What is the meaning of the so-called "Charismatic Renewal" sweeping the churches today? Here is the shocking TRUTH about a fast-growing movement fooling thousands! "SOMETHING like a series of bolts of lightning went down my spine," confessed a Protestant minister. He was telling what happened when he took part in a religious service seeking "Charismatic" manifestations or "tongues-speaking."
A recent article in "The Saturday Evening Post" disclosed that this type of religious activity is sweeping through many major Protestant denominations. It is a SHOCKING new religious trend. Few ministers understand its significance!
Formerly confined to what are known as "Pentecostal" churches, "tongues-speaking" has now broken the barriers. Interestingly, it first leaped past the middle-class Protestant churches and made a startling appearance in the staid Episcopal Church — whose membership comes largely from the better economic, social and educational level.
Strange Manifestations Most unusual sensations and manifestations accompany the "tongues movement." After describing the "series of bolts of lightning," the above-mentioned Protestant minister — quoted in the Post article — described other manifestations which occurred later.
"The next morning," he recalled, "I woke up just soaked with perspiration. I did not know then that it was the heat of the Holy Spirit... but then I had a vision of ticker tape and I saw 'Sa-dama-li' printed. As I spoke this, a few more syllables came vocally."
Soon this minister was using many other strange words and phrases — utterances not part of any known human language.
"A while later," he said, "I put my hands up and began to praise the Lord in these words He'd given me — and my tongue took wings. I just worshipped Jesus."
But was it true worship?
A New "Pentecostal" Movement Several years ago — mainly as a matter of curiosity — your author attended some of these so-called "Pentecostal" meetings. They were conducted by some of the well-known Pentecostal evangelists — a few of whom still command a following.
Let me tell you my personal observation.
I found — and this was true in EVERY meeting of this type I attended — that the appeal was almost one hundred per cent to human emotion. The "Pentecostal" ministers were obviously quite proficient at mass psychology — especially when directed, in this case, toward the backward or uneducated types of people.
In one such meeting where everyone was exhorted to "seek the spirit," I happened to be sitting just in front of a Negro woman who was suddenly seized with strange convulsions. She began to throw her body forward and backward, her head shaking and her neck almost snapping with the ferocity of these convulsions. She was literally foaming at the mouth, gnashing her teeth, groaning with strange, guttural, mournful-sounding moans, and her eyes were rolled back in her head and had a strange, glazed appearance.
I have been in hospital wards and seen people dying and near death. But I have never seen a more revolting sight in my life than the type of convulsive "fit" which suddenly seized this poor woman!
I have seen couples in these meetings "dancing in the spirit." This takes place while the "Pentecostal" song leader is leading the emotionally aroused crowd in a jazzy, bouncy-type of religious hymn. The couples or persons involved hold hands facing each other and — in a disjointed sort of way — shuffle and "dance" about with a fixed and rather weird or silly-looking smile on their faces — gazing upward in a type of ecstatic leer as they bounce around to the jazzy hymn music. Some individuals — dancing alone by themselves — seem to be just shuffling around as though lost in a trance. They might easily be mistaken for being drunk if they were doing the same thing out on a street corner.
In every one of these "Pentecostal" meetings, there was no sermon or discussion of how to love and serve God or your fellow man. There was no appeal to study and understand the Bible. No effort whatsoever was devoted to explaining how to master the weaknesses and temptations of human nature so as to become more like Christ.
Rather, the entire effort in these meetings was devoted to whipping up human emotion!
The people were exhorted to try to "receive" feelings, manifestations, and strange-sounding utterances which the Pentecostal leaders labeled "tongues." Constantly — over and over again — the ministers, song leaders and congregation repeat certain key phrases such as: "Glory!" or "Jesus!" or "Hallelujah!"
With the jazzy-type of hymn-singing, the rythmic, emotion-filled chant of these repeated utterances, the congregation is gradually whipped up into an emotional frenzy.
Casting aside all caution and mental control, the people — through emotional frenzy — desperately try to "get" or "receive" what they believe is the Holy Spirit — or "the baptism of the Holy Ghost" — or "speaking in tongues." Yes, they are trying only to "receive" or GET!
They are not trying to GIVE their lives as a living sacrifice in service to God and their fellow man (Rom. 12:1). They are NOT trying to really study and show themselves approved to God by understanding and LIVING BY His revealed Word in the Bible (II Tim. 2:15; Matt. 4:4).
In these "Pentecostal" meetings, people are not taught to live God's WAY OF LIFE and to follow the example of Jesus Christ. The emphasis is rather upon human emotions and sensations which are systematically "worked up" by those who are experts at mass psychology.
What about the Day of Pentecost? "But," many will ask, "what about the Day of Pentecost when the original Disciples of Christ spoke with tongues?" "All right," I answer, "WHAT ABOUT IT?"
Have you really STUDIED this chapter? Have you read ALL of it in context — and sincerely and objectively compared it with the other examples of God's blessing and power from the lives of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, Peter and Paul?
Let's notice carefully what the description of the Day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts really DOES say!
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1).
As any interlinear or Greek text will show, the original Greek is better translated: "And when the Day of Pentecost was being fulfilled" — or "being accomplished."
The point is that Pentecost is NOT an experience, but a DAY!
Any real Biblical scholar understands that this day was given to ancient Israel as the "Feast of Weeks" or "Firstfruits." Since its observance involves counting fifty from a certain point — the New Testament designation became the "Day of Pentecost." This is because, in Greek, "pente" means fifty and "cost" means count. In other words — the very name of this Day means "Count fifty" or was referring to the "fiftieth day."
This day came around every year in the late spring and celebrated the completion of the smaller spring harvest of "firstfruits." Notice that this day was observed several years after the one mentioned in Acts 2 by the Apostle Paul, in Acts 20:16. Also, on yet another occasion it was observed by Paul in the city of Ephesus as described in I Corinthians 16:8.
Strangely, and significantly, the very people who call themselves "Pentecostal" do NOT even observe the Biblically commanded Day of Pentecost!
But now, let's continue with the account in Acts 2 to see what DID happen on this particular Day of Pentecost which came just after Christ's resurrection.
"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (verse 2).
Notice that the sound did not come from a smirking, "jazzy" Pentecostal song leader gradually and systematically whipping up the congregation with emotional songs and sayings. Rather, it came "from heaven." It sounded NOT like the moans and squeals emanating from the mouths of excited human beings, but rather like a powerful wind rushing through the temple.
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them" (verse 3).
Observe that literal tongues of FLAME quite evidently came down from above and hovered over each of Christ's disciples on this occasion. Absolutely NOTHING like this ever occurs in the "Pentecostal" meetings.
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (verse 4).
There is no mention whatsoever of them being gradually worked up to an emotional pitch by special songs, shouts and other methods of crowd psychology, but rather that they were filled with God's Holy Spirit — "whom God bath given to them that OBEY Him" (Acts 5:32).
Now notice verses 5-8. Here the Bible reveals that the "tongues" or languages spoken by these apostles were literal, living LANGUAGES of that day which were clearly understood by the Jews who were meeting there in the temple also observing the Day of Pentecost and had come from many nations all over the world in order to do so. It says that, "Every man heard them speak in his own language" (verse 6).
The Jews asked one another, "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" (verse 8).
Yes, completely CONTRARY to the ideas of the "Pentecostal" people and even that of the Post article referred to above, the languages spoken by Christ's disciples were definitely NOT some "spiritual language" or "language of the angels," but literal human dialects in use in THAT DAY. They were clearly UNDERSTOOD by the people from other countries who were listening.
That, of course, was their PURPOSE!
Then What about the "Unknown Tongues" of I Corinthians 14? Being clearly repudiated in their wrong interpretation and Misapplication of Acts 2, many "Pentecostal" believers will quickly turn to I Corinthians 14. For here is a chapter that speaks about "unknown tongues."
Or DOES IT?
The simple and obvious answer is that the word "unknown" is ALWAYS in finer or italic print in the King James Version of your Bible — designated in this way to show you that this word was NOT in the original inspired Greek but has rather been inserted by men!
Of course, then, there IS no such thing as an "unknown" tongue!
Rather, if prayerfully and intelligently read, this chapter is definitely speaking — as Acts 2 — about the supernaturally imparted ability to speak in a foreign language. But the Apostle Paul — warning of the MISUSE of this gift — spends most of his argument in warning the Corinthians NOT to speak in such a language unless there are people present who can understand.
He shows that if a man speaks in a "tongue" so that no one around him understands, he is only speaking to God (verse 2). He shows (verse 4) that this man would then only edify himself — whereas one who preaches would edify the church.
In verse 12, he exhorts the Corinthians to speak to edify the church — not to speak in tongues or foreign languages unless they are translated into the language of the majority of the congregation.
In verse 14, Paul says that if he prays in a foreign language his "spirit" or mind prays — but the understanding or significance of what he is saying is "unfruitful" so far as others are concerned. He then goes on to show that a man who has this gift may "bless" or return thanks in a supernaturally imparted foreign tongue, but an uneducated person would not benefit from his prayer and would be unable to say "Amen" at his thanksgiving.
Thus, this type of praying or giving of thanks is unfruitful — UNPROFITABLE!
The Apostle Paul concludes this inspired section of his instruction by stating: "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might TEACH OTHERS ALSO, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (verse 19).
"Tongues" a Sign to UNBELIEVERS Then, in verse 21, he proceeds to quote directly from Isaiah 28:11. Here God warned ancient Israel that He was going to have to PUNISH them through foreign-tongued invaders! Clearly, this also shows that "tongues" are human languages understood by the people of the nationalities involved!
Paul then concludes in verse 22: "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, NOT to them that believe, but to them that BELIEVE NOT: but prophesying [inspired preaching, see verse 3] serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe."
Therefore, although the modern "Pentecostal" people ALWAYS want to "show off" their tongues even among their own church brethren, Paul was inspired by God to state that tongues are ONLY a sign for the unbelievers! And, in EVERY instance where the gift of tongues was granted, the lookers-on or unbelievers included FOREIGNERS who spoke in a different language and could therefore understand what was being spoken!
To make it plain, there was NEVER an example of the gift of "tongues" being employed in Palestine among converted Palestinian Jews who all spoke the same language anyway!
The inspired record of the gift of "tongues" in the New Testament includes ONLY the following accounts:
First, the account in Acts 2 at the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem when foreign-born Jews from ALL nations were present.
Secondly, the account of Cornelius' baptism in Acts 10. This took place at the seaport of Caesarea — and clearly included not only Cornelius, but his Italian family and other "Gentiles" (verse 45) who would have understood the foreign languages spoken on that occasion.
Thirdly, the account in Acts 19:1-6 took place at Ephesus — a great Gentile commercial center wherein were constantly MANY different types of people speaking the different dialects of Asia Minor.
Finally, the account we have just discussed in I Corinthians 14 again involves a MAJOR seaport of the ancient Roman world. Here again, the constant usage of foreign languages and dialects of the various seamen and merchantmen was a common thing.
In this and ALL these occurrences, the gift of foreign languages would have a definite PURPOSE. The unbelievers attending the church meeting wherein they were manifested would be able to understand what was spoken, and — knowing the background of the speakers — come to realize the POWER of the True God.
"Tongues" Normally NOT Employed It is significant to note that although TREMENDOUS miracles were worked throughout the Old Testament through Moses, Elijah, Elisha and others, the gift of "tongues" was NEVER imparted.
It is obvious for one who understands. The Old Testament Israelites were never commanded to preach to or proselyte the Gentiles — people of foreign languages! Therefore, they simply had no reason whatsoever to "witness" to these people in this way.
The same is true of the ministry of John the Baptist. John preached ONLY to the children of Israel in Palestine who all spoke the same language. Therefore, he NEVER spoke in "tongues," although Jesus Christ said of him: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there bath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11).
Most important of all, Christ Himself NEVER spoke in "tongues"! For — just as John — Jesus preached only in Palestine where the Jews all spoke the same language. There was no need for Him to speak a foreign language.
Who, then, will accuse CHRIST of "lacking" in spiritual gifts? Who will try to refute the inspired statement of John: "God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him" (John 3:34).
Who has the audacity to say that Jesus Christ did not set us a perfect example in this aspect of Christianity as well as in every other?
Yet Jesus Christ is NEVER recorded to have spoken with "tongues"!
Do You Receive the Holy Spirit Through "Speaking in Tongues"? Christ never spoke with tongues — yet the Holy Spirit was given to Him "without measure"! John the Baptist never spoke with tongues! Nowhere in the Bible do you find — by example or command — that all Christians are to "speak in tongues"!
Rather, on the very Day of Pentecost when the true gift of supernaturally speaking in foreign languages was imparted, the Apostle Peter was inspired by God to reveal HOW we can receive the Holy Spirit.
What is the BIBLE way to receive the Holy Spirit?
Under inspiration, Peter stated: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 2:38)
Peter said that you were to be baptized for the remission of sins. Then it is SIN that you repent of!
And what is the BIBLE definition of sin?
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin IS the transgression of the law." (I John 3:4).
Yes, sin is breaking God's law — the Ten Commandments as they are magnified in the New Testament!
James was inspired to state: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law" (Jas. 2:10-11).
Bible-believing Christians must obey every point of God's law — and two of those points include the commands against adultery and murder. Obviously and honestly, therefore, the law spoken of is the Ten Commandments.
To receive God's Spirit, then, you must REPENT of breaking God's law as contained in the Ten Commandments. You must "be baptized" as the symbol of your willingness to BURY the old self and rise up to walk in newness of life in an obedient life [see Romans 6:1-4].
You Must OBEY Your Maker As we have seen, God gives the Holy Spirit "to them that OBEY Him" (Acts 5:32).
This is one thing most "Pentecostal" people simply WON'T do!
They and their leaders are interested in seeking physical and sensual thrills and sensations. These human emotions and tinglings of the spine give them a snippy, proud, self-righteous attitude.
Through these emotional manifestations, they feel they have — as they would put it — the "baptism of the Holy Ghost." Through these strange manifestations and electric shocks up and down their spines in "Pentecostal" meetings, they feel they are "born again." They are proud. They are self-righteous. They resent the teaching that they must OBEY their Maker before they will ever be allowed to enter His Kingdom or receive the real Spirit of God.
When such a person is told he must obey God's commandments, he sets his jaw like a rebellious child and shouts:
Yet when a young man came to Christ and asked the way to eternal life, Jesus said: "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:16-17).
John, the disciple "Jesus loved," wrote: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him [God's Spirit or His blessings], because we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22).
Does the "Pentecostal" person claim to have the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts? (Rom. 5:5).
Of course he does!
Then why doesn't he BELIEVE John': inspired statement: "For this Is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3).
God's Divine Warning Their lives filled with emptiness and wretchedness, multiplied thousands of people are beginning to "seek" fox spiritual manifestations, for revelations; for some sort of escape or outlet for their pent-up frustrations. As reported in a recent PLAIN TRUTH article, many in England are turning to sorcery in their search for something to satisfy, something to fill the EMPTINESS of their wretched lives.
Although the modern "Charismatic Renewal" and "tongues-speaking" movement now sweeping many of the respectable churches may not as yet have reached the point of the old line "Pentecostal" movement, it is nevertheless very definitely headed in that direction!
Ministers admit that their modern churches and rituals are empty and DEAD. In their desperation to find something that has "life," they are seizing upon the manifestations accompanying the "tongues" movement and the orgies of "seeking after the Spirit" which accompany it.
Very frankly, they are jumping from the frying pan into the FIRE!
Your Bible warns: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but TRY THE SPIRITS whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).
But HOW do you try the spirits?
Compare them with the basic commands and examples in the inspired Word of God! See if, for example, their ministers and adherents understand and obey THIS scripture: "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4).
Do they really KEEP God's Ten Commandments?
Do they advocate and practice the WAY OF LIFE advocated by Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Testament? Are they studying and understanding the Bible and constantly GROWING to become more like Jesus Christ in their personalities, their mental development, and their character? (Eph. 4:11-13).
God's Word warns: "And when they shall say unto you, seek ye unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the LAW and to the TESTIMONY [the teaching and example of the Bible]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is NO LIGHT in them" (Isa. 8:19-20).
The modern "seeking" after weird, guttural sounds and gibberish [incorrectly referred to as "tongues" by deceived men] certainly fits this description.
Your Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit imparts wisdom, knowledge and faith (I Cor. 12:8-9). It reveals that God's Spirit is the Spirit of a SOUND MIND (II Tim. 1:7).
But the blatant display of uncontrolled emotions, the raucous, guttural gibberish palmed off as "tongues," the shouting, screaming, sobbing, moaning and foaming at the mouth so commonly seen in "Pentecostal" meetings — these are the exact OPPOSITE to the fruits of the true Spirit of God!
In plain fact, many of these manifestations are directly from Satan the DEVIL! These literal "seizures" which cause human beings to LOSE CONTROL of their minds and bodies are the seizures of demon spirits — grasping for control over human beings made in the image of God!
I know! Many "Pentecostal" people won't like to hear this! But for the sake of your eternal life God help you to open your minds and UNDERSTAND!
Be willing to wake up and face the TRUTH!
UNDERSTAND What God Requires Do you believe in God — in "tongues" — in visions — in sensations running up and down your spine?
So does SATAN THE DEVIL!
In fact, he KNOWS that these things are real!
Satan KNOWS that God exists and created all things! (Jas. 2:19). But his faith is devoid of works (verse 20).
Satan won't OBEY!
God can never again entrust him with great authority and power in His Kingdom. For he refuses to SUBMIT to his Maker and to God's commandments!
In the Post article, one prominent Protestant minister said he was interested in the tongues movement because he was trying to find "the life of the New Testament." He said: "We've got to find this, because if we don't, we're going out of business."
So WHERE does he look for the "life of the New Testament"? At human emotions and the actions of literal DEMONS on the spines and bodies of human beings!
When this minister — as others — looked into the New Testament, did he ever find that Jesus participated in emotion-filled meetings with screaming and shouting, sobbing and throbbing human beings worked up to an emotional pitch of excitement through repetitive songs, phrases and chants? Did he ever find that Peter did this, or Paul?
Of course not!
But since mankind has — for nearly six thousand years now — been UNWILLING to accept the plain, clear instruction of God to OBEY His commands, it has had to seek out every weird and devious idea, doctrine and practice conceivable in its vain and desperate search for "something that satisfies"!
WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP?
Jesus came preaching the "Kingdom" or Government of God (Mark 1:14). He clearly revealed that the Message of that Kingdom involved obedience to the LAWS contained in the Ten Commandments (Luke 16:16-17).
As we noted, He said to the seeker after eternal life: "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!" (Matt. 19:17).
Even after His death and resurrection, Christ taught His disciples the Message of the Kingdom or GOVERNMENT of God (Acts 1:3).
Philip later preached this Message to the Samaritans (Acts 8:12). Paul preached this Message to the Gentiles at Ephesus (Acts 20:25). And he — the Apostle to the Gentiles — completed his ministry by preaching the "Kingdom of God" to the Gentiles at Rome (Acts 28:31).
God's Kingdom has LAWS — and keeping these laws becomes a WAY OF LIFE.
God's WAY in Action In the soon-coming rule of Jesus Christ over this earth: "The LAW shall go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2). Then people everywhere — ALL peoples and nations — will learn the WAY of peace, happiness and prosperity through obedience to the commandments and laws of their Maker!
They will find it is not so weird and difficult, after all, to refrain from killing, stealing, lying, committing adultery and going after various false gods of DEMONISM.
They will learn that God does, indeed, impart POWER. "For God bath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7).
Most of all, they will utilize the POWER of God's Holy Spirit to overcome human lusts and emotions so that — through HIS divine nature placed within them (II Pet. 1:4) — they WILL be able to keep the laws of God and live by His ways. They will have the divine LOVE given by God's Spirit (Rom. 5:5) to help them love and worship God, and to love and serve their fellow man according to God's commandments (I John 5:3).
Because man is forbidden to kill, they will have PEACE — for the first time in human history!
Because man is forbidden to commit adultery or even to lust after another woman — and because man and wife are commanded to "cleave" together and obey God's instructions for a happy home — they will have HAPPY MARRIAGES brimful and running over with JOY! Because man is forbidden to steal and lie, there will be no trickery and thievery!
This is the WAY OF LIFE which will be produced by the true Spirit of God placed in man after Christ's return (Ezek. 36:26-28).
Strive for a SOUND MIND This is the "life of the New Testament" if you really want it! THIS is the "fruit" or result of God's Holy Spirit inspiring and leading the converted human being!
Oh, yes! The true gift of divine healing — without a lot of hoopla, fanfare and emotion — is definitely one of the gifts of God's Spirit. And, of course, the true gift of "tongues" itself has — at various times in the Christian era — been manifested as a "sign" to the UNBELIEVERS (I Cor. 14:22) who themselves speak a foreign language. But this gift — as others — was NEVER accompanied by unbridled human emotion or by selfish, carnal human beings desperately trying to shout and scream and whine and "pray down" God's Spirit in this manner!
Make no mistake! The inspired examples of your Bible make the above statements abundantly clear to anyone with an open mind and heart!
If you wish further information on "speaking in tongues," read our attractive, free booklet, "The Tongues Question." This will give even more complete information and explanation on this subject, and will answer more in detail some of the carnal "arguments" thrown up by people deceived and ensnared in the "tongues" movement.
In addition, read Mr. Armstrong's important booklet entitled: "Does God HEAL Today?" It will make clear how — and in what manner — God does expect us to rely on Him for healing.
Also, on the subject of salvation itself, read our free booklet: "Just What Do You Mean... Born Again?"
And it's important companion booklet: "What IS Salvation?"
Meanwhile, let's understand the TRUTH about "bolts of lightning" running up and down people's spines, about strange, unknown utterances called "tongues," about shimmering, dancing lights in dark rooms, scratching on the walls or voices in the night. If you value your prospect of eternal life or even your very SANITY of mind, then learn to heed the Biblical injunction: "Try the spirits whether they are of God..."
If you are sincerely looking for the "life of the New Testament," then by all means STUDY the New Testament itself — not some book of men written about the New Testament! Read carefully the example and practice of Jesus Christ and His apostles — and follow it!
Realize that true Christianity is the religion of Christ — and that the Holy Spirit is indeed the Spirit of a SOUND MIND, and of a truly surrendered and OBEDIENT mind.