Speaking in Tongues Today?

A friend sent me: The Biblical Truth About Speaking in Tongues, as well as some other notes he’s been thinking on the subject.

Since this is a topic that comes up quite a bit, I thought it might be helpful to make my response public:

My Response

This is wonderful to read and hear. I love that you’ve thought a lot about this and stand on convictions based on what you see Scripture teaching. Further, there’s a lot of great things that you (and the video) bring up. Much to be celebrated and agreed on!

I have also thought (and taught) that Pentecost is the “undoing” of Babel, and that tongues are meant to catalyze sharing the gospel in other languages (I actually know a story where a man in the 1900s was in Italy trying to share the Lord through an interpreter, then he started speaking fluent Italian by the Holy Spirit without ever studying [while the interpreter was no longer needed]).

Affirming all that, I’d like us to consider a few other Scriptures:

  • Acts 2:4 shows “all” the believers speaking in tongues. That’s roughly 100+ people (see Acts 1:15) speaking tongues at the same time. This would violate the principle of always doing it privately.
  • Acts 10:46 – here you have a sizeable group of people all praying in tongues. It doesn’t appear that they were speaking to non-believers in their other languages.
  • Acts 19:6-7 show 12 people speaking in tongues at once. Like Acts 10, it doesn’t appear this instance was spoken to non-believers in other languages.

These passages show me that there are at least exceptions we should allow for before we making a rule/law that people only speak in tongues in private. Or only speak in tongues when they are speaking the gospel cross-culturally.

This should bring us to 1 Cor. 14. The point of that chapter is how to best meet as a church. In the backdrop, it seems, a lot of the church was getting together and speaking in tongues like a “spiritual badge of honor”. It was truly chaos and babel–not good. So Paul has to come in and correct this. And he corrects it by pointing to the whole purpose of a church meeting: namely, “so that the church may be edified,” (1 Cor. 14:5). When everyone is speaking tongues and no one understands each other, it’s not edifying the body of Christ.

Does this mean that speaking in tongues is outlawed in these meetings? No. Paul himself says:

  • 1 Cor. 14:5 – Tongues can edify the church when there is an interpretation (which is another Spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Cor. 12)
  • 1 Cor. 14:27 – tongues can be spoken in public meetings, but it’s best if it’s done orderly
  • 1 Cor. 14:39-40 – “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”

To be sure, tongues does build up yourself (1 Cor. 14:4), and can be used for this purpose (as you pointed out, but the video missed). And tongues can be spoken in a public assembly if it seems that it would help corporately build up the body of Christ at this time. But if you are speaking in tongues (or doing anything else), and your goal is not building up the church, you’ve missed the point altogether.

Phew…that was a lot. And yet there’s so much more I’d love to say.

Pray To Understand the Bible

Throughout Scripture you see phrases like:

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children”

Jesus (Matt. 11:25)

In other words, God hides things from those who presumably trust in their own ability to figure out God (i.e. “the wise and understanding”). And He reveals to those who are dependent on Him (like “little children”).

Or I think of 1 Corinthians:

No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

1 Cor. 2:11

Again, you can’t understand God’s ways outside of His Holy Spirit revealing it.

Thus, when we approach studying the Bible, it is no different. We are dependent on God to reveal. Consider the prayers of Psalm 119:

  • “Teach me Your statutes” (119:12)
  • “Open my eyes, that I may see/ Wondrous things from Your law.” (119:18)
  • “Do not hide Your commandments from me.” (119:19)
  • “Teach me Your statutes” (119:26)
  • “Make me understand the way of Your precepts” (119:27)
  • “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes” (119:33)
  • “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law” (119:34)
  • “Teach me Your statutes.” (119:64)
  • “Teach me Your statutes.” (119:68)
  • “Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” (119:73)
  • “Teach me Your judgments.” (119:108)
  • “Teach me Your statutes.” (119:124)
  • “Give me understanding,/ That I may know Your testimonies.” (119:125)
  • Make Your face shine upon Your servant,/ And teach me Your statutes.” (119:135)
  • “Give me understanding, and I shall live.” (119:144)
  • “Give me understanding according to Your word.” (119:169)

Critique of David Wilber’s “Christian Guide to Biblical Feasts”

By Brian Holda

I apologize that this critique is a bit rushed. But I ask all readers would do with me what I plan to do with Wilber: Be willing to consider what I say, then examine the Scriptures to see if I’m correct (Acts 17:11).

I’ve only reviewed the first 15 pages, but I’m convinced this is enough to expose some major biblical errors.

Wilber (1): “Let us therefore celebrate the festival. – Paul, 1 Corinthians 5:8”
Response: This is a serious error in taking this verse out of context (sadly, Satan is shown to do similar tactic in Matt. 4:5-6 by quoting only a part of Psalm 91, and completely removing the context). Since Wilber repeatedly goes back to this verse, I want to spend a little time unpacking.

The context of 1 Corinthians 5 deals with sin that is not being dealt with in Corinth. It is a daily issue. They were “boasting” in how gracious and forgiving they were by not dealing with sin. But Paul rebukes this with multiple O.T. passages and allusions to make his point.

1 of these allusions is to Passover/Unleavened Bread:“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (5:6-8)

Look at the portions in bold. These are metaphors Paul is drawing from the O.T. feast of Passover/Unleavened bread. Jesus does a similar thing in Matt. 16:6 in comparing the Pharisees’ bad teaching with leaven/yeast. The disciples completely missed this metaphor and thought Jesus was referring to actual bread and actual yeast (see Matt. 16:7). Wilber is doing the same thing in making 1 Cor. 5:6-8 speak of actual Passover.

Instead, 1 Cor. 5:6-8 is saying (in brief):
* The sin you are allowing to persist = yeast/leaven
* You need to confront it = removing the yeast
* If you do this, the church = unleavened bread (that is, a holy offering to God)
* Christ = Passover Lamb who was sacrificed (note: this on it’s own should show that he is not talking about a literal celebration of passover where you get the lamb and slaughter it, etc.)
* When you address sin = you are truly celebrating God’s festival in spirit, truth, and heart (regardless of a physical feast)

This reading can be further emphasized throughout 1 Corinthians when Paul says things like:
* “Though not being myself under the law” (1 Cor. 9:20)
* “All things are lawful for me,” (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23)

Wilber (2-5): Jesus teaches that He came to uphold the law (Matt. 5:17) and expects his followers to do likewise (Matt. 5:19). In fact, the righteousness of a citizen of God’s kingdom is measured by their adherence to this law – which should go beyond the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20).
Response:It is true that Jesus is showing here that the law has value (when you use it lawfully – 1 Tim. 1:8). It is true that our righteousness will be measured by the law, and that even the Pharisees and Scribes have only scratched the surface on adherence to the law.

This is because the scribes and Pharisees only do the superficial letter of it. When Jesus says, “You have heard it said…” He is quoting the traditions of the scribes and Pharisees. But notice what He says after that, “But I say to you…” (Matt. 5). He always probes deeper to show that God’s standard is HIGHER, DEEPER, WIDER than anything the self-righteous Pharisees could concoct. The Pharisees and Scribes thought the law was attainable by their own efforts, and thereby their righteousness was attainable by their own efforts. But Jesus says emphatically, “NO!”

According to Jesus:
* If you look with lust = GUILTY of Adultery
* If you wish harm on another = GUILTY of Murder
* If you don’t love your enemies = GUILTY of not loving in God’s way

The point is that NO ONE can live by such a high standard. Ah, except 1 person: Jesus who “fulfilled” the Law (Matt. 5:17). He is the only 1 who lived in perfect accord from the heart to God’s righteous law. Further, He is the one the law predicts as coming to save us from our falling short of the law.

Jesus here is using the law to show how truly holy God is and how not 1 person meets these standards (apart from Jesus). He does the same elsewhere. See Mark 10:17-22, for instance. In Mark 10:18 Jesus asserts that NO ONE IS GOOD (except God…and, by inference, Jesus who is God). Then he starts to use the law to expose the self-righteousness of this man. NO ONE can be righteous enough.

Of course, this is one of the major themes of the New Testament (and Old Testament). Read Romans 1-3, for instance (especially Romans 3:9-20). This shows that when we use the law correctly, it is meant to expose our sin. Then in Romans 3:21 and following, he shows that it also points to Jesus as a Savior. And that all who repent and believe/trust Jesus as their Savior are “counted as” righteous in God’s eyes (see Rom. 4-5, especially on that).
In that way we fulfill the law. We repent and believe the gospel. Thereby we are given God’s Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit produces the fruit of His Spirit. And we are able to love in God’s ways.

As Jesus said, this is the whole purpose of the law: God’s love (Matt. 22). We fulfill this only by trusting Jesus alone as our savior. And by doing it get His Spirit to enable us to walk in His ways (2 John 2:6). Read Galatians 5. This is superior than a legalistic adherence to the letter of the law.

Wilber (10): Colossians 2:16-17 refers to humans passing on judgment to the Christians not according to God’s law.
Response: Again, read all of Colossians in context (especially all of ch. 2). Yes, it is manmade tradition Paul rebukes (2:8). That manmade tradition, though, includes the insistence that we can somehow become righteous by living up to the law. This reverts back to the Pharisees/Scribes that Jesus rebukes everywhere (especially see Matt. 5).

Before Col. 2:16-17, Paul writes that in Christ we are complete, we are circumcised (spiritually), Christ took away the need to be righteous by living out the law.

Then he begins Col. 2:16 with “Therefore…” Meaning, this is connected to the paragraph before it. Then he shows that the feasts and sabbaths were mere shadows, but Jesus is the substance (so it is wrong to judge people who are in Christ on how well they do with the “shadows” i.e. the written commands of the law). He goes on even further saying that Christians are not under commands of “don’t” and “do” eat certain things, etc. (2:20-23).

This is all clearly talking about righteousness in Christ vs. righteousness by the law.

“Judaizers” (as they were called, and as Wilber seems to be) were rebuffed all throughout the New Testament. It’s not that there is a problem with the Law. Paul loves to use it! The problem was with how they were using it.

The law:
* Exposes our sinfulness and need of a savior
* Points to Jesus as that savior

But the “Judaizers” thought that if people lived by the law they could be righteous. And those who don’t were unrighteous. So you can trust in Jesus, but must also live by the law to be righteous. The New Testament has the strongest language for this kind of tendency, as it completely twists and disarms the gospel. It is called “manmade tradition” because it misses the actual purpose of the law.

One tendency that accompanies this teaching is the praise of angels. The N.T. teaches that angels were present when Moses received the law (Gal. 3:19). So some would point to this as proof that following the law for your righteousness is always a Godly thing to do. “Angels affirm this!” they might say.

But it’s for this reason that Hebrews 1-2 begins by showing Jesus is greater than angels. And Paul makes the same point in Gal. 3. And later here in Colossians (when he talks about the “worship of angels”). The law must bow to Christ who fulfills it. We don’t worship the law (or the angels who gave it) but only Jesus, who now makes even “the ungodly” to be righteous for belief in Christ (Rom. 4:5). Our righteousness in no way is dependent on legalistic obedience to the law. Acts 15 was the first statement on this, and it has been confirmed over and over and over.

I feel there’s so much more to say and so little said here. But I have plans to write a more sufficient document on how Christians should approach the law that I hope will fill in the gaps here.

I also didn’t address every point made by Wilber, but I lean on the promise in Scripture that sin can be exposed by 2-3 witnesses. So I looked at 3 points he made to try to show the flaws in his teaching (that I believe are incredibly severe if I’m reading them correctly).

Finally, I’d encourage people to read (and re-read) the New Testament over and over to see how God speaks to these things. Consider this brief survey of a few books:

  • Romans – Paul confronts Judaizers who teach that adherence to the law makes you righteous. He instead shows that the law exposes your sinfulness and that no one can live up to it (and that the law itself declared this if you read it carefully). But the law also teaches Jesus would come and when we believe in Him we are considered completely righteous in God’s eyes (removed from how well we did at following the letter of the law). As such, things like sabbath days and eating certain things are at the discretion of the individual. They don’t make you more/less righteous in God’s eyes on their own, but if your conscience is telling you to do it, do it. Just don’t project that as necessary for all.
  • Galatians – Paul confronts Judaizers who taught circumcision is necessary for righteousness before God. Even if you knew Jesus, that wasn’t enough, according to them. But Paul completely rebukes them in the strongest language. And he rebukes the Galatians for listening to this nonsense (see Gal. 3). Instead, it is faith in Christ alone that makes your righteous. And the evidence of this is that God (the Holy Spirit) lives in you and you have God’s fruit of a changed character (which was what the law was aiming for, but could not do without the Holy Spirit indwelling): “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:18)
  • Hebrews – The entire book is a warning to Christians who started to think that they needed to adhere to traditions of the law in order to be righteous before God (in addition with following Christ). But the writer shows in every way that Christ is superior as a means of righteousness: Christ is better than angels (Heb. 1-2), Christ is the ultimate Sabbath (Heb. 3-4), Christ is the ultimate priest, the ultimate sacrifice, etc. “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.” (Heb. 8:13 – quoting from Jeremiah 31:31-34, wherein Jeremiah shows that the new covenant would be superior because God’s law would be inside us [which happens by the Holy Spirit indwelt]).

Again, sorry that this only scratches the surface on this important topic. But please pray and seek the Scriptures yourself. And ask if I can make things more clear in anyway!


Water Baptism Defined

Taken from Water Baptism Defined.

What is Baptism?

  • Baptism = to dip; immerse
    • Root word – bapto – “to dip” (used in Luke 16:24; John 13:26; Revelation 19:13) (Prince 176-177)                                                               .
      • bapto – “cover wholly with a fluid…dip” (Strong 16)
    • Matthew 3:16 – “baptized…came up immediately from the water”
    • Acts 8:38-39 – “went down into the water…baptized…came up out of the water” 

Water Baptism

Note: When baptism is mentioned on its own, it probably refers to water baptism (for instance, see Acts 8:36-39 and 10:47-48)

A new baptism initiated

  • Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus fulfills all righteousness in being baptized by John
  • John 4:1-2 – Jesus’ disciples baptized followers at the same time John was baptizing.
  • Matthew 28:19-20 – Jesus initiated a distinctly Christian water baptism
    • Mark 16:15-16 – this baptism is THE deed that accompanies faith and salvation
    • Acts 2:37-38; 8:12,36-39; 9:17-18; 10:47-48; 16:11-15,31-33; 18:8; 19:1-5; Hebrews 6:2 – the early church emphasized baptism as a necessary and immediate response to faith in Christ 
  • Acts 19:1-5 – Christian water baptism is distinct and separate from John’s baptism 

What is the meaning of water baptism?

  • 1 Peter 3:21 – NOT outward cleansing, but response of inner conviction
    • Hebrews 9:14; 10:22 – a good/clear conscience that comes through faith in Christ
  • Romans 6:1-6 – baptism = burial of old, dead flesh
    • Colossians 2:11-12 – relates to the cutting off of flesh; which is the killing of our old sin nature.  Circumcision and baptism are closely connected (see chart below).
Is the cutting off of the flesh (Genesis 17:11)Is the cutting off and burial of our fleshly/sinful nature that was crucified upon faith in gospel (Colossians 2:11 and Galatians 2:20)
A sign of one’s covenant with God (Gen. 17:11)A sign of one’s covenant with God (Matt. 28:19)
Done AFTER someone was born an Israelite (Gen. 17:12)Done AFTER someone is born again (John 3:7) into the “Israel of God” – which happens upon believing the gospel (Galatians 3:26,29; 6:16).
Done when an infant is 8 days old (Gen. 17:12)8 is a number that represents a new beginning – there were 8 people who began the new earth after the flood, the priests began their ministry the 8th day (Leviticus 9:1), the 8th day is the beginning of a new week, circumcision was done the 8th day, King David was the 8th son, etc.  Thus, baptism is also done after the “new beginning” that comes with faith in Christ.
Contingent upon obedience (Romans 2:25)Contingent upon faith/obedience in Christ (just as John’s baptism of repentance could not be received by those who didn’t evidence repentance in their life, see Luke 3:8)

Old Testament pictures of water baptism

  • Exodus 14:15-31; 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 – Red Sea is a symbol/type for baptism
    • Israel leaving Egypt by blood of Passover Lamb = Christians leaving the oppression of sin by the blood of Christ (Revelation 11:8; 1 Corinthians 5:7)
    • Israel walking under and out of a wall of water = Christian baptism.
    • Egyptians being covered by the water = sins being covered by water
    • Hebrews 11:29 – faith was necessary for their crossing the Red Sea, just as faith is necessary for baptism (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
  • Genesis 6-8; 1 Peter 3:20-21 – Flood of Noah is symbol/type for baptism
    • Ark brought salvation, having only one door = Jesus as the only way to salvation.
    • Sins of world covered by water = our sins covered by water of baptism
    • Ark resting after waters subside on 17th day of 7th month (Gen. 8:4) = the end of death over sin (Jesus was resurrected the exact same day!                                                               ).
    • 8 people on boat = beginning of new life
    • Dove finding olive tree after flood = Holy Spirit initiating our new life (Luke 3:22; Romans 11:17)

What is required to be baptized in water?

  • 5 households baptized in Scriptures, comprised of believers:
    1. Cornelius’s (Acts 10:48) – All of the household is said to be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit BEFORE they were baptized (11:14-15)
    2. Lydia’s (Acts 16:15) – We are not told the status of this household when they were baptized.  However, the distance of their journey would seem to suggest that infants could not have been present (Acts 16:12,14).
    3. Philippian jailer’s (Acts 16:33) – All of this household believed the word of the Lord BEFORE they were baptized (Acts 16:31-34)
    4. Stephanas’s (1 Corinthians 1:16) – All of this household is called the “firstfruits,” and those who devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints (1 Cor. 16:15).  Thus, they were all believers and ministers of the gospel at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, which makes it highly probable that they were believers before Paul baptized them.
  • Repentance and faith come before baptism in the Scriptures – Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38,41; 8:12,37; 10:44-48 (compared with Acts 11:14-15); 16:14-15; 16:31-33; 19:4-5; Hebrews 6:1-2
    • Heb. 11:29 – in the passing of the Red Sea, which is a type for water baptism (see 1 Cor. 10:2), faith was required
  • 1 Peter 3:21 – baptism is defined as “the answer of a good conscience toward God”.  Therefore, it is necessary that those who are baptized have a good conscience toward God.


By Sue Langham

I was reading Nahum today and noticed characteristics of God.  The book is about Nineveh (Assyria) who was evil towards Israel and other nations. Chapter 1 lists characteristics of God which I have classified below

Plus (+)Minus (-)
Slow to angerJealous
Great in powerAvenging (to His enemies)
GoodWrathful (to His enemies)
Stronghold in troubleWill punish guilty
Knows those who take refuge in HimHis way is in the whirlwind and storms
Dries sea/rivers
Withers blossoms
Upheaves earth (world and inhabitants) by His presence

While reading and listing these characteristics of God, I am reminded that some people think that God does not do or have the character to do what is in the second column.  The scriptures describe otherwise.

Do Real Christians Doubt?

  • Psalm 73 – the doubting can be seen at the beginning, while he simultaneously follows God (e.g. 73:13).
  • Matt. 11:2-19 – John the Baptist doubts Jesus while in prison, but Jesus commends him
  • Mark 9:24-27 – Jesus heals the son of a man who says, “I believe, help my unbelief”
  • Matthew 17:20 (and similar places) – Jesus speaks of needing faith that is only the size of a mustard seed (which is extremely small)
  • Matt. 28:17; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:38; John 20:27 – Doubting occurs in all 4 gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection – note that this was doubting by those closest to Jesus, the very people who would shepherd his church when He’s gone! (also, as an aside, I find this a remarkable defense of the truthfulness of Jesus’ resurrection: no one making up a Jesus-resurrection story inserts so much doubt into Jesus’ closest comrades!)
  • Acts 12:6-17 – the very people who prayed for Peter’s release didn’t believe he could actually be released!
  • Jude 1:22 – “have mercy on those who doubt”
  • 2 Cor. 4:8 – Paul says he was “perplexed.” Though not strictly the same as doubting, the meaning of the word can include an element of doubt.
  • 2 Tim. 2:12-13 – here being “faithless” is contrasted with “denying” Christ. Those who deny are denied by God. But those who are faithless, God remains faithful to. I take this to be the difference between having less confidence in Christ (= doubting) and renouncing Christ altogether (= denying).

So, yes. You can truly follow Christ/God and yet have doubts.

God’s Goal

Though God receives and shows kindness to those who doubt, He does not want us to maintain or celebrate a weak faith filled with doubts. Instead, he wants faith in Christ to grow more and more (2 Pet. 1:5-8; Jude 1:20; etc.).

Grow Your Faith


  • Comes through God’s Word (Rom. 10:17) – thus, reading/hearing Scripture is an important step in bringing faith
  • Rests in God’s power (not human intellect) (1 Cor. 2:1-5) – at the core of biblical faith is a supernatural work and revelation of God. This does not mean our reasoning has no place, but it is not the ultimate place our faith should rest.
  • Grows through Spirit-led prayer (Jude 1:20)