Where Is the Historical Line Drawn for the Cessation of Tongues?

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Shawn Akers

Charismatics, Pentecostals and non-cessationists are expected by Scripture to be able to teach naysayers of tongues what the Bible says about it. But many are not so equipped due to lack of teaching.

The Holy Spirit was given with the manifestation of speaking in tongues in AD 33 on the day of Pentecost, about 1500 years after the law was given at Sinai with the manifestation of fire. Fire was present at both events, which denotes the presence of God through His Spirit. In all four occurrences in the New Testament, in which Gentiles and Jews were said to receive the Holy Spirit, tongues was manifested by all of them. The four dates of these occurrences were AD 33 in Jerusalem in Acts 2:1-4 (Jews), AD 39 in Samaria in Acts 8:14-17 (Samaritans who were of mixed ancestry—Jewish and Gentile), AD 41 in Caesarea in Acts 10:44-46 (Gentiles) and in AD 54 in Ephesus in Acts 19:1-7 (Jews).

Subsequently, there are three occurrences in the epistles where the apostles Paul and Jude give orders to all believers to continue speaking in tongues: in AD 55 in 1 Corinthians 14:5 and 29; in AD 64 in Ephesians 6:18; and with the Holy Spirit in AD 70 in Jude 1:20.

Since the Holy Spirit was given four times in the New Testament, with the manifestation of speaking in tongues up to 21 years after the day of Pentecost, and believers are ordered to continue speaking in tongues in the epistles up to 37 years after the day of Pentecost, and we today are the New Testament church, where is the historical line drawn where tongues ceased?

If you ask naysayers this question, they cannot answer it; it silences them. Some may begin gaslighting you by twisting your sense of reality, because reality then hits home that they are without excuse for not speaking in tongues. They realize that their arguments are futile and not based on Scripture, and this is unbearable to them. They use unscriptural arguments to validate their lack of experience, worldview and the way they were taught, and this makes them either blow a fuse, go nuts or short circuit their wires.

However, we ourselves will lose credibility by telling Christians that they do not have the Holy Spirit unless they do speak in tongues. That’s false doctrine. The apostle Paul said, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9, MEV). This means that if one is saved, he has the Holy Spirit indwelling him.

So then, when a believer speaks in tongues for the first time, we are not talking about receiving the Holy Spirit because he already received the Spirit at salvation. Rather, we are talking about manifesting the indwelling Spirit who already resides within them by speaking in tongues, which is synonymous in terminology with praying with the spirit or in the Spirit.

It’s like a car with a battery. The car has the battery inside, but when the key is turned on, the power within it is manifested and it can go somewhere. Until the key is turned on, the power of the car is useless and the car cannot go anywhere. The same is true with believers. The purpose for speaking in tongues is to turn the power on. This is how building up oneself occurs according to the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:4 and the apostle Jude in Jude 1:20.

Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have documented speaking in tongues and signs and wonders for the past 2,000 years. All the commands and teachings in the New Testament are for us believers today, because we today comprise the New Testament church. There is no historical line drawn.

Keeping the power on within ourselves through an active life of praying in the spirit, and being equipped to share our faith based on Scripture, will make us effective witnesses for Christ to both fellow believers and unbelievers. {eoa}

James F. Linzey has taught and ministered on the baptism with the Holy Spirit around the world for about 40 years in conferences, churches and on television. He is the chief editor of the Modern English Version, graduate of Vanguard University of Southern California and Fuller Theological Seminary, and a non-cessationist Southern Baptist Convention minister. He is the founding president of Military Bible Association.

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