By Arthur Vess
The idea that speaking in tongues is the evidence that the speaker has the Holy Ghost is a most unscriptural and unreasonable claim. All will admit that one may speak in any tongue or language without even being saved or having the Holy Ghost. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." If we can speak in earthly or angelic tongues and not have love, we certainly can do it without the Holy Ghost. No one ever had the Holy Ghost without Divine Love.
To argue that any kind of physical operation or manifestation is the evidence of a spiritual state or experience is untrue to nature and substance. Only a spiritual witness or evidence can prove that we have a spiritual experience. A spiritual experience may manifest itself by physical means, words, or acts -- or by the absence of such; so may devils manifest themselves. A personal testimony may be the evidence to others that we are saved or sanctified, but it may also be a false witness or testimony. Remember that we may "speak with the tongues of men and of angels" and not have love, or the Holy Ghost.
The "unknown tongue" cannot be an evidence of anything known. Who would listen to a witness on the stand who spoke in a tongue that neither he nor anyone else understood? Who knows that it is a language if no one understands it, not even the one speaking or jabbering? A tongue or language may be the means of testimony, true ,or false. Other languages were given at Pentecost that other nations understand and be saved.
The Holy Ghost is His own witness: "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us." -- Heb. 10:14, 15. He speaks to us and others in languages that we understand, whether He condemns us or bears witness that we are saved or sanctified.
But you say, "I speak in a heavenly language that is so far above all earthly languages that no man can understand it." Prove it! How do you know that it is a language if no man, not even you, understands it? Do not forget that we may speak with the "tongues of angels" and have not the love of God, for "God is love." It takes more than a thrill to prove reality; such may be true or false.
We are told plainly that tongues are NOT a sign to them that believe, but to them that believe not (V. 22). Then how can that be the evidence that we have the Holy Ghost, if they are not a sign to believers? "We are sanctified by faith," not confusion. An unknown tongue or language cannot be the sign or evidence of anything known, because it is UNKNOWN. How can an unknown testimony prove anything?
At the tower of Babel, the languages were confused in order to break up and stop organized opposition to God and His commands. Babel and babbling go together. "God is not the author of confusion." We wonder why none of the other churches of the New Testament, many of whom worshiped men instead of God, even mentioned the subject of tongues, but only this carnal church of Corinth. Who wants to be classed with such by God or man? Why would God be foolish enough to give a man a language that none could understand as a witness or an evidence? True Pentecostal saints speak as they did on the Day of Pentecost, so that all present may understand and be saved, sanctified, instructed, edified, and comforted by the Holy Ghost.
Tongues have been connected with about every false movement in the Christian world. Catholicism, Daddy Grace, Father Divine, the Mormons, and almost all other false religions have used the doctrine and practice of the tongues to prove their divine (?) origin and authority.
For instance, Daddy Grace, who claims to be God, says the following: "The angels in Heaven are my servants. If a man can prove to me that Jesus is Savior, I will give him a million dollar check. Jesus could not save colored or white people because both are Gentiles. That is the contract between God and Jesus."
"Jesus does not save anybody, and never did. I (Daddy Grace) came to save you, and that by the Word of God. You don't see God saving people, neither Jesus. I am the only man who can turn water into wine."
Can you imagine such blasphemous words from a mortal man, and yet people all over America worship him. In the last days, false prophets and false Christ shall rise, and shall deceive many. (See Matt. 24:5, 11, 24.)
Here is a letter from one of Daddy Grace's disciples in Savannah, Georgia: "One night many were under the power and shouting around the holy (?) mountain, and, as usual, we stayed up all night on Saturday night. There were three sisters and myself sitting around, the stove," etc. "They began to praise Daddy, the God of grace who always answers by fire, and answers them when they make the right contact. Then they began to speak in tongues. She still remained at the mountain speaking in tongues." Later she says, "We were all amazed (at the picture of Daddy Grace in the stars) and stood up on the floor more than an hour, thanking God for sweet Daddy Grace, and how the fire did fall." What kind of fire? Wild fire and hell fire! Yet they speak in tongues -- as an evidence of what?
Sister Mary Louise from New York City writes: "First, I will give honor to sweet Daddy Grace, the one who deserves all honor and praise among men." Then she tells of taking a sight-seeing (?) ride with Daddy Grace, and she says, "I trust sweet Daddy Grace for everything. He is my life, and my all and in all. I will long remember the ride with Daddy Grace, for I enjoyed it very much." We wonder how and why? It was Daddy Disgrace!
Here is the awful testimony of another one of Daddy Grace's disciples: "I am glad to say that God sent Daddy Grace to judge the world. I had a vision of him. Sweet (??) Daddy Grace was judging the people in groups, and those who could not speak in tongues, the real heavenly (?) language. He commanded them (those who could not speak in tongues) to go out into a field burning with fire. In this field I could smell flesh and bones burning. And Daddy's eye flashed like lightning, and his hair moved from one side of his head to the other." It is easy to see here that the gift of tongues was a sign to the unbelievers and not to the believers. Daddy Grace majored on healing and speaking in tongues. Power to heal and speak in tongues may be an evidence of devil power and worship, as they often are.
If we had time and space, we could quote from other false religions which speak in unknown tongues of confusion.
A Striking Experience: Sometime back the writer was one of the evangelists in a camp meeting in Michigan. Just before he was to preach, a visiting preacher was asked and permitted to sing a special song. We do not remember his song, but we can never forget his testimony, for when he was through singing he testified to being saved and sanctified, plus being filled with the Holy Ghost as a third work of grace, as evidenced by speaking in tongues.
In a way, it was rather embarrassing to follow a testimony like that while opposed to such teachings. But when I stood up to preach, like a flash, the Lord stepped in and gave me this message for the man and congregation, as follows: "You people may be surprised when I tell you that I, too, believe in the gift of languages. But, I believe in the kind that they had on the Day of Pentecost, when every man heard them speak in his own language wherein he was born. When everyone understands it, no one can deny it; but when no one understands the language, no one can prove that it is a language." Who can deny the truthfulness of the above statement? How can such deception be the "evidence" that we have the Holy Ghost or anything else?
"He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness." "He that believed on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
All the above Scriptures affirm that only spiritual evidence can witness to spiritual conditions, true or false. We must have the witness in our own hearts before our tongues can truthfully testify to others. The tongues is a witness or evidence, to others, but not to ourselves. We must have the witness in our hearts before we testify to others with our tongues, or we lie to God and man.