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Concerning Spiritual Gifts

The Primacy Of Preaching

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe | May 18, 1975

Selected highlights from this sermon

Speaking in tongues is a controversial topic in the church today. Pastor Wiersbe walks through six common questions about what speaking in tongues means and whether or not it is needed today.

Transcripts for Dr. Wiersbe's sermons are forthcoming. Below is an outline of his message.

We don’t test the Bible by experience. We test experience by the Bible.

Paul says he spoke in tongues more than anyone else. 

Six questions about speaking in tongues.

-       What is the gift of tongues?

  • Speaking in tongues is the divinely given ability to speak a known foreign language that the person did not previously know.
  • It is not an unknown, ecstatic heavenly language of angels.
  • Paul refers to the tongues of man and quotes Isaiah 28:11 about speaking in another language.
  • References to tongues in the Old Testament are connected with judgment of the Israelites.
  • The first gift of tongues came at Pentecost. The disciples were speaking in the languages of the people present.
  • Speaking in tongues is using words, not sounds or gibberish.

-       What is the purpose of speaking in tongues?

  • Tongues were not given for the purpose of evangelism.
  • Tongues were not given as proof of being baptized by the Spirit.
  • Tongues are a sign of God’s coming judgment to unbelievers.
  • Acts 2, 10, and 19 are the only examples of speaking in tongues in the New Testament. Every time there is speaking in tongues, Jews are present and at least one apostle is present.
  • Tongues were to edify the church by being a sign to unbelievers.
  • There was always someone to interpret the tongues.

-       Should everybody speak in tongues?

  • Paul talks about the superiority of prophets over speaking in tongues.
  • Today we have the Bible and do not need prophets but have pastors and teachers.
  • The priority in the church is sharing the Word of God.
  • Not everybody should speak in tongues.
  • God did not call us to start a movement about our spiritual gift.
  • Tongues are last on the list of spiritual gifts. Gifts involved with speaking the Word are first.

-       Are tongues for today?

  • Some spiritual gifts were temporary. For example, there is no apostolic succession and we no long need prophecy because we have the Bible.
  • In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul talks about love never ending but prophecy and knowledge coming to an end and tongues ceasing.
  • Tongues of themselves will cease because there is no need for them now that the Word of God has been completed (Ephesians 4:11-16).
  • The gifts of knowledge and prophecy were verified by tongues. Now that knowledge and prophecy have been abolished, tongues will themselves naturally cease.
  • The need for tongues has vanished, but that doesn’t mean all circumstances of speaking in tongues is demonic. The Holy Spirit can grant gifts as he chooses.
  • Tongues were necessary in the infancy in the church, but now we have been called to mature (1 Corinthians 4:20).
  • Tongues are never taught in the Bible. If you have the gift of speaking in tongues, you already know how to use it.

-       If tongues are given today, how should they be handled?

  • If God gives someone the use gift of tongues it must be used following the Word of God.
  • The purpose of speaking in tongues must be to edify the church.
  • There must be an interpreter and order when speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:26-29).
  • Women are not to speak in tongues in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

-       What is the cause of tongues today?

  • Some cases of speaking in tongues are emotional, psychological, imitation, or demonic.
  • The tongues movement has never taken hold in a missionary-minded, Bible taught, evangelical, soul-winning church.
  • The tongues movement penetrates church where the Word of God is not preached.

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