By Arthur Vess
We are here offering a number of general truths which have been gleaned from that marvelous book, "Conversations on the Tongues," by Rev. H. Crockett, and from other sources, with our own comments and thoughts.
In the Old Testament we have the following references to other tongues or languages: The Confusion of Tongues, Genesis 11: 1-9; Muttering of Wizards, Isaiah 8:9; As Punishment, Deuteronomy 28:49; Deliverance from Stammering Tongues through Repentance, Isaiah 28: 11 and Isaiah 33:19.
In the New Testament, the first reference to tongues is Mark 16:17. See verses 9-20. This is not given in either of the other Gospels, and was not found in the original manuscripts, but seems to have been inserted after Mark's death, about the time that the Corinthian Church was confused over the tongues question. The term used here is "new tongues," not unknown tongues, nor as evidence that we have the Holy Ghost. Every Christian has a new tongue. Most people need to control the tongue they have before they seek another.
John the Baptist never mentioned tongues as accompanying the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
Six or more times Jesus Christ foretold the coming of the Holy Ghost to His disciples, but never mentioned the tongues in connection with such.
Paul never mentioned the gift of tongues in any of his other Epistles, and doubtless would not have mentioned it to the Corinthian Church had they not been all mixed up on the subject. He permitted it under certain prescribed rules and regulations, but never Recommended it to the Corinthians. If the gift was so indispensable, why did he not mention and urge it in his Epistles, and demand it of all his churches?
None of the other writers of the New Testament mentioned the subject of tongues except the three cases in Acts, all of which were understood. How can a language no one understands, not even the speaker, be a sign or evidence of anything to anyone? Answer, please!
The Roman Church had the Holy Ghost, and none of them spoke in tongues -- Rom. 5:5.
Receiving the Holy Ghost is mentioned in twenty cases in the Now Testament, besides the Church of Corinth; and in only three cases did they speak in tongues, and in all these places there were foreign and mixed elements and languages, and in every case those present understood what was said. No "unknown tongues" were known.
The following persons received the Holy Ghost, and not a one of them spoke in tongues: John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, (Luke 1: 15); Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, (Luke 1: 35); Elizabeth, (Luke 1:41); Jesus Christ, (Matt. 3:16), and He did not speak with tongues, though He knew all languages; Stephen and Philip and the five other deacons, (Acts 6:3-6); the persecuted Church anointed, but no tongues, (Acts 4:23, 31); the Samaritans, (Acts 8:14, 17); Paul received the Holy Ghost but did not speak in tongues, (Acts 9: 17); Barnabas (Acts 11: 22, 24).
The prophets who wrote the Old Testament "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," but none of them spake in tongues. They wrote in the language of those to whom they wrote. They wanted to be understood.
The Roman Catholics kept the Holy Scriptures in languages unknown to their people for centuries, and the "Dark Ages" was the result.
The master stroke of the great Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther, and others, was the translation of the Bible into the language of the common people, the masses, with the right to read for themselves. This broke the shackles of Roman Catholic superstition and slavery off the nations of Europe and around the world. God has nothing to cover up, but in every case has used language to enlighten and liberate the world of mankind. Why not, if He loved the world so much as to give His only begotten Son for them? In no case in the Bible do we have any record of where anyone spoke in a strange language, except for the confusion of some satanic plan. Why should He?
So far as we know, out of the many from Tongues Churches who have gone to heathen countries as missionaries, thinking they knew the language of those to whom they were sent, none have ever been able to speak the language without learning it. It would be wonderful if they did or could. "Sam the Methodist," or Samuel Polovina (I knew him), and seven other foreigners who, between them, knew twenty-five languages, checked up on the tongues people who claimed to know all these languages, but found them deceived and deceivers and liars. In all my years as a minister and Christian I have never known of a Tongues person in our country speaking in any other real language.
When your writer was a young Christian, about fourteen years old, a young man came through our community and stopped in our home. I went home with him to Asheville, N. C., about thirty miles from my home, and stayed in his home two or three days. I knew little of tongues, pro or con, and could not have been prejudiced. While the family engaged in prayer at his home, the young man began to speak in tongues, and some spirit filled the room and I felt as if devils were all around me. I had a marvelous experience of grace and, thank God, He would not permit me to be deceived. Honest seekers, their best people, rarely ever get the tongues.
The city of Corinth was the most corrupt and licentious city in all Greece. Its Temple of Venus had a thousand prostitutes called pythons, or serpents, who engaged in licentious relations with male worshipers as they worshiped the devil. These prostitutes claimed to "speak in tongues" by the inspiration of the gods of lust. A Greek poet said that these pythons, (harlots), gave themselves over to their gods; that they were possessed with a power that they could not resist; they labored under the afflatus of their gods. Wild, unearthly sounds often broke from their lips.
The Corinthian converts had only recently emerged from this gross paganism, and part of them held on to these gods while they tried to worship the true God. This was likely the reason for their confusion on the Tongues Question. Modern Tongues people, in their wrangling, often accuse each other of being inspired of the devil to speak in tongues.
Charles H. Parman and Seymour, the founders of the Tongues Movement in the U. S., both accused each other of receiving the gift of tongues from the devil. The historians of the Tongues Movement are very slow in even mentioning their names as the founders of the Tongues Movement.
Dr. W. B. Godbey, the third Greek scholar in the world, and one of the greatest saints of the early Holiness Movement, says: "I have been in contact with the Tongues Movement from its beginning and, in the honesty of my heart, with my eye on the judgment bar, I have endeavored, by His help, to give the matter a fair investigation. It is the same power that has been manifest by the magicians, sorcerers, witches, Mormons, and especially modem day Spiritualists.
"They not only do not have a language, but simply repeat the mutter of demons. What they call the baptism with the Holy Ghost is far different from sanctification, because the demons can work on your religious sensibilities, stir up your emotions, and inflate and inflame your imaginations, thus making you jump and shout and feel very happy. The Tongues people of our day are deluded by evil spirits, and this is abundantly confirmed by the fact that they are so utterly out of line with the precious Word which is the standard to which everything must come, and which is destined to judge us all in that great day."
While there are some honest, sincere people among them, yet in my almost fifty years of Christian life, and experience, and observations, I have never seen one of them who could be considered as deeply spiritual and devout.
Again, let us remind all that we may have gifts without love, or love without gifts, but God gives both and wants them combined in holy harmony for the salvation of souls and for the everlasting advancement of His Kingdom. Let us all lay aside our prejudices and differences, and unite in the final conflict of the ages for truth and souls, and prepare to take our place in that everlasting Kingdom where there will be no confusion, wrong emphasis, or misunderstandings throughout all the eternal ages. Well, praise God, and let this be our constant aim and effort. "God be with you till we meet again," or at first.