Question #35: Are “sign gifts” such as “tongues,” the “gift of healing,” etc. for today? Biblically defend your answer.
Answer: No, the sign gifts such as tongues and healing are not for today. Just like the doctrines of theology proper and Christology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit needs to be biblically and theologically accurate. Therefore it follows that it is not ecclesiastically acceptable for one member to “speak in tongues” in a “no-speaking-in-tongues” local church. Doing so is not correct for the following biblical reasons:
1) tongues are real language; all of what goes on today in “speaking-in-tongues” churches is “gibberish!”;
2) speaking in tongues requires some persons (who are multi-lingual) to interpret and/or translate the tongue/s for the edification of the hearers;
“2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification” (1 Cor 14:2-5);
3) this gift has cease, “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Cor 13:8). But can God still do it today? Sure He can. He just doesn’t choose to.
4) It was a sign for unbelieving Israelites, “Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe” (1 Cor 14:22). We aren’t Jews, we are the church.
5) If we did it, it needs to be done in accordance to Scripture; that is, orderly, interpreted properly, and only 2 or 3 at any given service (1 Cor 14:26 and ff).
“26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
One-Minute Theology with Chaplain T features the question and answer portions of the Systematic Theology courses that were part of my seminary work at Piedmont Baptist Graduate School. I will be posting one Q & A everyday until my ordination council meeting set for February 2014.
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