They Shall Speak With New Tongues
By Dr. Joseph Chambers
These words came from Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord of the Church. And, for almost two thousand years it has been fulfilled. The Early Church Fathers have documented this great truth all the way into the Fourth Century. (Please save judgment for this article until you read it carefully. I beg all of you to write a comment after you read this article regardless of your belief system. This could be a marvelous study after everyone has posted.) Before we list different quotes from noted men and historians, we should first read what the Lord Himself said so clearly, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues" (Mark 16:16-17). Isaiah, the statesman prophet, had prophesied about this same promise. The Book of Acts and Apostle Paul's first letter to Corinth also makes this truth unquestionable.
Speaking in unknown languages by the utterance of the Spirit has been a mighty force for spiritual progress throughout church history. At the same time, this great truth has probably been abused more than any other Bible subject. Satan and his dark minions have both fought this mystery and produced their own imitation. There have been more outright violations of this manifestation than all other Biblical mysteries. No error in Satan's design is executed against errors themselves. Satan fights truth and this is one truth he hates profoundly and he has often confused both believers and the Church World.
This powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit keeps returning every time an awakening of spiritual life is revived. The prophesied "Latter Rain" will likely be the next major explosion of anointed languages by the Holy Ghost. "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand" spoke the servant of the prophet Elijah and I declare the words of Elijah, "I, hear (by the Holy Spirit) the sound of an abundance of rain" (II Kings 8:44).
The Church Fathers' spoke proudly of this phenomenon in their midst. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) wrote, "For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to this present time." (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 82.)
Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202) wrote, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, terming those persons ‘perfect' who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages . . . and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God." (Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter 6, Section 1.)
Tertullian (A.D. 155-230) was reproving a false teacher named Marcion and challenged him with the following, "Let Marcion then exhibit, as gifts of his god, some prophets, such as have not spoken by human sense, but with the Spirit of God, such as have predicted things to come, and have made manifest the secrets of the heart; let him produce a psalm, a vision, a prayer — only let it be by the Spirit, in an ecstasy, that is, in a rapture, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him." (Tertullian Against Marcion, Book 5, Chapter 8.) Then he boasted, "Now all these signs (of spiritual gifts) are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty." (Ibid.)
A theologian, scholar and writer named Novatian (A.D. 258) proudly defended the gifts of the Spirit, "This is He who places prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works, often discrimination of spirits, affords powers of government, suggests counsels, and orders and arranges whatever other gifts there are of charismata; and thus make the Lord's Church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed." (Treatise Concerning the Trinity, Chapter 29.)
Another noted bishop of the Fourth Century, Ambrose (A.D. 340-397), was fully supportive of Spiritual gifts in the church. He declared, "The Holy Spirit gave divers kinds of tongues." (Of the Holy Spirit 8, 149-151.)
Then, as the Fourth Century ended, the church world had become indifferent to the manifestation of the gifts. A well-known bishop of that period named John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407) wrote despairingly of the growing poverty of spiritual life. As he explained his concerns, he stated, "This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation (speaking of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost), being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place . . . Well: what did happen then? Whoever was baptized he straightway spake with tongues and not with tongues only, but many also prophesied, and some also performed many other wonderful works . . . they [the Corinthians] at once on their baptism received the Spirit . . . And one straightway spake in the Persian, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other tongue: and this made manifest to them that were without that it is the Spirit in the very person speaking . . . For as the Apostles themselves had received this sign first, also the faithful went on receiving it, I mean, the gift of tongues." (Saint Chrysostom: Homily on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, Phillip Schaff, 1889, Volume 12, Homily 35 NPNF 211.)
Chrysostom went further to describe the sorrowful state of the church without the manifestation of the Spirit, "What now can be more awful than these things? For in truth the Church was a heaven then, the Spirit governing all things, and moving each one of the rulers and making him inspired. But now we retain only the symbols of those gifts . . . they thus used to speak, not of their own wisdom, but moved by the Spirit. But not so now: (I speak of mine own case so far.) But the present Church is like a woman who hath fallen from her former prosperous days, and in many respects retains the symbols only of that ancient prosperity; displaying indeed the repositories and caskets of her golden ornaments, but bereft of her wealth: such an one doth the present Church resemble. And I say not this in respect of gifts: for it were nothing marvelous if it were this only: but in respect also of life and virtue." (Saint Chrysostom: Homily on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians," Phillp Schaff, 1889. Homily 36, NPNF 219-220.) What a marvelous longing for the return of Pentecostal powers!
The last of the early church fathers that I shall quote is the noted teacher and scholar, Augustine (A.D. 354-430). He joined Chrysostom in sorrowing over the state of the church. He declared, "For who expects in these days that those on whom hands are laid that they may receive the Holy Spirit should forthwith begin to speak with tongues?" (Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists, Section 3, Chapter 16, NPNF 443.)
The majority of our present church world should weep with Chrysostom and Augustine over the loss of the awesome gifts of the Holy Spirit! But, the church will not continue in this broken condition. Dead churches are slowly going out of business or joining the "Emergent Church" of apostasy and deception.
The Deep Biblical Truth of Unknown Languages
Isaiah was the first prophet to receive the truth of how the Holy Ghost would affect the New Testament church. He clearly knew that something miraculous was in the making. Writing by the Spirit he declared, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear" (Isaiah 28:11-12). Apostle Paul quoted a portion of this prophecy by Isaiah in his great exposé on the gifts of the Spirit and left no doubt as to what God's prophet was trying to show the future church. The ministry of languages was clearly planned to give divine breath to the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
As Jesus was reaching the apex of His life He began preparing His disciples for His departure. The Words of God that were quoted at the beginning of this article were a perfect insight of what was to occur. They had a spiritual language and spiritual power to continue His miraculous life and ministry. Speaking in tongues or unknown languages were to be the language of the spiritual life they were to experience. They were to speak to the church with tongues and an interpretation; and be able to speak directly to God where no one could understand them but God Himself.
There are several terms that describe the ministry of languages. Isaiah said they would have "stammering lips" and speak in "another tongue." Jesus said they would speak with "new tongues." On the Day of Pentecost it was said, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:3-4). Apostle Paul spoke about "tongues of men and of Angels." Then, Apostle Paul spoke of "unknown tongues" in his discourse to the Corinthians. It's impossible to receive such clear statements and not take it seriously.
On the Day of Pentecost all one hundred and twenty disciples, followers of Christ and the women present, spoke in languages other than the one they knew. The writer stated that "all" of Christ's disciples in the upper room were filled and that "all" began to speak in "other tongues." These were languages understood by the many nations represented at this great Jewish feast. All the happy believers were Galileans, but they spoke capably to the visitors and the crowd was overwhelmed with these supernatural signs and wonders. There were three thousand converted to Christ that same day. We will show you a little later that tongues are a sign to unbelievers as they proved to us on this historic day.
The early church continued to see this wonder as they went forth preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was an Italian, a Roman centurion. He was unconverted but devout and a lover of the Jews. After the message to him from an angel, he sent for Peter. God had to arrest Peter with a vision, but then Peter obeyed and went to Cornelius' house. He preached Jesus with power and anointing. The Holy Ghost saved and filled Cornelius and his household. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:44-46) The pattern of Pentecost was clearly established.
Prayer is the life of every believer and the source of supernatural power in the church. But, this prayer life must be more than unemotional words spoken by unspiritual people. Apostle Paul takes the idea of Holy Ghost languages to a level of supernatural praying. He put this in his "Romans Road" letter to the church at Rome. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27).
He reminds the church of our weaknesses in this clay pot in which we dwell. So often we do not know what to pray. Do we give up or do we submit ourselves before His awesome Spirit He sent to abide in us? Quickly understanding why He sent His Holy Ghost and why He told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until this promise came, we must find a place to wait on God. The language of the Holy Ghost becomes God's manifestation in our prayer closet.
He knows everything about you and about your circumstance and He knows the answer. The Holy Ghost with the language of the spiritual world will continue His great ministry in us. We are partners in this activity because He uses our lips and our spirit but goes straight to the Lord and His Father. The devil cannot listen in to plan his defense. It's a straight line from the Third Person of the Trinity to the Throne Room in Heavenly Jerusalem. No wonder the early church was guilty of "turning the world upside down."
Apostle Paul knew this powerful prayer life and is a testimony to its mighty victory. Paul taught this truth for all of us, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God; I speak with tongues more than ye all" (I Corinthians 14:14-18). Such praying will turn your life into a spiritual dynamo and drive the devil back in defeat.
When a person is saved they are a babe in Christ and the road to maturity is loaded with side steps. Building a spiritual life requires living in the Spirit. The Spirit is the third member of the Godhead and He is a person just like the Father and the Son. He speaks the language of Heaven and that language will make a spiritual saint out of you. Listen again to Apostle Paul, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church" (I Corinthians 14:2&4). This is spiritual edification that occurs in a believer when they allow the Holy Spirit to build up the spirit-man in them.
The half brother of Jesus Christ joined Paul in reminding us of our need to become spiritual believers. With unmistakable words, he said, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 20). This is not cheap human manipulated jargon, but it is the person of the Spirit that lives in our temple anointing us to speak Heaven's languages. The devils have a language and God's angels have a language – may be the same as our spiritual language — and it's unthinkable that we cannot be a part of the Spirit world. The demon possessed man or woman is part of Satan's language world and often has been heard speaking his garbage. Persons that think they can speak in tongues at their own will should beware of the possibility of false spirits giving them their dark tongues.
It's very important that we understand that true spiritual languages have been given to the church to bring conviction on the ungodly or unsaved. Apostle Paul made a very plain statement in this regard and stated that Isaiah intended the same truth. Here are Paul's words, "In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe" (I Corinthians 14:21-22). When the House of God is full of the Holy Ghost and His saints are worshipping and singing in the Spirit, conviction will fall on the unsaved. It happened at Pentecost when three thousand were converted. Most sinners will know the difference between a church full of confusion and a church full of the Spirit. Paul was careful to teach a Biblical order and to state that preaching or teaching is not to be done in tongues but with understanding.
Here are Paul's beautiful words by the Spirit about order in a church full of the Spirit. "How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God" (I Corinthian 14:26-28). Confusion and wild insanity in Pentecostal churches has caused much distaste for those of us who take these truths literally.
The person of the Holy Spirit is very God just as the Father and the Son are very God. He can be "quenched" (I Thessalonians 5:19), "grieved" (Ephesians 4:3), "resisted" (Acts 7:51), "lied to" (Acts 5:3); and, finally, when all hope is gone "blasphemed." His rightful place in the church and the Saints is supernatural and utterly life-changing. The church without the presence of the Holy Spirit is nothing but dead letter. I love one of Apostle Paul's greatest revelations, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (11 Corinthians 4:7).
The writer of Proverbs spoke about our tongues and languages. He declared by the Spirit, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof" (Proverbs 18:21). Again, he said, "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit" (Proverbs 15:4). He then adds, "The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom" (Proverbs 10:20-21).
No wonder our Father chose the tongues of His saints to become a great instrument of His Spirit's activity among us. If you claim to be filled with the Spirit, then surrender to Him to manifest Him in you. When you understand that our tongue is the last stronghold of the carnal man, you will appreciate that God made it His place of victory where the Holy Ghost would manifest His mastery in your life.
Please share your comments about this article. I delight in knowing your response and interest. As a classical Pentecostal I want the world to know what we believe concerning this important subject.