Who We are
We are the Church of Christ, the one true church that Jesus Christ purchased with his blood (Acts 20:28) and promised to establish through the Apostles (Mathew 16:17-19) in AD 30 and was established on the day of Pentecost in AD 33 (Acts 2:37-47); and of which Apostle Paul in Romans 16:16 as he was addressing baptized members of the church in Rome extended greeting from other sister congregations to them saying, “…The Churches of Christ salutes you.” Paul was describing the church in its plural sense by according it the name of the owner, Christ.
We believe and continue in the doctrines of Jesus Christ as handed to us by the Apostles of Christ.
Is to continue in the practice of the Apostles’ doctrines and to persuade all to return to the New Testament pattern of Christianity.
Is to preach the unadulterated gospel of Christ to the world to bring the lost to Christ for eternal salvation.
Who Are The Churches Of Christ?
One of the earliest advocates of the return to New Testament Christianity, as a means of achieving unity of all believers in Christ, was James O’Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina where history records that some seven thousand communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity.
In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about “denominational names and creeds” and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking Bible as their only guide. In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton W. Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the “only sure guide to heaven.” Thomas Campbell, and his illustrious son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia.
They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine which is not as old as the New Testament. Although these four movements were completely independent in their beginnings eventually they became one strong restoration movement because of their common purpose and plea. These men did not advocate the starting of a new church, but rather a return to Christ’s church as described in the Bible.
Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the 19th century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ’s original church.
By: Batsell Barrett Baxter
Simply put we are a non-denominational, New Testament church who:
- Seek to duplicate the non-denominational church of the first century.
- Take the Bible as our supreme guide.
- Reject doctrines and practices that were introduced after the close of the New Testament.
- Seek to be Christians only.
- Believe this is the one and only way to unite all who are seeking to follow Christ.
Passionate Plea of The Churches of Christ
Our plea is primarily a call for religious unity based upon the Bible. In a divided religious world, it is believed that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, of the God-fearing people of the land can unite. This is an appeal to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speaks and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters that pertain to religion. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous (self-governing) but believe in unity among sister churches.
The common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind congregations together.
There is no central headquarters of the church, and no organization superior to the elders of each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting the orphans and the aged, in preaching the gospel in new fields, and in other similar works.
The “tie that binds” is a common loyalty to the principles of the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
In each congregation, which has existed long enough to become fully organized, there is a plurality of elders or presbyters who serve as the governing body. These men are selected by the local congregations on the basis of qualifications set down in the scriptures (1 Timothy 3:1-8). Serving under the elders are deacons, teachers, and evangelists or ministers. The elders are shepherds or overseers who serve under the headship of Christ according to the New Testament, which is a kind of constitution. There is no earthly authority superior to the elders of the local church.
The word baptize comes from the Greek word “baptizo” and literally means, “to dip, to immerse, to plunge.” In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practised because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Still further, only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.
As a result of the distinctive plea of the church – a return to New Testament Faith and practice – a cappella singing is the only music used in the worship. This singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music, conforms to the music used in the apostolic church and for several centuries thereafter (Ephesians 5:19). The churches of Christ teach that there is no authority for engaging in acts of worship not found in the New Testament. This principle eliminates the use of instrumental music, along with the use of candles, incense, and other similar elements
Yes. The statement of Christ in Matthew 25, and elsewhere, are taken at face value. It is believed that after death each man must come before God in judgment and that he will be judged according to the deeds done while he lived (Hebrews 9:27). After judgment is pronounced he will spend eternity either in heaven or hell.
Not at all. At least, there is no creed in the usual sense of the word. The belief of the church is stated fully and completely in the Bible. There is no other manual or discipline to which the members of the church of Christ give their allegiance. The Bible is considered as the only infallible guide to heaven.
In the salvation of man’s soul there are two necessary parts: God’s part and man’s part. God’s part is the big part, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God’s part in salvation. Though God’s part is the big part, man’s part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man’s part can clearly set forth in the following steps:
- Hear the Gospel. “How shall they call on him whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
- Believe in Jesus. “And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Hebrews 11:6).
- Repent of sins. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30).
- Confess Jesus as Son of God. “Behold here is water; What doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37).
- Be baptized for the remission of sins. “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
- Live a Christian life. “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Open Invitation : Now that you are aware of a church in the 21st century which is built according to the blue prints of Christ’s original church, why not become a member of it? In becoming a member of it, you will be called upon to do nothing which contravenes what you read in the New Testament. You will then live and worship just as the apostle-guided Christians of the first century did. Not only is this return to New Testament Christianity a wonderful basis upon which all believers in Christ can unite, it is absolutely solid ground. If we do just what our Lord commanded we know that our salvation is certain. Come with us as we go back to the Bible, back to Christ and his church! There more you need to know about the Church of Christ; we encourage you to; contact us for further studies of the Bible and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). Join Us
By Evang. Joshua Aidoo | Contact: +233-56-026-5365| Email: email@example.com
So many churches do wander about the church of Christ as to our way of teaching and preaching. Of paramount to identifying the church of Christ as the only true churchamong all others, is the way we teach and preach. The importance we place on teaching and preaching in the church of Christ is one of the distinctive features that distinguish us from the rest.
To Timothy the young evangelist, the apostle Paul wrote, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2Tim. 4: 2 emphasis mine). The verb preach is from the Greek word kerussowhich has reference to a herald who is sent by someone in authority (for instance, the king) and was to announce the message in a loud, clear voice so all could hear. Teaching in the Greek has two different words:didaskalia (that is, teaching or instruction), and didache(“the doctrine which has God and Christ the Lord, for its author and supporter”) according to Thayer’s dictionary. This means, you cannot separate doctrine from teaching, because without doctrine, there is nothing to teach.And the Bible urges Christians “that they teach no other doctrine” (1Tim. 1:3), but “sound” one (Tit. 2:1).
We normally hear from our denominational friends that doctrine is not important to salvation. They sometimes tell us to stop teaching doctrines and rather preach salvation. But what does the Scripture have to say about doctrine in relation to one’s salvation? “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1Tim. 4: 16).
The church of Christ also lays much emphasis on preaching, because in God’s scheme of redemption, preaching plays a cardinal role (Cf. Rom. 10:14).The Lord, after His resurrection, commanded His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16: 15-16).We cannot overemphasize the importance of teaching and preaching. The Scriptures do not provide any other medium through which God’s eternal purpose can be fulfilled except by teaching and preaching by His disciples.
The teaching and preaching done by the church of Christ is unique in content because we know how to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2Tim. 2: 15). And by so doing, we are able to identify the right standard of authority for our teaching and preaching.Based on first Peter 4: 11, the restorers of the New Testament church coined the popular slogan: “We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent.” Our purpose of teaching and preaching is, so that God may be glorified, and as such we don’t entertain any human doctrine.
Our authority for teaching and preaching is derived from the New Testament Bible. Though the Old Testament was also given by God yet, not to Christians, but to the Jews of old (Ps. 147: 19-20). When Jesus arose from the dead, He came and told His disciples “All authorityhas been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28: 18-20). So, in Christianity, it is wrong to refer to Moses as your authority or David, or Malachi when you are confronted with the question: “By what authority are you doing these things?” (cf. Matt. 21: 23). We are ordered to teach people to observe all that Jesus had commanded, which is exclusively in the New Testament.
To the Hebrews Christians, the writer stated clearly that, “in these last days” (the Christian Dispensation), God has spoken to us by His Son (Heb. 1: 1-2).On the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples (Peter, James and John) were made to understand by God from heaven that Jesus is the only one we must hear: “While he was still speaking behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17: 5). To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3: 17). “In the name of,” in this context is, “in the authority of.”
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he delegated His authority to His apostles who taught and preached what He entrusted to them (cf. Acts 2: 42), and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they recorded what they taught and preached for us, thereby producing the New Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit has affirmed that God has made “us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant…” (2Cor. 3: 6). Hence, the church of Christ derives her authority for teaching and preaching in the New Testament. This is not an idea formed by us, but that is what God ordained before the birth of Christ (cf. Jer. 31: 31-36). And so, Jesus only came to fulfill the will of His Father: “Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second” (Heb. 10: 9; cf. Gal. 4: 4-5).
With that being said, we put it on record that, the church of Christ relies not on the Old Testament as our rule of faith, but to Christians, the Old Testament is there for our learning (Rom. 15: 4). Further, the church of Christ will not teach, or preach, or practice anything which the New Testament has not authorized.
Let us also explain here that, the teaching and preaching done by the church of Christ is void of human traditions or creeds. That is, the church of Christ has no creed, but the Bible (New Testament).
By Mr. Conrad Kakraba . Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Contact: 0206730382
Many first time visitors to the services of the Churches of Christ are mostly surprised to see one striking difference in our worship from what they are used to—they see the whole congregation singing a cappella (i.e singing without instruments). They are mostly used to instruments of music in worship at their churches and find it difficult to understand why Churches of Christ do not use what has become the order of the day.
They wonder whether we cannot afford to buy instruments or do not like their sound or we just choose to be archaic. I have attended to several visitors of that nature in the church and have had occasion to give some explanations for how and why the Churches of Christ sing they way we do. I will sum up these explanations in this piece and will do so in a very simple way for you to understand what the Bible teaches.
First, there is mostly a misunderstanding about the two testaments/covenants and how God related or relates with people under them.
So it is common to hear that those under the Old Testament used instruments and therefore we should also use them. It must be understood, however, that the same Old Testament people offered animal sacrifices, observed the Seventh-Day Sabbath and other Holy Days, had a Levitical priesthood, used incense, did circumcision for religious purposes among others but these are not commanded in the New Testament.
It is so with musical instruments. They were used in the Old Testament but the New Covenant does not command their use in worship.
The Old Testament was for the nation of Israel and was to lead the people to Christ (Gal: 23,24). Its purpose was fulfilled in Christ and therefore has been done away with (Col 2:14,17; Heb 7:12,18).
Christians are not under the Old Law but the New Law of Christ (Rom 7:1ff). We are therefore not bound by the practices of the Old Law but by the commands of the New Law.
Second, the Churches of Christ do not choose to sing the way they feel like singing; they are guided by the Word of God on the matter.
Whatever God’s will is on the subject of singing for Christians is what we obey. Churches of Christ therefore do just what the Scriptures instruct on the subject of music.
Paul says to the Ephesians: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19, 20).
He also tells the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:16,17). To the Hebrews he says: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb 13: 15).
In all other references to music in the New Testament, all the instructions are on the idea of offering vocal music, without the accompaniment of instruments to God. In the Old Testament, instruments were specifically used as a means of praising God (2 Sam 6:5,21; 1 Chron 23:5; Psa 43:4 etc) just as how dance was a means of praise (Exo 15:20,21; 2 Sam 6:14; Psa 149:3).
No New Testament command instructs us to use instruments or praise God with dance. Churches of Christ obey what they have been instructed by the New Covenant which we are under and by which we will be judged.
Also, the New Covenant is one with spiritual emphasis, not on outer, physical, fleshly emphasis. So there is a spiritual law (John 6:63), a spiritual(holy) nation (1 Pet 2:9); a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36) a spiritual new birth (John 2:3,5), a spiritual circumcision(Rom 2:28), a spiritual temple/house(church) -1 Pet 2:5, spiritual worship (John 2:23,24), and involves spiritual sacrifices (fruit of the lips and spiritual songs-Heb 13:15; Eph 5:19).
The emphasis is not on physical, fleshly entertainment with mechanical instruments, but rather with the heart which makes melody to the Lord.
And that also is why we don’t have some selected individuals with good voices or group of people or “choir” to perform to entertain us in worship; we do congregational singing in which all participate, blending their voices with others to give praise to God.
Apart from that, Paul urges Christians to sing with understanding (1 Cor 14:15). Whatever is sung and whatever music is made must not be a mere play on instruments, just sounds that make no meaning or just for creation of mood and emotionalism; it must be words that we understand and use to praise God and also admonish one another. Vocal music is what God prescribed for that purpose in the New Testament.
The last but certainly not the least reason Churches of Christ sing the way we do is that it was the way early Christians sang in their worship and this continued till about 666 AD when the first musical instrument was brought into worship by Pope Vitalian, according to some church historians. So the word “a cappella” has its roots in the non-instrumental music of the church, prior to that. It means “in the manner of the church”. It is surprising to note that all the major denominations that use instruments today at first did not welcome them into their worship. But today, what is in vogue is what they have grown to accept, ostensibly to keep up with the times so they don’t lose members.
Churches of Christ don’t watch what is in vogue to practice in worship. We look at what God wants in our time and we do just that, not to please men or our own selves but to please God, who is our Creator and focus of our worship.
When you visit any of our congregations therefore, you will see a replication of what was done by the early Christians –“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19, 20). That is what God has commanded Christians to do!
Evang. Alexander Maxwell Yawson
Director, Heritage Bible Institute, Amansaman -Ghana
Contact: 0244593577, Email: email@example.com
The Churches of Christ speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent. Undeniably, the main purpose of Churches of Christ is to identify and pattern itself to the first century church. The Scripture says “not everyone who says unto me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God, but those who do the will of the Father.” How can we know the will of God in relation to women’s role in church leadership?
The question now is, is there any pattern for us in the Bible to follow or does God’s plan for scriptural leadership include a pattern that reveals God’s will for Christianity which can be followed today. Webster’s Dictionary defines pattern as a form or model proposed for imitation. Or something designed or used as a model for making things. God provided a pattern for building the Noah’s Ark and also the tabernacle which He commanded Moses to build – Gen. 6:22; Exodus 40:16. These patterns allowed them to do God’s will; our conscience or our wisdom cannot be our guide.
The New Testament is the only guide if we want to do the will of God, as far as the church leadership is concerned – 2 Cor. 3:5-6; Heb. 9:15. One could realize we have hundreds of different denominations in our contemporary world, because everyone is going their own direction to the neglect of the will of God.
God has always given instructions for man to follow so that they may do His will. In the light of this, we need to follow diligently the New Testament pattern that God has provided for us. Among the greatest challenges we face as a church is that of how to administer the church. There are various views and opinions about this subject. Some believe that there are no scriptural directives to that effect while others think and believe the contrary. Besides, whether women are allowed to take leadership role in the church or not is a multi-million dollar question to answer. The Churches of Christ believe that women are not allowed to take the leadership role or exercise their authority over men, per what the Bible teaches in I Timothy 2:8-15.
Like the early church, the church today should consider effective function as more important than a label or office title. We should never expect any person to carry out an office in the church without the gifting and appointment of God. To do so simply creates a situation in which a person is placed in a position for which they are not adequately qualified or empowered.
The organization of the Lord’s Church is clearly shown in the Scriptures with each local congregation having its own government based on the Scriptures. On the contrary, the organizational structure of many churches in our contemporary world does not have any resemblance to the pattern found in the New Testament churches.
It is evidential in the Scriptures that leadership role in the church is assigned to men. In the Old Testament for instance, one could realize that in the period of the patriarchs through the mosaic age, men were given the leadership and priestly roles as far as organizational structure is concerned. In the same manner, the New Testament clearly shows God’s design for the leadership structure was without women. It does not mean that women are inferior, but God in His wisdom made it the way it is now. (Men are to lead in the mixed assembly I Tim. 2:8)
There are two offices in the local church that comes up when we read the New Testament – Elders and Deacons: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the Overseers and Deacons.” – Philip. 1:1
The scriptural form of church leadership is so important because church government directly affects who is qualified to lead or serve the church. Therefore, in appointing elders, we need to make sure that we understand its dynamics, qualifications, qualities, and responsibilities (I Timothy 3, Titus 1) so that we will be sure to nominate individuals who are qualified. Take note, much as women are not part of this Scriptural leadership, does not mean every man can be appointed as a leader. Even though, the role of women in the Lord’s church is limited, they have a major and essential role to play in the ministry.
There has been more debate dealing with the position of women in Christianity and specifically their role in the operation of the local church. The Bible teaches that there are equal opportunities for service to God for men and women. There is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28), but there is division of labour.
The work in the church given by the Lord to women is indeed a significant one. However, there are relatively few limitations in the New Testament on the work of women. By plain implication a woman could not be an elder of the church since qualifications in 1Timothy 3:2 the Scriptures says the elder should be husband of one wife, likewise in 1Timothy 3:8,11 the scriptures indicates woman cannot be a deacon.
The Churches of Christ admittedly believe that the church cannot survive without the women. In the sense that, they were so much involved in the ministry of Christ, for instance Mary and Martha made their home at Bethany His dearest earthly refuge and resting place. In addition, there were several women who ministered to the Lord with their substance and contributed to Christ’s comfort Luke 8:1-3; Matthew 27:55-56.
Women were prominent in the activities of the early (first century) church. Their faith and prayers helped to make Pentecost possible and also in charity and good deeds, when we consider Acts 1:14 and Acts 9:36. Another distinguished factor about the women was when Mary the mother of John assembled the disciples in her house to pray for Peter’s deliverance in Acts 12:12. Besides, Priscilla was equally gifted with her husband as an expounder of the way of God. And a number of them offered great help to Paul and many people – Roman 16:1-4; Acts 18:26; Philippians 4:3; Acts 16:14.
The churches of Christ absolutely believe that women are not inferior or unimportant in the redemptive plan of God. They have a major role in the church development. However, their role in leadership of the church is clearly spelt out in the scriptures and can be identified in the early church. The wholesome doctrine of the gospel must be preached and practically applied to woman as well as to men. Privately instructing others in what is good both by their discourse and example.
The following come to the fore in reading Titus 2:3-5
- Teaching women (small groups, large groups, conferences)
- Teaching children
- Authoring Bible-study materials (especially for women and children)
- Personal evangelism and discipleship
- Counselling (especially women and children)
- Assisting deacons in benevolence ministry
- Visitation to the sick, backsliders etc.
- In cross-cultural missions
- Children ministry director
- Ushers (they have that natural qualities)
- Serve and do good work (like Dorcas)
- Read Bible and share ideas on any biblical topic (Sunday school)
- Live a holy lifestyle
The church is not a human institution neither do we have the mandate to map out its structure with our own wisdom or preference. In essence, God has not left the church into our own hands to determine her leadership structure. He has given us instructions on the nature and design of the church in His inspired and authoritative word.
Per what we have read, in my opinion women should not attempt to run the church, even behind the scenes, but should find their place of service to the Lord in the areas which He has allotted to her.
I Peter 4:11. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Evang. Mawuko Mensah Nyatepe Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, +233244697998
The key identifying marks of any religious body (and for that matter, any church) is their core beliefs and practices. As there are different churches in the world, having and teaching different, divergent and sometimes opposing doctrines, each one can be identified by certain marks.
The major identifying mark of the Church of Christ is their zeal and insistence on doing Bible things the Bible way. They are resolute to speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent, and thus, “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Hence, the Bible is their ONLY source of learning and knowing God’s will for man today. They do not believe in (and reject) any new revelation, either by a spirit or through someone’s personal feeling/experience, if that feeling/experience and/or revelation is contrary to what they see in God’s holy word (the Bible).
Hence, in the light of prayer and tongues speaking, the Bible is their only source of knowledge, reference and practice.
There is a lot of confusion in the religious world today with regards to prayer and tongues speaking. A host of religious leaders and groups have claimed tongue speaking as a religious experience that indicates spiritual growth and closeness to God, and that Christians should seek after this gift, receive it, and speak it just as the apostles did in Acts 2. In clarifying this gift, I wish to affirm that, true biblical tongue speaking does not exist today. One of the identifying marks of the Church of Christ in this disposition is their not speaking in tongues in their worship assemblies, and I wish to point out the Biblical facts why it is so.
Glossolalia Vrs Ecstatic Speech: The word glossolalia, an anglicized word which is made of two Greek words,is a common term which is used to refer to speaking in tongues: glossa(tongue) and lalia(speech). Together the two words mean “tongue-speech” or “speaking in tongues”. Speaking in tongues is a spiritual phenomenon and has a variety of meanings in the religious world today. Three things need to be considered carefully:
1.Biblical speaking in tongues (i.e., as seen in the Bible) refers to the Holy Spirit miraculously enabling a person to speak (things pertaining to God) fluently in a foreign language or languages that he/she has never, ever heard or studied.
This is a New Testament phenomenon which was practiced only during the first century.
- Non-biblical ecstatic utterances: This is what actually occurs today. It is a psychological phenomenon, a real happening which excites the individual’s experience while in a hyper-emotional state.
Thus, modern-day ecstatic speech is the phenomenon of uncontrollable utterances of gibberish. Gibberish, here, refers to rapid chatter; uncomprehensive meaningless talk. This is in contrast to what the Bible teaches.
Ecstatic tongue speaking is not related exclusively to Christianity – It is to be found in all different cultural strata from non-Christian priests to medicine men.
In fact, its origins are discovered in non-Christian religions. We must affirm that modern-day glossolalia or ecstatic speech is a pagan practice and a deception of Satan which has been brought in under the umbrella of Christianity. It is a non-Christian experience.
Burdick rightly concluded, “Present-day glossolalia is deceptive. It often is a psychological attempt to recreate the supernatural gift of the first century. Because of the complexity of human nature, when the proper conditions are present man is able to work himself into an experience which he thinks to be the same as New Testament glossolalia. Careful examination, however, has shown us how different such experiences seem to be from the phenomenon clearly described in Acts 2” (31:83).
The Purpose of Tongues: There were three purposes of tongues speaking in the early church (in the first century). It is for Signaling, edifying and evangelism.
- Speaking In Tongues Was A Sign To Unbelievers
In Mark 16:17, Jesus had promised that signs would go with those who believe.
All the nine miraculous or spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 (wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues) were ‘signs’ designed to convince unbelievers of the heavenly origin of Christianity. They were an open manifestation that God was working miraculously in the church.
Mark 16:20 – “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.”
Hebrews 2:3–4 – “How will we escape if we neglect a great salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness with them, both with signs and wonders and with various powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
1 Corinthians 14:22 – “Therefore, tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but for unbelievers…”
See also Ephesians 4:11–16.
- Tongues Were For Edification Of Christians: 1 Corinthians 14:4 – “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”
The Holy Spirit gave some individuals in the early church the ability to speak languages miraculously not only for a sign to unbelievers that Deity was with the believers, but also to edify both the speaker and his co-worshippers.
In the absence of an interpreter, only the one who spoke in tongues was edified. However, if an interpreter was present, then the speaking in tongues (languages) could edify the whole congregation. Notice that God never gave anyone the miraculous gifts for the person’s selfish benefits, but rather for the benefit of all (see 1corinthians 12:7). Therefore, anyone who spoke in tongues in church to the hearing of others who do not understand the language spoken was actually embarking on a useless venture. So, the Holy Spirit ministered to the infant churches in the first century through the individuals in the congregations who had received the laying on of the apostles’ hands. All was done for the building up of the body of Christ.
- Tongues Was For Evangelism: The early evangelists were commissioned to go to every ethnic group of the world to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19–20). Can you imagine how much time it could take Paul, for example, to learn to be able to speak each and every language of the ethnic groups he preached to, establishing churches in all of them? He was gifted by the Holy Spirit to speak in many languages which he never learnt before.
He said in 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all”.
Speaking In Tongues Has Ceased!: The New Testament teaches that the open manifestation of miracles to confirm the (already spoken) word of God has passed away. This includes speaking in tongues.
1 Corinthians 13:8–10, 13 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies theyshall fail; where there are tongues, they shall cease; where there is knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”
‘When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away’ should be understood as ‘when that which is complete has come, then that which is in part will be done away.’ Here, Paul affirms that when the perfect (that which is complete or whole) has come, that which is in part (the miraculous gifts) will be done away. In this context, the perfect has reference to the Spirit’s revelation in James 1:25 – “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues to abide in it, not being a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in his work” – the law of Christ in its fully revealed form.
Notice the following in context:
- The perfect is contemporary with faith, hope and love (vs 13). The perfect (whole) is NOT pointing to Jesus Christ or His second coming. We need faith and hope NOW, in our life time, in waiting for His coming. After Jesus comes, faith and hope will no longer exist (See Romans 8:24, 25; Hebrews 11:1). Paul is saying that faith and hope co-exist with that which is perfect. Therefore, the perfect must exist during this dispensation before the coming of Christ.
- The perfect is in contrast to the part. That which is perfect in verse 10 is in contrast with that which is in part in verse 9. It would be in contrast specifically with the gifts of knowledge and prophecy. Generally, Paul used these two gifts to stand for all the gifts.
- The perfect is the complete revealed will of God (the New Testament). The completion of the revelation of God made unnecessary the gifts of prophesy and knowledge (and all the miraculous gifts). The completion of the perfect law of liberty made the miraculous gifts redundant. They were not necessary after the faith “was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Through the inspired scriptures, the Christian is made “…complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (See 2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
The power of God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
1 Corinthians 13:8–10, 13 teaches that miraculous gifts (prophecy, knowledge, etc.) were to be done away (vs 8). Paul teaches that these gifts were only a part of the whole which was to come (vs 9). When the perfect (whole/complete) came, then the partial would be done away (vs 10).
The complete revelation of God, therefore, was to replace the partial revelation which was at the time Paul was writing the letter, coming to the Corinthians through the gifts of prophecy and knowledge. That which is “perfect”, “complete” or “whole” is the complete revelation of God’s word – the NEW TESTAMENT.
Therefore, when the word was confirmed by the miracles and the NEW TESTAMENT was completed in written form, the miraculous gifts ceased. Scriptural glossolalia, consequently, has ceased.