As much of my work is heavily focused on coming against false doctrines, and more importantly, doctrines of the Oneness Pentecostal movement, it is no surprise that I from time to time, get dyed-in-the-wool apologetics commenting on my YouTube channel. What always amazes me is that they all use the same exact lines, like reading from the playbook of David K. Bernard (President, United Pentecostal Church, International.)
They never come to the conversation with studied information, important Biblical foundations that look at the whole picture. Rather, small verses are cherry-picked to fit an agenda and then a vague dogma is created. (Vague Dogmas is a series I’m getting ready to start!) So what was this all about?
If you don’t know – the Oneness Pentecostal movement is part of the Charismatic sector of Christianity – but while Charismatics as a whole heavily emphasize the Gifts of the Spirit, such as Faith Healing, Prosperity, Speaking in Tongues – the Oneness Pentecostal movement takes it to new heights.
Oneness Pentecostals teach that unless you Speak in Tongues, you are not saved, and have not received the Spirit of Christ. “…But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him [and is not a child of God]” – Romans 8:9
The teaching is that when you become a believer if your heart is in the right place and you have adequately repented, and are seeking after the Promise of God – when His spirit indwells you, you WILL speak in tongues. If there are no tongues, there is no spirit.
In a recent debate on my YouTube channel in the comments between several viewers on the video Charismatic (Pentecostal) Speaking in Tongues, one of those playbook moments came out where the dyed-in-the-wool apologetic used John 3:8 to irrefutably prove Jesus taught Nicodemus that everyone ‘born of the spirit’ will speak in tongues.
The only problem is – that didn’t happen, and it doesn’t jive with all of Scripture, OR the meaning of John 3:8. Here is my response. I look forward to seeing your comments and questions.
Stephen, John 3:8 is an interesting study, and of course, like most dogmas that are cherry picked from Scripture, becomes one of much debate and discourse.
It is most interesting to note, that the word (which I’ve studied this passage many times) for ‘sound” in John 3:8 is the Greek fo-nay, meaning, mostly, a noise, or even voice. As fo-nay can be traced as the root word for the modern day phonics, it has been declared, again by Charismatics, to be proving speaking in Tongues – which is quite interesting.
Nowhere did Jesus, in John 3, specify that we would speak in tongues when receiving His spirit – this doctrine is an amalgamation of Scriptures Charismatics have slammed together and written a book about.
Jesus DID specify that a sign of believers (Apostles), amongst other things, would be to speak in tongues. Mark 16:17. And what makes this a more interesting study is the verses before it, and after it. Primarily, Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Do you think it interesting that he did not say, “He that believes on me, is baptized, and speaks in tongues shall be saved.”?
Furthermore, the next verse, showing the signs of Believers sheds even more light on the topic. Mark 16:17-18 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
If this passage is to be used to prove believers WILL speak in tongues, it most certainly does not indicate you must speak in tongues in order to be saved. Furthermore, that breaks apart, to say that it proves as a believer, you WILL speak in tongues – because then you would have to unify ALL the ‘signs that follow them that believe’ as indicating something necessary unto salvation – including healing the sick, drinking poison, handling snakes, and so forth – which I’m sure you would agree – are NOT things we do today. Why not?
So back to John 3:8 – the same fo-nay is used multiple times around the New Testament – NOT relating to speaking in tongues, and sometimes in the context of Speaking in tongues but as related to musical instruments. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:18 “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound(fo-nay), who shall prepare for battle?”
In the preceding verse, Paul again “even things without life give a sound (fo-nay).” Are we to say then, that inanimate objects and trumpets will speak in tongues?
And even more interesting is that the places In Scripture that do positively talk of Speaking in tongues, Jesus included, in Mark 16, the word is NOT fo-nay. Which is disappointing to the cause of trying to prove Jesus taught speaking in tongues was required to be saved. That word is the Greek ‘glossa’, which is where we get Glossolalia. A very important distinction between the meaning of words, and in Gree/Hebrew, words were used very carefully.
Just as the word fo-nay was used in Corinthians to literally mean a ‘sound’, John 3:8 means the same thing. The wind creates a sound as it rustles leaves, and you cannot see the particles of air. They go where they will and do what they want. But the effects they have on their surroundings can be seen and heard. This same principle applies to us as Christians, that when the spirit effects us, you’ll see the change in that person, and you’ll hear the difference.
To indicate that this is without a doubt speaking in tongues and that that proves unless you have spoken in tongues you are not saved is silly. Again, referring to the words of Jesus, and the dozens of times he indicated salvation – none of them include speaking in tongues – not in John 3, or any other reference.
Mat_10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Mat_24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Mar_13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Mar_16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Luk_7:50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
Luk_18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
Joh_3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh_5:34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
Joh_10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Act_16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Notice with me, the jailer asked how to be saved, the Jews in Acts 2:37 did not.)
Rom_10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Eph_2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
2Ti_1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
Tit_3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
You can continue searching Scripture for the truth of Salvation – and in all cases, it is nothing we can do. If speaking in tongues is still for us today, for prophesying and edification of His Church, then I’ll rejoice with the event – but it is not salvific – speaking in tongues doesn’t save you, nor does it justify you, or make you holy.
It is not a sign that you are saved, or justified, or holy. It is a precious gift that has been abused by Charismatics, unfortunately, and leaves people confused and untrusting to the real purpose of Speaking in Tongues, which was a sign to the Jews in the Book of Acts.
The problem with Mark 16 is that it was added to that gospel after it was written. It really can’t be treated as scripture at all.
Otherwise, a good article.
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Yes, definitive evidence shows that Mark 16 verse 9-20 were added by later Scribes as early more respected Manuscripts stop at verse 8.
Yet, the narrative is not contradictory – AND it will be used by those of whom I am reaching, so to use the narrative, I feel, is still applicable to the topic.
Now, what would be an amazing study, would be to learn just how much of the Bible was altered from the earliest writings.
There isn’t so much proof that Mark 16:9ff was added as you might think. Only three Greek manuscripts leave the verses out.
I thank God that I was filled with the Holy Ghost and I am able to pray in tongues, sing in tongues and sometimes intrepret the tongues in English.
Let’s not dismiss the beauty of speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:2
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:4
The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:5
I wish that all of you could speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:17
You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other one is not edified.
1 Corinthians 14:19
But in the church, I would rather speak five coherent words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
I understand why people are hurt and leave the UPC, due to the control and manipulation, but let’s not throw everything out the window.
Thank you for the great comment. I think there is a misunderstanding of the conversation, which was not whether or not Speaking in Tongues is real, and for us today. The conversation was whether or not it is a requirement, as taught by the Apostolic Pentecostal religion, ‘to be Saved’.
There is no evidence that one must speak in tongues in order to have their name written in the book of Life.
Just my thoughts…..
The Corinthian church was a very carnal church and the reason Paul wrote to them was mostly to rebuke them for their behavior. Paul was not commending them for their grace (Charisma) gifts, he was admonishing them for the way they flaunted them. It is like this today in the Pentecostal church. First of all, in Corinthians, not everybody had the gift of tongues, in fact, not all had the sign gifts, so you are correct that speaking in tongues was not a requirement for salvation.
The Corinthians earnestly desired the sign gifts but especially the ability to speak in tongues. Paul told them that there was a more excellent way (vs 12:31) and that was love. It didn’t matter they had the ability to speak in tongues or prophesy if they had no love. Love never fails but tongues and prophesy would cease.
Paul also talked about the members of the body, that seemed weaker (those without the sign gifts), were actually necessary (1 Cor 12:22-24) and even though they were deemed as less honorable, God bestows them with more abundant honor. Paul used the analogy of the body to explain the importance of the body of Christ. All parts of the body are important, not just the sign gifts.
Paul went on to explain that tongues served a purpose within the body of Christ. It was not to be flaunted, or self promoted. All gifts were for the edification of the church ONLY. If someone speaks in a tongue and there are no interpreters, then the tongue speaker was to sit down and not speak. You mentioned this in your video and that is accurate. Tongues were a sign to unbelievers ONLY and the unbelievers were Jews (as stated in prophecy (Isaiah 28:11)). “Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?” 1 Cor 14:23. I remember plenty of Pentecostal services that I thought the same thing as I observed the crowd babbling. It was chaos and the scriptures came to mind, “You will know them by their fruits” and “the fruit of the Spirit is love…………..self-control”.
Paul told the Corinthians that when they assembled together (church service) that all things were to be done for EDIFICATION. He told them their service needed order. He told them to test the spirits. Paul reminded them that God was a God of peace and not of confusion. He told them that prophesy was greater than tongues because prophesy edified the whole church while tongues (without interpretation) only edified the individual and only if the individual understood what they were saying.
Paul makes it abundantly clear that “there are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning” (vs 14:10). The purpose for tongues (earthy known languages) was to communication the message of the gospel to other tongues, tribes, peoples and nations (Revelation 5:9). Early church father, Irenaeus (114-202 AD), in his work Against Heresies, speaks out against the abuse of the prophetic gift that often lead to violent emotions and loss of chastity. In early times, the gift of tongues was regarded as the ability to speak languages with which to communicate the Gospel. Pentecostal church tongues do not represent this gift according to history or biblical truth.
For the Anonymous person who is glad that, “I thank God that I was filled with the Holy Ghost and I am able to pray in tongues, sing in tongues and sometimes intrepret the tongues in English.” Paul would say that if you pray in a tongue and your spirit prays, without understanding what you are saying, your mind in unfruitful. He went on to say that when he prays with his spirit, he would pray with his mind also (non-tongues). Praying in tongues isn’t always the right thing to do because he went on to say, “Otherwise, if you bless in the spirit only (tongues), how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the Amen at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?” In this case, speaking in tongues is unjustifiable. God did not give us gifts to flaunt ourselves; this is pride and pride is a sin. He gave us gifts to edify the church as a whole. Paul points out, “so also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” This is love!!!!!!!!!!!
Blessings to you all!!
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Remarkable response Dianne, as was your last. I’m thrilled you found my videos, blog and are interacting. I can’t wait to continue learning from you. This succinctly said everything I have tried to say, but in a clear format that addresses the topic from another angle.
I believe that they ‘Pentecostal’ Speaking in Tongues is what I call Emotional Hyperventilating, in that emotion is used to drive behavior that becomes erratic, out of order and self-propelled. What I have seen, witnessed and participated in, in Speaking in Tongues, has never once been a real ‘tomgue.
One time only have I experienced Tongues and Interpretations, and it just so happened the pastor spoke, and he interpreted. There occasions when people ‘tried’ to interpret and they were told to be silent.
Now, what someone does in their own prayer closet, as we were instructed to pray in, (not a literal closet….) I’ll not judge their own experiences and tell them they are wrong. But as a corporate body, where dozens and maybe 100’s of people are babbling in tongues, I can say that wasn’t from God in my review of Scripture.
Thank you for your comments!
My apologies Dianna for misspelling your name. Was on the phone during that reply.