Discernment ministers such as Justin Peters Ministries and Alan from Polite Leader rightly call out the misuse of tongues in church services. To them, this is one of many signs that a ministry might not be godly. And, I agree. The false ministries they call out such as Benny Hinn, Joel Olsteen, Kennith Copland, Bethel, and Hillsongs are right on the money!
There have even been some comparisons to tongues as a gateway to bringing in New Age philosophies to the church, which in the most modern sense seems to be true. But that’s not how this all began.
Ryan Reeves does a great job of providing a history of Pentecostalism.
I can’t recommend his commentary on church history enough! Watch all of his videos!
The most important warning on the misuse of the gifts of the Spirit is, of course, the bible.
1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 covers all of the spiritual gifts, but then focuses on the proper use of the gift of tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. It can be read from 2 mainline perspectives:
Cessationism read the gifts as temporary until the “perfect” comes (1 Corinthians 13:10). This “perfect”, to them, means the bible. We have no need of spiritual gifts once the perfection of God’s Word is known to the church. Of course, in Paul’s time the New Testament had yet to be written. Paul is speaking of gifts that are given by the Spirit to sustain the church until the bible is complete.
Continuationist also read the gifts as being useful until the “perfect” comes. From their perspective the “perfect” means the new heaven and new earth spoken of in Revelation when all things are made new. The world we live in is fallen. It will never be perfect until the end times are complete. At this point you won’t need the gifts and as Paul states, only love will remain (1 Corinthians 13:8).
I hold the Continuationist view.
There is a third view called the New Apostolic Reformation which I might write a post on in the future. It is heretical. Alan does many great commentaries on it. Here’s one of those videos.
Let’s continue by looking at what the bible says. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul begins with a warning and a distinction.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
The gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, is different from the pagan rituals members from the church of Corinth once practiced. Paul’s proof of this distinction is in how Jesus is treated. The Spirit will not blaspheme Jesus. The Spirit will instead reveal to us that Jesus is Lord.
Any ministry that uses any of these gifts to glorify themselves or to gain money is to be accursed, unless they repent. It is evil. Simon from the book of Acts is a good example of this.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, hif possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Let’s continue with Paul’s commentary on the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
So the 9 gifts of the Spirit are:
- Gifts of healing
- Working of miracles
- Distinguish between spirits (other translations call it, discernment of spirits)
- Various kinds of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
Paul says that all of them come from one Spirit. And the Spirit gives them out as He wills.
I cannot lay hands and give to anyone a gift of the Spirit unless He wills it. This goes against the Assembly of God teaching which professes that everyone should receive the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. But the bible says that gift can only be given “as the Spirit wills”. So if it isn’t God’s will for you to have that gift… you won’t have it.
Verses 12 through 31 talk about how we are all members of the same body. We shouldn’t be envious of who gets what gift. Each person has a role to play. It ends in verse 31 and 32 with Paul stating: “Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
So, he is encouraging us to pursue these gifts. There’s nothing wrong with asking from the Lord to have these gifts. But there is something far more important we should seek. This leads us to what many call the love chapter.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
So, more important than pursuing these gifts, is agape love which is pure and unwavering, hates wrongs, isn’t selfish, isn’t rude… and many other things besides.
This is where I think many of the false teacher’s failings reside. They earnestly seek spiritual gifts but have not love. Just like Simon from the book of Acts, who only wanted the fame and glory for himself when praying over others, even willing to pay Peter money for that power, many false teachers misuse the gifts of the Spirit.
How can you tell? Paul already mentioned this in 1 Corinthians 12:3. To those trying to merge spiritual gifts with the new age movement. This is not making Jesus Lord over all. God will not share his glory with another.
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
This also applies to false teachers who wish to share God’s glory with their own. This includes narcissistic ministries such as Benny Hinn, Joel Olsteen, Kennith Copland, Bethel, and Hillsongs.
In my next post we will continue to study these Corinthian chapters and explore how to use the Spiritual gifts correctly.