cannot be two Spirit baptisms in the age of grace, because Ephesians 4:5 says there is only one. Therefore those who say otherwise are wrong, the Bible is right. In fact Colossians 2:10 says that we are “complete in Christ” and Ephesians 1:3 says we are “bless with all spiritual blessings.” Therefore we do not need a second act of grace or a second blessing. We have it all in Christ the moment we get saved.

I hope that the doctrine these friends you mentioned do not reflect the doctrine of the school you are attending. I had hoped the school was more fundamental than that.