The following is a question from a reader of Rev. Moore’s Web page and Rev. Moore’s answer.
Question: “As you know, Pentecostal believers have stories to tell that sound amazing (and somewhat convincing) concerning these issues. For instance, how would you respond to a Pentecostal who says that he heard a message in tongues and an interpretation in a worship service, and that someone else who was in the meeting happened to know the language being spoken and verified that the interpretation was correct? My reaction to this is that I’m not going to base my beliefs on stories I’ve heard, rather, my beliefs are based on what the Word of God teaches. But this probably not a satisfying answer for Pentecostals. Is there an explanation for these claims?
Secondly, how would you respond to the claims of Pentecostals regarding prophecies they have received from others? For instance, a missionary-to-be walks past a man he doesn’t know, and the man tells him that God revealed to him that this person will be a missionary to France, let’s say, and then it actually happens. Is this a spiritual gift other than prophecy? As you know, Pentecostals readily believe stories like this and it helps confirm in their minds that these gifts haven’t ceased. Basically, the question is: what do you do with stories about people telling other people what’s going to happen in their future? Is this valid?
Answer: I appreciate your comment in your questions, that as for you that you are not going to base your beliefs on stories, but upon what the Word of God teaches. This does form the basis for much of our answer to the Pentecostal. But let us attempt to answer concisely your questions.
In the first place, with respect to the speaking in tongues it must be remembered that the disciples upon the pouring out of the Spirit were given to speak in the tongues of the nations round about. They spoke in known tongues to expound the gospel unto the nations in a way that the gospel would clearly be understood. It was no different in the days of Paul and so Paul says it is better not to speak in tongues but that if one does it must be with an interpreter so that the majority in the congregation may understand that being spoken. Cf. I Corinthians 13-14. Now understand the tongues were used only to reveal God’s revealed Word to others that could not understand their native tongue, or could not understand as well the tongue of the disciples. This speaking was all in known languages for instruction in God’s Word. Now that the Scripture is made full and is to be found in all tongues basically tongue speaking has ceased. With the exception of an instance that I experienced in Ghana when I was asked to speak to a group gathered together in a village, the native minister had to interpret my English into the native language as I spoke, many understood the English, but some could only understand the native language, so to them I spoke in a tongue and it was interpreted. This is the only real tongue speaking of the apostle’s day or of ours. And in all cases it is only the Word of God revealed that can be spoken God has given us a complete Scripture to which He does not add, it is sufficient for all we need.
There are many that tell what is going to happen in the future, and from time to time their so-called prophecies come to pass in some general way so that they can claim to have told the future. Many are they that in our day turn to the astrologer to find out what shall be and go to perdition in the way of unbelief. God has given us a complete prophecy in His written Word, the apostle says that one must bring no other gospel in Galatians 1: 6ff or we may indeed take the words of Christ through His servant in Revelation 22:18 as being true of the whole of the Scripture. The true prophet speaks the word of God, that is He expounds the Scripture. But there have always been false prophets, and some have had great powers to deceive and they shall show signs and wonders says Christ of such a nature as to almost deceive the elect, see Matthew 24. We know that the magicians were even able to duplicate the miracles of the rod of Moses and Aaron for a while before they reached the limits that God intended them to go. God gave them this power that Pharaoh would harden his heart unto destruction. When prophecy is used today with a free-will gospel we may say just as really, that it is a false prophecy used in the service of Satan to destroy if it were possible the very elect. It is not possible of course to so destroy the faith of the elect, but as they attempt this they can only add to their own condemnation.
Feel free to follow this up, with further discussion. It is very difficult to answer such questions in all their aspects with few words. ❖
Rev. Moore is Pastor of Hull Protestant Reformed Church in Hull, Iowa.