A.     Biblical Tongues Was The Power To Speak All Languages.


1.      The Bible always speaks of this gift as being plural (“tongues” -1Cor. 12: 10; 13:1; 14:5-6, 18).

It never speaks of anyone receiving “a tongue,” as Pentecostals commonly do today. The gift was the power to speak in MANY languages, not just one. The singular was used only when referring to a specific message.  Each message was given in “a tongue,” not in, “tongues” (Acts 2:8; 1Cor. 14:2, 26-27). 


2.      On Pentecost the twelve apostles spoke in languages of “every nation under heaven (Acts 2:4-11).

On that occasion is listed some 15 general area distinctions and two racial and religious classifications, which is obviously not intended to be a complete list.  For instance, we know that Lyconia, which is not specifically mentioned but included in these areas, had a language of its own (cf. Acts 14:11).  Certainly there were more than seventeen nations and languages under heaven.  They spoke more than one each.


OBJECTION: “One hundred twenty spoke in tongues, not just twelve”  (Acts 1:15).


In the context, the nearest antecedent before “they” (2:1) is, “apostles” (1:26). This is more likely than following the pronouns back to the 120 in Acts 1:15.

The day of Pentecost (Acts 2) was not the same day as the choosing of Matthias (Acts 1:15). There are three distinct occasions mentioned in chapters one and two.

        The first was the fortieth day after the Passover (Acts 1:3) when Jesus ascended and the apostles retired to the upper room where were Mary the mother of Jesus, his brothers and the women who traveled with them (Acts 1:11-14).

The second was the choosing of Matthias “in these days” (Acts 1:15) between day 40 and Pentecost.  “Pentecost” means “50,” and was counted from the Passover Sabbath “seven Sabbaths,” to the day after the seventh Sabbath (Lev. 23:15, 16) (7x7=49+1=50).  We don’t know what day they chose Matthias.  It simply says, “And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren...”

The third occasion is when it says that the day of Pentecost had come (Acts 2:1).  Careless readers telescope the events of the first two chapters together as if they all happened at the same time, whereas they actually covered a period of at least ten days (day 40-50).

Some insist that this all took place with 120 disciples gathered in an upper room. The fact is that it says nothing about the Pentecost events taking place in an upper room.  Were the 120, along with the apostles and the women, living in an upper room for at least ten days?  Highly unlikely. Only the eleven apostles are mentioned as being present the day they went to the room, plus the mother of Jesus, his brothers, and some other women (1:12-14). This would likely be no more than 20 persons.

The circumstances would indicate some kind of large open area near thousands of people who heard the sound of the “rushing mighty wind” (2:2, 6), and heard them speak to them in their language.  Of these, three thousand were baptized that same day. 

The temple was the most likely place where such a large group could be “all together in one place” --probably on Solomon’s Porch.  Certainly they continued gathering in the temple (2:46; 3:1) and preaching to the people (3:11; 4:1; 5:12; 20-21).  Some object that it says they were in a “house.”  However, the temple is also called a “house” (Mark 11:17; Acts 7:47; cf. Acts 3:1; 2:46). 

The strongest indication that the 12, not the 120, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that it says all those who spoke were Galilaeans (Acts 2:7).  Jerusalem is in Judaea in southern Palestine, but those who spoke were Galilaeans from the north (Acts 2:7).  This raises serious doubts that it included 120 since some of the disciples of Jesus from Judaea (Mary, Martha, Lazarus etc.) would surely have been present on such an important occasion. On the other hand, the twelve Apostles were from Galilee (Acts 1:11), the only one of their number from the south, Judas, having hanged himself. 

The Apostles were the only ones mentioned as standing up and speaking, and to whom the people’s attention was directed (2:14, 37; cf. 42-43).   Nothing is said of the 120 speaking.

The twelve, rather than the 120, best fit the logistics of the situa­tion.  If 120 all spoke at once, as Pentecostals would lead us to believe, there would have been a bedlam of confusion in which it would have been impossible for all of these nations to have understood in their own language.  It makes more sense that the twelve spoke, each taking turns. 

The 12, not the 120, were promised to receive this power (Acts 1:1-5, 8, 22; 2:32 cf. John 14:26; Luke 24:48-49). Until the laying of hands on the servants of the church in Acts 6, the apostles were the only ones said to have done miracles (2:43; 3:1-10; 5:1-16).


OBJECTION:  If only the Apostles spoke, why did it say, “daughters” (2:17)?

ANSWER: Joel’s prophecy was not restricted to the day of Pentecost. It also says, “All flesh,” which included Gentiles. That was not until some years later  (Acts 10; 11:1-18; 15:7-9).


OBJECTION: Mathias was not a true apostle.

Some deny Matthias was an apostle, falsely assuming that there were to be only twelve.


There were only twelve apostles to the Jews.  However, Paul and others are called apostles “to the gentiles” (Gal. 2:7-9: Rom. 11:13).  In Matt. 19:28, Jesus had said to his followers, “ye shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 

Matthias met the qualifications (Acts 1:21-23).  Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that Matthias was “numbered with the eleven.”  If Matthias was not an apostle, Luke surely would have so indicated.

In Acts 2:14, Peter stood up “with the eleven.”  Matthias was included, even after they were inspired. 

In Acts 6:2 he was included with “the twelve,” and in verse 12 they are called “apostles.”

In 1Cor. 15:5 Paul says that after his resurrection Jesus appeared to “the twelve.”  Since Judas was dead, and neither James, the brother of Jesus, nor Paul, was yet chosen, Matthias must have been included.

Again, in 1Cor. 15:7 Paul says Jesus appeared to “all the apostles,” following this with the statement that he was “last of all” (15:8). He clearly, distinguishes himself from the twelve.


3.      “Tongues” included human languages, not just babbling nonsense


Pagans professed tongues (Isa. 8:19).  “Tongues” in the church had to do with speaking actual languages (Acts 2).  It appears that much of the mistaken idea that tongues are not lan­guages comes from an erroneous concept that the word, “tongues” has some special divine meaning.  The fact is that the word simply means “languages.”  It does not mean exclusively tongues of angels (1Cor. 13:1).  It does not mean that it could not be understood (Acts 2:8).


a.      Definition


Thayer’s Lexicon defines it as, “the language used by a particular people in distinction from that of other nations” (p. 118, “glossa”).


Strong’s definition is:

1100 glossa  ¤ of uncertain affinity;  TDNT - 1:719,123; n f ¤ AV - tongue 50; 50 ¤ 1) the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of  speech 2) a tongue 1a) the  language or dialect used by  a particular people distinct  from that of other nations.


b.      Biblical usage

The Greek word translated “tongues” (#1100 glossa) is commonly used in the sense either of one’s physical tongue (Mk 7:33, 35; Luke 1:64; 16:24; Acts 2:26; Rom. 3:13; 14:11 etc.) or of a foreign language (Acts 2:4; Rev. 5:9; 7:9; 10:7; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15).  It is specifically called a “language” (#1258 dialectos) in Acts 2:6, 8 (cf. Acts 1:19; 21:40; 22:9; 26:14).


1.      Glossa” in Acts 2:4 is used in 2:11 of natural languages and in 2:6-8 is understandable to those who know them.

2.      Rev. 5:9; 11:9; 17:15. It is used of human language.

In 1Cor. 14:10 it speaks of the different languages “in the world,” clearly indicating that was what they were doing in tongues.  If they were not understood they would be regarded as “barbarians” (14:11).

3.      1Cor. 14:21 cites speaking unto them by the lips of strangers, quoting from Isaiah 28:11. These were words used of the languages of these foreign nations.

4.      1Cor. 14:16, 23 suggest these languages could be “learned.”

Romans 8:26-27 is sometimes cited but this says nothing about tongues or the ability to understand them.  It speaks of “groanings which can not be uttered.”


OBJECTION:  “1Cor. 13:1 specifies speaking the tongues of angels.”


Note that first in likelihood were, “tongues of men.”   This is the only place tongues of angels is mentioned and the illustration suggests that this was about as likely as moving a mountain (13:2).  Paul’s point is that even if they could do all of these things, without love they were nothing.  They were in conflict about the gifts and had forgotten the greater importance of love.



“On Pentecost they only spoke one heavenly language which God made all to understand.”


It says they spoke in other, “tongues” (Acts 2:4). The reason they all heard in the language in which they were born (2:8) was because the Apostles were speaking in those languages.  The miracle was of speech, not of hearing. 

1Cor. 14:22 indicates that tongues were foreign languages.  Tongues were intended as a sign for the unbeliever.  As on Pentecost, when used to speak fluently all languages, without having learned them, it would amaze the unbelievers.  However, in the church where people of the same language assembled, they would not understand unless it was translated.  Indeed, an unbeliever, hearing them speaking, and especially if they all spoke at once, would think they were “mad” (14:23).

Those on Pentecost were “amazed” (Acts 2:6-7, 12).  The same was true in Acts 10:46 when they were understood to “magnify God” (11:15, 17; 15:8-9).  Paul, who traveled much among people of different lan­guages with no mention of an interpreter, said, “I speak more than you all” (1Cor. 14:18).  Tongues were for a sign in speaking to unbelievers in their own language (Acts 2:6-12; 1Cor. 14:22), not for mere demonstration in the church.  If modern Pentecostals really had this power, why do they have to take time to learn the languages in order to speak in them?


OBJECTION: #3. “1Cor. 14:2 says it is ‘unknown’ and ‘no man under­stands’.”


The word, “unknown” is in italics, showing that it does not appear in the Greek and has been inserted by the translators to indicate it was foreign or unknown to them.  The CONTEXT reveals the meaning.  The problem is that people take the phrase, “no man under­stands” out of context where the clarifying factors are evident.

No man understands,” has reference to those gathered “in the church” (14:4, 5, 12, 19, 23, 26, 28, 33, 34, 35) --those who would be speaking the same language.  If one speaks in a foreign language and no translation is provided, he will be speaking only to God because no one will understand.


B.     Biblical Tongues Were Fully Subject To Controls Required By The Spirit.


To have all edified, decency and order maintained and confusion avoided, Paul laid down clear simple guidelines (1Cor. 14:27-28).

·        When they came together, no more than two or three were permitted to  speak in tongues (No gift was to receive undue attention).

·        Only one person was to speak at a time.

·        If there was no interpreter they must remain silent in the church (The gift could be exercised elsewhere in private).


Unfortunately, I have repeatedly observed Charismatic groups breaking these rules under one justification or another.  Regardless of their rationale, the fact is that I was not edified and, just as Paul warned, some people who attended with me said, “These people are crazy. 


1.      The control of tongues, required by the New Testament (1Cor. 14:27-28), is lacking in the modern “tongues” movement.  If they do not know to control it, or cannot do so, they are not being led by the Spirit.  If they were, they would obey the injunction of the Spirit (1Cor. 14:32, 33, 37, 38).


2.      Tongues” is a gift (1Co. 12:4-10).  Like healing, this gift was available to be used when needed.  Once received, the gift was under the person’s control (cf. 14:32).  In speaking to unbelievers they could be convinced (1Co. 14:22) by speaking their language (Acts 2:8-11).  Use of this gift could be regulated in order to follow Paul’s guidelines for edification of the assembly (14:23, 28).  Proper use was the  responsibility of the one given the gift.


3.      The requirement that there must be an interpreter present (1Co. 14:28) shows that this was not something that just hit on the spur of the moment over which the speaker had no control.  It is evident that he knew he could speak and was to make certain before he did that someone could translate.


4.      Along with the gifts came the power and responsibility for their control (1Cor 14:32-33).


5.      All things must be done in decency and in order (1Cor. 14:40).  That which is not understood by the listener can not edify (14:16-17) and will result in confusion (14:23).  God is not the author of confusion (14:33).  When the church comes together, ALL things are to be done “unto edifying”(14:26).  This applies to the whole church (14:4, 5, 12, 13, 26).


6.      God repudiates that which does not conform to His pattern (Matt. 7:22).

·        1Cor. 14:32. If the Spirit is of God it can be controlled.            

·        1Cor. 14:33. God is not the author of that which produces confusion.  

·        1Cor. 14:37. The truly Spirit-guided person will recognize and uphold these regulations as God’s commandments (John 8:47; Isa. 8:20).

·        1Cor. 14:38. Those who on insist ignorance should be left to their ignorance.  They are not Spirit guided.


OBJECTION: “These regulations apply only to the GIFT of tongues, not to the prayer tongue.” 


The Bible makes no such distinction.  The same word is used for all tongues, whether in prayer or otherwise (Mark 16-17; 1Cor. 14:22, 27, 28). It does not single out prayer tongues as being the sign.  It simply says, “tongues.”

1Cor. 14. Paul includes both praying in tongues (vs. 16) and speaking messages (vss. 21-23).  The regulations apply to all. 

Whether the tongue was directed to God or to men would not change the problem of not knowing when to say the “amen” or having outsid­ers think they were “mad.”  To avoid this in either case, the regulations would be needed.


OBJECTION: Some deny that 1Cor. 14:27-28 places these restrictions.

Donald L. Barnett, Pastor of Community Chapel in Seattle, (United Pentecostal), makes his own “translation” in  his book, “Glossolalia,” p. 50, as follows:


If anyone speaks in an unknown tongue and there is no interpretation, Let  the tongue be repeated two, or  at  most,  three times.  Let those who are partic­ipants in confirming the uninterpreted message in tongues, repeat the tongues by turn (in succession).  If there is still no interpretation, conclude that there is no interpreter (for this message), and if the spirit of tongues is still with you, don’t give the message again (enough time has been spent without edification); but you may continue to speak unto God within yourself (silently) in tongues.



Compare that with the Bible!  It is obviously a very distorted paraphrase to serve his theological interests.  Pastor Barnett’s contention is that it restricts the number of times the message is repeated, not the number of people who can speak


On p. 49 he says,

Are we then forbidden to ever have more than one person speak in tongues at one time?...NO...” 


On p. 97 he says,

The Gift of Tongues requires that only one speak at a time and that interpre­tation follow... whereas tongues that accompany the infixing...are not to in­struct others, and therefore all may speak at once.” 


To give the impression of scholarly support he includes the following comparison, below to which, I have included Marshall’s interlinear transla­tion:




in a tongue










in a tongue





[repeat] by





three [times?]*


















in succession.



let interpret:



ana meros,






in turn,



let interpret;



if  but

not   may be

an interpreter,


ean de

mee  hee



but if

there is not

an interpreter,



let him be brought to silence








let him be silent



* Brackets [ ] mine.                                   (Glossolalia, p. 50)


It is obvious that this matches neither the standard translators nor his previous “translation.”  In the first line he added the word, “repeat” to translate the word, “kata” (which means, “by”) and tries to make it mean that the same message is to be given repeatedly up to three times.  The result is about as reliable as when the devil added “not” to God’s warning to Adam and Eve saying, “Thou shalt [NOT] surely die.”

Would not the Spirit who searches the hearts (Rom. 8:27), know whether an interpret­er who would give the translation, was present?  It takes a fertile imagination to extricate people from such theological absurdities.


The explanation simply will not wash. 

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (p. 326-328) says of “kata,”  a preposition denoting motion or diffu­sion or direction from higher to lower...II. With ­accu­sative...  3... a... all one by one,  successively, 1Co. 14:27...”  On p. 187, as referred to under “eis, 4 c,”  it says, “of a series, one by one, successively: kath en, all in succession, John 21:25; kath ena pantes, 1Co. 14:31.

Pastor Barnett attempts to confirm his wishful thinking by arguing that, “In verse 29, where the prophets speak ‘two or three,’ the Greek ‘kata’ is not used” (p. 50).  However, he failed to recognize that in 14:31 (cited by Thayer above), it is used.  It says they could all prophesy “one BY [kath] one.” “Kath” is the same word as “kata.” In order to smooth the language the “a” on the end is changed to an “h” when the word is followed by a vowel.  This is much like the way we change, “a” before a vowel to “an” (such as, “an auto”).  The word is spelled slightly different but the meaning is the same (See Summers Grammar, p.33 #6).  It has nothing to do with repeating the message.  Compare with the following.


1Cor. 14:27




























and prophets





let them speak,








ye can







The best commentaries likewise conflict with his claims. 


Barnes (p. 272) says, “That is, two, or at the most three in one day, or in one meeting.”  “They should not speak at the same time.” (See also Grotius, Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Bloomfield, Jameison, Clark, McGarvey, Shepherd, Locke, etc.). 


Macknight suggests an unusual view that it means to give only two or three sentences between interpretations.  Even this would not support Pastor Barnett in claiming it means to repeat the message three times before giving up on the idea of it being interpreted. It is sufficient to ask, Out of over five hundred times it ap­pears, where is kata ever translated, “repeat?”  Even more to the point than “kata” is the fact that “ana meros” (“by turns”) indicates that they were speaking individually rather than all at one time.


Whether or not one knows Greek, it obviously makes no sense that these limitations would be placed on the prophets and not on those speaking in tongues.  The problems of “confusion,” “decency and order,” and lack “edification” of the whole church, more apply fit the problems resulting from tongues than prophecy.



Pastor Barnett further contends that: asking if an inter­preter is present before delivering a message in tongues, would show lack of conviction that the message was from God (p. 53). Withholding the message in the absence of an interpreter is resisting the moving of the Holy Ghost (p. 53), and shows lack of faith in God.  On p. 54 he declares, “If God gives someone a message, it is the duty of that one to give it. The problem of whom God gives the interpreta­tion to is God’s business; it is NOT the problem of the one who receives the tongues!”  Then, on p. 46 he says, “But, if the entire congregation is praising God aloud (if that is their custom), whether a person prays in a known or unknown tongue is immaterial.”



Thus Pastor Barnett sweeps away the Holy Spirit’s whole injunction for sustaining order.  According to him, the church may gather and practice that which does not edify all.  Stumbling unbelievers may be disregarded.

Passing these regulations off as “God’s problem” seems to be the general attitude among charismatic teachers.  Claiming that it is the inter­pretation rather than the interpreter which must be present illustrates their shallow reading and determination to have it their way no matter what the Bible says.  Making “kata” mean that the same message should be repeated three times in the absence of an interpre­tation, is an excellent example of their “scholarship.”  This does gross violence to the word of God.  The “problem” is not with God but with their theology.  By speaking when God says to keep silent they clearly manifest that they do not have prophecy among them and God is not the author of their claims (1Cor. 14:33, 37; 1John 4:6; John 8:47).

Why do charismatics take such an obviously flawed position? --Because bogus tongues cannot operate by scriptural rules.  They must rely upon mass delusion to keep them “pumped.”  To limit tongues to no more than three people talking in turns and only with someone there to translate, would be absolutely fatal to their delusion.  However, true tongues would not have such a problem.  The modern “gift of gibberish” does.


OBJECTION: When all else fails, charismatics try to argue that God is not bound by rules. 


This justifies ignoring what it says and is an ideal tool of the devil to rationalize anything they want.  However, if we cannot rely upon what God says, then this whole thing is a farce.  They are their own god and the people are at the mercy of unscrupulous leaders. 

The Bible clearly shows that teachings which are not according to the scriptures are not of God (Is. 8:20).  God cannot contradict himself (2Tim. 2:13).  The scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35).  We are to reject those who are not in harmony with what God has revealed (Gal. 1:6-10; 2John 6-10).


C.     Biblical Tongues Were Not “The Sign” Of Having The Holy Spirit.


Donald Barnett speaks of receiving tongues as “the sign” (Glossola­lia, p. 87, 89), “evidence” (p. 90), or “manifestation” (p. 87), which is sometimes characterized as the “infilling.”  He contrasts this with the “gift of tongues” (p. 96-97), which he views as a “message in tongues.”  According to him, no one is filled with the Holy Spirit without the evidence of tongues.

However, as we have shown, every Christian receives the Holy Spirit when baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38-39; 5:32;). 


1.      The Romans had the Holy Spirit (chap. 8) but had no spiritual gifts (Rom. 1:11).

2.      No one can belong to Christ who does not have the Spirit (Rom. 8).

3.      No one can please God who does not have the Spirit (Rom. 8).

4.      To be God’s possession we must have the Spirit (Eph. 1; 13-14).

5.      We must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom (John 3:3, 5).

6.      We live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).

7.      We must drink of the Spirit to be part of the body (1Cor. 12:12-13).


OBJECTION: “In Mark 16:17 tongues are called a sign.”


Yes, but not “THE sign.”  It is only one among several signs.  In fact, it does not say that every believer had all of these signs, or that every believer individually had any of them.  It simply gives a list of signs which followed believers to “confirm the word” (16:20).


OBJECTION: “In Acts 8 they did not have the Spirit when first saved.”


The passage says no such thing.  It says that the Holy Spirit had not “FALLEN UPON” them.  They laid hands on them so they might receive the Holy Spirit.  As we have shown before, this was speaking of a particular measure of the Spirit that came upon them and gave them special powers.  THAT was what they had not yet received.  The endowment here is much like in Acts 4:31 where Peter and John gathered with a group of Christians and they were “all filled” with the Spirit, although the Apostles had been previously filled (Acts 4:8).  Note also that no tongues are mentioned. 


OBJECTION:  “In all cases where people received the Holy Spirit they spoke in tongues.”


That cannot be proven. 

Ex. 31:2-3.  Did Bazaleel speak in tongues?

Luke 1:15.  Did John the Baptist speak in tongues from his mother’s womb?

Note: John did no sign (John 10:41)

Luke 1:41.  Did Elizabeth speak in tongues?

Luke 1:67.  Did Zacharias speak in tongues?

Mat. 3:16.  When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, nothing indicates he spoke in tongues. 

Acts 13:52.  Did this mean the disciples spoke in tongues?

Acts 4:31.  This says the house was shaken and they spake the word of God with boldness, but says nothing about tongues.


Can it be proven that in Acts 8 they talked in tongues?  Three times in Acts they spoke in tongues but that does not prove it happened every time the Holy Spirit was given.  There is no evidence that they spoke in tongues in Acts 4. 

The church at Rome had the Holy Spirit (chapter 8) yet they had no spiritual gift (Rom. 1:11).           

As we have noted, in Mark 16:17-18, tongues was only one of several “signs.”  The same is true in 1Cor. 12:7-11 where it is listed together with others as a “manifes­tation of the Spirit.” 

A careful examination of the cases where the gift was received reveals that other manifestations besides tongues were also present. 

-Acts 19:6 says they “spoke with tongues and prophesied.” 

-In Acts 2, the apostles spoke with tongues and Peter preached a message, which certainly was inspired.  An inspired message was prophecy (Acts 1:8; 2:17; John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:13; Luke 24:48). 

-In Acts 10:46 the Gentiles spoke with tongues, and “magnified God.”  Of this, Peter says it was the same as they had at the beginning (11:15).


D.    Inspired “Tongues” Were Not To Be Exercised By All Christians


Barnett contends otherwise, declaring, “Every Spirit-filled Christian is not given ‘the Gift of  tongues’..., whereas they all speak with tongues...” (Glossolalia, p. 97).  Note that he even quotes the words of 1Cor. 12:30, in a flat contradiction.  Paul rhetorically asked, “Do all speak with tongues?  Barnett says, “all speak with tongues.”

As we have previously shown, the whole body did not speak in tongues (1Cor. 12:30).  To one was given one gift and to another, a different one.  Barnett would make a distinction between this and the “manifestation,” but in 12:7 and following, “tongues” is listed right along with the other gifts in connection with this word.  In neither this chapter nor the two following ones is there any indica­tion of a distinction.  All are simply classed as, “tongues.”

Some cite Paul’s statement that he would have them all speak with tongues (14:5) to prove that all should do so.  However that conclusion does not follow.  Paul himself indicated that all did not.  He said that not to teach that all were to do so but to indicate that he was not against tongues.  He was in favor of them all having that power.  I am in favor of the gift being received today but I do not believe God intends to do so. 


E.     The Modern Day Pattern Of Receiving Tongues Is Not Scriptural.


1.      No one was ever told to pray to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and there is no place in scripture where anyone ever did. 


In contrast, modern tongues speakers spend a lot of effort “pump priming.”  Besides the general mass emotional atmosphere and bold assertions which produce an infecting fervor, and manipulation of guilt feelings, they commonly do a lot of tutoring in which people are encouraged to open their mouths and “begin speaking without saying words.”  Some even have films they show or physically touch in such a way as to encourage an emotional re­sponse.  Can you imagine Peter saying to Cornelius, “Now just relax, open your mouth and begin saying things without using words!



Luke 11:11.  And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?


This says nothing about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.


2.      What they get fails to manifest itself with any sound or visible phenomena (Luke 3:22; Acts 2:2, 3, 6, 33; 8:18)?


Pentecostals will object that this did not happen in every Bible case.  My response is that I could accept it not always being identical but if they are claiming the power of Pentecost, why do they never manifest the works of Pentecost? 


3.      The same pattern is present in many false religions


Throughout history sign-seeking superstitious people have claimed similar phenomena.  Like the contest between Baal and Jehovah with Elijah on Mount Carmel (1Kings 18), there are a lot of loud claims and religious fervor but they never bring any miraculous evidence. In Isaiah 8:19, there were “peeps” and “mutters” by the wizards much like those manifested as “tongues” among modern spiritualists.  There were ecstatic utterances of the oracle of Delphi, inter­preted as prophecy and sworn by for centuries among Pagans.  There are those who professed tongues among Muslims.  There were the claims of tongues among the early heretical Christian mystery cults.  There were the Quakers, Shakers and Mormons (cited by Sherrill, p. 77)[1]. There was A.A.Allen, Jim Jones, David Moses Berg, Reverend Moon, Oral Roberts.  And here in Seattle there have been, Donald Lee Barnett, Casey Treat and a host of others, all claiming God’s direct guidance, many in conflict with each other, and none producing anything like that which took place in the Bible.


F.      All Attempts To Verify The Linguistic Nature Of Tongues Have Failed.


A number of attempts have been made to verify the linguistic nature of tongues but all have proven fruitless.  Even John Sherrill who took samples and submitted them for examination admitted that he could find no proof. In the end he just accepted it on a blind, “leap of faith.” 

Those who urge these things are always pressing to get people to accept blindly. That alone should tip one off to the fact that something is wrong. If they had the real thing they could demonstrate it but having none they must get people to swallow it without looking.  With such an approach one can be hooked on almost anything.  Practically all of these groups say the same thing--look for something mystical--a sign or something within.

Faith is not blind.  Faith is based on evidence (Heb. 11:1).  It is based on God’s word (Rom. 10:17).  “Blind faith” is just that--blind, and Jesus said that those who follow the blind will both fall into the pit (Luke 6:39).   

Biblical tongues was not something that could not be verified or distinguished from what was practiced by the heathens.  It was the miraculous power to speak in any language to any people any time.  If what people have today were genuine, it would be like the genuine.  Since it is not, I can only conclude that it is bogus.



We do not have as much knowledge about the gift of interpretation as we do about tongues but reason­able deductions may be made from what we know of tongues and the other gifts.


1.      Since “tongues” was speaking languages, “interpretation” is translation of languages.

2.      Since “tongues” included speaking languages of nations, “interpretation” included translation of languages of nations.  It was not confined to translating inspired or heavenly languages.  This made it possible for those who knew a language to verify the translation.  In this way it could manifest the Spirit.

3.      Since “tongues” was the power to fluently speak languages of “every nation under heaven,” the gift of interpretation was the power to fluently translate all languages. Like the prophets who could judge each other, they could verify the genuineness of the translation by others who had the gift.

4.      Since “tongues” was the power to speak languages without having to learn them, interpretation was the power to translate languages without having to learn them.  In this way it manifested the Spirit.

5.      Like tongues, translation was a “gift” to be used when needed.  Since they were not to speak unless an interpreter was present, the translator held the power of choice.  As the “spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet,” it was not involuntary.  Thus, when a speaker needed someone to translate he could know whether a person with the gift was present before beginning.

6.      A person might have either or both of these gifts (1Cor. 14:13; 12:10, 30).


Our God is a god of logic and order.

With this view the gift makes sense and because it can be verified, it provided sound evidence that these people were speaking from God.  To deny logical testable rules for the gift is to make it unverifiable and unable to confirm anything. There have been cases where claims of the “gift of interpretation” have been exposed as fraudulent by people who knew the language that the interpreter professed to be translating, or by someone who purposely spoke gibberish.  Sometimes the person spoke in a language he knew, and it was falsely translated. Tongues have been recorded and given to different “interpreters” who each gave different translationsGod said to test all things (1Thes. 5:21).

III. CASTING OUT DEMONS (Acts 8:6, 13; Luke 10:19)

A.     Examples:

1.      Matt. 4:24. Those possessed by demons were healed.

2.      Matt. 7:22.  False prophets will claim to cast out demons and do miracles in the name of Jesus

3.      Matt. 8:16.  Jesus cast out demon with a word

4.      Matt. 8:28.  Jesus cast out two fierce demons from men living in the tombs. 

5.      Matt. 10:1, 8. Disciples given power to drive out demons.


B.     Note: There needs to be scriptural evidence of demon possession. 

1.      Demons spoke out (Acts 8:7; Matt. 8:29-30; Mark 1:34; 12:22; Luke 4:40-41; 8:26-36; 4:33-37)

2.      Demons knew Jesus and Paul (Acts 16:16-18; 19:14-16; Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:40-41; Mark 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:26-36; 4:33-37; Js. 2:19; 2Co. 11:13-15).

3.      Demons could do miracles (Rev. 16:14; 13:13-15, 3).

4.      Demons could produce physical illnesses such as blindness, deaf­ness, insanity, etc.  (Matt. 9:32, 33; 12:22; 17:15, 18; Luke 8:35; 11:14).

However, it is important to realize that not all illness was due to demon possession. Demon affliction is not necessarily the same thing as demon possession. For example, while Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was caused by the Devil, he was certainly not demon possessed.  It was not God’s will that it should be removed (2Co. 12:7).  One must be very careful of ignorantly accusing someone of being demon pos­sessed.  The damage can be catastrophic.

5.      Failure to cast out demons is not the fault of the one possessed.  Jesus indicated it was because of the unbelief of those trying to cast them out. (Matt. 17:16-17, 19-21)


C.     Christians may be buffeted by the devil but they cannot be demon possessed.

Often we see those claiming to have the Holy Spirit going to some healer to get some “demon” cast out.  This is impossible.  If they have demons then they do not have the Holy Spirit.

1.      1Jo 4:4.  greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. (ASV)

2.      2Cor. 6:15.  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?



(Acts 8:6-signs and miracles, 13; Luke 10:19 – “tread on serpents”) 


A.     Their Characteristics Should Be Comparable To Those In The Bible.


1.      They should be able to fully demonstrate their claims.

If they are claiming all the powers of the New Testament are in force today then they should show cases comparable to those in the New Testament.   They should walk on water, raise the dead and still storms.  If they claim that John 14:12 authorizes us to do greater works than Christ then they should do greater works.

2.      Their claims should be openly verifiable by unbelievers.

(Ex. 7:9; John 2:23; 6:2; Acts 13:11; 1Kings. 18:22-39; Luke 9:6; 5:21-26; 6:6-11; 8:34, 36; 13:14-17; 14:1-6; 22:51; 1Cor.14:22-25)

3.      The magnitude should be so great that no one could dispute it.  (Acts 4:16; John 9:16, 18; 11:44, 47; 12:10-11)

4.      The power must be greater than that of the devil. (Ex. 7:10-12, 20, 22; 8:6-13, 17-19; 1Kings 18:22-39; Acts 8:6-13; 13:6-12; 19:13-18)



a.       Fig tree withered (Matt. 21:18-22)

b.      Walking on water (Matt. 14:24-33; cf. 2Kings. 6:6)

However, I have several clippings concerning those who have died from attempting to do this miracle.

c.       Calming storms (Matt. 8:23-27)

d.      Water changed to wine (John 2:11)

e.       Increasing loaves, fishes etc. (Mark 6:52; John 6:14; 1Ki.17:13-16)

f.        Unharmed by serpent bite (Mark 16:18; Acts 28:5)

I have several clippings about those who have been seriously injured or have died from being bitten while claiming these powers.

g.       Unharmed by deadly poison (Mark 16:18; 2Kings 4:41)

Again, in my files are several clippings concerning those professing these gifts being seriously injured or dying from drinking poison. 

h.       Raising the dead. (John 12:17-19; Matt. 10:8; 11:5;  Luke 7:15,22;  Acts 20:9; 9:37-42; 1Kings 17:21; 2Kings 4:34

i.         Performing a variety of healings:  (cf. Matt. 15:30-31; 11:5; Acts 5:16)

1)      Sight to the blind (John 9:7, 16; Acts 9:17-18)

2)      Cripple made to walk (Acts 3:1-11)

3)      Ear replaced (Luke 22:49-51; Matt. 15:30-31; cf. “maimed” in 18:8)

4)      Dropsy cured (Luke 14:1-6)

5)      Lepers cured (Luke 17:11-19; 5:12-15)

6)      Deaf mute healed (Mark 7:32-37)

7)      Withered hand restored (Matt. 9:2-8)

8)      Paralytic restored (Matt. 9:2-8)

j.        Cast out demons.  Note: there needs to be scriptural evidence of demon possession. 

1)      Demons spoke out (Acts 8:7; Matt. 8:29, 30; Mark 1:34; 12:22; Luke 4:40-41; 8:26-36; 4:33-37)

2)      Demons knew Jesus and Paul  (Acts 16:16-18; 19:14-16; Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:40-41; Mark 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:26-36; 4:33-37; James 2:19; 2Cor. 11:13-15

3)      Demons could do miracles (Rev.16:14; 13:13-15,3)

4)      Demons could produce physical illness such as blindness, deafness, insanity, etc. (Matt. 9:32-33; 12:22; 17:15, 18; Luke 8:35; 11:14)

However, not all illness was due to demon possession.  For example, while Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was caused by the Devil, he was certainly not demon possessed.  It was not God’s will that Paul should have it removed. (2Cor.12:7)  We must be very careful of ignorantly accusing someone of being demon possessed.  The damage can be catastrophic.

5)      Blinding a wicked man for a time (Acts 13:11)


Failure to cast out demons is not the fault of the one possessed. Jesus indicated it was because of the unbelief of those trying to cast them out. (Matt.17:16-17, 19-21)


B.     Faith Of The Sufferer Was Not Essential To Exercise The Gift
1.      Miracles were to produce faith, not just dependent upon faith.

(John 20:30-31; Mark 16:20; Heb.2:3-4; John 9:7,35-38; 2:11, 23; 4:39; 7:31; 10;25, 37-38; 11:45; 12:11; 20:25, 29; Acts 8:5-6; 9:42; 13:12;  1Cor.14:24-25, 22; Acts 2:4-13)

2.      It is true that the one with the power to heal sometimes called for faith  (cf. Matt.8:13; 9:28-29; Mark 9:23; Matt. 9:22, 29; Luke 7:50).  However, there is a lot of difference between a person being healed because they believed than assuming that no one can be healed who does not believe.  The power to heal was not limited to being exercised on believers. 

-2Kings 5.  Naaman did not believe.

-Luke 22:49-51.  Malchus did not believe.  He wanted to kill Jesus.

-John 9:6,7,35-38.  Blind man only believed after healing.

-Acts 3:3-8.  Lame man expected money, not healing.

-Luke 7:11-15.  Jesus raised a dead boy in funeral procession.

-John 5:6-13.  The blind man did not even know who Jesus was.


Modern charismatics not only cannot raise the dead of a funeral procession but they cannot even raise the dead of their own believers.   For example, parents of a diabetic child in a Barstow, California, Assembly of God church were told he was healed and, believing the preacher, threw away his insulin.  The child went into diabetic shock and died.  Their churches all over the country prayed for his resurrection but he never revived. Where was their faith?  Where were their prophets? 

Some time later, in a magazine article entitled, “I Watched My Son Die,” the poor father, who had even given up his son, still maintained, “Had it been the right kind of faith, Wesley would have been healed.”  Sad, sad, sad, that religious leaders can live high off the gullibility of such people, keep them enslaved by the vain hope that if they will just believe enough, they or their loved ones will be healed, and when it fails, shuck responsibility by turning it back on them as not having enough faith!

From time to time we hear claims of raising the dead, but never a verifiable case like those in the Bible. Lazarus was dead three days, not a few minuets as when the heart and breathing temporarily stops. 

In the Bible, failures were laid to deficiencies of the healer (Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29).  When the disciples failed to cast the Demon out, Jesus did it readily.  The faith necessary is to be that of the one called to lay hands and pray (James 1:6-8; 5:14-15).



            Mark 6:5 “Jesus could not do many mighty works in his home town because of their unbelief.”


Jesus, as God incarnate, could do any miracle he pleased, any time he pleased, anywhere he pleased.  Did not God heal the unbelieving Naaman? (2Kings 5).  In spite of the uncooperative attitude in his hometown, He did heal some   (Mark 6:5). 

He often healed those who did not believe, even in the presence of unbelievers.  In Matt 11:20-23 Jesus upbraided cities in which he had done many mighty works because they did not repent.  Obviously they did not believe.

The question is, how was their unbelief an obstacle?   Matthew words it differently saying, “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58).  It was not that Christ had no power to do miracles in the presence of unbelief, but because of the way they responded.  At one point their hostility was so great that they tried to throw him over a cliff  (Luke 4:29).  If they would not listen and tried to kill him that certainly suggests why he did not heal them.

On the other hand, those who came to be healed would be showing the kind of faith that Jesus would choose to heal.

Unlike modern “healers,” He often healed all that came unto him (Matt. 8:16).  He never said to anyone, “be healed,” without them being healed.  The only failure we see was when those who were trying to cast out demons failed because they had not been praying and fasting. (Matt. 17:21; Mark 9:29)




Being “gifts,” healing and miracles were powers received to manifest the Spirit’s presence (1Cor. 13:4, 7, 8-12).  Thus, those who received and exercised the power were said to have done the miracle (Acts 1:8; 6:8; Matt. 10:1; Acts 28:8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1; 10:17, 19; 24:49; John 14:12; Acts 8:6; Mark 6:13; 16:17).  That does not deny that God is the one providing the power and executing it (Acts 3:12).

Pentecostals often attempt to divert responsibility for failure by disclaiming that they have any power.  If they disclaim the power then they should disclaim having the gifts.  If they fail to properly use those powers the problem still lies with them, not with the sufferer (Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29). 

We do not deny that God heals in answer to prayer (James 5:14-15).  He can do, or not do, anything He wishes.  However, to us it is “thy will be done.”  The person was entrusted with those special powers to confirm the word given by God (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4; John 20:30-31).  It could not accomplish this purpose if it did not take place when called for.  Now that the word has been confirmed (Mark 16:20), it has ceased, just as when the Old Testament revelations were completed.  God’s willing that such powers should cease (1Cor. 13:8-13), does not lessen His power.


4.      THOSE WHO HAD THE TRUE GIFT DID NOT FAIL TO HEAL (Matt. 17:14- 21; Mark 9:17-29)


They healed “ALL” who came to them. (Matt. 12:15; Acts 5:15-16; 10:38; Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Luke 4:40-41; 9:1, 11; 6:19).  This is quite differ­ent from a select few inferior or obscure “healings” which take a long time to be accomplished, as seen in modern Pentecostalism.  If they have the power of Pentecost then why all the hedging and difficulty demon­strating it?  I cannot accept as authentic that which is obviously inferior.


OBJECTION: Some cite Paul’s not being freed of his “thorn in the flesh” (2Co. 12:7-9). 


This was an ordinary prayer request, not an exercise of the gift of healing.  The gifts were not for personal benefit but to confirm the word (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4).




In the New Testament, scrutiny of the most hostile person could not dispute that notable miracles were being done (Acts 2:7; 1Cor. 14:22; Acts 4:16 cf. 3:1-11; John 9:16, 18 cf. 9:36; John 11:44, 47; 12:10-11). 

Personally, I would LOVE to see the gifts exercised.  I know some sufferers who desperately need such help.  However, in all my investigations I have never been able to uncover one shred of evidence to substantiate their claims.  I simply cannot delude myself into dis­torting the facts to furnish people with a false hope, and then saddle them with a guilt trip because they did not have enough faith.  Maybe the faith-healing followers do not see the long line of cripples that keep returning in hope of being healed, but I do. (Is. 30:8-15; 2Thes. 2:9-12; 2Tim. 4:2- 4)


C.     Factors In Sound Evaluation Of Claims:


1.      Is there reliable evidence of true organic illness?


Many “illnesses” are imaginary.  Others are caused by the person’s mental or emotional state.  These people often become very skillful in masking the appearance of other illnesses, convincing even doctors as well as themselves.  Mental attitudes can create pain, cause swelling, produce rashes and many other symptoms.   These kinds of illness may be reduced or removed either temporarily or permanently by altering their belief structure, whether it is done through some “healer” or by giving them a sugar pill.

The powers within the human system are greater than most people have any idea.  Emotional problems can produce “visions” more real than ordinary life.  Mental illness in it’s many forms, drugs, alcohol and even powerful emotions can produce effects which are beyond being comprehended by the sufferer.  A person can have a drug trip on the natural drugs of his own body as powerful as he may experience from outside.  Both hysteria and hypnotism have overwhelmingly demonstrated these forces.  In case of the latter even operations have been performed with no pain.  I have pictures from Life Magazine in which, under hypno­sis, they produced blisters by convincing the person that a pencil, touched to the skin, was red hot.

Biblical miracles were too great to have been of this nature (Matt. 15:30-31; cf. Matt. 18:18).  Those kinds of miracles modern Pentecostals cannot do.


2.      The miraculous healing produced immediate, not gradual, healing.


Healing at a natural rate is not in scripture called a miracle.  This does not mean that God did not cause it.  God can and does heal by natural means.  Indeed, all healing is due to laws that God provided.  However that is not what is meant by “miracles,” “signs” or “manifestations” (Mark 16:17, 18, 20; 1Co. 12:9).  Those were sudden and complete deliverances (Luke 4:39; 5:13, 25; 8:44, 47, 55; 13:13; 18:43; Matt. 8:3, 13; 9:22; 15:22-28; 20:34; Mark 1:32, 42; 2:12; 7:35; 10:52; John 4:51-53; 5:9; Acts 3:7; 9:18; 9:34).


OBJECTION: “Elisha’s raising of the dead son of the Shunammite woman (2Kings 4:33-35) and Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers and the man at the pool of Siloam were not instantaneous (Luke 17:12-14; John 9:7).”


This has no similarity to the gradual improvements required today in faith-healing.  If modern “healers” could tell a person with leprosy to go be examined by the doctor and by the time he got there he was healed, I would be perfectly satisfied. 


The same is true of the blind man at the pool who first could see people walking “like trees” and in a second step was healed completely (Mark 8:24-25).  There was no question about its miraculous nature.  This has no justification for the lame excuses given by charismatics.  They were merely instantaneous steps of healing.  Again, I would be fully satisfied if they could do as much. 


3.      The cure should be complete.


Not one case in the New Testament failed to be completed the same day.  (Acts 4:9-10; Matt. 14:36; 15:22-28, 31; 12:13; 9:22; Mark 3:5; Luke 8:26-36; John 5:6, 9, 11, 14, 15; ACTS 9:34).  No matter how bad the problem, it says they were “made whole” (Matt. 5:29-30) and, there was, “no need of a physi­cian”  (Matt. 9:12)


4.      The problem must be one that would not heal naturally.


Ignorance of the nature of the problem or the potential for it to resolve itself by some natural means sometimes causes people to draw incorrect conclusions.  For example, cancer sometimes remits for no known reason.  There have been cases where hearing and loss of sight have been restored by something such as a sneeze or a thump on the head.  Arthritis often remits for no known reason.  Some of these are very unusual but they are not in any way attributable to spiritual gifts.  True divine healing should not be some highly unusual happenstance.  It should be able to be consistently invoked on call.

Unlike modern “healings,” Biblical healings had no natural explana­tion.  They were too numerous, too dramatic and always total.


5.      Healing should be real beyond reasonable denial (Acts 4:16).


People can delude themselves into thinking that they are healed when they are not.


a.       I remember one lady, the wife of a charismatic church leader, who had a melanoma cancer on her finger. I heard that she had at least one amputation.  I worked in the same company with her husband and asked him why this was necessary if the church really had the powers they claimed.  He said that he did not know but God had revealed that the cancer was confined to the ampu­tated finger.

A short time later she died.  When we again met, in the kindest way I knew, I reminded him of what he had said and asked what had gone wrong.  With a forlorn expression he said, “I just don’t know.  I guess the telephone lines were down.”  I cannot fault this man’s earnest convic­tion but I can fault those who foster delusion which holds out a false hope and then lays a guilt trip on people because it did not come to pass!  It is a cruel hoax. That is not what I find in my Bible.

The mind has great power to close off the reality to what is unpleasant. Under hypnotic suggestion painless surgery can be performed.  Under emotional stress people can block out pain from serious injury.  Lack of pain does not necessarily indicate a cure.  The great danger of cancer is that it often spreads without pain.


b.      In my files is a clipping about a little boy who had a crippling illness that required him to wear braces and walk with crutches.  A “healer” prayed for him and told the parents to accept God’s promise and remove his braces.  They did but a few days later he was worse off and the result was possible permanent damage.


c.       In the church where I first ministered there was an old man named Tommy Walker.  He had some kind of back injury that forced him to lean over almost horizontally on his cane at all times.  One day I was mowing the lawn when a  rather colorful and somewhat soiled old character who liked to sing and talk loudly about his religion, known as, “Wash,” came riding up on his horse.  He proclaimed, “Praise God, Tommy was healed last night!”  If this were true, it would certainly be astound­ing.  There was no question about his true condition.  To my mind this would certainly show that a miracle had taken place.  I said, “Praise God!  Let’s go see Tommy.”

Tommy lived only a block away so I started walking that direction while “Wash” followed on his horse.  As we came to the corner across the street and he got ready to dismount, Tommy came around the corner of the house, still bent over as ever.  To my query that I thought he said that Tommy was healed, the old fellow scratched his head and said, “Well, he was last night.”

I have been to a number of such meetings in which I have seen people supposedly healed.  In spite of all claims, if the illness was serious enough to be clearly evident, they always continued to have the problem.


d.      In one case given to me by a “healer,” I drove many miles to see a young lady who, before being healed, supposedly could not walk across the room without her glasses.  Afterwards she could see “perfectly” and never more needed them.  In looking for her I came to a house of a friend who invited me in and called to tell her that I was coming.  While there the lady showed me her own son who had a brain injury.  She claimed that after “healing” he was “better.” Funny that God would not have done a complete job!

I then went to the young lady’s house.  She was upstairs getting ready and her brother let me in.  I asked him if she ever wore her glasses.  He said that she did sometimes.  When she came down I gave her some simple eye tests which showed that she still had eye problems.  I then asked if she ever wore her glasses.  When she responded that she did not, I turned to her brother and asked him about what he had said.  He told her that she did when she read and watched Television.  She then admit­ted that she had “a few times.”

After examining her glasses, which were very thick, I asked for the prescription.  She said that she did not have it but that I might obtain it from Sears, where she had them repaired.  I got a note of permission from her and was able to obtain a copy of the prescription.  I then returned home and called a local specialist and asked him what would be the problem of a person with that prescription and to what extent she could function.

He asked me her age.  I told him she was about eighteen.  He said that she should be able to do quite well.  I asked why he asked her age.  He said that, while young, though under a strain, the eye muscles are very flexible, but if she read for a while or did close work, she would need her glasses.  With advancing age, she would have to rely more and more upon them because of the loss of muscular elasticity. 

This was identical to what I had found.  I then went to see our “healer” friend, but, as always, he had a ready answer.  He informed me that she had probably “LOST HER HEALING”!


6.      Does the same illness recur?


In no instance of New Testament healing do we observe it to have been temporary.  Some have suggested Paul’s eye problems but while he may have had some difficulty with his eyes, the blindness did not return.  Certainly after Lazarus was raised he must have eventually died but that is no parallel to what we are observing today where people repeatedly come and get “healed” of the same illnesses

Attempts are made to evade this difficulty by claiming that each time the healing is for something different.  There are many dif­ferent explanations for a pain in the back.  This is a convenient “out.”  However, the pattern is such that an objective evaluation makes such claims impossible to prove.  




Prophecy is a message from God, it is not necessarily always a predic­tion.  A Prophet is one who receives messages from God.  Prophesy­ing is God giving his messages through someone speaking by the Holy Spirit.   It is not merely preaching a sermon (1Pe. 1:10-11; I1Pe. 1:20-21).  God has provided standards by which to evaluate prophetic claims.


A.     A true prophet’s predictions always come to pass (Deut. 18:21-22).

If a prophet’s word does not come to pass, God has not spoken to him and we are not to pay heed to anything he says.  Beware of those who speak in vague generalities or of things that might happen anyway.    Beware of the “prophet” who just quotes Biblical statements, or who speaks things already known.  Beware of those who class inspiration as being only a feeling such as that of a poet or painter.  True revelation must be specific information that could not otherwise be known.  It must be ALWAYS correct, not (like Jeanne Dixon) just part of the time (Acts 21:10-11; 27:22-26; 11:27-28).


B.     The prophet must be able to reveal the secrets of the heart. (1Cor. 14:24-25; John 4:18-19; Acts 5:1-9; 27:30-31; Luke 7:39-40)

Here again it is obvious that the revelations must be specific and detailed with 100% accuracy concerning things that could not otherwise be known.  In Daniel, we find that even FORGOTTEN THINGS were revealed. (Dan. 2:4, 5, 8, 9, 19, 28-30)  It would be especially true that wickedness would be revealed. (Acts 5:3-11 cf. Luke 7:39-40; 11:17; Matt. 9:4)  If they cannot expose the hearts of wicked people we have good reason to conclude that they do not have the gift of prophecy (1Cor. 14:25).


C.     The prophets should be able to check on each other. (1Cor. 14:29; 1Kings 22:22; Jer. 27; 29:21-32)

Revelations by one were to be judged by the others.  No two true revela­tions should contradict each other nor those given in scripture.  True revelations are consistent with each other.  That which cannot be checked cannot be proven.  Together they provided confirming witnesses.


D.    The prophetic gift was commonly confirmed by other signs and fulfillments (Heb. 2:3-4; Mark 16:20)

Throughout the Bible we see the Prophets working signs that confirmed their revelations.  Moses threw down his staff and it became a serpent.  Elijah called down fire from heaven.  Isaiah revealed God’s miraculous raising of the siege of Jerusalem. 


E.     The spirit of a true prophet must be subject to the Prophet. (1Cor. 14:29-33)

Like tongues, only two or three were permitted to prophesy at the gath­ering of the church, and only one at a time.  The rest were to remain silent, judging what was said. When these rules were followed, it was obedience to the Spirit, not resistance to it.  Those who violated these regulations revealed that God was not the author of their  “revelations” (1Co. 14:33).  It is nonsense to maintain that God would establish these regulations and then expect people to ignore them.


F.      The revelation of the prophet cannot be in conflict with that provided in the scriptures.  (Gal. 1:7-10; 2John 7-11; Deut. 13:1-3; Is. 8:20)


G.    The true prophet should know the truth (1Cor. 14:37-38) not be teaching error.


H.    False teaching should be corrected by true prophets. 

Women should not be talking in tongues, prophesying or preaching in the assembly (1Cor. 14:34-35).  If they are violating these things then the words of the Spirit that are supposedly being revealed to them should be correcting them. Failure to do so, shows that they are not guided by the Spirit (1Cor. 14:32-33; John 8:47; 18:37; Matt. 7:15, 20, 24-26; 1John 4:1, 6; 2Co. 11:13-15; 18:20).

As we have shown before, a true prophet should certainly know what God teaches about being baptized into Christ. (Rom. 6:1-7; Gal. 3:27; 1Cor. 12:12-13; Acts 2:38; 22:16; John 3:5; 1Pe. 3:20-21; Mark 16:16)

The same is true of other teachings of the scriptures and concerning the behavior of those who profess the name of Christ.  If they do not speak according to this word there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20).




It appears that this gift is similar to the capability of exposing thoughts in prophecy (1Cor. 14:25).  It seems to have enabled the person to identify demons so they could be cast out (Acts 16:16-19; Mark 1:34).  It would have been used to distinguish demonic illness from ordinary illness­es.  This gift would be verifiable by healing the demonic illnesses and having the demons identify themselves.


VII. WORD OF WISDOM (1Cor. 12:8)


A.     This gift is miraculous wisdom like Solomon. (1Kings 3:9-12; 4:29-34; 10:1-7) 

This does not appear to be the ordinary answer of prayer for wisdom (James 1:5) but is a GIFT to “manifest” the Spirit’s presence (1Cor. 12:7).


B.     The nature of this gift was such that it could be tested. 

The queen of Sheba put Solomon to the test and it stood up solidly.  What I observe in modern Pentecostalism does not have the remotest resemblance to that.  Indeed, a lot of it is folly, not wisdom.




This gift enabled the holder to miraculously know things that he had never learned (1Cor. 13:2, 8-12; 1John 2:20, 27; 1Cor. 2:10-11).  This, again, was a power that could be tested.  It was a “manifestation” of the Spirit. (1Cor. 12:7)




This gift was not ordinary faith from hearing (Rom. 10:17) but a special miraculous faith that could bring about miracles, possibly even to moving of moun­tains (1Cor. 13:2 cf. Matt. 17:20; 21:21).  The miraculous demonstrations done by such faith would provide the evidence.


Note: see also

Tongues 1 Fruit

Tongues 3 Ceased

Tongues 4 Arguments


[1] John L. Sherrill, “THEY SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES” Copyright 1964

   Published by McGraw-Hill and Pyramid books.