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Doctrine of Speaking in Tongues to be Saved

There are many churches that follow the doctrine that you must speak on tongues to be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. I find that not only to be Biblically incorrect but also to be placing a spiritual bondage on people. A friend of mine that attended one of these denominations recently seen the error of this teaching and left the church. Below is his letter to the pastor and those in the congregation. I could not put it in better words than he so aptly did. I think his letter covers the Biblical grounds that prove this doctrine to be not only false but heretical.

Being a Pentecostal all of my Christian life, I am submitting this letter from a brother in Christ to my "oneness" Pentecostal brethren, whom I love dearly.

The intent of this letter is not to shame, belittle, or put down any church or denomination, but rather to educate, inform and help fellow Pentecostals understand what they could be doing to precious sheep within their fold.

The following letter was written by a brother in the Lord that went through a very heart wrenching experience while attempting to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. The church he was involved with led him to believe that if he didn't speak in tongues, that he was not born again. Having an honest heart, this young man, 21 yrs of age, would not bow to the pressure to mimic or fake this precious gift of the Holy Spirit, but rather honestly ask Jesus for real thing. When the gift was not manifested in his Christian experience, he had nothing left to do but go into his bible and read the truth, and face the tough decision to leave the church. The following is his letter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom I give all praise and thanks. I would like to tell you why I can no longer be a part of the "Assemblies of The Lord Jesus Christ."

The Lord has been trying to show me something for a long time, and I can no longer put it aside. Having brought this to my pastor first, I feel at liberty to now bring it to the church body. Please understand that I do not think anything of myself. Only through Jesus can I know anything. These are the things the Lord has shown me. Please study them out and pray that God would show you whether they are true. I will not ask you to receive anything that is not found in Scripture.

First Corinthians chapter 12 is entirely focused on the spiritual gifts, and how those gifts are to be divided as members of the body of Christ. After listing the nine gifts in verse 8-10, verse 11 tells us that the gifts are to be divided to every man as God wills. The gift of tongues is simply one of those gifts. We are in error by telling people they must receive that one gift in order to receive the Holy Ghost and be saved. Paul has something to say about this error in verses 14-19:

"14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?"

Keep in mind that Paul is referencing the parts of the human body to how the gifts are to be members of Christ's body. Look at verse 15. We are doing exactly what Paul said not to do. We say "Because I do not have the gifts of tongues, I am not of the body of Christ." Is it not obvious that we are missing so many of the gifts in our churches? We need those other members so that the body can be edified. If we are all one member, where is the body?

Now in verses 27-30, Paul says this:

"27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"

In verse 28, Paul lists a number of the members of the body. I do not think it was Paul's intention to list every single member, but his real point is found in verses 29-30. "Are all apostles? are all prophets?…do all speak with tongues?" The answer is clearly 'no.' He even goes on to say "But covet earnestly the best gifts." He also says in Chapter 14 verse 5 "I wish that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret that the church may receive edifying." I have never once heard prophecy come from my local church. But then, how could we receive it if we place all emphasis on tongues?

Now, we all know how the "Apostolic" doctrine explains this. They teach us that there is a difference between the gift of tongues and "the evidence of tongues when receiving the Spirit." This could make everything fit together the way they want it to, except for one thing: It is not in the Bible! I challenge anyone to find that doctrine in the Holy Word of God. If it were in there, I would publicly repent before all. However, the entire doctrine of tongues being the one and only evidence of the Spirit depends on that scripture being found. After all, Paul said more than once that not everyone speaks in tongues. Also look at Romans 11:29:

"29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

Once you have been given a gift from God, it will not be taken away. You never lose it. How then could we speak in tongues once, and then never again? The gift of tongues is simply the gift of tongues. There are diversities of operation, (prayer, singing, a message for interpretation…) but they are all still the gift. This is a very dangerous doctrine to cling to. Not only does it make it easy for a person to fake it one time and every one assume he or she has received, but also, the ones who truly do receive tongues may not realize the fullness of what they have received. You become stuck between two false teachings. Either you say,

"Everyone receives the gift of tongues when baptized in the Spirit,"

and contradict what Paul said.

Or you say "There is a difference between having the gift and just speaking in tongues when baptized in the Spirit," and face being unscriptural. Why must we make things harder than the Lord intended?

I agree that tongues can be one evidence, but not the only. Yes, on the day of Pentecost they all spoke with tongues as the Spirit fell. This is obviously the gift that God desired to be shown to the multitude (who all spoke different languages). That is not surprising since Paul states in 1st Corinthians 14:22 that tongues are not for a sign to them that believe, but to them that believe not. Tongues do not even edify the church unless there is an interpretation. However, if we wanted to rely on the day of Pentecost as our only example, why don't we read on in Acts 2:17-18. This is Peter speaking on the day of Pentecost just after they had received the Holy Ghost:

"17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:"

Do we not believe we are living in the last days? And if tongues were the only initial evidence of the Spirit isn't it odd that tongues wasn't even mentioned here? Search in the Bible for scripture that indicates a man must receive that gift before receiving any other. You will not find it.

Another statement I've heard is "Everywhere in the book of Acts people spoke in tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit." This is not true.

"31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31

"6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve." Acts 19:6-7

Did all twelve of these men speak in tongues and prophesy? Apply the teachings from Corinthians to the rest of the word, and it will take on a whole new meaning for you.

Think back on all the people who went to the altar seeking the Holy Ghost, and did not receive tongues. Think of the coaxing and leading that was done to those people (including myself). "Yield to God! Loosen your lips! Say the first thing that comes to mind! Say hallelujah over and over!" These are all things I heard in my times at the altar. Compare this to the way people received His Spirit when the Apostles prayed for them. It is ridiculous and absurd. And through all that, I never once spoke in tongues.

Now for you who do speak in tongues, it will be harder for you to receive this. Some will say "This can't be true. Look at how many people in my church speak in tongues!" Is this any big mystery? You are losing the ones who don't receive that gift. I should know, I am one of them. Not only that but when you are taught to seek after only one gift, what else are you open to? I hate to think of all the people we lost that would have went on to be workers of miracles, or healings, or prophets. And all because they didn't speak in tongues. I do not deny that a few of the other gifts are used from time to time, sparingly. How edified we would be if the word of knowledge or prophecy were used as much as tongues are!

I want you to know that I write this out of love. Love for you and for our Lord Jesus Christ. I want only the best things for you. Seeing how hard it was for me to receive this after only two and a half years in this denomination, I can imagine how hard it would be having been taught this your entire life. There will always be this problem in denominational churches. No fresh revelation can be received because you are chained to the association's doctrine. They could kick you out of their "club," make you pay back all the money they gave you, and take away the comfort and security of being under their "umbrella." I am telling you that GOD can give you all of these things, and more abundantly. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added into you." Instead we tend to seek earthly things hoping they will draw people in. Think of how many people would be drawn in from just one miraculous healing! You couldn't build a building big enough.

I love every single one of you and do not wish to break fellowship with you. However, I must leave your assembly in order to be fruitful for God. First Corinthians 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Feel free to contact me if you wish to talk about this further, or if you just want to fellowship. I look forward to hearing from you all.

To God be the Glory, Jeff Kieffer