Tongues of Angels

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‘What are the tongues of angels?” Well, if you take the charismatic answer, there would be tens of thousands of different angelic nations, each with its own ‘tongues of angels.’ I remember as a very young child asking my father how it was possible for the person speaking in ‘tongues’ to say the same thing over and over again, yet when the ‘interpretation’ was given, the English invariably contained many more varied words than the ‘unknown tongue’ had. Back then, the English ‘interpretation’ was always in King James English. But I digress. What is Paul trying to express when he states, though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [agape], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal? Have we, right here, been told that Paul had indeed spoken in some ‘unknown tongues of angels?’ No, nine out of ten times the word translated ‘though’ here is usually translated ‘if.’ So this is a hypothetical question. It most definitely is not a statement of fact! I have no doubt that the zealous Pentecostal or charismatic will point out that Paul most definitely had spoken in the tongues of men as if this obvious fact proves that therefore he is telling us that he had actually spoken in some ‘unknown’ language of angels. But this ‘idol of the heart’ so called ‘logic’ falls apart in the full light of the next two verses:

1Co 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

1Co 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Now all any spiritually honest person has to do is to ask himself, did Paul actually remove any mountains? Had he actually given his body to be burnt? The answer to these questions is as obvious as the answers posed by Paul himself in the previous chapter, where he proves that not everyone who has the Holy Ghost possesses all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. No one has all the gifts, and certainly not one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost is required to be shared by every believer. Here are those very revealing questions:

1Co 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1Co 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

The answer to all seven of these questions, for any honest person, is a resounding ‘No, all are not apostles, all are not teachers, and all do not work miracles! Yes, all these worketh that one and the selfsame [ Holy] Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will (1Co 12:11). Yet all do not possess the gifts of healing, all do not speak with tongues, and all do not interpret. And yet Paul assures us:

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the [ Holy] Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Paul does not distinguish between ‘the Spirit of God’ and ‘the Spirit of Christ.’ As we are plainly told they are “that one and the selfsame Spirit” (1Co 12:11). ‘Unknown’ tongues are unknown to the scriptures. They discourage those who are too honest to “receive them,” and they “puff up” those who, as I myself once was, have a “zeal for God but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2).

When I use the words ‘spiritually honest,’ I am not at all implying that Pentecostal and charismatic people are all spiritually dishonest people. Quite to the contrary, my experience has been that some of the most honest people I have ever known have been charismatics and Pentecostals. And I am not telling you that I was at one time spiritually dishonest. That is not my point. But once I saw the truth revealed when honestly answering Paul’s seven questions; once I saw that the reason “no man understands him” was simply because there was no man there who needed or understood that language, and there was no one there to interpret that language; once I saw that the gifted person was to first determine if there were someone who could interpret his foreign tongue which would be a “sign to unbelievers; once I saw that “in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries” simply because those speaking real languages on the day of Pentecost did not understand what they were speaking, but that there were others there who did; once I saw that the only reason given in scripture for this gift of tongues was as “a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers;” once I saw that in the law it is written, ‘with men of other tongues [ not angels 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;’ once I saw that the “tongues of angels” matter was a hypothetical question; once all of this became clear, then I would have been a spiritually dishonest person to continue clinging to what I now knew to be scripturally unfounded beliefs.

Once truth is seen, if at that point, we do not relinquish our faulty doctrines; then what was up to that point simply a matter of having “a zeal for God but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2), has now progressed to become an “idol of the heart” (Ezekiel 14:1-10). Let us look carefully and prayerfully at these verses:

Ezekiel 14:1 Then came certain of the elders [ Today’s leading ministers] of Israel unto me, and sat before me.
Ezekiel 14:2 And the word of the LORD [ The scriptures] came unto me, saying,

Ezekiel 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart [ false, unscriptural doctrines], and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face [ living and acting in accord with their heart’s idols]: should I be enquired of at all by them?

Ezekiel 14:4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart [ continues to cling to his false doctrines after the truth has been presented to him], and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet [ Comes to the Bible trying to force it to fit his heart’s idol]; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols [ God Himself will “send them strong delusion,” and it will be “according to” what they want the Bible to say. It will be “according to the multitude of their idols”];

Ezekiel 14:5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Ezekiel 14:6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols [ relinquish your scripturally unfounded doctrines]; and turn away your faces from all your abominations [ living in accord with your unfounded teachings, like: ‘free moral agency,’ ‘the immortality of the soul,’ and it’s accompanying ‘eternal hell fire’ doctrine, the ‘secret, pre- trib rapture, the teaching of tithing in the new covenant, and yes, the unscriptural teaching of ‘unknown tongues.]

Ezekiel 14:7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:

Ezekiel 14:8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people [ God’s “people” are not in “buildings made with hands;” they “come out … of Babylon”]; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezekiel 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

Ezekiel 14:10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh [ unto him];

‘Unknown tongues’ are not an idol of the heart until one is faced with the truth of the scriptures on the subject. But once we see the truth on this or any other false doctrine, if at that point we begin to reason, ‘My whole church believes and teaches this doctrine. Surely my minister and many other great men of God cannot be wrong about this doctrine. Besides I have believed and taught many others this doctrine all my adult life. Why, if I change my tune now, no one will ever believe a word I ever say again.’ These and a thousand other arguments just like them are the building materials of “idols of the heart.” Any criteria other than ‘what saith the scriptures’ is nothing less than an “idol of the heart.”

Getting back to your question about the ‘tongues of angels,’ in 2Co 13, after reiterating the point that he had made in the first three chapters of this epistle, that you can “come behind in no gift:”

1Co 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

1Co 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

And yet these very same ‘gifted’ tongues- endowed Corinthians we are told were yet “carnal.”

1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

1Co 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?

1Co 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

After reiterating this point in Chapter 13: ‘though I have all gifts and have not love,’ Paul then tell us what it really is that truly distinguishes a man who has come to know Christ:

1Co 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

1Co 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
1Co 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

1Co 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

I can well remember how I used to bristle at any suggestion that my ‘unknown tongues’ were not of God. But the scriptures themselves constrain me to confess that the Truth is “forbid not to speak with tongues,” but ‘unknown tongues,’ as I have said, are unknown to the scriptures.

I cannot speak for others, but as I understand the scriptures, every verse from Genesis to Revelation is part of the ‘revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and everything in between. As such, His word has the same qualities. What this means is that all the gifts of God are still available when they are needed for those who are not yet brought to the point that they can function without them. This is true for every newborn babe in every generation. It is an obvious fact that as long as all of one’s prayers are answered, his faith will never be tried or proven. Spiritual maturity, as the experiences of Paul and all the apostles show, necessitates that we will not always enjoy the benefits of the gifts of the Spirit. It is because we have grown to the point that we value the fruit above the gifts that we are able to be weaned from the outward demonstrations of faith. We cannot have our spiritually mature cake and eat it too. Children need gifts. Mature adults need to give to others whatever it takes to bring them to maturity.

No child yet has ever matured by getting everything he wanted. Withholding the gifts of childhood are a necessary step to spiritual maturity. ‘Charity,’ the true measure of spiritual maturity, “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1Co 13:7). “Enduring all things” is a strong indication that at some point in the development of every generation of the Christian experience, our faith will be tested.

1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

If the gift of real tongues is simply not available today, then neither is the gift of knowledge and neither is the gift of prophecy; we need never ask for healing, and we can never expect to see a miracle. I have yet to witness an Act 2 experience, but I have witnessed healings that, though not instantaneous, were nevertheless miraculous. If Christ truly “is, was and will be,” then the same is true of His Word. It too, “is, was and will be.” If you haven’t yet done so be sure to read Biblical Examples Of Rightly Dividing the Word. It will give you a valuable tool for understanding the way the apostles themselves used the word of God. That tool is not even allowed in the hermeneutics and exegesis of today’s orthodox seminaries.

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

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