We have seen in considering FAITHFUL WITNESS (and Jesus Christ is the ultimate 'faithful witness' ‑ Revelation 1:5) that many will deny the POWER of God (II Timothy 3: 5) in the latter days, near the end of the Age. This they do: you have existentialist deformities of Christianity and neo‑orthodox re‑definitions and the callow denials of the sects like the Jehovah's Witness and the Christadelphians, who deny the deity of the Lord,  the resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ that died, the substitutionary atonement, the condign judgment of God on all sin outside Christ, or some combination. You have ethical and social 'gospels' and liberation theologies and such a combination, cacchination and cacophony of powerless pretences at Christianity, that this prophecy of Paul's becomes the headline news of today from nearly 2000 years ago.


Revelation 1:5 which concerns Christ as the faithful witness, also calls Him the 'firstborn from the dead', before proceeding to call him the ruler over the kings of the earth, the One who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.


Nowhere is the matter of the marvellous POWER of God more obvious than at this very point:
THE PHYSICAL RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD OF THAT VERY BODY OF JESUS CHRIST IN WHICH HE HAD PERFORMED HIS MIRACLES AND ON WHICH HIS ENEMIES HAD PERFORMED THEIR LETHAL WORK. Thus, CONCERNING the resurrection, David wrote, declared Peter, that God did not leave His Holy One to suffer corruption. That is, in correct translation, to 'rot'. This did not occur, and so it was predicted.


The topic: the resurrection of the Messiah in this, that "His flesh did not see corruption" or rot. . The prophecy: that He would not be allowed to rot. The fulfilment from Peter ? Christ. It is not some other body which did not rot. It had no reason to; and it is not concerning some other topic than the resurrection of Christ that Peter speaks, for his words, he asserts, DO concern the resurrection. The Person ? Christ. The body ? the one which did not rot, being not suffered so to do. The marvel ? Bodies normally do rot.  This one was not allowed to do so.


What then had been the question ? Would the One who had raised others from the dead (John 11, Luke 7:11‑17), the Christ,  be raised ? THAT was the question.



WOULD the GOD whom HE CLAIMED to be His Father,

who had suffered Him to be crucified while some taunted saying:

(or words along these lines, Matthew 27:43, for they appeared to mock the prediction, by adding
'if He will have Him'! so imbuing the concept of delight with derision, but apparently invoking it indirectly),

who had NOT been asked for legions of angels to protect Him ( Matthew 26:53)

because it was HIS MISSION so to die as a sacrifice for sin (cf. Isaiah 53:10,and Acts 2:23):






The premature disappointment latent in some of the disciples surfaced in the road to Emmaus discussions (Luke 24:21), when they were reflecting that it was already the third day since these things had happened. Hosea 6 and Leviticus 23:4-11 show the significance of the third day, and these with Psalm 16 and Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12 speak of the resurrection both of the Messiah and of His people
(cf. SMR Ch. 6). No wonder the third day registered; indeed, Jesus Himself had continually stressed NOT ONLY that He would suffer and die, NOT ONLY that He would rise from the dead, but that He would do this on the third day after the killing (the Jews counting the first - when it happened, the second ‑the next and the third ‑when He rose, on Sunday - in inclusive style in such things (Matthew 16:21,20:18,Luke 9:21; see Biblical Blessings, Appendix III, Endnote 2).


Failure to rise at the right time, would have meant that He was in fact not the Messiah:
for indeed if a prophet made a prediction in God's name

and  it did not come to pass, he was automatically shown as a fraud and

put to death, in the very law of Moses ( Deuteronomy 18:20).


This was declared in the very same passage which predicted the coming of THAT PROPHET who would supersede (not void but fulfil - Matthew 5:17‑19) Moses, and have absolute authority!



It would have been perfectly useless to rise on some other day: the precision of prophetic fulfilment is both a test of duress for the divine word, one which it naturally welcomes with zeal (Isaiah 48), for it distinguishes the word of God over the millenia in all its predictions from any other word, and hence bears a signature, or if you will, a finger print. In such matters, 'near enough' is nowhere near enough! It was perfectly proportionate therefore to both the need of man and the power of God that it should"



1) happen


2) happen on a prescribed day, after the death


3) happen on a long predicted prescribed day, thus giving a centuries for counter-measures,
which however did not manage to find the strength to perform.

No body could be produced by the killers. No guard to contain its repose.
No story could even pass muster as not patently false -
fancy KNOWING that the disciples stole the body, when you claim at that time to have been asleep!


Thomas took much convincing (John 20)

but the evidence overwhelmed his scientific-seeming soul,

which needed works for witness (John 14:11).


Peter needed re‑commissioning after his betrayal of Christ, being less apt than John to realise why the tomb was empty on their arrival at it, following the account of the women: presumably because of his guilt before he actually met Christ again (John 20:6-10,  21:15ff.).


John needed little more than to find that the cloths which had been about Jesus were neatly set aside. and the place emptied. This he found after the women had gone for ceremonial graces with the body on the early Sunday morning, and having seen the Lord and heard the angel, had besieged the disciples with accounts of these wonders.


After all, JESUS HAD SAID: John believed! at once (John 20:8). He believed in Him as the Messiah, and saw at once the evidence's implication. If He could raise the dead (John 11), then He Himself by that same power He so often attested, could be raised (Matthew 17:23) as He said, and indeed declared that they might believe (John 14:29, 16:19-22,32-33, Matthew 26:31) and all this was predicted not only as going to happen, but as having to happen that the will and covenant and wisdom of God should be fulfilled (Matthew 22:30-31, 26:54,64). Peter with his recent lapse took a little longer; but the Lord gave a tender and special message to him.


Accordingly,  'AND PETER', these were the words which He added to the message to the disciples, that they be informed of His resurrection (Mark 16:7).


He named the PLACE (Galilee, Matthew 26:31 cf. 28:7) for their encounter;
and there (John 21)

He met them, later breakfasting with them -
just as He ate with them on the resurrection Sunday (Luke 24:43).
There in Galilee, as they met on that morning by the sea, He called out to them,
and so repeated His work of  showing them where the fish were (John 21:6,cf. Luke 4:4‑10),
an earlier indication or audio‑visual for them to see that in the future,

it  would not be fish but men they would specialise in catching!


There, in Galilee,

He was, doing it again, this time preparing a fire and cooking their breakfast,

even handing it to them.


IT IS THE LORD, said Peter as he saw the start of these things, the indication of the massive school of fish for them to catch, from the shore: and he went plunging headlong to find the Lord, who after breakfast went on to question Peter on his fidelity,

three times asking him concerning his love,

as Peter had three times denied Christ, earlier.


God did not invent our schema of mathematics for nothing: He uses what He has made!


Such was the unchanging love of the unchanged Jesus Christ, whose own body was raised,
 just as He had healed others, and raised the dead Himself*1 (cf. Luke 7:11); and just as, equipped with apostolic power, Peter was himself to do later (Acts 9:36ff.).


A SPIRIT HAS NOT FLESH AND BONES AS YOU SEE ME TO HAVE, Jesus told them ( Luke 24:39), when earlier meeting them in the upper room, no longer needing to be so limited as a man as He had been, now that the sacrifice as man for men was over (Hebrews 2).


What is our body to be like ? John in I John 3 tells us:

WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM, for we shall see Him as He is. When He met Mary Magdalene, He was not yet glorified, so we know that the resurrection body will be etermatic, fit for reigning with Him for ever and ever (Revelation 22:5). What He had shown with Lazarus, He had now accomplished for all, and death 'the last enemy' was now accounted for, the fruits of this triumph of patience, power and love, now seen in Him, then to be delivered to His people at the general resurrection ) I Corinthians 15:20-28,50ff). Indeed there is to be a resurrection of both the just (justified, Romans 3, 5),  and the unjust (John 5:19-22).


Thus Paul tells of the dramatic coming of this application of the vindication of Christ in His own resurrection:


BEHOLD I TELL YOU A MYSTERY: WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP (as Stephen 'slept' ‑Acts 7:60, when He had seen Christ at the right hand of God, while being stoned, and had commended his Spirit to His hands) ...






( 1 Corinthians 15:51‑55).


It is on this basis that we should continue abounding in the work of the Lord
for HE is authentic, and Christ is ultimately, utterly authenticated
(I Corinthians15:58).




THIS resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul indicates, is essential to the gospel, and indeed, without it, there is no gospel at all.  "YOUR FAITH IS IN VAIN," he observes, if Christ was not raised
(l Corinthians 15:17). 'Raised' ? yes - I Corinthians 15:1‑4 - a point noted by J. Gresham Machen here), raised
in this: that the thing that was buried is the thing that was raised*2. Here is ...




            AND THAT HE WAS SEEN BY CEPHAS , {Peter}
            THEN BY THE TWELVE.

            (I Corinthians 15:1‑6).


This power of God is shown by Paul also in Philippians 3:20~21,where he declares that we





THIS POWER is that of creation: the Creator of course has power to re-create, to resurrect, to heal ... and to save. God is He who is MIGHTY TO SAVE (Isaiah 63:1), the only Saviour. (Isaiah 43:11) who sent His Son to be salvation's crux (Isaiah 48:16, I John 4:9).



With this work done, the identikit of the miracle-working (Isaiah 35) and resurrected Christ


applied from the Old Testament and verified in graphic and sustained events,


the apostles went right on, as if death had no fear for them


(as to be expected - Hebrews 2, since Christ destroyed its fear in his feat),


stressing what they had heard and seen and the matters of observation (Acts 4:20, 5:32),


preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead ( Acts 4:1‑20),


charging the religious junta with murder and offering pardon
through the name of the resurrected Christ, whose body indeed did not rot (Acts 2:31).


This is the scientific-style resurrection*3: that is, one which is in PRINCIPLE to be expected in terms of the preceding evidence and attestation over millenia, in the Bible; on to be INVESTIGATED on the spot, and in this case, the laboratory is life, to eat and to hear and to converse, and to touch and to VERIFY, both the voice and the vigour. It is one where the ACCOMPANYING CIRCUMSTANCES are verifiable, the power which He advised them they would receive, this in itself fulfilling further prophecy in detail (Acts 2:5-17), just as the Age to come has for us who now live, verified what followed in this prophecy cited by Peter, as it does the prophecies provided by Christ Himself (cf. Matthew 24, and see SMR Chs. 8  - 9, Answers to Questions Ch. 5).


Not for hell did they invent these things, not for that did they attest all this in the teeth of the murderous minded opposition, alienating God and man alike (cf. SMR Ch. 6). Theirs was no confusion, as if mourning at the corpse-side, or the tomb-side was somehow cross-hatched from a corpse to One secure, vital and dynamic in life, directing their fishing and dealing with their sins. Mourning relatives show no normal proclivity so to confuse sentiment with sensation, hopes with action and reflection with resurrection; far less, when all is loss for the occasion, and hell is the fitting terminus of such ... dreams.


No, says Peter,
(II Peter 1:16).





*1 There was no need here,  for ceremonial defilement, resulting from touching the body of the dead (Numbers 19:16); for Christ had Himself walked away with His own body which being dead no more, defiled none: meeting Him was meeting the resurrection (John 11:5), in Person!



 *2  Thus in Acts 2:31 Peter declares:




Now it was CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION that the body did not rot;

the relevant relationship of the topics, non‑rotting body and resurrection is a positive one.

The NON-ROTTING of Christ's body

was a prediction, Peter proclaims,
and this fantastic event concerns

the resurrection.


Resurrection, in other words, and this non‑rotting

body are complementary terms.


It could not be clearer.


The learned Sir Norman Anderson's booklet, The Evidence for the Resurrection, puts an fascinating legal cast on this event: the ultimate miracle. As in all the miracles, they never receive dismissal, since they are integrated to perfection with all the engines of verification, being merely the action of God in the realm of nature which He created, just as an author can act in his own book, a scientist in his own experiment: except for this, that with God the very structure is His, and what is not His  by direct creation, is so by the use of it, as in the case of sin! An omnipotent action in a given realm no more VIOLATES its laws than does a father violate a train-set, who touches one of the carriages with his hand, to prevent it falling over. It may of course TRANSCEND nature; but what is 'nature', naturally enough, but what He has made to have a system available for action by its denizens, and by Himself.

See also,
The Living God (Appendix III, Barbs, Arrows and Balms), and Biblical Blessings,
Ch. 15,    End-note 2.


*3 See  in SMR pp. 931ff., 145ff., and Section 30 below.





27.          A  Q U E S T 1 0 N   0 F   G I F T S



Confusion often seems to reign in this area of Christian specialised functions, at certain levels, and the pendulum of popularity may swing from this to that thought. Sensationalism and formalism can be opposing extremes, and it is necessary to study the word of God here, as elsewhere.


In this century, for long Pentecostalism has been a challenge or affront to, or variation from many mainline denominations. There has, very often, been reason both for the challenge and for the affront!


In fact, though a detailed analysis could take many pages, there is clear indication that gifts such as stressed by Pentecostal denominations in general, are intended for our era. There is however also indication that they are not to be featured or focussed in any distractive or glorying way: it is the GIVER who alone is to be glorified (cf. Isaiah 42:8,48:11), neither the gift nor any, minister or other, who uses it. Again, there are rules for such use, and there are provisions; and there is reason for the gift of tongues, in particular, itself a prominent ground of much unproductive division. Extremes on all sides seem more rife than justified!





Three passages of the New Testament bear heavily on this. They are Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12‑14. I Corinthians 14 bears on tongues as a special consideration particularly.

I Corinthians 13 however is a crucial chapter on the whole point: ARE these gifts still in operation, and if so, in what way ? in what spirit, in what context and for what purpose ?


Some would declare that they are NOT still in operation, and try for example to equate the word 'then' in I Corinthians 13:10‑12 to the completion of the New Testament Canon! However, I Cor.13:12, following the completion of the Canon, has the Christian knowing as he/she is known! THIS one does not do in this pilgrimage: the 'mirror of faith' of II Corinthians 3:18 is assuredly not done away with yet! Spiritual remodelling of the saints has not ceased, nor has the need for it!


If I now knew as I am known, I should not know in part, but be an insufferable pretender! Knowing‑as‑one,‑is‑known is after the resurrection, when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Faith must still work with its mirror, till the light shines in eternity. We LIVE by faith.


The gifts then are set in general terms to operate till then, till this pilgrimage is past (I Corinthians 13:8‑12).


Yet others confuse the issue by trying (vainly) to make it that some nuance of meaning attaches to 'prophesying' which prevents revelation apart from inscripturation ‑ the setting of the statement in scripture. Scripture, the process of inscripturation, they –rightly - say, is finished; and so, they say, therefore has prophesying ... itself one of the 'gifts' of I Corinthians.


This however will not do either. Not merely did prophets prophesy in the Old Testament period, whose books or words are not, or are not in full incorporated in the Canon (that is, in the actual scriptures), but there is the case of revelation to Peter ‑ (Matthew 16:18) who yet did not in his name ‘commit' it to the scripture (someone else wrote about it merely). Thus, the Father showed Peter the identity of Christ by REVELATION, as Christ stated; but this exposure of divine truth in that form did not become a part of scripture.


Described as an event, it is not recorded by the 'prophet' to whom the revelation was given. Indeed, many might have a 'revelation' (I Cor. 14: 26), and this is presented as a normal church phenomenon in the church at Corinth at the time of which Paul speaks; but there is no slightest indication that what they said became a part of scripture, and it would be a gross imposition both on the context and on the concept of not adding to scripture by unwarranted assumption, to claim that these events in their setting did proceed into scripture. Indeed, the spirits of the prophets were‘subject to the prophets' in ways wholly diverse from the Old Testament setting, where the word of God was so often so detested by so many that if judgment had occurred, it would never see the light of day! This is very far from scripture in standing.


Where ARE then these multiplied Corinthians words! Assuredly they are far removed from any approximation to the word of the Lord, the scripture, that irreprovable, unimpeachable, immutable, divinely warranted, executive emission from the lips of the Lord! Many however seem to want, if not by liberalism and its antics, seeking to divorce God from His word by human philosophy and its wet-hen hiatus from truth and rationality, then to do so by human emotion. Anything will do, so long as the Almighty for a little moment, is repressed in their lives, until the day come when the pit is wide enough for entrance.


GOD IS NOT MOCKED, however. What then of these Corinthian exhibits, these corrigible prophecies, these reprovable words of men, on which men are to sit in 'judgment' ? It should, incidentally, be especially noted that this is nothing of tongues, so-called, for it is a potentially edifying phenomenon in itself, this prophesying! Tongues have, in Corinthians,  no one to sit in 'judgment', but depend only on the interpreter. It is a grand opportunity for the bogus! This is not to exclude what God includes; but it is to exclude the defamatory elevation of 'tongues' so often seen, as if it were some kind of glory, not an abasement before God, as we see shortly, when we consider its source, as cited by Paul, in Isaiah's predictions. That item, also with many others in this field,  is found in the little volume,  A Question of Gifts, which covers the matters far more extensively than is done here. 


Corinthian-style prophesyings as the word of the Lord! Far from it, as far as the East from the West: infinitely removed are these from the infallible word of the Lord. Revelation may indeed come, in this subordinate manner, but to expect such revelations as these to be elevated to scriptural heights is like expected a baby, under parental discipline, to sign contracts.


Such an assumption, then, is merely an assumption, is anti‑contextual, contrary to evidence, and cannot be regulative. Numbers of prophets spoke or wrote, but their words are not scripture, and II Chronicles 9:29 mentions two of them, Ahijah and Iddo, the latter a writer of visions, prophecy concerning Jeroboam, each with a 'book'! Nor did true  Old Testament prophets speak without revelation (Jeremiah 23:16,21‑22) ! It was substantive to the case.


Revelation can certainly occur without inscripturation, and even Saul prophesised without inscripturation (I Samuel 19:23): and we are far from having the records, their products, and much further yet from having them in the Bible, the word of God to mankind! Prophesying may or may not include new doctrine in the Old Testament sense, and there is no implication of it in certain situations, and in some, it is inscripturated; and of this we may be sure, that whatever God gave of doctrine to man for man, man has. Yet prophesying per se is not new doctrine, nor does it need to become scripture.


In the Corinthian case which gives a type, example and structure under apostolic jurisdictive warrant, in the New Covenant, it is to be tested, something contrary to biblical inspiration (I Corinthians 2:9-13), as well as Old (I Peter 1:10ff.), in each of which cases the word of God to man comes with full spiritual intensity, authority and certainty, as Paul makes so clear likewise, in this very field, in I Corinthians 14:37. What I write, the apostle declares, these things are the commandments of the Lord. If you want to be spiritual, a prophet, then acknowledge this!


That is what is written, here. It is the complete opposite in authority and infallibility therefore to scripture. Likewise, and accordingly, any attempt to exclude such Corinthian-style prophesying on the ground that it would be of scriptural import, because associated with revelation, is false. As so often, the biblical position is in neither extreme.


Neither is such revelation authoritative, nor is it scripture; and this being so, what is authorised to occur, in this highly subordinate style, is not at all doctrine as such, but akin to praise and exposition, to be tested and tasted by the Biblical import.


Should it add at all to doctrine, it is fraudulent, and to be rejected; should it contradict biblical doctrine, ti is the same.


The distinguishing of these indubitable facts prevents, to be sure, the elevation of new things to biblical heights, and so would annoy the ultra-biblicists; while likewise, it prevents incorrect condemnation of such edifying expositions and exhortations, and this may annoy those who never did like the Mosaic acceptance of the validity of Medad and Eldad, even if they were unofficial. In one sense, one could almost say, Even if they were not part of the Party apparatus ... but this, being political in overtone, may only be used as a remote analogy. Here then is our tenth Island, to be added to the list of extreme positions which tend to blight the church, because of lack of biblical moderation, biblical accuracy and biblical scope. That is in Tender Times for Timely Truth, Ch. 2.


Since then the Scripture is complete (Revelation 22:18 forbids adding to 'these things' and no new gospel feature is permissible, as Paul notes as early as Galatians 1:10‑12, with fearful exhortations), clearly any current exercises of the gift of prophecy will not include new doctrine. Biblical doctrine from the deposition to mankind from the Almighty, this may be USED, but not as novelty provided from pseudo-prophets masquerading as divine founts of doctrine. It is finished, the word on which the church is built from the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20ff., Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6), focussed on Christ, given by those so authorised, recognised by the Church (cf. SMR Appendix C), unchanged over the centuries, testimony of truth from the day of the Son on earth.


To present it, however, to apply it, this is the work of New Testament gift of prophecy, under the Son, the Scripture and the governance of God. Tempting as it may be to exploit spiritual power and liberty, the Spirit of God does not attest guile, but goodness, and the work of God focussed in Jesus Christ, wrought through the apostles and their accompanying workers, this as seen in SMR, remains unchanged in foundation and function. Latter-day false prophets abound as precisely predicted; the task of biblical exposition, encouragement and exposition, not limited to Pastors, however, is attested in Corinthians.


What then ? Does this mean that future prediction has ceased ? Not necessarily, although in this area much caution is needed. In the Covenanting Days in Scotland, when persecution was rigorous and rife, some sweet and even startling predictions were made about this or that person and what might befall, as the saints would sense some peril, perhaps for some loved fellow in their midst, about to he captured by the deluded English forces of oppression; but this was not regarded as in ANY degree binding on the consciences of others, as the exercise of the gift of prophecy per se would be expected to entail, following the Old Testament model.


By contrast, Agabus (Acts 11:28) made a prediction on which he expected action; though this of course was before the completion of the Canon, and would seem quite clearly a prophetic exercise in the normal and full sense, in terms of prediction.


Does the fact that such prediction does not appear in the sense of normal prophecy affect it ? COULD not someone*4  in a non‑binding way be given an intimation which could be shared, or exercise such a function now ? and if not, why not ? Are we to limit the Holy One of Israel ? Of this He statedly does not approve. Such things as these might be said; however, we equally have no warrant to elevate such happening to any regulative, normative or doctrinal area. The Canon is closed.


Perhaps the most obvious cause of caution is this: In the Old Testament model, the use of such a gift (prophecy) would tend to be associated with the deliverance of doctrine and with the preparation of the people for the work and will of God. Prophets had to meet stringent tests, with the death penalty given for misuse of their office (Deuteronomy 18:17‑22 - and note  Deut. 18:18‑19's prediction of the prophet of ultimate binding, that is, Christ). THAT death penalty phase is past. There is no longer a theocracy.


The test is past and the exercise of such a gift is now without this control. Thus it would be understandable if any who were moved to make any such prediction, just as they did not live where the test could properly be applied, should equally not expect others to 'heed' them. Of course, the Lord, who is not to be limited by man, may indeed elect to grant such knowledge on some point, without IN ANY WAY AFFECTING OR ADDING TO DOCTRINE as such: for kindness and in sympathy, as appears to have occurred in Covenanting days. God is not for our convenience; we must obey His word, not add to His directives or subtract from His freedoms.


Thus, a closed canon is one thing; a closed mind to what else the Lord may choose to do, is another.

As to the Canon, we know its duly indicated, validated and confirmed authority in the Ages,  because HE has said it (cf. SMR   C and D). . Let us be content to abide in what He says, not in what we think. HE is free, and will do what HE will, quite unbound by the peculiar flavour of what we may prefer to think.


Hence we are left with the fact that I Corinthians 13, indeed in a survey (I Cor.13:8‑13) leading from NOW to glory, makes it clear the tongues and prophesying MAY occur. Similar is the case with divine healing: God is a God of POWER, and He uses it at HIS discretion (cf . I Timothy 3:5, 1 Cor.12:28). He does not however hand over His tongue to man, or His face, except when it was so lacerated as almost to appear inhuman, for exploitation (Isaiah 52:13-15). Gifts are for doing divinely authorised things; and this, it does not include making new christs, the current craze through adding to or subtracting from the divine word given by His people at the time of His advent and the witness bound to it, or new bibles. If you want to make a new religion, His name is not available. If you want to serve Him, His word is your handbook. If you were the manufacturer of man, you might want to make another. As it is, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture; it is He who has made us, not we ourselves (Psalm 100).  


Love, says this same I Corinthians 13, it does not assert itself, but rejoices in the truth.  The TRUTH has come and warranted His apostles, and these, they have warranted His word (Ephesians 2:19-22).






*4  Compare the cases of Medad and Eldad, in Number 11:26‑27. The response of Moses to criticism of them is instructive: "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them."  The two men functioned without formal election or selection. What they might have said would of course, have been entirely subject to Moses' divinely appointed and magisterial warrant, as the clear appointee of God. It was never the case that someone was so strong or mighty or marvellous that his word had to be accepted, like a Saddam, in other clothes. With the word of God, it was by divine appointment, without material power, dependent on Him alone; so that Moses and Aaron could come near to being stoned, the word of God expressly ignored, though with results from GOD HIMSELF, such as the forty years in the wilderness for the refusal to enter the promised land, which were excruciating enough. The actual wrestling, between man and the word of God, is seen most clearly in Numbers 14, for example, even in the case of Moses and Aaron.


"Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were of those who searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spoke unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying,

The land, which we passed through to search, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? "



As Christ put it:

"Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.

Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you,
you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ "






It may now be urged that gifts should be SOUGHT, asked for, itemised like a spiritual shopping list ... Some seem to view this as a sort of Sweepstakes: get it if you can. Some even go so far as to want to have this or that gift as a sort of extraneous way of assuring themselves that they are saved by the Lord at all. Sad was a case coming to the attention of this author, when a youngish man who had long led in Pentecostal circles, not only became disillusioned with the fanfare and the panache, so contrary to scriptural meekness and reverence, but seemed to grow increasingly doubtful of his own salvation. His experience ? was it this ? His former thought, his present thought and so on.


He appeared to have omitted the simple step of trusting in Christ as his foundation, in His word as his authority, and being given the Spirit of the Lord as must happen to all who are Christians (Romans 8:9, I Corinthians 12:13), and so being baptised by one Spirit in the name of one Lord into one body (His), relying on His unspeakable gift, His blood atonement and His assuring strength, the infallible His object of faith, the Saviour His self-attesting ground, His rock, His shepherd, from whose fold NONE will perish (John 19:9,27-28). Unfortunately, just as his need was becoming more apparent, he suddenly disappeared from the church in a flurry of words. He declined to come to discuss. He went.


It is this extreme emotionalism and confusion of fanfare and function with foundation and faith, which is one of the main indictments of the errors of Pentecostalism. Indeed, the seeking of gifts in some imperious, autonomous or self-seeking way, to enhance one's spirituality and so forth, or even assure one of salvation, is like trying to find fruit to stick on the tiny branches of an unplanted tree, or at best, for the merely confused, seeking adhesives to make them appear on branches, when they have not duly formed. GIFTS ARE FROM GOD (I Corinthians 12:11), and it is HE who appoints them. The only thing to be so valued as to be specifically sought, it is the gift of prophecy, which is the New Testament enablement to exposit, exhort on biblical basis, a gift not confined to pastors, but required in them (I Corinthians 14:1, Titus 1). That is, this alone as to function; but as to ground of it, the thing to be sought with heart and soul, it is love (I Corinthians 12:13-13:1), that love which does not seek its own, and trusts in the word of God, in Christ Himself for its foundation (I Cor. 3:11, Matthew 7:15ff., John 6:50ff., Romans 10:9).


What then do we find from the word of God ?


It is this.


The selective seeking for gifts on other terms than these, is unscriptural, on two grounds. First, LOVE is to be sought differentially from, and with priority over them. I Cor.13 expounds 'love' and I Cor.12:31 emphasises that HERE lies the criterion of it all, in love. Be the gift what it may, without this it is trumpery, imposition, folly. Notice, incidentally, that 'love' REJOICES IN THE TRUTH (1 Cor.13:6); so far from being a mere sentimental substitute for spirituality, it is delightedly dealing with truth, savours it, loves it, embraces it ...


Moreover, love is patient and not imperious; that is made clear in I Cor.13.


Secondly, I Cor.12:11 makes it clear that GIFT SELECTION, rather like selection of Christmas presents, if you will, is SOLELY THE CONCERN AND PREROGATIVE OF THE GIVER. HE distributes AS HE WILL. Indeed, He SAYS so (I Cor.12:5‑6,11). TELLING Him is as unprofitable as unscriptural, and as presumptuous as unscriptural. Prophecy alone is designated as something to be sought, and even there, the decision of the Judge is final, while love is to be put above them all; so much so that if this is subjected to disregard, the rest is of zero value. LOVE ? seeks not her own ... What does, is of ZERO value! It is as if it never were... So much for the phantasms, the ghosts of confusing functional enduement with salvation, or violence and aggrandisement with virtue and peace.


It is, of course,  in order to wish to be useful and hence to have some sort of spiritual contribution to make to others via appropriate gifts, as God Himself will direct; but the WAY in which this is to be conceived is in the sense of NOT parading oneself, not seeking one's own ‑ way or desire. ONE OUGHT TO BE CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST (Galatians 2:20) in any case, so that the life one now lives is lived by faith in the Son of God. "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me" ‑ and as to that ? "I am crucified with Christ," says Paul. This has two results amongst others: first, you cease to be interested in your own works, and happily find what the Lord sees fit to give, seeking indeed with zeal, but without confusion of elevation with function, and seeking first in love. You do not seek to find if your hand is this or that kind, so much as Him who directs you HOW you can serve Him, with whom you are crucified, not seeking your own desire, but His, and that entirely.


This, then,  does not suggest an autonomous little vainglorious shopping list. GIFTS do not SECURE salvation. They are an apportionment for service for those already saved, in whom the love of God is already pre-eminently present. After all, we are discussing 'the body' (I Cor.12:12) ... of Christ and it is INTO this, one is first baptised by the Holy Spirit, at the outset of Christian life. If this is not known, what is the use of seeking gifts. What is the use of a spare thumb, not associated yet, with the body!  


ALL indeed are so baptised into one body! who are His as I Cor.12:13.declares. It is not an extra, far less some token by which you are to elevate yourself into some special category. Being so baptised into His body is inseparable from conversion, declared of ALL the people of the Church. It is something without which you are not a Christian. It is normative. It is not sensational, but operational. If you are forgiven, pardoned, received, believe in Him and so receive from His substitutionary atonement, your emplacement by grace without works, grace through faith, then that is that. You are covered by His blood, and received into Him.


You do not have to seek something to become something. You have merely to seek to be serviceable, and therefore to be equipped for service with what He deems best. This, it is not to acquire status, for there is no new Gospel: it is to be useful, that is all. You so desire because you love, not because you lust.


You do not become a child of your father by being enrolled in College, or getting your degree. This simply follows, of so be this is his course for you. You become a child of God simply by being born into His kingdom (John 3), by faith, through grace (Ephesians 2). There is nothing more. There is no other Christ. Being equipped for service neither saves you nor assures you. People like Balaam indeed could be quite 'spiritual' in some sort of sense, and yet guileful and a very example of folly and reprobation (Jude 11, Numbers 16).


"We were all ... ", says I Cor. 12:13, baptised by one Spirit into His body. It is all of the believers. The terms are equivalent, like breathing when you are born. You drink of this water (not a process, just an act, from the tense and indeed the context), and you NEVER thirst again (John 4), because it is the water of life given by the blood of Christ, the salvation by redemption in the Messiah, transferring His gift for your guilt, the exchange of a lifetime, for a lifetime (Romans 6:23, II Cor. 5:17ff.). All these: they confer the same, present the same, eternal life by grace through faith. The images of it are are not the same, tahe aspects vary in approach, but you cannot have one without the other/  Moreover the Spirit of God is IN you when you have partaken of His sacrificial gift, His body and blood, His death (Colossians 1:22-23, John 6:50ff.). It is "in the body of His flesh through death", you have been reconciled to God, says the apostle, and the word of God does NOT suffer addition, which is mere rebellion and spiritual garrulity.


It is thus as a gift, and not by some extraneous mischief about what you can DO, that you are saved. It is by confessing with your lips the Lord Jesus, and believing in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9), and not by some egregious, meretricious self-made signal. It is not by seeking it, it is not by using it: how ludicrous that some Pentecostals have actually DIVIDED as to whether it is the one or the other, when both are pure fiction, impure doctrine, pollution and betrayal of the Gospel. It is NOT of works, period (Romans 3:28), and it is NOT possible therefore to boast of having done or experienced this or that (Ephesians 2:9-10). It is FAITH IN CHRIST crucified, yes rather risen, not some phenomenon, be it baptism of this ceremony or that, attested in this way or that, with this or that gabble: for all these things are NOT the Cross of Christ, by which I am crucified to the world and the world to me (Galatians 6:14). They do not even resemble it.


The ONLY work which is relevant to salvation is HIS and HIS ALONE (Hebrews 10:10,14, 9:12), that is, the blood of the everlasting covenant. It is this which scripturally does  'cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God'. It is not the works which cleanse you; it is the cleansing which works, because of His work, to make you new and His, so that this whole thing, being saved by grace through faith, is HIS WORK (Ephesians 2:8). There is no other work which does it, yours or His. Naturally it is a work of the trinity, wrought in Christ, and received in His name; but it is faith which receives it, the heart which believes it, and the life which is assured by the word of God, the Spirit Himself attested that this Son is the One which the Father sent to be the Saviour of the world, by His blood.


Naturally He rose, God could do no other, for death could not hold the One who instituted it as a penalty for sin: HE, He had no sin, so that in neutralising death by His own offering, of infinite worth, He provided the free gift by grace (Romans 5:15), to which you add NOTHING EVER, for eternal life. As to that, it works because it is His (I John 1:1-4), and you do not need spiritual fliers, advertisements for the flesh to ponder, instead of Himself.


This is the basis, this is the transactional analysis, this is the sufficiency. All the rest follows, as when a tree is planted. Without this, nothing. Through this, all. Here then statedly is both His righteousness duly received, that He might be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus, and His cover, that having saved you by His blood, in His life He will assuredly keep you (Romans 5:9ff.).


He made Him to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21), and the imperfect working of gifts is by no means the same as this, that He 'offered Himself without spot to God' so changing our lives from sin to salvation, and our account from debt to credit in HIS righteousness, yes HIS only (Psalm 71:16, Romans 3:23-25). ALL are justified freely by grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24), and it is HE who is set forth "as a propitiation, in His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness." Taking this sacrifice, in faith in Him as He is, ensure eternal life (John 6:50ff.).



Let us survey this a little now.


The basis in Christ's redemption, with the inherent reception into His body, His Spirit within, it is as we have seen from the Bible, part of BEING a Christian at all, just as Romans 8 makes it clear: If anyone has not the Spirit, he is not Christ's. That is the explicit teaching. If anyone is not baptised into the body of Christ by the Spirit, that person is not Christ's.


The apostolic teaching then: If anyone is not baptised into the body of Christ by the Spirit, that one is not a Christian. ALL are Christians by virtue of their placement in the body of Christ at all - BY the Spirit. As to being IN Christ, John 6 tells us that IF we eat His flesh and drink His blood, receiving Him as our sacrifice, we are IN Him ... 6:56; indeed, have eternal life and will be raised up at that day He who once drinks of the water (aorist tense in Greek), has the welling Spirit within him, welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).


If He is not your head, how are you part of His body ? If He is, how are you not ? If you share His life and abide in Him, how are you not in Him ? but if in Him, then you are baptised there by one Spirit, like ALL the rest of the so often carnal Corinthians who yet believed in Him. You have Christ or you do not; and if you do, you have the Spirit. Then your seeking is a matter of zeal, not quest for salvation, exhibition of salvation. If you know whom you have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep what is committed to Him against that day, what is the point of all this commotion ? Get on with your job, seek to be useful, find what your calling is, use the gifts He gives at His own absolute discretion, ensure that love grows in you as II Peter 1 exhorts, and do not be fascinated with your own life, and the little works which He gives you, and the gifts to exalt Him, but with HIS LIFE. THAT is what it is all about: God, not man.





Various provocative errors come from certain Pentecostal segments here. It might seem as if the mistaken denial of such a gift on the part of some, has led to the mistaken emphasis on it, on the part of others: or even distortion of it.  First, some extremists allege, almost unbelievably, that tongue-speaking is necessary for conversion to be validated. This monstrous nonsense, at once contrary to I Corinthians 12:30, may appear in the 'scriptures' of some religion;  it has no hint in the Bible.


True it is that in Acts 19, conversion is accompanied by tongues. This is a choice of God who divides to all, as we are instructed, severally as He will (I Cor.12:11). If a surgeon uses laser in one operation, will he always use it ? If my eye doctor gives me a potent drug when eye inflammation occurs, does he have to use it on all such eye cases. Quite to the contrary, he tried a simpler one first. It failed, so he used this one. Do you need a sledge hammer for a simple task ? he asked, in explaining how he proceeded, first trying one, then the more potent.


It is arrant presumption to assume that something that sometimes happens, or has happened,  must happen, and worse that its non-happening in this case, evidences non-conversion. Here philosophy first adds to and then contradicts the scripture. Here is enthusiasm run riot. It would be like assuming that if the surgeon uses a certain anaesthetic in X case, it is no operation at all if he does not. HOW such confusion COULD possibly occur, is a testimony to the power of sin; to the need of man; and to his wisdom when he relies ONLY on Christ for his salvation, and ONLY on the Bible for his doctrine. Many others may help him to see this or that, but it is to be IN IT, and not in them! There is only one Christ (cf. II Corinthians 11, where an earlier manifestation of people-management in the church was exposed, with its other gospel, other spirit and other Jesus).


Tongues in fact were a useful device, it would appear, when (Acts 10:46) Gentiles were added to the church, giving some appearances to confirm what then was so amazing an outreach. They were however not recorded as being used in the case of the Samaritans, another staggering-seeming outreach: perhaps, as Tennyson has it, "lest one good custom should corrupt the world". No, not even are tongues as an exhibit, to be confused with the One who orders them at will, and declares he would rather have five words with his mind than 10,000 with tongues (I Cor. 14:19). If someone who had truth, told me that he would rather I spoke 5 words in English, than 10,000 in some other tongue, do you think I should exalt that other tongue ? Far from it: strange would it be if I did not use it as often as I could, emphasising its superiority and necessity in all distinct discourse (cf. I Cor. 14:12,9).


In fact, it is recorded that when the apostles came! In this Samaritan case, the Lord had already sent a servant (Philip) whom many had believed (Acts 8:12), perhaps relying on his word and authority ('they believed Philip' ‑ we read), just as some do on their Minister, with disastrous results; just as some Roman Catholics may rely on their 'saints' or on their 'Mary' whom they create by new teachings (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H).


When the apostles, in this instance at Samaria, were commissioned to go down, then just as Peter used the 'keys' in the way scripture provides, that is, in an initiative of an extraordinary character, not limiting to doctrine but rather applying it: so the Spirit came to those who had not as yet received Christ personally by faith. There is no record for our instruction of any tongues. God shows us what He will, and to assume from occasion, that every occasion is the same is bad enough; but to assume that what is not noted for an occasion, beyond even this logical fallacy, is nevertheless there, is pure addition to the scripture, which is a most perilous performance of flesh.


In Acts 19 however, the particular phenomenon of tongues IS used (19:6), in the case of some who had the special situation of having heard John the Baptist, but this without actual reception of the MESSIAH AS SUCH. This vast movement in kind was one which was given the tongues signal.


God's particular discretionary decisions, then, are not for us to enshrine in dogmas beyond His word. In fact, God condemns any addition, and that forcibly (Proverbs 30:6). It is FOLLY to add, lest He rebuke you, it is written, and you be found a liar. That is one reason WHY you should not do it. On the other hand, it is FIRST forbidden before this result is announced! It is stark red territory, whether in false interpretation or misleading others by life.


Indeed, tongues are not even itemised as to be sought ‑ that is, prophecy is, but God gives sovereignly, so that no such specification for tongues is in order. Further, since Paul would rather speak "5 words" with his mind (I Cor.14:19) than 10,000 in a tongue, what is the source of this exuberance for gabble, for that is what it readily becomes, as so often seen in Pentecostal circles, without an interpreter. Moreover, as to that, it is forbidden in church (I Cor. 14:26-27). All things, in principle in church, must be for edification, must be understood.  Prophecy in principle DOES edify, and tongues in principle, DO NOT (I Corinthians 14:4). What is prescribed for prophecy, such as testing, is NOT prescribed for tongues. They are not only different species, but different genera!


Why is this so ? It is beecause in teaching, the apostle wants to be effective, to edify, he tells us. He is not a showman but a teacher-preacher; and though it is far from him to REMOVE GOD'S OPTIONS like some intrusive official making an ass of himself: equally, he does not enforce fairy floss at every main course! Tongues have a place in their time, especially for any given the gift (I Cor.12:30). Yet in that very point, Paul makes it clear that this is merely one of various possibilities, and ALL DO NOT AND SHOULD NOT HAVE THIS PARTICULAR GIFT. "Do all speak with tongues ?" he witheringly asks; and this is in the same line as the question, "Are all apostles?" Hardly, oh hardly ... (I Corinthians 12: 29~30, cf. 14: 9 and see II Corinthians 13:3ff.) .


Thus citing speaking with tongues as necessary as evidence of conversion, or worse, a necessary preliminary to conversion is a flat contradiction of Paul, and of the other doctrines of salvation such as that in John 6. More awful, it is citing as essential, not only what is not biblically so defined, but is wholly diverse from what is; and worse even yet, it is putting, whether it be the seeking of gifts such as this, or their operation, for what is Biblically downgraded in vital ways. Paul might speak in tongues alone (I Cor.14:18); but when it comes to edifying*5 the church, there are strict limits.


First: the person must have that gift, and not have sought it. It is not a general phenomenon, even when present; THAT would be like having all gifted to preach or teach. Secondly, there is a great liability in principle on such behaviour, such practice in church; for there is URGENT NEED OF INTELLIGIBLE INSTRUCTION. Hence there are severe restrictions and limitations on the use of 'tongues' in public, in the worship of God. Third, if there be a SIMULTANEOUS SPEAKING IN TONGUES, it may, we read, give the appearance of madness, and be counter-productive (to put it mildly ‑ I Cor.14:23). Being assumed insane is not profitable for the Gospel (I Cor. 14:8,23).



Fourthly (I Cor.14:27) the numerical limit is TWO OR THREE speakers, and it is in series, one after the other, not together. HOW OFTEN IS THIS OBEYED, when the practice of 'tongues' occurs ? If however it be obeyed, then here must be a miraculously appointed interpreter who will render the tongues into intelligible speech (14:28).


If there is none to do this 14:29), then the amount of tongue speaking permitted is exactly ZERO. How often s this rigorously obeyed ? And WHERE it is not obeyed, over time, there is a REASON; and the reason for the rebellion on so simple a point, may well be the greatest wrong of all. Disobedience, which in the face of clear direction is rebellion, we find, is indeed akin to the sin of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23).
In fact the two, disobeying and rebelling against what you are told, are linked in this very passage by Samuel. 


As to witchcraft itself, the criterion and parallel here, for contemplating what the Lord thinks of such conduct, hear this word to Israel, and apply the unchanging mind of God to such conduct Deuteronomy 18:9ff.



"When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you,
you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.

"For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord,
and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you."


Very well, rebellion against the word of the Lord is like witchcraft, not like some venial little sin, some little puff of self-indulgence. It is in line with what ancient Israel did, to secure its ruin. This word needs heeding, and those who disobey systematically in such things should be avoided (Romans 16:17, Isaiah 8:20).


In all simplicity, moreover, how would anyone SEEK tongues when Paul in I Cor.14:19 STATES that he would rather speak 5 words with his mind than 10000 with 'tongues', and expressly stipulates which gift to seek, in terms of prophecy, and what beyond it, in terms of love, which rejoices in the truth, not in some variant of the nature of contradiction, addition, flirtation with fancy.


If an eminent surgeon told a junior that he would rather use a given technique for 5 seconds than another (stated) one for 5 hours, would the Junior WANT the second technique for the stated end ? or would he, if under instruction, perhaps rather be seen dead than use it in the public operating theatre! Yet if it were used, it would be with the uttermost constraint, according to all the limitations, specifications and limitations!


Indeedt HERE, we are told in God's name that PAUL is an EXAMPLE (I Cor. 11: 2) . Should his example then not then rather be followed,  in public as here! Is a church to become anti-apostolic, anti-biblical and rebellious in one fad of fancy, reversing the divine evaluation and directive!


Next we must realise precisely that the PROPHESYING FUNCTION, the exposition and preaching and indeed the application of the word of God, MUST be given primacy; so that this other phenomenon of tongues, IF God should sovereignly see fit to use it at all at any given occasion, MUST stringently be limited, not only quantitatively and operationally as to HOW it is permissible, but but in the attitude to it and atmosphere surrounding it, as depicted by Paul. Thus, it is to be seen in the light of its very low profile and relatively low-yield position. That is the gift-relative-to-gift situation here.


This is the position likewise relative to seeking that particular gift; and indeed this case is aggravated by the point that the ONLY gift of which direct seeking is advised, is prophecy, and beyond this love; and
as to gifts, they must always be sought in total submission to the divine mind as to which is given, so
that contrary specification in prayer to these advices, is in itself rebellion against the authority of God
(I Cor.l :12), and the objective should be "the profit of all", not the enduement with some desired object, like a son fascinated with cars, telling his father what his Christmas present should be. Thus the very motivation for such things should be neither the assurance of salvation, which comes by faith as in Romans 8:16, nor the entry upon salvation, which comes by faith through grace in the faith in His redemption and His gift of eternal life, not in spiritual pyrotechnics, as it were, demonstrations and impacts of impressive phenomena.


What God gives, rejoice in; but do not rejoice if your foolish heart is perverted to seeking what is for the profit of all in the FUNCTIONING of the body, as something already there, as for your own admission to the body. Will an arm seek admission to the body by working with the shoulder to show it is already there! Such a contusion of profuse and diffuse confusion is lamentable!



Further, some would make speaking in tongues a sign of spiritual sanctity. Not satisfied with finding in their gift display, some extraneous and arcane substitute for the way of salvation, or its testimony, they would now wish to be something rather special, definitely converted, perhaps, as distinct from partially or problematically so. It is all anti-Gospel betrayal of truth. Some may even wish to be seen through some such display as especially notable, or peculiarly sanctified, or more certain of this or that than some brother, thereby allowing pride and superficiality to become an ardent suitor, and love to depart, which DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN.


This is one more foolish, if not indeed vainglorious addition to scripture. Obviously, tongues are far from this, if the speaker:



1) has been seeking this gift as an exercise of his own will


 2) has been using this gift SIMULTANEOUSLY in church, with others. THAT would be a case of disobedience, and not a sign of holiness at all!


3) has not ensured or made use of the services of an interpreter, at the time,
in the service situation, at church.


4) has not ensured that he or she is at most the third in such activity.


5) vaunts him/herself, makes it appear tongue-speaking is important (contra, l Cor.12:21),
as distinct from a lowly function the Lord provides at His discretion (we see more shortly):
for that would be unscriptural, divisive and foolish.


6)  in word or deed,  atmosphere or approach suggests this is necessary for or a sure sign of conversion, as shown; for this is false teaching.


7) as a result of the performance, brings about or contributes
to a shortage of time for 'prophesying'.


8) produces an effect which is not spiritually reinforced, with the use of the mind, such as to edify.



9) exhibits or seeks to exhibit in this,  an aura of superiority or attainment of any kind.
If anything might be a sign of 'superiority', it would be prophecy, but even that, with all gifts alike,
is forbidden such an attitude. It is God who gives; HIS is the gift; HIS is the sole glory.
To fail here is to fail on the grandest scale therefore.


In general, God is the giver, and the team of believers with its specialties, is an agent, and neither its gifts (God's property and production) nor its members are 'on display'. Both false doctrine and false teachers, not to mention 'phoney gifts' of various kinds, can be the divine rebuke to unscriptural focus and pre-occupation with 'gifts'. Indeed, in current practice, 'tongues' are frequently associated with forbidden fellowship with Roman Catholicism (see esp. The Pied Piper of the Pentecostal Movement); and often foster this evil (cf. l Cor.5:11). Indeed, the movement to unholy laughter, in contrast of the most crucial kind to Psalm 89:7, where God is to be greatly feared and reverenced in the congregation of the saints. This fear is the clean fear which is in awe at Him, not the craven fear which doubts its salvation, and bypassing the faith required, would take refuge in the rebellious misuses of gifts.


On this, see A Question of Gifts, Appendix 3.



What then ? Simply work together in humble mutuality under God, according to His word. In love, deepen relationships (Philippians 1:9), and above with God (Ephesians 3:17‑19).







An interesting point is the practice of having scope for someone to disclose some precious word in the Bible, its impact, its promise, its operation in some case, with thanksgiving; and of course spiritual songs may adorn a service (I Cor.14:19). All such things my have a place, ordered this way or that, at this or that meeting. Such diversity may encourage (I Cor.14:26), giving illuminations of Biblical teaching in various aspects, with intelligible words.







I Corinthians 14 has words in this area, which occasion research and lead to insight. I  Cor.14:23, it is apparent, teaches that tongues may be DYSFUNCTIONAL to a disbeliever, relative to his/her spiritual edification or conversion. Verse 22 however equally emphasises that tongues may operate as a SIGN to unbelievers. They do not SERVE their faith, but DO display to them the power of God, who is doing what He said He would do, and this indeed, whether they care to know it or not (cf. Isaiah 7:11-14, where the rebuke to the infidelity of Ahaz was a sign which he would not even live to see!). They are like a bomb exploding near your foot: this is NOT good medicine, though it may lead you to consider your foot and be a sign to you! ... if you should ponder, and perhaps a testimony against you ... if you don't.


A sign then ? Yes, it may be. How is this so ? In Isaiah 28, God makes some fascinating reproofs which lie at the base of the 'tongue' phenomenon: and these rebukes certainly do not exalt that gift!


Nevertheless, tongues can be useful, as a sign. Let us investigate.


In Isaiah 28, God censures the people for their drunkenness (at Pentecost, the point was not wholly inept about drink, then - merely misconstrued by the people!). Verses 7‑8 make the point that drinking has led to loss of judgment and righteousness, priest and prophet both astray. In contrast, the Messiah is envisioned in the message of true majesty (cf. Isaiah 28:16).


In the time of the drunkenness, however, it is as if God looks around to see,  in view of the licentious seeming laxity of some who OUGHT to be qualified to teach, but who thus disqualify themselves: which parties might serve that function ? That was the question being posed!


WHO could actually teach in such disorder (Isaiah.28:9) ? Remember, it was not the fine looking brother of David, but himself when but a tender youth himself, and seemingly so insignificant that he had not even been asked to attend, who was chosen as king! It is God who elects. If only this simple fact could be appreciated in the midst of the rush to get this blessing or to 'seize' that gift. Zeal is one thing; self-appropriative zest in the midst of it is quite another. To seek the gifts necessary for good service of the Lord is good; to seek the gifts you WANT for your spiritual self-fulfilment, tittilation or fruition in your own mind, this is another. It is precisely that 'seeking its own' which is in a state of divorce from love.


Now in Isaiah, we find that the Lord asks a rhetorical or almost rhetorical question (Isaiah 28:9):
Will He then seek babes from the breast, as suitable human beings for teacher preparation, to be trained in spiritual ministry,  to be furthered as students with Himself the teacher ? Must He go so far in age, right back to the babe stage, to avoid the degeneration of arrogant follies which so much and so soon affect the people! Their traditions may be intact, but not their truth; their ways of handling things may be cultivated, but what they handle, they do not understand, yes and sidestep when it comes to reality. Unfaithful, they are foolish likewise, a fitting preliminary to those noted in Mark 7:7ff. who make the word of God void by their traditions, as Christ denounced!


How, indeed,  the position reminds one of the present Age, where David Wilkerson years ago pointed out that the palpable degenerations of youth were reaching right back to the 8 year old level! and where in an article, "Loss of Innocence", Nicole Jeffrey deplores the loss of much of childhood, asking,
What have we done to our children ? (Weekend Australian, May 15‑16,1992). There are indeed times when, looking back oneself, there has to arise the question, Where are the children ? Why do there seem to be so few who are not calculating, knowledgeable beyond their years, equipped with the desultory, the self-gratifying, the careless, as if they were already small pseudo-adults ? To be sure, some are left, but the corrosive and corruptive forces of our Age, and above all, the teaching of folly in philosophical alloys with religion, tend to make the young not so very much caricatured, in many cases, by Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. This is for a shame, and shall be; but the rescue of many is to be attempted, notwithstanding, even though the Age, having tended earlier to idolise youth, now merely leaves it, like the prostitute of a later age, discarded in the dump of what is misused.



Let us however, revert to Isaiah. The casethen is so similar to that now, that it had to be pointed out, but we must now continue the acquaintance with the further words of this prophet in that chapter.


In Isaiah 28:10, God mocks their quasi‑learned pomposity. Learned ignoramuse are they: knowing SO much, with their overbearing and supercilious 'scholarship'  just SO wonderful, they trip about like clumsy trapeze artists, always falling or about to do so. HERE A LINE, it says, there a little; bit by bit they SHOW how knowledgeable they are, seeing all and sighting nothing. They miss the point in God's word, with all the assurance of bumptious oafs, whose hearts are not right and whose heads are swollen. This, the word in Isaiah 28, is closely similar to that of Jesus Christ, as to be read in Matthew 23:16,23.



Again you see it in Luke, when Jesus with beautiful holiness, definitively rebuked the Scribes (Luke 11:52), declaring to them:


"You have taken away the key of knowledge: you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in, you hindered."

You see this principle in another facet when in more recent centuries, but in an allied way, Roman Catholicism, has the incredible effrontery, the awe-ful audacity to have ... its own traditions given weight BESIDE the His word (just as did its forerunners, rebuked by Christ, as seen in Mark 7:7).

A further element of the exposure of false teaching is its FAILING TO SEE THE MAIN POINTS, WHILE DEALING WITH DETAILS. Details ? Certainly; but first they should get the 'weightier' matters, as He called them (Matthew 23:23). JUSTICE AND MERCY AND FAITH ? why on these they had, said Christ, a blind eye to turn. Was it a cataract condition that hindered them ? They failed to see what mattered, which always has mattered, and always will do so, for it is close to the heart of God, and to His word, which unalloyed expresses that heart! He knows His own mind and does not need others to help Him. I John 2:27 emphasises this point: help from the use of some gift is one thing. Blundering authoritarianism as if the Spirit of God and His word did not convey adequately, it is another. You do not put artificial legs on someone when you lend a hand up a steep step. They can still walk!

What are these prophets and priests, then, of whom Isaiah in 28-29 is speaking ? They are like ELEGANT STAMMERERS (Isaiah 28:11). That is what Isaiah the prophet, has to tell us here, from the Lord.

They know, oh they KNOW so much, so emptily, so airily, and with so little sincerity. Indeed, they BABBLE, they are learned sophisticated ignoramuses! Thus God declares, following the analysis, the rebuke ... just what He will do. And what is that ? GOD IS GOING TO PERFORM A SIGN. That is the announced plan, set forth clearly in Isaiah. That is where 'tongues' come in, as Paul shows by quoting this Isaiah (28:11) passage, in 1 Corinthians14:2l!

What then does God indicate He will cause to happen, what does He here in Isaiah predict as a sign ? It is this. He is going to use speakers who stammer, who are so far from sophisticates that they seem to be just BABBLERS,
literally! There is a glorious sense of humour in that. The ironic is evocative, stimulating, making the ludicrous perform its lapse in a sort of scene, in some ways, rather like a stage play, especially like something from Moli
ère, such as Tartuffe. In 28:13 of Isaiah, the Lord continues to exhibit the contempt with which He views the scholarly blindness, the self-indulgent pleasant blindness: and scathingly He exposes it:-

"Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little ... "

and what is the end of all this ? He proceeds at once to tell us:

"That they might go and fall backward and be broken and snared and caught."

Is that not it ? Were not the radical liberal theologians of our own century just like this ? those who misled many churches for a generation or so, with great swelling words of vanity, just as Peter predicted (II Peter 2:1-2,18) such people would do? What horror has their arrogant pride and emptiness produced! How many have they turned away! How foolish for them thus to speak (and for others thus to listen without any rebuke)! COULD they not have heard,, have read Isaiah 8:20!

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no light in them."

THAT is clear (as is Matthew
5:17-19). Attend when the teaching leaves or criticises God's word, and you are near to losing your sense, and soon play with your soul's welfare! Titus 3:10 TELLS you what to do. A Church has to DO THIS, and not act as if the fact that it is a church makes a symphony with nong gongs to be de rigueur. Business-likeness is not an alternative to spirituality. To be sure, love seeks to deliver the lost, to restore the straying, to awake the sleeping; but you DO NOT continue to allow wolves in sheep's clothing to adorn your nurseries, in case they would like, say, a piece of good Australian lamb. Is there no conscience, then, to realise at all what this disobedience which is at the core of so many large church downfalls of this present day ? The Uniting Church folly of directly contradicting the word of God (in I Timothy 1:10, I Corinthians 6:9 and so on - cf. Section 19 above)

Lies! this is the area you have made your refuge, God charges into their situation (Isaiah 28:15).
He proceeds to show the only Saviour whose knowledge will be real - Isaiah 28:16, the foundation stone (cf. I Corinthians
3:10-11), the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ.


Accordingly, we find in Isaiah 29:13-15 that God will show up the alleged wisdom of the wise, and will produce a way which is simple*6 enough for a child.



All of this area of thought is within the tongue-speaking phenomenon, as predicted in Isaiah and applied by Paul in Corinthians.




It is, as it were, to become a walking cartoon, almost a Gillies report, a probing cartoon TV presentation which acquired some fame in this country; but here it is used not for political, but for  mockery of the pseudo-religious. A sign ? Yes. Useful ? if in order and in place, and authorised and given ? yes.

But superior ? It is like feeling superior when the Council tells you your garbage has been reported. THAT would be foolish pride.

The essence of spirituality is not mockery; the essence of health is not surgery: though mockery may be spiritually useful surgery. Mockery is not essential to salvation. True, in this you may indeed be worshipping God, be seeking to explore His wonder; but as a SIGN, this particular mode of worship has a peculiar flavour and function: and this is - as depicted in the quoted scriptures, for tongues. Its essence relates to a derisory act, a rebuke, a surgery - a rubbishing.


Would one then glory that one had an operable cancer! or in its exposure ? It MAY be necessary, but it is scarcely routine for health!

Let us therefore avoid being carried away with GIFTS, lest the results should be a foolishness JUST LIKE that of those being reproved, when the tongues sign was predicted!


Gifts, in humility use them, in order co-operate, in love function;  but in God, praise God the Giver.

What an irony it should be,  if the tongues movement should glory in gifts in a pretentious way, and miss the point, just as did those for whom the tongues were invented as a reproof! Misusing a reproof to merit a reproof would be rich, even for this generation; but in much, it seems already to have happened.


It would mean that a New Testament time was being created, parallel to the old follies pilloried through this sign and its explanation in the Old Testament: except that here, even the vehicle of reproof would become a source of pride! How truly incorrigible this would seem to make the course of so much ecclesiastical folly! From such folly may the gracious Lord deliver all His people.

Rather let us work in robes of humility and goodwill, such as shown by the apostle Paul in the intervening Chapter between the two dealing with such things: Chapter 13. Here, Paul explicitly, as it were takes time off from his expositions and organisations in order to focus on what is crucial in such areas - on the very nature of God, the very character of things acceptable to Him, on what precedes mere power, but is sustained by power. Rather, then, in such robes let us serve one another, and serve the Lord; let us serve, IN CHRIST, being crucified with Him. Let us PREACH THE WORD ... and let this be done



 'in season and out of season' -


II Timothy 4:2. HERE lies the urgency. Here lies the need. THIS is what needs concentration.

Pantomime, at times, may have its place; but preaching, prophesying within the limits of the Canon of the completed scripture, this is to forthtell what God has said, and it requires the sound use of one's mind. People, to be taught, must be teachable; and teaching must be done, so that the matter is understood. GOD has something to say.

Let us then listen with the ears of our minds and of our hearts, and with the hands and feet of our wills.

We pass now to the next topic: to the SILENT ELOQUENCE of what the work of ARCHEOLOGY EXPOSES, MUTELY ATTESTING THE GLORY OF GOD, reposedly evidencing the truth of this word, exhibiting His power.








This wonderful simplicity, of course, is that of the Gospel- 'milk' as Paul calls it. 1 Cor.1 makes this point at large. Paul uses this theme in his own exposition there, and this very area of Isaiah (29:14,
cf. I Corinthians 1:19), in teaching the nature of the message of the Cross. The Gospel IS an offence to the sophisticated pretensions of those who insist on making salvation a product - of their own predispositions, dramas, experiences or ponderous researches. Where this occurs 'tongues' way be an audio-visual corrective! The Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and is in need of no histrionics for its operation. Much follows from health, and surgery often precedes it; but let us not foolishly confuse surgery with spirituality, or the Gospel of grace with the efforts of aspiring flesh.