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Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today? Research Paper


Introduction

The gift of speaking in tongues is a very controversial issue: people argue about where it came from and even whether there is anything like speaking in tongues today. Some believe that the gift ceased during the apostolic age and nowadays when people seem to speak in tongues it is believed that they are just speaking words without meaning even in the spiritual perspective.

In order to find out the truth about this gift there is need for a deep examination to be carried into the use of this gift in the early church during the apostolic time and a comparison made on how it is applied today. This will give a basis of making an informed decision.

Thesis Statement

This research paper seeks to show whether the gift of speaking in tongue has ceased or it is still present among the contemporary believers. Many people nowadays do not agree with the gift of speaking in tongue and they believe that speaking in tongues ceased after the death of the disciples.

They, therefore, view the preachers speaking in tongues as pretenders or having unclean spirits. The reason could be because speaking in tongues has been misused by some ministers who view preaching as a profession rather than a call.

This paper will examine the characteristics of the gift of speaking in tongues in the apostolic time and compare them to what is happening today in regard to speaking in tongues. In the light of the comparison, it is shown that the gift of speaking in tongues today is not what it used to be then during the apostolic times therefore technically it is true to argue that the gift of speaking in tongues ceased after the apostolic age.

Speaking in Tongues in the Early Church

The early church used to speak in tongues and the apostles were the first people to introduce the gift of speaking in tongues in the early church during the day of Pentecost. Christian Assemblies International argued that there was clear evidence that the early church were speaking in tongues.

They respected the disciples who were speaking in tongues since they also respected the message they were talking about. Believers in the early church marveled at what the Lord did referring to the act of a person speaking in a language not familiar to him fluently. Unlike today, the early believers were eager to listen to those speaking in tongues since they knew that they were being led by the Holy Spirit (Hartwick 1).

Historical Evidence

Christian Assemblies International highlighted several occasions where disciples were speaking or talking about this gift. In Act 19: 1-6, Paul preached to people at Ephesus asking them whether they had received the Holy Spirit. Realizing that they had not even known what that was, he preached to them, baptized them and laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit through speaking in tongues.

The Holy Spirit later helped them to preach and to prophecy to other people. In Corinth, Paul encouraged people to desire to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit just like other gifts that they had. According to Christian Assemblies International, Paul was encouraging them to excel in speaking in tongues so that they could improve the church. However, he was insisting that those who were speaking in tongues were to pray tirelessly to receive power of interpreting those tongues (Christian Assemblies International 1).

On the same note, Busenitz argued that in the early church one does not need to be trained or get skills on how to speak in tongues. This is because speaking in tongues is a gift which believers receive through the grace of God freely. He argued that by the fact that people speak in strange languages that no one has taught them shows that speaking in tongues is a gift from the above (Busenitz 65).

Nature of Gift in the Early Church

According to Busenitz, the early church understood the gift of speaking in tongues as of benefit to others more than to one self. He claimed that the main aim of speaking in tongues was to encourage and improve the church and also to evangelize to both the believers and non- believers.

This aim was based on the commandments that the early church was observing keenly concerning loving God and other people. In this way, they were working towards the common good of the believers and the church at large (Busenitz 66). To insist that speaking in tongue was supposed to benefit the church Busenitz stated:

With the gift, therefore, which thou hast received from our Lord, serve thy spiritual brethren, the prophets who know that the words which thou speakest are those of our Lord; and declare the gift which thou hast received in the Church for the edification of the brethren in Christ (for good and excellent are those things which help the men of God), if so be that they are truly with thee. (Busenitz 66)

Speaking in Tongues in Church Today

Speaking in tongues is a gift that has greatly been misused in the entire church today. Boyne highlighted that the way the gift is being practiced today creates a great difference in the way it was used in the early church. This is what is bringing a lot of differences among the believers and also the questions that are cast by the non-believers. He argued that in the early church few people were speaking in tongues and each at a time.

This was to allow the interpreters to interpret to the believers the message that the Holy Spirit wanted them to know, unlike today where everyone speaks in tongues in unison and no one interprets at the end; this means that the gift is for oneself more than it is for others. Boyne claimed that speaking in tongues today is considered to many as a way of showing off. Persons speaking in tongues are considered more spiritual and righteous compared to those who never speak in tongues.

Busenitz further highlighted that it was not necessary in the early church for everybody to speak in tongues or perform miracles such as raising the dead and casting out demons since not all people were gifted with this gift. Unlike the early church, the church today encourages every believer to speak in tongues as a way of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This makes people miss the point and fail to capture the essence of speaking in tongues. Just as the Corinthian were thinking that the gift of speaking in tongue was a great gift, today many people believe so and assume that it should only be a gift of the few chosen by the Lord.

This is the reason as to why they argue that there is nothing like speaking in tongues and in so doing they judge even those who have the gift of speaking in tongue from God and they cannot listen to the messages that are deliver to them. Busenitz argument was that speaking in tongues was not the greatest gift, the disciple just got it first as a sign that they were to go preaching to different nations majority of which they did not understand their languages.

Speaking in different tongues therefore was to enable them to evangelize to different people from different communities (Busenitz 67). Many people today believe that the gift of speaking tongue is for few people since real gift of speaking in tongues is from the lord and it is rare to find in today’s church. The reason being that, today people claim to be followers of Christ yet their actions are against His teachings.

Challenges with Speaking in Tongues Today

Speaking in tongues in church today has brought divisions among the believers. Busenitz highlighted that in some Pentecostal churches today there seem to be two classes of Christians: those who speak in tongues and those who have never spoken in tongues. According to Busenitz, the people who have the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Lord know how to control what they say and they speak when the holy sprit chooses them to speak.

On the contrary, people with unclean spirit speak things that they do not know and understand, and they are uncontrollable (Busenitz 68). This may justify why many people have questions in regards to speaking in tongues to an extent of declaring that speaking in tongue ceased. It is therefore, the responsibility of the Christians to discern spirits and know who bears the real gift of speaking in tongues and who have unclean spirit.

Failure to do this in the current church, Christians will entertain people who are not filled with the Holy Spirit hence they will be misled. The Interactive Bible has refuted that the Holy Spirit manifests himself through believers speaking in tongues; it has been argued that this might be a sign that they work within some cults and not in Christianity. It is also argued that the gift ceased with the apostolic age (The Interactive Bible 1). However depending with the way Christians behave in our presence we can really tell whether the gift still exists or not.

Conclusion

Having reviewed several literature materials whereby the authors have highlighted that the gift of speaking in tongues does not seem to occur today as it was in the early church, I concur with the points supporting that the gift of speaking tongues is being misused by believers today.

I have come to a conclusion that the gift of speaking in tongues today is not used as it was used in the early church and therefore swaying the debate in favor of the gift having ceased with the apostolic age. This is because of the fact that this gift is misused. Jared Moore states that the gift of speaking in tongue is man-centered to day. This shows that it is something that is used for the wrong purpose contrary to what it was used during the early church.

Works Cited

Boyne, Ian. “Ecclesia. Web.

Busenitz, Nathan. “The Gift of Tongues: Comparing the Church Fathers with Contemporary Pentecostalism.” The Master’s Seminary, 2006. Web.

Christian Assemblies International. “Evidence of Speaking in Tongues in the Early Church.” Christian Assemblies International. Web.

Got Question. “Got Questions, 2012. Web.

Hartwick, Reuben. “Speaking in Tongues: The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Enrichment Journal, 2010. Web.

The Interactive Bible. “Cessation of spiritual gifts Encyclopedia of Pentecostal objections and the refutation of these objections.” The Interactive Bible. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, January 21). Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/has-the-gift-of-tongues-ceased-for-today/

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"Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today?" IvyPanda, 21 Jan. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/has-the-gift-of-tongues-ceased-for-today/.

1. IvyPanda. "Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today?" January 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/has-the-gift-of-tongues-ceased-for-today/.


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IvyPanda. "Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today?" January 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/has-the-gift-of-tongues-ceased-for-today/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today?" January 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/has-the-gift-of-tongues-ceased-for-today/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Has the Gift of Tongues Ceased for Today'. 21 January.

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