Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, by Witness Lee

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I wish to impress you that in the New Testament, teachings and gifts are childish. We cannot say that teachings and gifts are wrong if they are genuine, but some teachings and gifts are not genuine. Tongues in the New Testament means a dialect. How can any strange sound made with the tongue be a dialect? Some may say that this strange speaking is the dialect of angels, but how can angels speak in such a way? Those who say this are deceiving themselves. These are not the genuine tongues; these are the human-manufactured tongues. Some exhort others to turn their tongue, exercise their jaw, and utter anything but English. On the day of Pentecost, no one asked Peter to turn his tongue, exercise his jaw, and utter anything but his own language. Tongues-speaking is something miraculous, something supernatural. As a supernatural thing, there is no need for anyone to teach others how to do it. Many times I told those who practice this that the case of Balaam and his donkey in the Old Testament is a case of the genuine speaking in tongues (Num. 22:28-30). It was miraculous and supernatural. All of a sudden a donkey spoke a human language. Balaam did not tell his donkey to turn his tongue and exercise his jaw.

People in the tongues-speaking movement first give a lecture to people and some testimonies to inspire them. Then they ask, “Are you interested in speaking in tongues? Come into this room with us.” Five or ten people may come into the room with you, and one will exhort you to say, “Praise Jesus! Praise Jesus!”, the faster the better. They may then lay hands on your head and tell you to turn your tongue, exercise your jaw, and speak anything but your mother tongue. In San Diego in 1963, I and a few others stayed in the same home as guests. The host was clear that I was strongly against the false speaking in tongues. After one night’s meeting when I had gone to bed, he and his wife tried to help one of the Chinese-speaking brothers to speak in tongues. The host laid hands on him and told him to speak anything except Chinese and English. Because this went on for a long time, a second brother, speaking in Chinese, told the first brother to speak anything, even nonsense. Because the first brother’s wife was a Chinese woman born in Indonesia, he had learned something of the Indonesian language, so he spoke some nonsense in that language. The host and his wife were excited and began to applaud. The next morning the brothers told me the whole story. I recounted it to the host and asked him, “Brother, is Christ not good enough for us to preach? Why did you have to do this?” In the so-called Charismatic movement there are many stories like this. I was there and I saw this. This is why I am so strong in this matter. I am not against anything that is genuine. I believe that today the genuine tongues-speaking is still on the earth. God is living, and He is still miraculous and supernatural. However, I cannot believe in the false, human-manufactured tongues.


Even the genuine tongues are still something childish. First Corinthians 13:8 and 11 say, “Love never falls away. But whether prophecies, they will be rendered useless; or tongues, they will cease; or knowledge, it will be rendered useless.…When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child; since I have become a man, I have done away with childish things.” If we read the context of these verses, we must admit that the childish things are the gifts. Even the genuine gifts, the real gifts, are childish things.

(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)