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"Wherefore brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." (1Co 14:39)

Do we obey this plain admonition of scripture?

Yes, but this admonition must be considered in light of several other responsibilities and exhortations given in the Bible.

"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." 1Ti 5:22

Before we give someone authority to speak in the church, we need to have some assurance that they are able to edify the church and that what they say will be Biblical.

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;...Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. Ti 1:7-10

Not everyone who desires to speak in a church would be acceptable to God.

The Tests

  1. Doctrine

    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1Jo 4:1

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Rom 16:17

  2. Practice

Notice this key verse in 1 Corinthians 14.

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 1Co 14:37

What had Paul written?

If tongues are used in a church the following conditions should be met. If they were not – we must arrive at one simple conclusion – they were not prophets or spiritual.

If they are not prophets or spiritual, then we cannot allow them to speak in the church.


The Conditions: Let all things be done unto edifying.

  1. 1Co 14:26 Tongues are of very little value along this line – unless interpreted. vs 19 Even then they take more time they introduce more potential for error they introduce more potential for spiritual show-off-ism.
  2. Two and at most three in any one service. vs 27
  3. Each in turn. vs 27
  4. Let one interpret vs 27
  5. If there is no interpreter, let them remain silent. vs 28 cp vs 19 Remember the spirit of the prophets (and tongues’ speakers by implication) are subject to the prophets. vs 32
  6. No women should speak in tongues in the church. vv 34,35
  7. Everything should be done decently and in order. vs 40

Other Considerations

Many charismatics say or imply, "I feel sorry for you Baptists, all you have is the Bible. You do not have direct revelation from God and the close relationship that goes with it."

The Bible is Sufficient

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: -2TI 3:16

That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. -2TI 3:17

Where is the Greater Spiritual Discernment?

  • In detecting frauds (i.e. Swaggert, Baker).
  • In detecting false doctrine (Roman Catholic faith healers and tongues speakers are considered saved).
  • In seeing through blatant violations of Biblical Principles (Oral Roberts and the $6 million death threat, etc.)
  • In avoiding the ecumenical move toward the one world church of the end time. (Rev 13)
  • In teachings concerning the home, music, worldliness, etc.
  • In simple depth and understanding of the Word of God.