Face To Face With Tongues

A Verse by Verse Examination and Exposition On the Subject of Tongues

Mark 16:14-20

  1. The Commission

This portion of Scripture is claimed by the tongues advocates to support their practice of speaking in so-called tongues.  Let us examine the Verses.

In Verse 14, we find Christ, after His resurrection, addressing the eleven remaining disciples in a reproachful manner for their hesitancy in believing that He had actually risen from the dead.

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen."

He then gave them this commission:

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (15b)

Now, of those that believed the gospel (17), certain "SIGNS" shall follow.  Notice carefully, if you will, Christ said "SIGNS," plural; not just one sign, singular, of speaking in tongues.

"And these signs shall follow them that believe..." (17a)

In verses 17 and 18, five signs are given:

  1. "In my name they shall cast out devils (demons)."
  2. "They shall speak with new tongues."
  3. "They shall take up serpents."
  4. "If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."
  5. "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

The question naturally arises, "Why do those who speak in so-called tongues not exercise the other four signs?"  With thousands of sick people in all our hospitals, perhaps millions, it would be inhumane and unchristian not to visit these hospitals and lay hands on the sick with Christ's promise that they "shall" recover.  Remember, if the sign of speaking in tongues is for today; then, so are the other four!

  1. The Concern

    One must remember that the sign miracles are associated primarily with the nation of Israel.  The miracles recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were to confirm the message that Jesus was their Messiah.  If Israel, as a nation, would have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah, Christ would have established His Kingdom at that time.

"For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom." (1st Corinthians 1:22)

The Jews required miracle signs, so Christ gave them signs in abundance.  In Matthew 10:5-8 He sent the Apostles to Israel with the power to perform miracles as signs to Israel.

"...Go not into the way of the Gentiles ... But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils (demons): freely ye have received, freely give."

In Luke 10:1-20, Christ sent seventy disciples out, two by two, with the power to perform miracles.

"And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." (Luke 10:9)

"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19)

John summarized the miracle signs in John 20:30,31 by saying,

"And many other signs (miracles) truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

Again, we emphasize, these signs were to authenticate the message that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

The five signs given in Mark 16:17,18 were to confirm the Word they were commissioned to preach until the New Testament was completed.

"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and CONFIRMING THE WORD WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING." (Mark 16:20)

Remember, the New testament had not yet been written.  One could not open to Ephesians, Revelation, or James, and etc., as God's completed revelation to man was not yet in writing.  The Book of Acts, the transition Book which chronicles the infancy of the Church Age, provides some of the record of these signs prior to the Book of Revelation.  Actually, the last miracles recorded in the New Testament took place about 58 A.D. (Acts 28:1-9).  There were many who were not healed from about 60 A.D. on to the present.  Here are some examples:

  1. Epaphroditus, (Philippians 2:25-30).  This faithful servant of the Lord was a companion of Paul (Vs. 25).  His illness may have been caused by working so hard for the Lord that he did not take time to eat properly or get enough rest (Vs. 30).  Whatever the cause, he almost died.  The point is ... Paul, who had performed miracles prior to this, was unable to heal his friend.  The miracle sign of healing was no longer possessed by the Apostle Paul.  God did not see fit to heal Epaphroditus (Vs. 27), for Paul credits God with the healing and glory.
  2. Timothy, (1st Timothy 1:2 with 5:23).  Paul, in his writing to young Timothy, whom he had won to Christ, said, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1st Timothy 5:23).  This took place about 62 A.D.  There was probably no other person whom Paul loved more than Timothy, yet he was unable to heal him as he had others before.  Even at this time, about 34 years before the writing of Revelation, the last Book of the Bible, the miracle signs had ended.
  3. Trophimus, (2nd Timothy 4:20).

"Erastus abode at Corinth: but TROPHIMUS have I left at Miletum sick."

At about 66 A.D., Paul could not heal Trophimus; but, just a few years earlier, Paul had done the following:

  1. (Acts 13:1), Made a man blind.
  2. (Acts 14:8-10), Made a cripple who had never walked, WALK.
  3. (Acts 16:18), Cast out a demon.
  4. (Acts 28:8), Healed another man.
  5. (Acts 19:11,12), Performed special miracles.

"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."

But, now, in 66 A.D., he could not heal Trophimus and had to leave him at Miletum sick.  The miracle signs had ceased!

  1. Paul, (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9).  Whatever illness Paul had, it affected his body for it was a "thorn in the flesh" (body).  Paul could not heal himself as he had done previously when bitten by the venomous viper (Acts 28:1-9).  He asked the Lord three times to cure him; but, in this case, it was not God's will to do so.  As 2nd Corinthians was written about 58-60 A.D., we can see the power of Paul to heal himself was not present.  The miracle signs had already ceased!
  1. The Conclusion.

    In Mark 16:17 we read, "And these signs shall follow them that believe..."  The signs listed in Mark 16:17,18 DID follow them that believed; but, only for a short period of time.  These signs are recorded in the Book of Acts, the last occurring about 58 A.D. as given in Acts in 28:1-9.  Now, some conclusion:
  1. The last miracle signs are recorded about 58 A.D. (Acts 28:1-9).  They had ceased about 38 years before the New Testament was completed.
  2. Paul, who had exercised these miracle signs, could no longer do them.  He could not heal Epaphroditus, Timothy, Trophimus, not himself from about 62 A.D. on.
  3. Since tongues advocates claim Mark 16:17,18 as their license for speaking in tongues, they would also have the power to perform the other four miracles.  As stated in Verse 7, "These signs (plural) shall follow them that believe.All the signs, not just the speaking in tongues!
  4. Most tongues advocates insist that all the signs given in Mark 16 are for today.  A minority claim just tongues are still applicable today.  To this minority, we simply refer the Scripture found in 1st Corinthians 13:8-10 where "knowledge, prophecy, and tongues" shall be done away with, or "cease," when God's written Word is complete.  This was accomplished with the Book of Revelation in about 96 A.D. (please refer to our section on 1st Corinthians 13).
  5. Ananias.  In Acts 9:10-18, he exercised one of the signs by healing Paul's blindness.  Why do not those speaking in so-called tongues lay their hands on the blind and allow them to see?  Recently, as of this writing, I visited a very young girl in the Cleveland Clinic.  She was blind, could hardly hear and had just come out of open heart surgery.  They could not stabilize her breathing and could do nothing more, medically, than wait and see.  Of all the tongues advocates who claim the signs in Mark 16, where is just ONE who would lay their hands on a person such as this so she could be restored to health.  Does one care to step forward?
  6. Stephen, (Acts 6:1-15).

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great WONDERS (plural) and MIRACLES (plural) among the people." (Vs. 8)

Stephen, exercising the signs of Mark 16, did wonders and miracles among the people.  A far cry from someone today claiming tongues for a spiritual "high," but failing to empty our hospitals by laying on of the hands and the sick recovering.

  1. Philip, the Evangelist.

"And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the MIRACLES (plural) which he did.  For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed." (Acts 8:6,7)

Philip was exercising the signs of mark 16, not just a sign of speaking in tongues.  Why do not those who claim the signs of Mark 16 are for today , do what Philip did?  We also must note that "the people gave HEED TO THOSE THINGS WHICH PHILIP SPAKE, hearing and seeing the miracles."  The miracles were given to validate the message until the New Testament was completed.  Since we have God's completed Word today in great abundance, there is no need for the miracles.

  1. Barnabas and Paul, (Acts 14:3;15:12).

"Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what MIRACLES (plural) and WONDERS (plural) God had wrought among the Gentiles by them." (15:12)

These miracles were: healing the sick, casting out demons, the power to escape death when bitten by a venomous viper.  These fulfilled Mark 16:17,18 completely and were not to be compared with the shallow emotionalism of the so-called speaking in tongues of today.

The one time that Paul mentioned his use of tongues was to quench the "spiritual" pride of the Corinthian tongues speakers.

"I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." (1st Corinthians 14:18)

He, no doubt, used this gift on his missionary journeys when he encountered people whose language he did not know.  In 1st Corinthians 14:19,20, Paul told the Corinthian church to speak words in the church that could be understood and to grow up and act like men, not children.  Paul's only reason for mentioning his use of the tongues gift was to squelch their spiritual pride.  The, and only then, it was to convey the gospel to a people whose language he did not speak.  It was a real language, and not the shallow "jibber-jabber" that we hear today.

Much more could be written to substantiate that the signs of Mark 16:17,18 (including tongues) have ceased, prior to God's completion of His Word.  I feel enough has been penned to convince any honest Bible student, who has a desire to know the truth, that these signs are not with us today.

A word of warning!  Satan will attempt to counterfeit the working of the Holy Spirit in whatever way he can.  It is much easier for him with tongues to appease the flesh with emotionalism and sensationalism, than it is to heal the sick, raise the dead, keep you from dying when you drink something poisonous, or keeping you alive when bitten by a deadly, venomous viper.

The speaking in tongues can be declared counterfeit and invalid, only if you declare God's Word to be true.  Especially as God emphasizes, "Tongues will cease when my written Word is complete" (1st Corinthians 13:8-10).  And as we have seen, the sign gifts actually were "phased out" before the completion of God's Word.


Here are some final issues which tongues advocates must face and answer, without evasion:

  1. Pastor and Deacons.

    If tongues are for everyone, as most tongues advocates claim, surely God would have made this a requirement for all pastor and deacons.  When we examine the Word of God, we find this is not the case.  Read carefully for yourself the requirements for a pastor in 1st Timothy 3:1-7.  Now, read the requirements for a deacon in 1st Timothy 3:8-13.  SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS NOT A REQUIREMENT!  If speaking in tongues is as important as those who endorse them claim, then, God was mistaken in not requiring this of pastors and deacons who are to be the overseers and examples to the congregation.  No, God did not include tongues as a requirement for pastors and deacons, today, as it is not needed.  We now have the written, completed Word of God at our disposal (1st Corinthians 13:8-10).  God said tongues would cease, and they have!  I will stand on God's Word rather than the word of those who advocate tongues.  What about you? (Psalm 118:8)

  2. Grieving the Holy Spirit.

    If the tongues advocates are correct in this assumption which Kenneth Hagin has stated in one of his books, "...every Christian should speak in tongues...," would it not grieve the Holy Spirit if a Christian did not speak in tongues?  Read carefully in Ephesians 4:22-32 the list of all the things that grieve the Holy Spirit, NOTHING IS SAID ABOUT SPEAKING IN TONGUES!  If tongues are for today, I'm sure it would grieve the Holy Spirit if one did not experience the so-called "gift."  Again, I will place my trust in God's Word (Psalm 118:8).  What about you?

  3. Acts, Chapter Two.

    If tongues advocates today dare claim Acts 2 to support their speaking in tongues, why does not everyone understand in their own language when they speak?  Acts 2 does not endorse private speaking in tongues at all, as Acts 2 was a public meeting with various nationalities present and everyone understanding in their own language.  The claim of tongues speakers today, in no respect coincides with that of Acts 2.  Which will you believe, the record of God's Word or the testimony of men? (Psalm 118:8)

  4. Mark, Chapter Sixteen.

    Almost without exception, every tongues advocate I have talked to has referred to Mark, Chapter 16, quoting Verse 17 in part.  When I say "in part," I mean they only quote part of the Verse or verses that endorse their claims.  Allow me to illustrate from a book written by one of the leading tongues advocates today.  He listed several reasons why every believer should speak in tongues.  Here is his quote of Scripture to support one of those reasons, "and these signs shall follow them that believe ... they shall speak with new tongues" (mark 16:17).  Now if you read only his book and did not check the Word of God you could very well be deceived.  I will now quote from God's Word all of Mark 16:17 and 18:

"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

My question is, why did this preacher omit and not even mention the other four signs?  The word "signs" is plural.  If you could do one sign, you could do all of them.  I would think that healing the sick would surely have pre-eminence over speaking in tongues, wouldn't you?  To pull tongues alone out of Mark 16 would be to mutilate God's Word to endorse one's desire.  If tongues are for today, so are the other four signs.  Who will you believe, God's Word or man-made claims? (Psalm 118:8)

  1. 1st Corinthians, Chapter Twelve.

    This Chapter reveals several interesting observations concerning tongues and the gifts of the Spirit.  Let us enumerate:

  1. (Verse 1).  They were ignorant concerning spiritual gifts.

  2. (Verse 3).  Some in Corinth, who were speaking in tongues were actually cursing Jesus by a false spirit and yet were not aware of it.  The demonic spirits were having a field day in Corinth, cursing Jesus through the speaker without his realization.

  3. (Verses 8 and 10).  Tongues are given last, yet the Corinthians placed them first.  Compare that with the tongues movement of today and you will see the same thing taking place.

  4. (Verse 13).  The Baptism of the Spirit is into the Body of Christ, not into tongues.

  5. (Verse 13).  This Verse says that all have been made to drink (same as baptized) into one Spirit.  Tongues cannot be evidence of the Baptism of the Spirit since not all speak with tongues (Verse 30); but, all believers are baptized into the Body of Christ.  This verse refutes one of the major errors of Pentecostalism, who say that speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Spirit.

  6. (Verses 11,18, and 30).  God's Word says that He distributes the gifts to believers as He (God) sees fit.  This makes an absolute liar out of those who say tongues are for everyone.

  7. (Verses 14-24).  God's Word emphasizes that all gifts are of equal importance.  Personally, I hear a thousand times more about the gift of tongues than any of the other gifts.  Something is wrong somewhere...God says they were all equal.

If one honestly compares this Chapter with the claims of tongues advocates today, one can easily see their claims are false and filled with the error of false doctrine predicated on the wisdom of men instead of the infallible Word of God.  You have a decision to make, will you believe God's Word or man's word? (Psalm 118:8)

  1. 1st Corinthians, Chapter Thirteen.

    This Chapter tells the believer when tongues will cease and informs us that the more excellent way to influence unbelievers is with our actions, motivated by the love of God.

  1. (Verses 8-10).  The word "perfect" is referring to God's Word, not Christ.  The Greek word "teleios" is never used in reference to Christ.

  2. With the Book of Revelation (God's completed Word) knowledge, prophecy, and tongues would have ceased.

  3. Three things would remain after God's Word is complete: faith, hope, and charity (love).

  4. Since the Book of Revelation was completed, God has never given the gift of tongues to anyone.  Any speaking in so-called tongues would have to be motivated by a Satanic spirit, not the Holy Spirit.  If tongues today were of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would be contradicting God's Word and that is impossible.

  5. If any person is in doubt, reference the teaching concerning the word "perfect," I would advise you to write several reputable Christian colleges and ascertain from their Greek professors the meaning of the word.

  6. You are now confronted with a decision, will you believe God's Word that knowledge, prophecy and tongues have ceased with the Book of revelation, or will you say "No" and endorse man's teaching? (Psalm 118:8)

  1. 1st Corinthians, Chapter Fourteen.

    While tongues existed prior to the completion of the Book of Revelation, Chapter 14 must be followed concerning the government of tongues.

  1. The speaking in tongues would always have to be interpreted (Verses 5,13,27,28).

  2. The purpose of tongues was to edify the church (Verses 4,5,12), not the individual.

  3. No one was ever to pray or sing in tongues (Verses 14,15).

  4. (Verse 20).  Paul said they were children in the faith, not mature men because of their obsession with tongues.

  5. (Verse 27).  At any meeting there was never to be more than three to speak in tongues, and then only one at a time.  After that, one was to interpret each of the three speakers.  Compare this with your Pentecostal meetings today.  There is no comparison whatsoever!

  6. (Verse 32).  Each person is responsible for controlling himself.

  7. (Verse 35).  The churches were in a state of confusion because of the speaking in tongues.  We have the same thing today.

  8. (Verse 34).  No woman was ever given the gift of tongues.  They were never to speak in tongues in the church.  Tongues advocates have told me this is only referring to a business meeting within the church.  This is another example of their twisting, turning, and adding to God's Word to make it fit their practices.  Paul never discussed anything about a business meeting in Chapters 12 through 14.  This is absolute dishonesty with God's Word.  The hardest thing I have found is to get the tongues advocates to accept God's Word.  "Let the woman keep silent in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak...for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (Verses 34,35).  Will you believe the Lord or man? (Psalm 118:8)

  1. One False Doctrine Leads to Another.

    One false doctrine almost always leads to another.  I have found, almost without exception, those who endorse tongues speaking also believe you can lose your salvation.  This leads to believing that salvation is obtainable by good works and not a salvation totally of grace by faith.  Then...if they are trusting in works to get them to Heaven...they are not saved!  Salvation is by faith, alone, without works; and one can never be lost again (Ephesians 2:8,9).  Some come in the "back door" and say, "Yes, I am saved by faith alone; but, if I sin, I can be lost again."  If you feel you have to help Christ out to "keep yourself" saved, it boils down to works again, and you do not have God's salvation!

    I am only stating what they have related to me personally and every Christian has a right to judge a person's testimony and preaching against the Word of God.  If you tell me you are going to heaven by your good works, the Bible says you are not.  If you tell me you are going to Heaven by faith, alone, trusting in the finished work of Christ, then you agree with the Bible and are saved.

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

  1. Are Tongues Speakers Sincere?

    Many people are misled by the fact they know someone who seems so sincere and speaks in tongues.  They cannot conceive the fact this person has been misled and deceived because they have not studied the Word of God concerning tongues.  False doctrine can only influence a person who does not have a knowledge of God's Word.  The sad situation is, the persons who feel tongues speakers are so sincere do not know God's Word, either.  If they did, they could have turned to Corinthians and helped the person who claims tongues, showing them the "more excellent way" of Christian life since tongues have ceased.

    I do not accept the fact that tongues advocates are sincere when they have been shown the Word of God and reject it.  Many often do.  One cannot convince me they love the Lord and then reject His Word.  I will accept their sincerity when they are without knowledge; but, they are not telling the truth about their sincerity when they are shown the truth and reject it.  When a tongues advocate will not accept God's Word and those who are influenced by them do not know God's Word, you have the end of both.  They are well-described by Matthew 15:14, "And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."

With the clear teaching of God's Word concerning tongues, there is no excuse for accepting the counterfeit.  It would have to be willful disregard for the Bible.  Paul concluded that "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."  There is nothing more that anyone can do, except show them the truth.  It then becomes their responsibility to accept it.  After reading this exposition, where do you stand?  Who will you believe?

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." (Psalm 118:8)

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Dr. Max D. Younce, Pastor

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