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.