REASON # 1 – 8

After a service one evening a Christian brother, who is a minister in the Pentecostal Movement, approached me and asked, “Can you tell me in a sentence or two why you left the Pentecostal Movement?” He was asking for an impossibility! How could I condense all that was involved in a major, life-altering decision into one or two sentences? I left for a number of reasons, and just simply to itemize them without a good explanation backed up by Scripture would accomplish very little and could actually result in misunderstanding.

In this testimony I purpose not only to list some of the main reasons why I left or why I am not in the Tongues Movement today, but also expand on each one, at least to some extent, as space will allow. References made to tongues-speaking, Pentecostal, Full Gospel teachings will of necessity be more to those of the mainstream of that Movement, although there are many differing views and doctrines in Pentecostalism. This has resulted in the formation of many different Pentecostal-Tongues denominations. All Tongues people are not in full agreement on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Some ask why I left pastoral work to engage in a traveling ministry majoring largely in teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Much of my ministry now involves messages of warning to God’s people. Is this justified? Is it loving to speak on this subject when feelings are very tender in this area? In answer, I suggest for your consideration the following three reasons:


Paul, in Acts 20:20 and 27 said: “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you,” and “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” I personally believe, that, to a large extent, failure on the part of fundamental and non-Tongues ministers to teach and preach boldly and plainly the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit to our people has; a) been unfair and unloving to our congregations, and; b) in many cases has resulted in these untaught ones being ensnared in wrong teaching, and; c) has contributed to split or divided churches, etc. Let me ask you, why should we not teach the doctrines that we believe in our own churches? We owe that to our people as well as to those who might consider joining. Do they know what they are joining? That could save a great deal of heartache for all concerned later on. Certainly, we must not teach with malice but in love (Eph. 4:15). But failure to give sound teaching on the Holy Spirit to avoid hard feelings now or fearing fanaticism isn’t going to cause our people to “grow up into Him [Christ] in all things” (Eph. 4:15). They will be unprepared for the winds of false doctrine that are bound to sweep over the land.


This is not only my right but also my obligation! I, as God’s ambassador, am responsible to teach God’s people. Failure to do so may result in some of them being led astray. Who will receive the blame?


Paul did. In Acts 20:31, speaking to the Ephesian elders, he said:

“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Again, in Colossians 1:28 he said: “Whom we preach (that is, Christ), warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

A note of warning is an important part of the message of God’s minister. It is not easy or pleasant, but essential. If I knew that the bridge down the road was washed out, and I saw you coming down the road in your car heading for danger, what kind of friend would I be if I simply smiled, waved a greeting, and shouted, “Have a good day”? We need to warn because we love God, His people, and the Word of God!

I want to make it clear that I am not a crusader against the Tongues-Charismatic Movement. Rather, I am, if you will, a crusader for the Truth. I believe that, wherever the Scriptures cut across error and false doctrine, we need to take our stand for the final authority of God’s Word. This I had to do, at great cost, in my own life. I am not against Tongues people, though I can’t agree with their teachings. But I am making myself available to help them and those who are confused and unsure as to what God actually has for them according to His will expressed in the Scriptures. I believe that the Lord brought me up this road that, knowing by personal experience the pitfalls and problems involved, I might be able to help and minister to others in similar circumstances.

It is my desire also to help many to a realization of what the true Spirit- filled life really is. I believe that we, in the Tongues Movement, made a serious error by putting so much emphasis upon tongues speaking, so much so, that we missed something very important. Being so occupied with what we considered to be the evidence to being Spirit-filled, namely, tongues speaking, we, to a great extent, missed the real meaning and significance of the biblical Spirit-filled life. It is this genuine Spirit-filled life that I am concerned about and want so much to see lived by God’s people today, and I’m sure that many of you share this concern with me.


There are two extremes, I believe, that we have to avoid: First, when there is no fire in the church—cold, formal, dead; and, secondly, when there is wildfire in the church. Which of these present the greater danger? Certainly cold, dead formalism does not produce fruit and life.

But, on the other hand, think of the harm and reproach that is produced by an unbalanced, extreme, fanatical type of church activity. A good rule to follow is: “AVOID EXTREMES!”

In 1 Corinthians 14:26 we are told: “Let all things be done unto edifying,” and in verse 40 we read: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” I know a little about the “wildfire” extreme, and know what harm it can do.

But it is also dangerous to slip into the other extreme of being too cold and formal. Let us remember that we are the possessors of eternal life. We believers in Christ have that “abundant life” Christ spoke of in John 10:10. Let us be reminded that there is a real, genuine, scriptural, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-controlled life that each of us who are believers should know in our everyday activity and experience (Eph. 5:18).

Many today are questioning and desiring greater depth and reality in their Christian lives. This is very commendable! As they see coldness and perhaps very little emphasis on the Spirit-filled life in their churches, they begin to ask whether their answer might not be in the Charismatic Movement.

It is to meet some of these needs that I am directing my ministry now as the Lord enables.

May I here just briefly suggest the solution to this problem? (I will expand on this further toward the end of this book.) The answer for these Christians will not be found in fanaticism but in a right understanding of Bible teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His work in the believer and in the church. All that we need we already have potentially in the INDWELLING Holy Spirit. Now, it is up to us to appropriate it or yield to the Holy Spirit’s ministry in and through us.

The answer, I repeat, is not in the extreme of fanaticism or “wildfire.”


Now for a brief view of my personal history in the Tongues Movement:

I belonged to the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada, Incorporated. I was raised in it from childhood, was saved and baptized in it, ordained in it, preached in it, taught in our Bible school for five years, and was our denomination’s missionary-secretary for five years—during which time I visited and spoke in most of our churches across Canada.

I thoroughly enjoyed my work and responsibilities in the Bible school, teaching the Word of God to eager young students. Along with other Bible subjects I taught Missions. I would teach in the school during the winter months and in summer I traveled and ministered in the various churches and camps in the interest of missions. My heart was in missions and I loved the work. I had the joy of seeing a goodly number of our students and others respond to the missionary call, and then to send them out to the mission fields. I was completely satisfied, and seemingly I had found my “niche” in life and in the Lord’s work.

But why then did I leave?

I will endeavour first of all to list the major reasons, and then elaborate on each one. However, it will be impossible to look at each reason thoroughly in the scope of this testimony.




As I said before, I was content and happy in my work and position in the Movement. I felt at home in a fellowship that I grew up in, was accepted and appreciated, with no thought at all of ever leaving it. But as, day after day, I taught my classes in Bible School, and was confronted with serious and difficult questions from keen students, I was driven to a deeper study of the Scriptures. Gradually I became aware of serious shortcomings and discrepancies in our doctrines, emphases, and practices.

I discussed some of these disturbing questions with some of our brethren who also questioned some things. Some also finally left the Movement, but others no doubt felt the price of leaving too great. And it was a big price, as I discovered later on. I did not have any ulterior motives for leaving, I can assure you! The Fundamentalists and non-Tongues people were not about to receive us with open arms! I had no offer of churches to pastor or of lucrative church positions. On the contrary, we were in a sort of “no-man’s land” for about seven years. We had left the Tongues people, being looked upon by some of them as “traitors,” and the non-Tongues people weren’t sure that they wanted us or could trust us. It was quite a lonely time, for in those days (1950) the gulf between the Fundamentalists and the Pentecostal was very wide. Today, in many churches and denominations there is practically no gulf at all, with resulting doctrinal confusion and no clear teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.


Eventually I was confronted with a problem: Could I teach something that my denomination stood for, but which I had come to see was not according to the Scriptures? Could I teach something as truth and mislead these trusting students when I myself did not believe it? Ultimately I had to make a decision. What direction was I to take? I couldn’t teach something that I didn’t believe. I could not mislead others. To teach what I now saw in the Scriptures contrary to the denomination’s doctrines would be very unethical. And beyond that, the thought of the final accounting at the Judgment Seat of Christ had to be dealt with. I could not go on.

At the close of the school year my wife and I left the school, my position of Missionary-Secretary, and the denomination as quietly as we could. Our objective was not to disrupt, not to damage or harm, but to leave and find a fellowship where we could serve, teach, and preach what we were beginning to see in the Scriptures, and to disassociate ourselves from methods and practices that we now felt were unscriptural. God gave us the grace to do it this way, and we thank Him for it! Much that is highly unethical was done and is being done in the name of Christ today. This ought not to be!

Many non-Christians exhibit more ethics than some Christians do! Shame on us! If a Christian does not agree with the doctrines of his church, he should not take it upon himself to undermine that church by teaching otherwise in an underhanded manner. If he cannot do this, then, I believe, he (or she) should be ethical enough to quietly leave and find a fellowship that he can fit into. But let’s not break up churches!

Right here I would like to say something about “divisiveness” that is characteristic of some of the Charismatics. Why should attempts be made to take over or split churches, all in the Lord’s name but not to the Lord’s glory? How much heartache, strife, and hatred is generated in these attempts which purportedly should bring about a more spiritual result, when actually the real result often is Corinthian carnality and tragedy. The admonition of Ephesians 4:3 still stands today: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Almost anyone can disrupt, break up, or split a church; that usually isn’t very hard to do, but it is the true work of the Holy Spirit that keeps it together. And you, Christian, have the biblical responsibility to work toward unity and harmony in your church! Are you working at it?

I have recently been in a church which was almost split right down the middle by the introduction of Charismatic teaching, with the resulting factions and strife. It was heart-rending to see the division and devastation caused, not by the Holy Spirit, for He does not work toward division and strife, but the disruption was the result of the work of our enemy, Satan!

On the other hand, a non-tongues Christian fellowshipping in a tongues- speaking church needs to be ethical, too! If he cannot agree, let him go elsewhere instead of stirring up strife within that church. I say, then, brethren, let us be careful and ethical! God will hold each one of us responsible if we break up, divide, or cause disunity in a church. It is a dangerous matter to “mutilate the Bride of Christ”! Beware! Who dares to lay his hand upon Christ’s Body—the Church? (of course, I am here referring to a true Bible-believing church). I believe there will be some serious accounting called for at the Judgment Seat of Christ in this regard. Again, let’s be careful and ethical!

When we left the Tongues Movement, I had prayed this prayer, “Lord, don’t let me become bitter against my brethren!” I knew that the natural tendency would be to fight back when I was accused of ulterior motives or of denying the Holy Spirit or of other unpleasant accusations. But I thank the Lord that He has most wonderfully answered that prayer! In the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ I am thankful that the Holy Spirit put that prayer in my heart.




Tongues people build their doctrine of the Holy Spirit largely on the Book of Acts and 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14. The emphasis falls upon Acts and I recall my own ministry from this book, in which I would formulate doctrine without recognizing that it was a historical book, a record of the Church’s beginning and not primarily a book of doctrine as the Epistles are.

My first point, then under this heading is:


In studying the book of Acts the careful student must recognize several important characteristics of the book. Unless he does, he can come up with strange, peculiar, and erroneous doctrines, which in fact, many have done.

Consider with me the following four characteristics of Acts which I have called, “Keys to a Proper Understanding of the Book of Acts”:

  1. That it is, primarily, a historical book, not a doctrinal book as the Epistles are.
  2. That it is a book recording the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from the Age of Law to the Age of Grace—the Church Age.
  3. That it is a book recording the beginnings of the Church.
  4. That it is a book that primarily centers around Christ’s apostles—it is indeed “The Acts of the Apostles.”

My comments on each of these four keys must of necessity be brief here.

However, those desiring an expanded study may write for a set of tapes entitled, “The Four Group Receptions of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.”


On the other hand, the Epistles were written primarily to reveal and teach church doctrine. It is dangerous, then, to begin to formulate our doctrines on the historical happenings in Acts because a) there is a very real possibility that we will misinterpret the recorded happenings. Obviously, just that is being done, for we do have so many different interpretations, all from the same book of Acts. b) Because Acts is a book of transition and church beginnings, the full revelation of church truth is not yet there recorded or revealed. That is given to us in the Epistles.

In the Epistles we have the “full bloom” of New Testament revelation or church truth. That that is so, may I remind you of Paul’s oft-repeated statement, “Behold, I show you a mystery.” What did he mean by “mystery”?

Obviously, it was a New Testament truth not formerly revealed even in Acts but was being revealed in the Epistles. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Ephesians 3:1-6, etc. We must be very careful, then, to look at events in the book of Acts in and with the full light of the Epistles to guide us in formulating our doctrines.


Unless this fact is recognized we invite the possibility of wrong interpretation. When I teach the book of Acts, I usually suggest seven reasons why it must be considered a book of transition. May I just point out two of these reasons here briefly by asking these questions:

First, should a believer in the Church age be baptized before or after receiving the Holy Spirit? In Acts 8:12-17 and in Acts 19:5-6 we read that they were baptized before they received the Holy Spirit. But in Acts 10:44- 48 they were baptized after. Both practices are recorded in Acts. Which is right?

Secondly, should a believer be baptized in water more than once ? In Acts 19:3-5 we read that the twelve men at Ephesus who had already been baptized were rebaptized under Paul’s ministry. Why? Is this to be the normal practice throughout the Church age? Or must we here recognize a transition—of Old Testament believers coming into the Church age, into the Church? As we read Acts 19:1-7 carefully, we discover that these twelve men were disciples of John the Baptist coming in transition into the church.

Paul recognized the transition, or else, why did he baptize them again? Was it not because he recognized that their first baptism in water was not a valid baptism for believers in the Church age, for “Christians”?


Consider this: First, God was introducing a new plan and program, and forming a new body, the Church, which did not exist in the Old Testament but had its beginnings in Acts.

What happened at Pentecost (Acts 2), Samaria (Acts 8), Caesarea (Acts 10), and Ephesus (Acts 19), is not an advance in the old body, that is, the body of Old Testament believers, but, rather, is the beginning of the new Body, the Church.

Secondly, inaugural events usually are unique, one-time events not necessarily repeated thereafter. Just as at the beginning of the Age of Law at Mount Sinai (Exo. 9:16-18), there were certain unusual events which were not repeated again, so we can expect that certain unique and unusual events which occurred at the beginning of the Church age, were not meant for duplication throughout the entire Church age.

Thirdly, events that occurred at the inauguration of the Church do not necessarily have to be adopted as the permanent pattern for the Holy Spirit’s ministry throughout the entire Church age.


Note the title, “The Acts of the Apostles.” In it the Holy Spirit describes the prominence, the importance, and the authority of these men who were specially chosen by the Lord to personally represent Him in the completion of the laying of the foundation of the church. This is clearly expressed in Ephesians 2:20: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.”

The Lord Jesus had begun the foundation of the Church, but left the completion of that task to these chosen men to whom He gave, not only great responsibility, but also great authority and power.

To the apostles, and to those whom they authorized, were given credentials, attesting signs, the very attesting signs that Christ Himself had, to enable them to complete the Church’s foundation, which, of course, relates to its beginning. That is what Paul is speaking about in 2 Corinthians 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” See also Hebrews 2:3-4.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”

QUESTION: If every Christian could perform “signs, wonders, mighty deeds,” then where or what are the “signs of an apostle” that Paul is speaking about? Therefore consider: Special sign credentials were given to the apostles for the laying of the church’s foundation. These “signs, wonders, mighty deeds” were meant for the church’s beginnings or inauguration and not meant to be the normal pattern throughout the entire church age. Yet many are endeavoring to duplicate these things today, the things that belonged to the apostles and the church’s beginnings.

In concluding this section, may I repeat that we must be careful about formulating our doctrines in Acts because it is a historical book and not primarily a book of doctrine. We must recognize it’s transitional character and also that it is the record of the church’s beginnings as God used His specially chosen and empowered apostles to finish the foundation of the church. We should, therefore, understand the events recorded in Acts in the light of the “full-bloom” of divine revelation as given to us in the doctrinal epistles.

For a consideration of 1 Corinthians 12-14, I will make comment under REASON # 12 later in these studies.


Another doctrinal error, as I now see it, that is generally believed by Tongues people, and this is also largely based on the book of Acts, is that of a two-stage experience. That is, that at point “A” in time you were saved, and then at point “B,” sooner or later, if at all, you experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues-speaking as the evidence. This view disregards the following:

  1. In the Old Testament, believers did not receive the Holy Spirit and were not indwelt by Him as we Christians now are in the church age (1 Cor. 6:19- 20). Old Testament believers coming into the church in Acts were not experiencing a “second blessing” but actually a “first” as far as the Church or the Body of Christ was concerned. They were not making an advance in the old Body but were entering the new Body, the Church.
  2. The normal Church age experience of salvation involves receiving the Holy Spirit at the moment of believing on Christ, and that until a person has received the Holy Spirit he or she does not belong to Christ and to His Body (Rom. 8:9).
  3. The four group receptions of the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts (chapters 2, 8, 10, and 19) involve the first Church age experience of receiving the Holy Spirit to indwell the Church and the individual believer and not a second, for before Pentecost the Holy Spirit was not yet given (See Jn. 7:37-39).

We [in the pentecostal church] endeavored to support this two-stage experience teaching from the Book of Acts. However, a thorough study of Acts will show that this view is in error. Again, time does not allow me here to go into detail, but I will refer to one key Scripture that they use very often, and that I myself used to prove this two-staged-experience teaching. It is Acts 19:1-7. Please take time here to read this portion before you go on.

“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”

QUESTION: Had these men been “saved” in the normal New Testament sense of the word before Paul met them, and were they now, under Paul’s ministry, experiencing a “second blessing,” a baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit?

Or was this a first encounter with the promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit?

Please consider:

  1. These men were disciples of John the Baptist (verses 3-4) and were coming out of the Old Testament into the Church age.

Remember that Old Testament believers did not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. So these men, though believers as far as John the Baptist’s ministry was concerned, had not yet received the promised Comforter (Jn. 14:16-18), and they indicated this in verse two when they said, “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” That certainly is not the language of any New Testament Christian! They obviously were uninformed of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, etc.

  1. Notice Paul’s assessment of their spiritual status.

He apparently sensed some lack in these “disciples”; hence his question:

“Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed [or, having believed]?” The Greek here does not indicate a time-lapse between believing and receiving. But with this question, Paul was probing whether they were New Testament believers already who had received the Holy Spirit or if they still were uninformed Old Testament saints. That is why Paul answered them as he did in verse 4:

“John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

You see, they were still on the other side of the cross and of Pentecost in their experience. And further, Paul recognized this fact by allowing them to now be baptized as Christians in the Church age.

To say then, that these men were “saved” before this meeting with Paul and then received the Holy Spirit here as a “second blessing” is far from the truth. I have a tract published by the Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri, U.S.A., which makes this statement: “The twelve men at Ephesus were saved men–`disciples’—but had not received the Holy Ghost.” What an erroneous conclusion! And yet I have to admit that I myself at one time preached that way.

A final QUESTION: If these men were saved Christians before they met Paul, and had not yet received the Holy Spirit. In the light of Epistle teaching as we find it in Romans 8:9: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,” where then were these men spiritually?

Obviously then, this nineteenth chapter of Acts cannot be used honestly as proof for the teaching of a “second-blessing” experience to be normal for the church age.


Another teaching in which most Tongues people err is that the baptism and the filling or fullness of the Holy Spirit are one and the same. But these are two different and separate ministries of the Holy Spirit. The following is from a Pentecostal church promotional brochure I saw in British Columbia (Canada) in 1978: “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is also called by other suggestive phrases—‘Filled with the Holy Spirit,’ `The Gift of the Spirit was poured out,’ `The Promise of the Father,’ `The Holy Spirit came on them,’ `Enduement from on high’.” This failure to distinguish between baptism and fullness, as well as between other ministries and activities of the Holy Spirit has resulted in much confusion.

Spirit baptism is referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:13 as placing us into the Body of Christ—the Church. There we read: “For by one Spirit are [or were] we all baptized into one body.” This was a once-and-for-all event not to be repeated and takes place at conversion. But the filling with the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all event but can be repeated over and over. See Acts 4:8 where Peter is said to be filled with the Holy Spirit though he was filled at Pentecost in Acts 2. In Acts 4:31 we see the whole church group filled again.

This fullness of the Holy Spirit is spoken of in Ephesians 5:18, where we are told: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Greek scholars inform us that the phrase “be filled with the Spirit” actually means “be constantly under the control of the Spirit.” The filling or fullness, then, is not just a once-for-all experience, but a constant, daily life yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit, so that the words, filled or fullness take on the meaning of “full control by the Holy Spirit.”

On the other hand, the baptism is a once-for-all placing into the Body of Christ, not to be repeated. We cannot say that these two ministries of the Holy Spirit are identical. A person may be baptized with the Spirit but not filled; but he cannot be filled without being baptized with the Spirit.

Some Tongues-people also teach that there are two Spirit baptisms, one into Christ at conversion, and a second into the Holy Spirit as a subsequent experience. But this teaching is in direct contradiction of Paul’s clear declaration that there is only one Spirit baptism—Ephesians 4:5.

Also consider the following:

  1. Nowhere in the New Testament do we read of any Christian experiencing Spirit baptism more than once, but regarding the fullness—yes! In other words, the baptism is not repeatable but the fullness is.
  2. There is no command anywhere in the Epistles that Christians should seek the baptism, but there is for the fullness (Eph. 5:18).
  3. If baptism is an experience subsequent to conversion and is as important as Tongues-people insist that it is, then is it not strange that there is no reference anywhere in the Epistles to seek the baptism?

Another unsound teaching of Tongues-people should be mentioned here before we leave this section, and that is that Tongues- speaking is the INITIAL EVIDENCE of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Note the phrase, the “initial evidence.” They teach that all Christians should experience the second blessing of the baptism or filling with the accompanying evidence of speaking with tongues. But this does not square with Paul’s question, “Do all speak with tongues?” in 1 Corinthians 12:30, where obviously the answer is “No.” To get around this they have had to invent the “initial evidence” teaching, which again is based on a questionable interpretation of events in the Book of Acts and is entirely without support from the Epistles.

There is not one clear reference in Scripture upon which they can build this particular teaching. And yet it is so basic to their whole system of belief and practice.



Have you ever noticed how prone we humans are to go to extremes? This is especially true in religious matters. Observe how some particular doctrine or teaching is emphasized or exalted above other important doctrines. And often the very denominational name indicates this. Take for example the name, “Seventh-Day Adventist.” Their name tells what they are emphasizing and consider most important, “Seventh Day” (Sabbath) and “Adventist” (Return of Christ). These are their distinctives and became the reason for their existence as a denomination in the first place. Take other names too—Holiness, Jesus Only Church, Latter Rain Triumphant Church, Foursquare Gospel, Full Gospel, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Pentecostal Fire Baptized Holiness Church, etc. Some of these advertise by their titles what their distinctive doctrines are, and which, in their estimation, are most important doctrines and practices. At least, that’s how their denominations began.

It is this over-emphasis that explains in part, at least, the existence of so many denominations today. The Pentecostal-Tongues people have exalted the one gift of the Spirit, namely, the gift of tongues, above all the other gifts and out of all proportion. They have exalted it to an unscriptural extreme. In my opinion, they are making the same error that Ellen G. White of Seventh Day Adventism made. She claimed to have seen a vision in which the Fourth Commandment (that of the Sabbath) rose up above the other nine, and was surrounded by a halo of light. From this she concluded that she and her denomination should recognize Sabbath-keeping as the all-important message and doctrine of their church. And so this is where they put their emphasis. To many Pentecostal-Charismatics, tongues speaking has become what “Sabbath-keeping” is to the Seventh-Day Adventist!

Notice this expression of extremism in the following:


This is the view held by many in the Tongues Movement, but not all subscribe equally to it. I was brought up to believe this and preached it.

But this position, I found by study and observation, is untenable [not defensible]. Why?

  1. If tongues speaking is THE evidence, then all other evidences—such as witnessing for God (Acts 4:31), and the Christ-likeness of life, and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)–are ruled out.
  2. Since obviously tongues speaking can be imitated, and is, by heathen, Spiritists, etc., it is a questionable evidence. Deception and counterfeit can enter in. This thought alone should make us to seriously question such teaching.

This is precisely what happened to me while I was still in the Tongues Movement. As denominational Missionary-Secretary I was visiting and ministering in our churches in Ontario one summer. While I was in one of these churches, the pastor approached me about the possibility that he and his family could go to Jamaica as missionaries. I took his application forms back with me to our headquarters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan [in west central Canada], where I presented them to our Missionary Council.

Eventually this family was sent out to Jamaica. Not too long after their arrival there I received a letter from this brother. Part of this letter reads as follows:

“Throughout Jamaica there is a class of people known as `Pocomania.’ This word means `half-mad or a little mad.’ They believe in all kinds of superstitions and practice all manner of evil. Since they are generally very poor, they usually worship in the open air. A very common sight here is to see groups of these people beating their drums and singing on the streets and along the roads. Last Sunday evening I saw five large groups in about as many city blocks. Often you can hear their drums beating until late at night. They speak in tongues and sing our choruses, and because of this it brings a great reproach upon the true Gospel and makes the preaching of the Gospel difficult.”

I was shocked, particularly by the words, “They speak in tongues.” All my life I was taught and myself preached that tongues speaking was THE evidence of Holy spirit baptism, that all tongues speaking was of God, and now I was informed that heathen also speak with tongues! What was this? Had it not been that I knew the missionary personally I likely would not have believed him. But here was one of our own men telling me this! That really got me thinking and investigating, only to discover that many non- Christians also speak in tongues—heathen witch doctors, Spiritists, Mormons, one branch of the Mohammedans, etc.

Once I spoke in a mission church at Alix, Alberta. During my message I mentioned the above incident about Jamaica. When I had concluded my message, a young man from the Cook Islands [near New Zealand], who was in the meeting that night, got up and publicly confirmed what I had said, that heathen also speak in tongues on his island.

So by the teaching that tongues speaking is THE evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the door is opened to the possibility of false or counterfeit tongues being accepted as genuine evidence of the Holy Spirit fullness. On the other hand, what better evidence is there than a transformed life, a Christ-like life with the fruit of the Spirit in manifestation: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23)? This is difficult to imitate or counterfeit!

I also remember the excitement expressed by some Tongues people who had visited the Mormon Temple at Salt Lake City, Utah [USA]. They told me that they had discovered that Mormons, too, speak with tongues, and they had come away with the impression that there must be a close relationship between them, some kind of spiritual kinship! Apparently, if only they speak with tongues, then some false doctrine can be overlooked! And therein lies a big danger today. The modern (new) Charismatic Movement admits that there are tongues speakers who know no repentance or new birth as we know it and as the Bible teaches it.


We had fallen into the same error that the Corinthians had. It was to correct them that Paul wrote his first epistle to them. He did not write to encourage them to a greater use of the gift of tongues, but, rather, to correct them in their over-emphasis and abuse of that gift. The gift of tongues is clearly one of the lesser gifts. In the list of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 it, with the sister gift of interpretation of tongues, is last in order. This is also true in the second listing in this same chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:28, where it again is last in the list. Besides, in the other two major lists of the gifts in the Epistles—Ephesians 4:11 and Romans 12:6-8–the gift of tongues is not mentioned. This should tell us something about the relative importance of this gift.

Then notice Paul’s evaluation of the importance of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:5-6:

“I would 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. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?”

And in 1 Corinthians 14:19-20:

“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

We could add one more reference here–1 Corinthians 13:1:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

Obviously, these Scriptures teach that the gift of tongues is not the most prominent of the gifts, as the Corinthians mistakenly thought (and as many also do today). It was because of their immaturity in understanding this that Paul added verse 20 of 1 Corinthians 14 to verse 19: “Brethren, be not children in understanding …” In other words he is telling them to “grow up,” to “mature.” In effect he is saying, “Don’t continue in your childish thinking.” See 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, where he calls them spiritual “babes.” He is saying, “Don’t remain in a state of misunderstanding of God’s purpose for giving the gift of tongues, but rather, grow up, mature!” He calls for sound and mature thinking, not for a childish preoccupation with one of the lesser gifts.

A Charismatic who encouraged everyone to seek a tongues experience was confronted with the fact that some who had experienced tongues were demonstrating no basic changes in their life-style, but were still involved in sinful practices. He replied, “Well, if tongues won’t straighten out their lives, I don’t know what will do it.” This is an example of exalting a lesser gift to a place of supreme importance, which is entirely unscriptural. Let us, by careful and prayerful study of the Scriptures, avoid such errors and extremes that do not glorify Christ!



The over-emphasis we placed on tongues resulted in an under-emphasis of other important doctrines. Especially was this true regarding the principal and main message of the Church—the preaching of the basic and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1- 4).

QUESTION # 1: Is there any one doctrine or message that the Church should emphasize above all others ?

QUESTION # 2: Is there a danger of becoming unbalanced, lopsided?

I believe that the answer to both questions is a definite “Yes!” This becomes clear when we study the Corinthian Epistles. In their over-emphasis of tongues they had failed to give the simple Gospel of Christ the place of supreme importance that it should have in the Church. They were majoring in the minors. They had become lopsided in doctrine and consequently in practice. This is a constant danger to the churches, even in our day. We have to be on guard constantly that we do not go to unscriptural extremes.

For an example, let me tell you what a Christian brother told me recently about an encounter that he had with a Tongues believer. This man said to my friend, “Brother, have you ever talked in tongues?” My friend’s reply was “No.” To this he [the charismatic] said, “Well, then, you’ve got nothing!”

While I, as a young preacher, was ministering in the Tongues Movement, I was informed one day that the leaders of our denomination were critical of my preaching. They said that I was preaching the cross too much and not mentioning tongues enough! That greatly disturbed me! I did want the approbation of our Elders, and I did want to do what was right. You see, I grew up under the ministry of a godly pastor who knew the Gospel and emphasized it. He loved and taught the Book of Romans and emphasized the importance of the cross of Jesus Christ and justification by faith. Now, I was being told to change my emphasis in the ministry. What was I to do ?

Once again, I was driven to the Scriptures. The Corinthian church was the great tongues-speaking church, so I began to read and study about the tongues’ emphasis. But as I read I discovered that, though I was out of step with the Corinthian church, I really wasn’t out of step with Paul. I read in chapter one of 1 Corinthians such verses as 18 and 23:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” And verse 24 continues: “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

And then when I got to chapter two, verse two, I read these words of Paul to the Corinthian church:

“For I determine not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

I was greatly relieved and encouraged. I might have been “Out of step” with my denominational leaders but I was “in step” with Paul! I was in good company! For obviously Paul was dealing with the very problem that I was facing.

Did you notice where Paul put his emphasis? Yes, he was determined that nothing, not even tongues speaking, would take the place of the all- important message of the cross—the simple but powerful Gospel of Christ!

Now please note the words “among you” (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul was writing this to the great tongues-speaking church of his day. (Incidentally, tongues speaking is not mentioned as occurring in any other of the churches to which epistles were written.) Paul, if he had sought popularity and an “in” with the Corinthians should have mentioned the cross plus tongues (perhaps he should have called it the “Full Gospel”?), but he didn’t! He was “hewing to the line.” To Paul the “preaching of the cross” was all-important, and nothing was to detract from it. But in doing so, he made himself one of the most unpopular preachers to the Corinthian church. I think I know a little about that too—”He preaches the cross too much, and doesn’t mention tongues enough”!

In his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 3-7, Paul again reminds the Corinthians of the importance of the simple, basic “Gospel of God” in a church’s faith and proclamation. We read verse 3: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Notice his words, the simplicity that is in Christ. It is, I repeat, the perennial temptation for a church to drift away from this simplicity of the Gospel and add to or subtract from it. Let us beware! Paul then goes on to warn them about ending up with “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” “another gospel.” Sobering words!

One more thought: Have you ever noticed where Paul places his definition of the Gospel? Yes, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, the tongues-emphasizing church! But not only that. It follows right after his thorough teaching on the gifts, and particularly his dealing with the gift of tongues in chapters 12-14. We find his gospel definition right in the beginning of chapter 15, verses 1-4. After showing the Corinthians their error of tongues emphasis, Paul now tells them where their emphasis should be.

Notice his words:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Notice how he begins: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel.” The word “moreover” is also translated “now.” Paul is saying, “Now brethren.” Having just concluded his teaching about the tongues-abuse issue in their church, he is saying, in effect, “I have something more important to `declare unto you’.” Imagine Paul having to, at this point in time, declare the Gospel to the Corinthian church! You see how far they had drifted from it by wrong emphasis. They had become lopsided, unbalanced. So Paul is forced once again to declare that simple Gospel to them that he had preached to them when he started their church.

And the simplicity of that Gospel is embodied in the three cardinal points of Paul’s definition in verses 3-4: “Christ died for our sins … He was buried, and … He rose again!” That is the Gospel that Paul preached, by which alone sinners are saved, and which was, is, and always will be the paramount message of the Church. Satan will try his utmost to stop that message. Sometimes he uses fanaticism and wrong emphasis on the part of Christians to accomplish his ends.

Let us not disappoint our Lord by not emphasizing the Gospel or adding to or subtracting from it. For it alone remains the message of God to a lost world. With Paul (Rom. 1:16), let us always say: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”



To many in the Tongues Movement experience has become all-important, crowding Scriptural teaching into second place. Experience has become the criterion of truth. It is dangerous to build doctrine on experience. The Bible, not our experiences, is the final ground of authority.

I well remember an illustration that was used in my day in the Tongues Movement. A fundamentalist pastor had heard that a colored boy in his congregation was attending Pentecostal meetings. He took the boy aside to warn him about getting some counterfeit experience. But before he could finish his warning the young lad cleverly replied, “Too late, Pastor, me got it!” Now this answer, supposedly making and proving a point and also good for some laughter and Amens, really can be very misleading. It does not prove that the “experience” is genuine. Secondly, the experience can very easily be misinterpreted and wrongly labeled with a Bible name.

We could ask, “Is this experience really the `filling’ that the Bible speaks about?” Commenting on this, Dr. John F. Walvoord said: “The final test (of any experience) must always be what the Scriptures actually teach” (John Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, Dunham Publishing Company, 1958, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing Company).

There are experiences, experiences, and experiences. People hear voices, see visions, have dreams, have contacts with non-human beings, fall prostrate on the floor, see lights, and on and on. If we are to believe and accept every one of these as genuine and from God, and build doctrine on them, where would we be? But how then can we know the truth? There is only one way, and that is by testing everything with the straight edge of the ruler of Scripture, not with experience. The error that is often made is to have the “experience” and then try to fit it into the Scriptures and find a “label” for it.

We must also be very sure that we know what the Scriptures actually teach; otherwise, we can still fit our experiences into the Scriptures, put a Bible label on them, and go on unwittingly attributing our experiences to the work of the Holy Spirit. That this has and is being done, no one can honestly deny.

Some time ago I read of some Brazilian Christians who claimed to have received messages from God that they were to drown their children because of the terrible future they would face if they grew up into this troubled world. The deceived parents murdered their own offspring! Now I’m sure that they were sincere and convinced that the voices they had heard were from God. But they were sincerely wrong because their action was contrary to the teaching of God’s Word, the Scriptures. Remember, an experience does not prove its own genuineness! Also, never bend the Scriptures to accommodate your experiences!

An evangelist spent several hours discussing and examining the basic teaching of the Charismatic Movement in the light of the Scriptures with a Charismatic lady, only to hear her say, “Oh, but my experience!” He then asked her, “Will you take the Scriptures or your experience?” But there was no clear response from her.

When one places experience on an equal footing with Scripture, a grave error is committed. Experience alone can be very deceiving. Notice Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:22-23:

“Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

Here the Lord speaks of miraculous experiences being produced by non- Christians. They had been deceived into believing, by their experiences, that they were instruments of the Lord’s power when they actually were workers of iniquity. And notice also, these were using the Lord’s name in all of this. Beware of deception, particularly that which is done even using the name of Jesus!

Dr. John F. Walvoord in his book entitled The Holy Spirit writes as follows:

“The final test must always be what the Scriptures actually teach. Experience may serve as a partial test of the conclusions, but in itself the Bible must be taken as the final authority. Experience ever possesses two fatal grounds for error: 1) a misapprehension of the experience itself in its content and divine origin; 2) a faulty conclusion as to the doctrinal meaning of the experience. Hence, on the one hand, an experience supposedly of divine origin may be purely psychological, or worse, a deceiving device of Satan himself. On the other hand, a genuine experience may be misunderstood and mislabeled.”

Too often the tongues-experience seeker is almost forced to speak in strange sounds, and when he does, that experience is then interpreted for him by some Charismatic and labeled as the “baptism.” But is it? Do we take the scriptural teaching for our guide or the words of a man or woman? Dr. Walvoord states:

“We are ever prone to interpret Scripture through experience, instead of interpreting experience through Scripture. The factor of human experience is very close to some aspects of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, but experience may not be normal, and if normal may not be properly interpreted. Much harm has come through arbitrary doctrines established in the last analysis on experience rather than revelation” (John Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, Grand Rapids: Zondervan).

Because “experience” is so much emphasized, there is great danger that some seek for the “experience” instead of the Holy Spirit Himself. In other words, the “gift” becomes more important than the Giver. I am greatly concerned about an expression that I heard very often: “Have you got it, brother?” What is meant by that word “it”? Could “it” refer merely to the experience? I’m afraid that is the meaning to many Tongues people today. It seems to me that the tongues-speaking experience has become a status symbol. It gives them spiritual prestige and makes them “acceptable” to their Charismatic fellows.

Another error, I believe, is the teaching that all the experiences recorded in Scripture should be the normal experience of Christians today. One man, referring to tongues speaking, endeavored to prove that this experience was for every Christian today because “it’s in the Bible.” Need we remind ourselves that circumcision is also in the Bible, in the New Testament, even in the Book of Acts. Does that mean that all Christians should be circumcised today? What about the “cloven tongues like as of fire” that “sat upon each of them” at Pentecost and the “sound … as of a rushing mighty wind”? Are we to seek these experiences today because “they are in the Bible”? We would do well to take heed to the words of one Bible teacher, F.D. Taylor, Sr., who has summarized this question in these words: “All experiences in the Bible were given for instruction, but they were not all given for duplication” (F.D. Taylor, Sr., Should I Speak in Tongues?, Scarborough, Ontario: Everyday Publications, used by permission).

Let us never forget the importance of the teachings of Scripture. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable [for what?] for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That [that what?] the man of God may be perfect [complete , mature, accomplishing God’s purpose], throughly furnished unto all good works.” It is the Scripture, primarily, and not experiences that can “thoroughly furnish ” or equip us for effective living and service for Christ.

It was Peter who, with James and John, witnessed Christ’s transfiguration on the mount (Matt. 17:1-9). What an outstanding experience this must have been for him. In his second epistle, chapter one, and verses 15-18 Peter refers to this experience. But now notice what he says In the verses immediately following (19-21). We read in part: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place …” Was Peter building his theology or doctrine on that wonderful experience or did he have something “more sure”?

Yes, he did [have something more sure]. It was the Word of God that was given through “holy men of God” who “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (verse 21).

In effect, Peter is saying here, “I have something more trustworthy, `more sure’ than that mountaintop experience; it is the revealed Word of God spoken by the prophets in the Scriptures.” The “more sure” Word of Scripture is the best and final authority, not experience.

A lady who was very much taken up with Charismatic experiences was trying to convince me recently that these were all so wonderful and genuine. I kept referring to the Scriptures and tried to show her that we must be guided by the doctrine of the Scriptures, not by our interpretation of our experiences, and that the Bible is the final authority of truth. After a while she became very much annoyed and said, “Doctrine! Doctrine! I am sick and tired of that word!” Unfortunately, she was putting experience above the Word of God. It is just this attitude and failure to recognize the Scriptures as the supreme and final authority that leads to confusion and often, spiritual shipwreck. Let’s build on the solid rock of the Word of God, not on the sinking sand of human experiences and man’s interpretation of them!

In closing this section, let me quote a paragraph from a Christian paper called Listening:

“Let it be remembered that you cannot trust religious experiences. The first awareness of the Lord, the ecstasy of worship, the physical act of water baptism, the second, third, and hundredth blessing, are all what has happened IN you. Get your confidence on what has happened FOR you. The luster of your experience fades and shines according to your health, you circumstances, your frame of mind. But what the Saviour did for you when He died on the cross, what He is doing now for you living on the throne, and all that is yours in Him never changes because it depends on Him, not on you” (Listening, a Christian magazine, Master’s House, Box 5055, London, Ontario).




To me it is quite clear that the Bible teaches the personality of the Holy Spirit. The personal pronoun He is repeatedly used when referring to the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, many cults deny His personality and think of the Holy Spirit merely as an impersonal force, a power or an influence, but not as a Person.

Shortly before I left the Tongues Movement a very dear Christian brother and Bible teacher pointed out to me that our denomination and Tongues people in general, were, because of our doctrine of the Holy Spirit, gradually slipping into the error of the cults. Though in theory and in our Articles of Faith we subscribed to the personality of the Holy Spirit, yet in practice we looked upon Him largely as a “Power” or an “impersonal force.” Actually, to that time I had not noticed this gradual erosion in my own mind. I began to examine his warning and found that it was indeed so. I asked myself, “Why was this trend in our thinking developing?”

I believe that one of the main reasons for this was our emphasis on experience. The Holy Spirit “fullness” became a desirable experience. We became more occupied with the gift than with the Giver. This appears in the oft repeated question, “Have you got it?” or “You’ve got it!” Let’s just analyze that statement: what did we mean by “it”? (1) If all we are concerned about is an experience, them the word “it” would be quite appropriate. And I am afraid that to many that is all that it is. (2) But if we recognize that this is a meeting with or ministry of God the Holy Spirit in us, then we can hardly use the word “it,” but rather it should be “Him.” There is real danger here of being more occupied with the gift than with the Giver. (3) Even if we should say, “I’ve got Him,” do we give the right impression of what the Bible actually teaches? Really, is it a case of us having more of Him or is it not a case of Him having more of us? Does not the Scripture emphasize this, that we should yield our members, ourselves, to the control of the Holy Spirit that Jesus might be the Lord of our lives? Romans 6:13 tells us to “Yield yourselves unto God”; so also verse 19 and Rom 12:1-2. And add to that the meaning of the words “be filled” in Ephesians 5:18: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The words be filled in Greek mean be constantly under the control of. Christians are thus commanded and expected to be constantly under the control of the Holy Spirit, or to be “led by the Spirit,” or to “walk in the Spirit.” The case, then, is that the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer, should be in control of the yielded bodies of all Christians so that the Lord Jesus might be glorified through them. No, we really are not to seek a greater “portion” of the Holy Spirit, but we ought to make sure that we ourselves are completely yielded to Him, that He has all of us!

This emphasis and use of the word “it” is reflected in a Pentecostal tract that I, for some reason, still have in my possession. It is Tract No. 4285, published by the Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Missouri, and entitled, “The Baptism of the Spirit.” Let me give you just a few excerpts here to illustrate what I am trying to say:

“Down at the house of Cornelius (Romans) they received it eight years after the day of Pentecost. … The disciples at Ephesus (Greeks) received it twenty years after the first outpouring … Multitudes are receiving it today. … It is for you … We are commanded to seek it … Pray for it … Praise God for it in faith…”

I believe that it is this kind of teaching that undermines and erodes our concept of and faith in the personality of the Holy Spirit. I know how it had, unconsciously, affected me.




By the very nature of their doctrine of the Holy Spirit the door is opened to the possibility of spiritual pride entering in, and for the tongues speaker to think of himself as being spiritually superior to the brother who has not had a similar experience. Though this feeling is generally not openly expressed it is there, nevertheless. I have observed this many times, both in my years in the Movement and also since I left. In case someone might think this to be an unfair appraisal, let me quote from a tract that I have before me right now, written by a well-known Pentecostal minister, R.E. McAlister, and published by the Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, Mo. It is Evangel Tract No. 251.

“It is admitted by Bible students the world over that speaking with tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is a sign. Suppose we ask the question, `Of what is it a sign?’ The answer is found in God’s own Word, for we find the sign accompanied the reception of the Holy Spirit when God standardized New Testament Christian experience. It follows logically, then, that only those who have spoken in tongues can lay claim to a normal New Testament experience. All others, regardless of what they profess or claim, ARE BELOW PAR.” (Capitalization mine)

So with the teaching of a second blessing with tongues-speaking evidence comes this inevitable thought: “All others are below par.” “I have arrived.” “I am on a higher plane.” “I am more spiritual.”

This reminds me of the same attitude that was so prevalent in the Corinthian church and which Paul deplored. Just recently my attention was drawn to a phrase that Paul used several times in his first letter to the Corinthians. You can find it in chapter five, verse two. The phrase is “ye are puffed up.” Six times these words appear in this epistle. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible informs us that the words “puffed up” mean “inflated.” Inflated!

What a description of the spiritual condition of the Corinthian Church!

Yes, they had the gifts of the Spirit, and especially the gift of tongues, in operation in their church. They thought themselves to be “spiritual,” but were blind to the fact that “spiritual” people are not “proud.” They were “puffed up,” “inflated,” spiritually proud, but from God’s viewpoint, they are called “carnal” four times in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Why? Because of their spiritual ignorance (1 Cor. 12:1)–their misunderstanding and abuse of the gift of tongues particularly.

That this feeling of superiority and spiritual pride still exists I discovered not long ago. After a Sunday evening service in which I was speaking in a series of messages on the Holy Spirit, a man approached me.

He shoved the button in his coat lapel up to my face and asked if I knew what it was. I didn’t answer immediately because I had taken my glasses off and couldn’t focus my eyes on that button so close to my face. I tried backing up to get it into focus but he kept following me. Before I could read it he said something like this, “You don’t know anything about it! If you did you would have recognized it right away.” Then he tapped me on the shoulder, as he stood his full height, and looked down at me and said, “Well, I’ve got more than you have!” With that he turned and strode out of the church. Incidentally, the button he was wearing was that of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association.

Not only does their doctrine and emphasis produce spiritual pride in some, but it also opens the door to disunity and division. A natural result of this tongues experience, teaching, and emphasis is to produce two groups in the church—the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Perhaps we can call it “Christian class consciousness”?

No, it might not be obvious on the surface, but the problem is there. One Christian separates himself from another because he thinks that his “experience” has put him on a higher plane than the “have-not” brother. Or it may be a whole group that will separate themselves from fellow believers or one church from another church. The attitude that “we have more than you have” seems to be the underlying and basic reason for these unhappy separations and divisions. This is not simply a fundamentalist-Charismatic division, but occurs, surprisingly, too often among the Tongues people themselves. Was this not a problem in Corinth, as well. There were divisions and cliques in their church, too (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-4). All this, Paul informs us, is not a sign of spirituality but of carnality, as we read in 1 Corinthians 3:3:

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”



A man who had just experienced tongues speaking said that he was sure now that he was saved. We could ask the question then, “How can we really know that we are saved?” What is reliable assurance that we have passed from death unto life? Is it a certain kind of experience? If so, can we completely trust experiences? In this case, we know that tongues speaking can and is being counterfeited. Heathen, Spiritists, Mormons, etc. also experience tongues speaking. Apparently there are Charismatics today who obviously have never repented, have exhibited no change or transformation of life, and yet are tongues speakers. Many Roman Catholic Charismatics continue to worship and pray to Mary, attend Mass, pray to “saints” etc., etc. Are we to accept them as our brethren in Christ simply on the basis of tongues speaking? Can they, or can we safely build on the foundation of an “experience”?

Basically, the assurance of our salvation must rest upon the unchanging and ever-dependable Word of God—His promises to the believer. One such promise and word from God to us is 1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” How can we know that we have eternal life? This verse tells us plainly that our assurance rests upon the written Word of God.

Experiences, emotions, feelings all may change or pass away, but the solid rock of God’s Word remains. By faith we rest on His promise. Did He not say: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24)?

I have heard His Word; I have believed on Him, therefore I have everlasting life! How do I know? Not because I feel something, not because I saw a vision or heard a voice, or spoke in tongues, but simply and basically because HE SAID SO! I simply take Him at His Word. I do have His Word for it! And it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). That is assurance! Do I need more? By simple faith in His Word I received salvation. By simple faith in His Word I have the assurance of my salvation!

Certainly there will be other corroborating evidences, and these are also mentioned in God’s Word, that reveal the reality of the new nature within us. There should and will be a change in our lifestyle, just as we read in 2 Cor 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

This is more fully developed in the epistle of 1 John where we read such words as these: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 Jn. 3:14); and, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments,” that is, His Word (1 Jn. 2:3). If we really know the Lord, there will be a change of attitude toward God’s Word, and a developing love for it and obedience to it. We will desire to do God’s will. But time does not permit us to pursue this topic further here.


Secondly, is tongues speaking an evidence of greater spirituality? Really, now, how can we know that we are spiritual? Can everything be based on a once-for-all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Is that the whole proof? Or is it possible that there will be evidences of an inward spirituality manifested in our daily walk and living?

To take tongues speaking as the evidence of a Spirit-filled, Spirit- controlled spiritual life is to disregard the teaching of 1 Corinthians.

Please notice that the Corinthian believers came “behind in no gift” (1:7).

They had the gifts of the Spirit in their church and laid particular emphasis upon the gift of tongues as we see it in chapters 12-14. Yet, in spite of all this, Paul calls them “carnal” four times in chapter three.

And “carnal” is the opposite of “spiritual”. Besides this, Paul reminds them that they had contentions, divisions, fornication, quarrels, disorders at the Lord’s Table, etc., in their church that all their tongues speaking could not cover. They were carnal in spite of it. Then, we might ask, what were they missing?

They did not realize, as many also don’t today, that spirituality is not determined by the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, but by the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit! That is why, I believe, Paul “sandwiched” the “Love Chapter” (ch. 13), between the two chapters dealing with the gifts, chapters 12, 14. It wasn’t that he changed the subject and suddenly decided to write about love, but, rather, he is trying to show the Corinthians, so taken up with their emphasis on tongues, that they were missing the “more excellent way” (12:31), that they did not have the fruit of the Spirit in their church and in their lives. They were missing the fruit of the Spirit which is the evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit actively producing Christlikeness in the life of the believer, in other words, the Spirit-filled, controlled, fruitful, spiritual life.

Paul begins chapter 13 with these words: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.”

What is love? It is the basic fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Though I once believed and taught that tongues speaking was the evidence of being Spirit-filled and of spirituality, in the light of the teaching of God’s Word, I had to completely change my viewpoint.

In closing this section I want to point out briefly what I now believe the characteristics (or evidences) of a Spirit-filled, spiritual Christian really are:

1) A crucified, self-denying life (not just a one-time experience, but a LIFE), Gal. 2:20; 6:14.

2) A surrendered life—submissive, yielded to the Lord. The will subjected to His will, Romans 6:13, 19; 12:1-2.

3) A Christlike life—Gal. 2:20b; Rom. 8:29.

4) A fruitful life—the fruit of the Spirit in manifestation, John 15:5,8; Gal. 5:22-23.

5) A life effective in Christ’s service and witnessing—Acts 1:8; 4:31.

6) A life that glorifies God—John 15:8; 1 Cor 6:20.

Here are two more Scriptures that should be considered in this connection:

Matt. 7:20: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them,” and John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Please note that it does not say, if you speak in tongues or have some gift in manifestation in your life, but “love,” the basic fruit.

This is also the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.




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