True, Tongues Shall Cease. But Have They Already?

untitledThe topic of the “Speaking in Tongues” is way too vast to address in one article. And even if we wanted to do it, we would not be able to, because I for one do not understand everything about it. But we believe that the question of whether tongues have already ceased or are still available to Christians today can be answered in one article, and with a fair amount of certainty. Here is the key verse, the source of all controversy:

1 Corinthians 13:8 – 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.

It is without question true that not only tongues, but also prophecies and knowledge will cease and vanish away. So the only question that truly remains is

When will all these ceasing take place?

The context provides a definite answer to this question.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 – 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

God tells us exactly when this will take. It is when that which is perfect has come. You and I will agree that the only perfect One is our Lord Jesus-Christ. At the time of Paul’s writings to the Corinthians, Jesus-Christ had already come the first time, was crucified, was resurrected, and then was seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 8:1). And we can also agree that He is still there today because He has not returned yet (otherwise, we must have missed the memo!). When He returns, there will be no more need for tongues, prophecies and knowledge because He, the perfect One, will be here Himself.

Speaking in Tongues_2

There is no need for an ambassador when the president is around himself. But when the president is not around, the ambassador, who represents him, testifies that he (the president) exists. Likewise, the Spirit we have received from Jesus-Christ testifies of Him (John 15:26). But when Jesus-Christ is here Himself, there will be no more need for any testimony from anyone…He will be here Himself!

Verse 12 further confirms that the time for tongues, prophecies and knowledge to cease has not yet arrived.

1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

It is quite evident that today, we do not know the same way we are known of God. God and Jesus-Christ know us better than we know them. Therefore, verse 12 is still the present. We know in part, we do not know everything, and we certainly do not see face to face. That is the case because that which is perfect (Jesus-Christ) has not yet come (His second coming, and everything this second coming implies for us).

Conclusion: Therefore, it seems to us that the logical conclusion from the scriptures is that not only speaking in tongues, but also prophecies and knowledge have not ceased. If one maintains that tongues have ceased, then such should confess that prophecies and knowledge have ceased as well. But how can our God allow for knowledge to cease?! It is precisely the lack of knowledge that destroys His people (Hosea 4:6), so He (God) will never allow such things. Those things will stop when His Christ, Himself, is here! So now, the who, where, when and how  of speaking in tongues are a different matter. We should endeavor not to be stuck in our ways, which is the hallmark of pride, and instead endeavor to study the scriptures and voluntarily submit ourselves to what God is telling us, at least to the best of our understanding.

To God, His majesty, and to His Son Jesus-Christ, be the Glory for all Eternity! Amen.

Are You Plugged?

Plugged-InYou have heard of the parable of the sower before. It is recorded in Mark 4 and in Matthew 13. We will not copy it here because of its length. But essentially, you have a sower who went out to sow (Mark 4:3). Some seeds fall by the way side (verse 4) and the fowls of the air devour them. Some fall on stony ground (verse 5), then grow immediately because there is no much dirt. However, when the sun comes up, they die quickly. Others fall among thorns (verse 7), but they are chocked by them when those thorns grow up. And some fall on good ground (verse 8), and end up yielding fruits in abundance and even superabundance. We shall call them “way side”, “stony ground”, “among thorns” and “good ground”.

Our Lord Jesus explains this parable in Mark 4:14-20. In all four cases, the ground refers to people, the seed is the Word of God, and all four types of people “hear” the Word (verses 15, 16, 18 and 20). However, only two of the four types (“stony ground” and “good ground”) actually “receive” the Word.

This said, a little study of the two verbs “to hear” and “to receive” (or “to accept” depending on the version of your bible) reveals that much of the real meaning of this parable has been lost in most English translations.

It’s about HOW you Hear!

Mark 4: 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

When looking at how the verb “to hear” is conjugated in each of the four cases, we find that only in the case of the good ground (verse 20) is this verb in the “Present Indicative Active”. In other words, this is the only group of people that hear and keep hearing continuously the Word of God! These people are plugged to Christ!

In stark contrast, the same verb is in the “Aorist” tense in all of the first three groups (“way side”, “stony ground” and “among thorns”). This tense means that this action of hearing is not continuous or habitual. The reason for them not producing fruit is because they do not keep on hearing the Word of Christ.

So what about the stony ground? The only other group mentioned as receiving the Word?

Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

Not only did they “receive” it, but our Lord says that they receive it “immediately” and “with gladness”. But then our Lord says that they “immediately” stumble when tribulation comes because they have no root (verse 17). Ouch! What went wrong?

It’s about HOW you Receive!

Are you plugged2See, we already established that the first problem with all the groups except good ground is that they do not make it a habit to hear the Word. In the worst case, they hear it one time and that is it. But now focusing on the verb “to receive”, we see that in the case of stony ground (verse 16), the greek verb is lambano, while in the case of good ground it is the greek verb para-dechomai. In a nutshell, these two verbs focus on two “very” different aspects of the reception process.

Lambano emphasizes the manifestation of what has been received while para-dechomai emphasizes the strong and loving acceptance of what has been received. An example of lambano is found in Acts 19, where Paul ends up laying His hand on some people so they may receive (lambano) the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:2,6  He said unto them, Have ye received (lambano) the Holy Ghost since ye believed?… 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

There was a clear manifestation/evidence of the reception: They spoke with tongues and prophesied. In the case of the stony ground, the manifestation is that they immediately start to speak or preach what they have just been taught. How do we know? Verse 17 says that it is for “the Word’s sake that they face tribulations”. They do not just get tribulations for any reason. They are attacked specifically on their faith. But that faith is weak because they do not continue to hear! They are batteries and they run out, they are not plugs!

Para-dechomai is actually a stronger form of the verb “decomai” and it is used only 6 times in the New Testament. One of the other five is this great record in Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:6 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives (para-dechomai).

Can you sense the intense love God has for us? How He receives us? And by the way, this is also in the present tense, meaning, the Lord continually receives us! Wow!! Want to talk about being accepted by Him? Here you have it!

So what’s the deal here? “Good ground” hears and keeps on hearing the Word. As a result, he starts to accept and receive this Word, becoming one with it, loving it, making it his very own. He cannot get enough of it! So he never forgets that he needs to stay plugged, and as a result, he produces fruits in the most natural of ways, and even in great abundance. Stony ground hears it once, gets extremely excited. Heck, it seems to be the most excited of all! But then he takes the little he received and runs with it. What a pity! Why do you leave? You are battery on your own, and soon after, you are out of juice!

What is the takeaway? Stay plugged! Keep on hearing! Let’s not focus on what we can do, like stony ground did. The Word calls that our works. Instead, let’s focus on being close to Him, simply listening to Him, day in and day out (2 Timothy 1:9). Bearing fruits is not about exerting effort of our own, but about letting His Word dwell in us richly! He who drinks from Him (i.e. He who hears Him) will never thirst and out of him will flow rivers of living waters (John 7: 37, 38 – you want to talk about producing fruits?!).