Glossolalia (Speaking in Tongues)
By Elder Lawrence Nelson
Some years ago, as the associate pastor of a large church in Southeastern California Conference, I was asked to visit a member who no longer was attending our church. It was thought by some that she was attending a tongues-speaking Assembly of God church. When making pastoral calls I usually use the telephone to secure an appointment, but in this circumstance I decided to go straight to her home without an appointment since she might refuse a visit.
When my wife, Dean, and I reached her home we rang the doorbell. We knew she was at home because we could hear her inside moving about, but she did not come to the door. We waited and waited and rang the doorbell again and again. Finally the lady came to the door and opened it a few inches. We could hardly see her but she explained that the spirit had caused the delay. She had been informed we were at the door but was told not to let us in until we promised that we would not argue or try to force her to return to the Adventist Church.
We told her that we had come only as a friendly visit, and after another long wait she stated the spirit had granted permission to open the door. As soon as we were seated she became very excited, describing the new spiritual experience she had discovered at the Assembly of God Church that was located just down the street from where she lived. She declared that she found a most glorious feeling of God’s peace and joy which she explained as an overwhelming warmth of excitement as experienced in love.
Occasionally I tried to quote several Bible verses that God’s Word required obedience to the Ten Commandments in keeping the Seventh-day holy and not Sunday. But she brushed such scripture aside stating she knew that the Bible taught to keep the seventh-day Sabbath, but God had revealed to her new light that the most important truth in order to be saved was to speak in tongues – nothing else mattered. With such words she informed us it was time to leave. But I begged one more question, “Tell me, how come after many years of active service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church you sudden y joined the Assembly of God Church?”
She replied, “My next-door neighbor invited me to her church since I had always been curious to see what took place when the members of her church spoke in tongues. So the next Sunday we visited her church. As we sat in the pew the surrounding members began to speak in tongues and I became captivated as I watched. Suddenly I felt the most glorious feeling enter my body, the like of which I have never experienced before. Immediately I began to speak in an unknown tongue.”
Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, who was curious to see the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil, this lady had invited Satan to reveal himself to her and was captured by him. I dare not venture to expose this masterpiece of Satan without Divine help so let us pray.
Loving Father, commission Thy Holy Spirit to guide us in this important study and make Thy truth so clear that none listening to this message will ever be captured by this satanic delusion. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
God has warned us in His holy Word that in the end time – before the battle of Armageddon – the entire world will be joined together in a three-fold union in which spiritualism will be the catalytic agent to unite all religions into one body. I’m reading Revelation 16:13 – 15, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
From these scriptures one can clearly see that this is to be a spiritualistic power of devils working miracles that is to be found in the dragon power of paganism, the beast power of Catholicism and the false prophet power of apostate Protestantism. No matter where you may travel in the world today these world religions are all linked together by claiming that they have one spirit for they all exercise the wonders of glossolalia, the theological term for “speaking in tongues.”
Ellen White foresaw the power of spiritualism bringing the religions together because of their common, false beliefs. In Great Controversy p. 588, we read, “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation for spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism.”
The average mind usually thinks of spiritualism taking place in some darkened room with Ouija boards and strange tappings on the window which science declares to be nothing but foolish trickery. But reading in the Great Controversy p. 588 we discover that “as spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.”
So it is no wonder that all major religions in our world today accept speaking in tongues to be of a divine nature. For instance, you will find in Catholicism tens of thousands of priests and nuns speaking in tongues and performing miracles. In the Protestant world you will discover the speaking in tongues in such churches and institutions as the Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals and the Full-Gospel Men’s Associations to name a few.
One of Protestants greatest leaders of our day, Billy Graham, has been described by one of his personal evangelistic team members to speak in tongues. This news was revealed in the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist youth meeting when I was in the General Conference. When one of Billy Graham’s associates was a guest speaker and was asked, “Does Billy Graham speak in tongues?” He unhesitatingly replied, “Yes, but he does not publish this for fear it may hurt his program . “
If you have visited the pagan lands of India, Burma and the Orient you will discover as I have that speaking in tongues is everywhere. I have personally seen the idol worshipers speak in tongues.
Before we proceed further we need to review the Biblical plan for changing a sinner into a saint which involves two basic steps. The first step is what God did for us. God has provided complete salvation in Jesus Christ by what He did for us . When we accept this precious gift with its obligations this makes it possible for step number two. The second step is what God does in us . Because we are born again and have accepted the gift of what Christ did for us, the results of accepting this gift makes it possible for God to work in us.
But this world-wide Pentecostal tongue movement has reversed this God-given plan of salvation by emphasizing that we are saved by God’s works in us, through the speaking in tongues, and not by what He did for us. Pentecostalism teaches the false concept that an individual is saved when he receives the baptism of speaking in tongues and this alone is proof of salvation. But this is a false assurance. You need not be concerned with love and obedience, in what Christ did for you, since you have absolute assurance of eternal life because of what God has done in you by giving you the gift of tongues. And this is an utter perversion of Bible truth.
The early Christian church taught that Christ was God incarnate in human flesh. He kept the law and gave us the same power He possessed to likewise keep the law. He died for our sins and arose for our justification and ascended to God for our acceptance. Believing such faith in Christ produced the New Birth, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” 2 Corinthian 5:19.
Never will you find a scripture that the Christian magnified his experience of the gift of tongues – never. Rather we read, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 4:5. Tongue-speaking Pentecostalism is based on an experience rather than on the word of God. True faith never rests on our experience. Faith rests on the certainty of what Christ did for us. When faith is based on tongues, feeling and miracles rather than on Jesus Christ such an individual has placed himself in a position to be controlled by Satan – which the Bible teaches is spiritualism.
Further more, the Pentecostal tongues movement degrades God by its actions. The Bible teaches, “Fear God and give glory to him.” Revelation 14:7. With glossolalia they bring God down to man’s level. If you have ever attended a tongues-speaking service or watched it on television you can feel the sacrilegious power when you hear such expressions used as, “Hey, God!” or “What a Guy!” And you will often hear mortal man demanding God to obey man’s commands with such words as, “I command you to heal this person.” But God is not our equal – He is infinitely greater than our thoughts can comprehend. He is so high and holy that angels veil their faces when they speak His name.
Glossolalia teaches that love is an emotional experience but the Bible teaches God’s love is a principle – and that’s a world of difference. Speaking in tongues is proclaimed to be a rapture of love feelings but with God true love is a matter of duty. Feelings are not to be consulted, for love obeys even if it runs contrary to impulse. A born-again person will keep God’s law, the Ten Commandments, even at the expense of his life. Glossolalia love is sensual – similar to that of a sexual experience. There is a thrill involved – for those who speak in tongues freely testify they experience what is called “a high.”
Now we must take the time to see what God’s Word teaches about Pentecost as found in Acts the second chapter. We read, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Now, what is this gift? Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church need it? How do you tell the difference between the true and the counterfeit? Before we pursue further let us consider Paul’s teachings. We shall read 1 Corinthians 12:28 – 31. “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversity of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
Now compare this reference to tongues with that spoken of in Revelation 14:6, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” You will notice that the gospel is to be preached in every tongue. This is why God gave the early church the gift of tongues at Pentecost. John prophesied that the remnant church would also preach in tongues so this is why I believe our church needs this precious gift of tongues to give the gospel to all the world so that Jesus may come.
This brings us to a question – Do we need the gift of tongues as found in glossolalia which is often accompanied by jumping, shouting, jerking, babbling, clapping of hands and even dancing? – Absolutely not! What we need is the genuine gift of God not a counterfeit. Returning now to Acts the second chapter we will find the key that unlocks all other scriptures which speak of tongues such as found in Acts 10:11, 19 and 1 Corinthians 12:28-31.
Let us begin by reading Acts 2:5, “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” Picture with me the situation of this occasion. Since the Jews had been disloyal to God He had permitted them to be scattered throughout the then-known world. The season of Pentecost found these Jews coming to Jerusalem from every nation under heaven. They no longer had a common language that they could understand. Many had forgotten their mother tongue, others had never heard a word of the Jewish language. So when they returned to Jerusalem for Pentecost they needed to hear the Good News that Jesus the Messiah had arrived as promised, and that all the prophecies of His birth, life, crucifixion, burial and resurrection had been fulfilled.
This was a tremendous story that the disciples had to tell and how could these disciples of Christ speak to these men and women when they spoke only one language? But God was aware of their deficiency. He provided a miracle to supply their need in which each disciple was able to tell the story of Jesus in the actual language of the listener. This made it possible for these Jewish travelers to return to their homeland and spread the news of Christ to the world.
Listen carefully as I read Acts 2:6, “Every man heard them speak in his own language.” Then verse eleven reads, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” In verses nine to eleven we find the list of the different languages of these Jews who were attending this feast. From this we will notice that the disciples actually spoke in at least thirteen different languages.
Again I read verse six, “Every man heard them speak in his own language.” This verse does not say that they spoke one language and the listener heard another so you can easily understand that these disciples were not speaking in unknown tongues. Verse seven and eight, “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Notice who these are that are asking such a question (verse eleven), – they were Cretes and Arabians, some of the world’s most difficult languages. For they said, “We do hear them speak in own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
So it is positively clear that every man heard them speak in his own language. When the disciples preached at Pentecost, the Good News of the gospel of Christ, they did so with no unintelligible speech – everyone understood. The devil was quick to try to deceive these travelers by making them think that what they heard was because the disciples had been drinking wine. But Peter quickly ended such planted thoughts of Satan as you will find in verses fourteen and fifteen, “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” As a result of this miracle three thousand were converted in one day all because of the genuine gift of tongues. This made it possible for the speaker to know what he was saying in the language of the one spoken to and the listener clearly knowing and understanding what was spoken in his language.
What is still more amazing is that this was a permanent gift. I shall never forget my travels in India with its hundreds of dialects. Here I found many large churches of the Thomas sect. These believers teach that the disciple Thomas, after Pentecost, came to India as a missionary and preached the gospel in the language of the people converting thousands from the pagan Hindu religion.
Inspiration explains this phenomena. I am reading from Act of the Apostles p. 39, 40. “Every known tongue was represented by those assembled. This diversity of languages would have been a great hindrance to the proclamation of the gospel; God therefore in a miraculous manner supplied the deficiencies of the apostles. The Holy Spirit did for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a lifetime. They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were laboring. This miraculous gift was a strong evidence to the world that their commission bore the signet of Heaven. From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.”
Beloved, I believe our people will repeat the experience of Pentecost just before the end of probation in giving the Loud Cry. Time will be of an essence. For instance, here in America some of our large cities there are more and more languages being spoken. Amid the chaos of the last days people will be pleading for the truth. God will give His remnant believers the gift to speak in other tongues. Among the thousands of dialects worldwide every living soul is to make an immediate decision, so God will again give the precious gift – genuine gift of tongues – that the work can be finished quickly around the world.
So let me recap what God’s genuine gift of tongues is:
1. No gibberish is possible.
2. The speaker will know what he is saying in another language.
3. The listener knows and understands what is said.
4. There will be no fleeting ecstasy that comes and goes.
5. This will be a practical gift for the purpose to give the gospel. The saints will not have time to learn languages just as the disciples had no time at Pentecost.
6. Remember that this gift will not be used by God to prove that you have obtained perfection and have been saved but rather to make sure that the gospel has been given to all the world.
Inspiration clearly reveals the difference between the genuine and the spurious gift of tongues. In Testimonies for the Church , Volume 1, p. 412 we read, “Some of these persons have exercises which they call gifts and say that the Lord has placed them in the church. They have an unmeaning gibberish which they call the unknown tongue which is unknown not only by man but by the Lord and all heaven. Such gifts are manufactured by men and women, aided by the great deceiver. Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church. Some have been deceived here. The fruits of all this have not been good. ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’
“Fanaticism and noise have been considered special evidences of faith. Some are not satisfied with a meeting unless they have a powerful and happy time. They work for this and get up an excitement of feeling. But the influence of such meetings is not beneficial. When the happy flight of feeling is gone, they sink lower than before the meeting because their happiness did not come from the right source. The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement (are you listening?) are those which are characterized with solemnity and deep searching of the heart; each seeking to know himself, and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ.”
Now you might ask: “Why am I preaching about glossolalia?” – Because I believe that what is now taking place within our church, called “Celebration” (which is nothing but a copy of Pentecostalism worship services) is preparing the way for many of our churches to soon experience this false speaking in tongues.
Let us take time to examine three other places found in the scripture that tell of speaking in tongues. We find that the gift of tongues took place in Cornelius’ home as we read in Acts 10:44-46, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” Now the question is: “Is this the same gift of tongues which were revealed at Pentecost?” – Yes, it was. It was identical with Pentecost.
In the next chapter of Acts eleven verse seventeen, Peter plainly states concerning this experience that took place at Cornelius’ house, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I that I could withstand God?” The servant of the Lord further explains in Acts of the Apostles p. 139, “Thus was the gospel brought to those who had been strangers and foreigners, making them fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God. The conversion of Cornelius and his household was but the first fruits of the harvest to be gathered in. From this household a wide-spread work of grace was carried on in that heathen city.”
Let us now examine tongues which were spoken at Ephesus. I’m reading from Acts 19:1 – 6, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
Now notice what took place here in Ephesus – it was the same identical gift. The gentiles needed the gospel in this area of the world where the temple of Diana was located, known as the goddess of the Ephesians. Of this we read of in Acts of the Apostles p. 281. “Its harbor was crowded with shipping, its streets were thronged with people from every country. Like Corinth, it represented a promising field for missionary effort.” And then on p. 293 we read, “They were then baptized in the name of Jesus, and as Paul ‘laid his hands upon them,’ they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, by which they were enabled to speak the languages of other nations and to prophesy. Thus they were qualified to labor as missionaries in Ephesus and its vicinity and also to go forth to proclaim the gospel in Asia Minor.”
Finally we come to the experience of the Corinthians. We shall discover that this church had perverted a number of truths which needed to be corrected including that of the counterfeit tongues. Now follow me closely.
In chapter one and two of 1 Corinthians you will notice that the Corinthian church was a warring camp of factionalism.
Chapter three reveals that these members had neglected personal piety. In chapter four we find that they were treating the ministry shabbily.
Chapter five – they were condoning fornication.
Chapter six – they had taken one another to court.
Chapter seven – they were condoning marriage and divorce which was not in harmony with God’s word.
Chapter eight – they were accepting offerings that were given to idols.
Chapter nine – they were failing to support the ministry with their tithe.
Chapter ten and eleven – they were guilty of prostituting the gift of tongues.
You will notice that every chapter of 1 Corinthians was written to correct an abuse and chapter fourteen is no exception. Let us read 1 Corinthians 14: 9, “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air.” Now let us go back to Acts chapter two. You will remember that when the disciples used the genuine gift they knew and understood the language and they also knew what they were saying. But these Corinthians were doing something wrong.
Look at 1 Corinthians 14:11, “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.” Here is evidence of a drastic need of revision in their tongue practices. Notice verse twenty-three, “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?”
These statements, as found in God’s Word, are evidence that these Corinthians were using a counterfeit, false gift of tongues. The truth in this whole chapter of 1 Corinthians chapter fourteen is a rebuke to the Corinthians. This chapter must not be used to try to substantiate the glossolalia movement, for it has been made very clear that gibberish is not the gift of tongues to be used in preaching the gospel. Today Satan has infiltrated all the main religions with his counterfeit of false tongues to give them assurance that they have finally reached full unity because they all express the same spirit of tongues.
Before I close I must give you another personal experience. I was holding an evangelistic meeting at the town of Modero, California. In this small town was a very large tongues-speaking church and a goodly numbers of its members were attending my meetings. One of the men of this church listened to my preaching and became convinced that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was still binding and that he should keep it holy. But a tongue-speaking spirit told him that it was not necessary, and he became very confused.
One night while I was preaching on the Sabbath and making an appeal for individuals to come forward and publicly express that they would keep God’s ten commandments with His help, this man arose from his seat in the rear of the tent and came running toward the platform shouting, “Pray for me, pray for me.” I knew this man, for I had visited in his home many times. I immediately realized that I must do something quickly for I sensed that he was devil possessed. I quickly asked the singing evangelist to finish the appeal with a song and close the meeting while I guided this man to the rear of the platform.
Here we knelt in prayer, and as I prayed I paused to ask this man a question, “Have you finally decided to obey God’s commandments and to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath?” He became speechless – his face as white as snow. His whole body shook and stutteringly he said, “I want to but the spirit won’t let me.”
Then he confessed his problem. He was a bread baker in this small town. His bread machine which cut the loaves had broken down so he took a long knife and sharpened it so he could slice the loaves by hand. Suddenly the spirit that controlled him ordered him to cut his throat from ear to ear. There he stood shaking like a leaf. He told me this was the first time he had disobeyed and he was afraid that the spirit would punish him.
I asked him, “How did you get this spirit?”
He replied, “O I tried and tried for months to speak in tongues but could not. Finally I made a league with the spirit. (Did you notice those words?) I promised if he would give me the gift of tongues I would never disobey him and immediately I spoke with tongues.”
Then I said, “What is this spirit that demands you to break God’s holy law and kill yourself by cutting your throat? It is the same spirit that tells you to not keep holy the Sabbath day.” I quoted the text of Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” I spoke plainly telling him that it was the devil that was controlling him and that I would pray that he would be released from this power.
As I spoke he suddenly stood to his feet and with a look of absolute helplessness turned and ran out of the tent. You will not be surprised (and neither was I) when I tell you that three weeks later I read in the newspaper that this man had lost his mind and had been confined to a mental institution. Beloved, in the name of Christ I beg you never, never become curious to learn of the devil’s arts. If you do you will be easily captured by Satan and may find it almost impossible to be released.
Let us heed carefully the words found in Selected Messages , Book 2, p. 54, “Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds to deceive, if possible, the very elect. God’s people will not find their safety in working miracles, for Satan would counterfeit any miracle that might be worked. God’s tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31: 12-18. They are to take their stand on the living Word — ‘It is written’. This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. Those who have broken their covenant with God will in that day be without hope and without God in the world.”
Let us pray, Loving Father, in this end-time may we daily fully surrender to Thy Holy Spirit that the angels of God can protect us and keep us from this counterfeit power of Satan. This we pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.