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Praying in the Spirit: That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then … Part 1

As for the argument of cessationists—Dillow, Criswell, Ryrie, and others—that the writer of Hebrews was unacquainted with these special manifestations of the Spirit, F. F. Bruce answers in his commentary on this verse: “The New Testament writers (including our author at this point) would not have appealed to the evidence of these miraculous manifestations if there was any possibility that their readers would reply that they had never seen or heard of such things. They were matters of common knowledge and widespread Christian experience …” (pp. 30-31).

Finally, if we look closely at Burdick’s conclusion from the Greek language—“Verb tenses do not indicate that these things were still in process of occurring’”—we see that this is actually an argument from silence. Burdick tells us only what the verses do not say. We can just as surely say that these verses do not indicate that special manifestations of the Spirit have ceased. The past tense that is used here (“was confirmed”) was called for because the described event was in the past; the signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts occurred in the past with the past preaching. Obviously, this initial past occasion could not be described as still happening. Therefore, the signs that accompanied the past occasions could not be described as still happening; they ceased with the occasion. This is no restriction on signs accompanying the preaching of the Gospel today.

Of these passages of Scripture that are used by cessationists, first, to prove that tongues were a sign of apostleship, and, second, to prove that the office of apostle has ceased, not one of them intentionally deals with what the cessationist is using them to prove. Since the New Testament writers were not addressing the issue of apostolic signs and the cessation of apostleship, the interpretations given these verses are invalid and misdirected.


To be continued in the next issue…




A day is coming when prophecies, words of knowledge, and tongues shall cease. When that day arrives, no one will be rejoicing more ecstatically than the charismatics. But until then…


Works Cited

Barrett, C. K. A Commentary on the First Epistle of the Corinthians. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1968.

Bruce, F. F. Commentary on the Book of Acts: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977.

Burdick, Donald W. Tongues: To Speak or Not To Speak. Chicago: Moody Press, 1969.

Chantry, Walter J. Signs of the Apostles: Observations on Pentecostalism Old and New, rev. ed. Edinburgh, England: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.

Criswell, W. A. The Baptism, Filling and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966.

Dillow, Joseph. Speaking in Tongues. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

Gaffin, Richard B., Jr. Perspectives on Pentecost: Studies in New Testament Teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.

Gardiner, George E. The Corinthian Catastrophe. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1974.

Gromacki, Robert Glenn. The Modern Tongues Movement. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., rev. ed. 1972.

Hoekema, Anthony A. What About Tongue-Speaking? Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966.

Judisch, Douglas. An Evaluation of Claims to the Charismatic Gifts. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978.

MacArthur, John F., Jr. The Charismatics: A Doctrinal Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.

Pfeil, Carl. Charismatic Concerns: A Biblical Examination of the Ten Major Issues Raised by Today’s “Charismatic Movement” Renton, WA: Family Bible Fellowship Press, 1978.

Ryrie, Charles. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.

Schutz, Vernon A. Tongues and the Sign Gifts. Grand Rapids: Grace Publications, Inc., n.d.

Smith, Charles R. Tongues in Biblical Perspective: A Summary of Biblical Conclusions Concerning Tongues, rev. ed. Winona Lake, Ind.: BMH Books, 1973.

Stibbs, A. M. and J. I. Packer. The Spirit Within You: The Church’s Neglected Possession. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.

Vander Lugt, Herbert. Are Tongues for Today? What the Bible Says About the Sign-Gifts. Grand Rapids: Radio Bible Class, 1979.

Warfield, B. B. Counterfeit Miracles. Carlisle, Penn.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.

Zeller, George W. God’s Gift of Tongues: The Nature, Purpose, and Duration of Tongues As Taught in the Bible. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1978.

Scripture quotations unless otherwise indicated are from the Holy Bible, New International Version (North American Edition). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Portions of this article were previously published in Paraclete and Pentecostal Evangel.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2000

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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