Tongues - RR274L21A

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Tongues
Course: Course - Godly Social Order - 1 Corinthians
Subject: Subject:Sociology
Lesson#: 37
Length: 0:29:32
TapeCode: rr274l21a
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Godly Social Order - Corinthians.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Blessed is the man who Thou choosest and causeth to approach unto thee that he may dwell in Thy courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple. Let us pray.

We give thanks unto Thee oh Lord our God that Thy mercies are new every morning, that in Jesus Christ we have the assurance of Thy eternal blessing and care. Our times are in Thy hands who doest all things well. We thank Thee that throughout time and throughout eternity we can take hands of our lives in the confidence that Thou art our God. That Thou would undertake for us and Thy purposes for us are all together righteous and holy. Bless us as we give ourselves to the study of Thy word and grant, Lord, that we may indeed behold wondrous things out of Thy law. Bless those of our number who are absent from us, bless Andrew Sandler in particular as he preaches and with his family worships in Grass Valley this day. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 14:20-25 and our subject is Tongues.

“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”

Paul in verse twenty rebukes the Corinthians; he summons them to be more mature in their thinking and understanding, and like infants in experience in wickedness. The clear implication is that their behavior was the reverse of this. Where people are perverse then the words of Isaiah 28:11-12 are true of them and this is what Paul now cites. What Isaiah is that however God speaks to an evil people, they will not hear them. He may use tongues and other lips, other languages, their languages, alien peoples but they will not hear him. That is they are determined not to hear! Failure to hear the word of God is a moral failure. [00:05:22]

The matter of choice whereby evil is preferred and...[edit]

The matter of choice whereby evil is preferred and God is rejected by fallen men. Now when Paul quotes from Isaiah he uses the term the law. Throughout the New Testament the term law refers the whole of the Old Testament and rightfully applies to the whole of the new, to all of the Bible. It is important to know this. Every word of God is treated as law and the reason is clear enough, all of the Bible is the law because it is all the word of God, the truth of God, the binding truth of God. With reference to men and their institutions law is a word having a narrow frame of reference because not all that men say or write has a binding and irrevocable nature. Then in verse twenty two Paul says the tongues are a sign for unbelievers, not for believer. Again this tells us what tongues are, actual foreign languages whereby a witness was made to a foreigner. The Roman Empire had a vast array of peoples and tongues within it. In fact, the best way to understand what Rome was like was to look at New York City. There are more daily papers in foreign languages in New York City then there are in English. There are whole areas of New York City where the language is a foreign one, where a hundred thousand or half a million dwell who are foreigners. The signs of the streets were be in foreign languages and alphabets, when you walk around in such an area you will not hear English. [00:08:32]

Now, this is the way the whole of the Roman Empire...[edit]

Now, this is the way the whole of the Roman Empire was. Most of its major cities were filled with foreigners. This was especially true of Corinth. As a manufacturing city it had a variety of foreigners who lived in it. Remember, we are not accustomed to thinking of people in those days traveling long distances. But one of the key markets was not only Corinth but the whole of the Roman Empire was China. When the trade routes between Rome and China were broken in Central Asia it led to a prolonged depression in both countries. Now, to witness to a foreigner in his native tongue was thus the most effective act. The foreigner was not hearing a mindless babble but an actual witness in his native tongue. Now many scholars both charismatic and non-Charismatic speak of the tongues as glossolalia. Well, glossolalia is something that is an actuality but isn’t what the bible is talking about. Glossolalia is something which accompanied a deep and intense emotional response so that if the person is so overcome that what he or she does is to express themselves in a kind of wordless babble. Several syllables repeated over and over again, it’s an expression of intense feeling. But it isn’t an actual language. Well as it should be clear by now, what is involved in the tongue speaking in the Bible is not glossolalia, the very word used in the Greek means a foreign language. So, to witness to a foreigner in his native tongue was thus a most effective act. The foreigner was not hearing a mindless babble but an actual witness in his native tongue, most impressive. On the other hand to prophesy or preach to a believer in his own language was good and necessary. We can see what Paul stressed order in worship, it had to be purposive, to purport or to instruct and not merely a parade of a private gift. Biblical meaning is essential. [00:12:50]

To proclaim the word of God...[edit]

To proclaim the word of God. If Paul says in verse twenty three the church meets and all speaks with tongues, not understandable to any, how can those who are unlearned and unbelievers learn anything? Supposing those who come to hear are Galatians or Germans? And they hear someone babbling away in Chinese. Of what good is it? It is meaningless to them. Were they not saved; Paul asks that ye are mad? Paul’s meaning is clear and to the point. What Paul is insistent on is meaning. If instead all prophesy, if all speak, witness in what they were taught, the listener is convinced, he is judged of all. Now, Paul’s emphasis is on understanding. If it is the speaking in tongues it is to be tongues that the people present can understand, if it is prophesy or preaching then it is to be plain and clear. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, Paul concludes. Because the word of God speaks to man’s heart. It exposes his sin and his rebellion as no other word can do. Only the word of God can cause such a man to worship God and to recognize that God is in you of a truth. Thus Paul insists that true worship requires that we retain God’s priorities and the great priority is prophesy, preaching the word of God. We now tend to restrict the meaning of prophesy to predicting the future, but the priority of the biblical meaning is to teach, to preach, to expound the word of God. Prediction is a minor aspect of this but a very real one. In fact prediction is a moral fact. When you and I warn someone that the wages of sin are indeed always death we are predicting what will happen so we are constantly prophesying in that sense. [00:17:14]

So, the goal as verse twenty five makes clear is to...[edit]

So, the goal as verse twenty five makes clear is to worship God. Worship is more than what we do, it is what God requires us to do. Its nature must be determined by Him. The Corinthians wanted to worship God in their way, which meant perhaps from start to finish a parade of their gifts, seeing how gifted we are by the Holy Spirit, they were in effect saying. Paul makes clear that this is wrong; the gifts cannot take priority over the giver and his purpose. If in a royal court many gifts are given to men this gives them no freedom or right to take over the proceedings of the court. Attempts to do so in the church were disruptive to order and alien to the nature of the gifts. We must remember that we think of as the church sanctuary is a basilica, that’s the ancient name and what it means is the royal court of the King of Kings. So we are in a court when we go to church, we hear the word, the proclamation, the law word of the King. Now, no one because he is given a gift at the Royal Palace is given the freedom to take over the palace. This is what Paul in the verses which follow and elsewhere in First Corinthians strictly governed the use of charismatic gifts. He does not by any means underrate them but he refuses to permit any understanding of the priority of God and his law word, to be an underrating of their God. This is in particular a problem in our time in that the democratic impulse has led to many to insist on the priority of the common man or of one’s experience over the law word of God. The result has been disruptive of church order. This has been true in Charismatic and non-charismatic churches alike. It must have seemed to many that Paul put a damper in the church and on the Holy Spirit but the spirit cannot be separated from the Father and the Son as the [unknown]and their successors have done. [00:21:30]

To give us in effect three gods with three ages, the...[edit]

To give us in effect three gods with three ages, the [unknown] heresy came early in the middle ages. The abbot said there were three ages, the Old Testament age was the age of the Father and of law. The New Testament was the age of the Son and of grace. And the age of the Holy Spirit which was to come would not be the age of law or grace but of love. And this third age thinking is very prevalent in our world today and it is wrong. It is anti-Trinitarian, it is actually in many forms simply new age thinking, it is Hegelianism in other instances. For this and for other reasons Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is extremely important. Beginning with its grim understanding and undermining of rationalism Corinthians is the church’s charter of liberty from false theological emphasis. Paul here and elsewhere never questions the validity of true tongue speaking. His criticism is do tongue speakers further the work of the church. Are they a witness to foreigners in their native tongues? This must be the rational of their use. The glory of God and the propagation of the gospel is their purpose. Let us pray.

Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto Thee for Thy word. Thy word is truth and thy word is a corrective to all our misinterpretations. Give us grace to hear and to obey and to rejoice in Thy word. In Christ’s name, Amen. [00:24:33]

Are there any questions now about our lesson?...[edit]

Are there any questions now about our lesson?

[Man speaking] Rush, actually, a clarification and a question, the clarification being in the passage that you just read, saint Paul when talking about tongues is actually talking about as you just indicated is the actual proclamation of God’s word in that foreigners language. Ok, mentioned Closethellia [sp?] which I have heard before, can you comment a little bit more on the differences there and then your view of that today?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Most of what the church has seen over the ages has been closhellia. It is a strong emotional reaction when one is overwhelmed and instead of actual words come out there is syllables, a deep expression very often of joy, of an emotional experience. There’s nothing wrong with it but it is not speaking in tongues. And it is what usually is called tongues, both by charismatics and non-charismatics.

As you can see Paul is very plain spoken about what tongues are. And it is sad that there is so much in the way of misunderstanding on the subject. People it seems really don’t want to grasp what Paul has to say and this is true of charismatics and non-charismatics. However, it must be said that in recent years there is a growing concentration on this chapter among charismatics which will lead hopefully to a very great deepening of the life of faith. Yes? [00:27:04]

[Man speaking] I’ve heard accounts of people who are...[edit]

[Man speaking] I’ve heard accounts of people who are in this kind of ecstatic state of other people asking ‘is Jesus Lord?’ and then them denying it. Have you heard anything like that?

[Rushdoony] Then it is clearly a demonic kind of thing. That is why it is dangerous to allow oneself an unrestricted emotionalism. Are there any other questions or comments? Well if not let us conclude with prayer.

Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that by Thy sovereign grace Paul has made clear the way for the church, the path that it should take, and the word that it should obey. Give us grace to hear and to obey and to listen not to our hearts but to Thy word. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.