We Err When We Don’t Know the Scriptures or the Power of God; Speak in Tongues

These are the words of Jesus our Lord.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Mat 22:29 KJV)

The context of this reply by Jesus is one of the Sadducees asking him whose wife will a woman be in the resurrection when she has been widowed and then married to the brother of her dead husband. This was part of the law.

If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. (Deu 25:5 KJV)

Jesus pointed out that in the resurrection there is no marriage, but the resurrected people are as the angels who are neither married nor given in marriage.  This is a classic case of a religious doctrine being formulated by making an assumption. They are assuming that life as we know it will continue the same in the next life.  Since people get married in this life, they are assuming that people get married in the resurrection. There simply is no doctrine in the law and the prophets that would support that. Therefore, they made a mistake because they didn’t know what the Scriptures actually say. If the Scriptures are silent, you cannot make assumptions which is what it appears that they did.

The phrase “nor the power of God” is relevant to the situation because the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection.  The truth that the dead will be resurrected is the belief in a mind-blowing amount of power that God will exercise when people who have died thousands of years ago along with people who have just passed will rise from the dead at that same time.

The statement that “you err because you don’t know the Scriptures” covers a lot more than just whether people get married after the resurrection. The importance of knowing the Scriptures cannot be overstated. And the problem with not knowing the Scriptures cannot be overemphasized.

God’s people are destroyed when they don’t know the Scriptures. That’s what it says in the book of Hosea and other places.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hos 4:6 KJV)

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  What knowledge are we talking about? Well, let’s look at the context. In verse one of this passage, it states the subject as the knowledge of God.

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. (Hos 4:1-2 KJV)

Wow, these people have really lost touch. Just in these verses, it talks about lacking mercy, swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery. Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone was doing all these things.  The verse is saying that in the nation of Israel were all these sins, maybe some were lying, stealing and committing adultery, while others were swearing and killing.  The point is that someone didn’t have to be doing everything on this list to be rejected because they lacked the knowledge of God.

The knowledge that they are lacking is the knowledge of God. It is the knowledge of the word of God. It’s not that they weren’t looking for answers. Look at verse 12.

My people consult with their wooden idol, and answer to a stick of wood. Indeed, the spirit of prostitution has led them astray, and they have been unfaithful to their God. (Hos 4:12 WEB)

Verse 12 talks about how people are asking for answers from the wrong source. They’re asking idols for the truth, and they are led astray. Prostitution here doesn’t necessarily mean they were using prostitutes. When Scripture talks of prostitution and whoring it often refers to people straying from the Lord and being unfaithful to the Lord, and that is what it’s saying here.

But, of course, you may say that nobody around us is worshiping wooden sticks here in America or a lot of places in the world, right?  In the Old Testament times especially, there were lots of carved images that were easily recognizable as idols.

But today, many people go to science and philosophy for any and all answers. Many people pursue a better life materially, success at their careers, or power over others.  These can be idols too. Idols are more than carved images, they are anything that you worship more than God.

Philosophy and Other Examples of Idols

So I agree that most of the Western world anyway doesn’t have a lot of carved images that people worship. But there are a lot of things that can become idols.  There are philosophies, ideas, and “sciences” that people pay more respect to than God and his word. They all can be idols as can be riches, power, pleasures and careers.  In the case of philosophy as an idol, look at this.

Produce your cause,” says Yahweh. “Bring out your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. “Let them announce, and declare to us what shall happen. Declare the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or show us things to come. Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods. Yes, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and see it together. Behold, you are of nothing, and your work is of nothing. He who chooses you is an abomination. (Isa 41:21-24 WEB)

“Bring out your strong reasons” is right up the philosophical alley.  Here’s the truth; just because something makes sense, that it appears to be reasonable, does not make it righteous.  Likewise, just because something may be hard to understand in Scripture doesn’t make it wrong. Now of course, if it is mistranslated, or even a forged item, something added or subtracted from Scripture, that’s one thing. But a lot of things are plainly said right where they are in scripture.

For example, let’s look at the baptism of the Spirit. It took me a while to see what these verses are saying. Many years ago I had been so conditioned that baptism automatically meant water that I couldn’t accept at first what these verses were actually saying. They’re saying that water baptism is replaced by Spirit baptism.  And it is very clearly said.

I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. (Mat 3:11 WEB)

Now, it does say “for repentance” in this verse, but that’s not the contrast that is being stated in these and the other places where this doctrine is being taught. If anything, “for repentance” just refers to the fact that water baptism doesn’t do what spirit baptism does, that is, totally cleanse the person from the inside out. Look at these other places where the principle is stated, and note that you have in each case spirit baptism replacing water baptism.

For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Act 1:5 WEB)

I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ (Act 11:16 WEB)

All four Gospel writers thought it was important enough to include that John baptized with water but Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of things that are not in all four Gospels. That Jesus’s baptism with the spirit replaces the water baptism of John is something included in all four Gospels. (Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33)

Now, here is where we see “strong reasons” that oppose the word of God historically. If you believe history, there are a few mentions of water baptism in even the Book of Acts, and beyond that, the history according to most Christian histories is that baptism in the early centuries after the apostles was water baptism using the Trinitarian formula taught in Matthew 28:19.

Now add to that, that there are no early texts that have anything different than the Trinitarian formula in Matthew 28:19 along with some admittedly doubtful substantiation in places like the Didache that say that very early Christians were baptized in water from the get-go, and you have the basis for spirit baptism being rejected and a very similar baptism to the baptism of John being reinforced as the baptismal practice for the Christian church.

And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:19 in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you can not in cold, in warm. But if you have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.[1]

Those ancient lines from the Didache are a bunch of “strong reasons” for believing in water baptism in the trinitarian formula! But they disagree with Scripture! The Didache is not scripture. Christian history books are not scripture.  Still, they are given preference over actual scripture and the practices of the original apostles who never baptized according to Matt 28:19. And there are many, many believers who believe that Matt 28:19 was changed by the early Roman Catholic church.  It was a Catholic Brother who first told me about it aver 50 years ago! (See  Original Christianity Did Everything in the Name of Jesus [Christ], and Matthew 28:19 – Legitimate Verse that was not Carried Out by the Apostles or Scribal Forgery? For more)

So, many, many believers are never taught that Jesus baptizes with the holy spirit and that replaces water baptism. The spirit from God helps the believer tap into the power of God. So many believers have been taught that there are no manifestations of the spirit.

This is just one example of many in the category of “you err because you don’t know the Scriptures and the power of God.”  We are going to talk a little about the area of the “power of God” next.

Speaking in Tongues

Another area where people err is the manifestations of the spirit which is manifesting the power of God.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Act 1:8 WEB)

Do you see the word “power” in the verse above? When does it say you receive power? You receive power when you receive the holy spirit. And what event is the above verse talking about? It’s talking about what happened on the day of Pentecost.  We’re talking about the same power of God that Jesus said people err about because they don’t know the scriptures.

I can’t emphasize enough that we are looking at what Scripture says. This is not a catechism we’re looking at, a Great Council edict, or the writings of Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli.  This is scripture! (The only godly value in catechisms,  Church proclamations, or the writings of any theologian is whether they help us understand scripture, the word of God

For example, we looked above in the book of Hosea how God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge because they were looking in the wrong places. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are more answers than a lot of people have questions. And, there is a lot of pointing to Scripture as the basis for Catholic doctrines. But, this catechism is not scripture. It goes way beyond Scripture, and in the process, sets itself up as the main authority, even over Scripture!

For example, item 882 in my copy reads:

“the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman pontiff, by reason of his office as vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”[2]

There is no foundation for this statement in Scripture. There is no evidence anywhere that Peter was the first pope. There is no evidence that there was even a Pope in the Christian church in the time of the Apostles. That makes this a faulty premise

All of the statements from this item in the Roman Catholic catechism are fabrications, starting with a faulty premise, and building on that premise constructed doctrines that cannot be true because the premise is faulty. There is a lot of fabrication in Catholic doctrine in general. As discussed in other places on this website, the thinking behind the Mass, the concept of priests, required celibacy, the concepts of the sacraments,  and so much more are fabrications using faulty interpretations of scripture.

That does not mean that everything in the catechism is false. For example, here is item 577:

“At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus issued a solemn warning in which he presented God’s law, and given on Sinai during the first covenant, in light of the grace of the new covenant:

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I will tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law, until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’”[3]

This is teaching right from Scripture. The very fact that this points people to understanding the word of God makes it godly and profitable. There are people who accept Christ and strive to make him Lord in the Catholic Church. The problem is that the Catholic catechism points so much to doctrine that is purely the construction of the Catholic Church and not scripture that it is unreliable in general.

And, while so many of us are thankful for the sacrifice and dedication of men like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others, we have to acknowledge that not everything that they wrote lines up with Scripture. In fact, even these three great reformers disagreed on basic tenets of the faith among themselves so they cannot all be right and thus parts of their writings will not lead us to a true understanding of the Scriptures.  But of their writings that do lead us to a true understanding of the Scriptures we are so thankful.)

So we are going to look at some more scriptures.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. (Act 2:4 WEB)

The way the world knew that the spirit was in those people was that they spoke in tongues! They received the power to manifest the holy spirit!  That was the promise in Acts 1:8.  That promise was fulfilled in Acts 2:4.

You can tap into the power of God right now, by opening your heart and receiving the spirit of God into manifestation. Fifty years ago I was in a ministry that taught that the manifestations were available. I didn’t need someone to lead me into it, although there is no shame for people that need help. But the scriptures regarding this truth were being spoken all around me.

You Can Speak in Tongues Right Now

Yes, fifty years ago, I was in a place where people around me in the church were speaking in tongues in their private prayer lives. (There was also speaking in tongues with interpretation and prophecy manifested at services!)  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was the word of God in action. And that built up in me the desire for me to manifest spirit more and more.

One thing that was focused in my mind about speaking in tongues was the record of Peter with the household of Cornelius.  When Cornelius and his family listened to Peter’s teaching about Christ, the Holy Spirit fell just down on them. Here is Peter preaching:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Act 10:34-43 KJV)

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” talks about the majesty and power of the man, Christ Jesus. Here was a man who was literally backed by God himself.  “Him God raised up the third day” is in there.  Here is a man that God resurrected.  In Romans 10:9-10 we read that if someone believes that God has resurrected Jesus and made him Lord they are saved. Evidently, they did that because it says in the Scripture:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. (Act 10:44-46 WEB)

Peter didn’t know that was going to happen.  He didn’t go necessarily to baptize them with the holy spirit.  He didn’t even know that Gentiles could be saved, but it happened.  And how did he know it happened? Because they heard them speaking in tongues and magnifying God!  That is right in the verse.

There was no human co-ordinator of this baptism in the spirit. Jesus baptized them. Peter gets credit too because his preaching of the word was part of the action that brought about the event.

Cornelius and his family heard about Jesus and all the happenings around his life death and resurrection.  It doesn’t say all that was taught but it’s likely the day of Pentecost and the arrival of the spirit were in the topics.  No matter what, they believed, they received, and they spoke in tongues!

I have seen the argument written that the Gentile Cornelius only received the spirit and spoke in tongues because he was the first Gentile to receive it. That is absolutely nowhere in scripture! And, more on that point, the mostly Gentile Corinthian church is where Paul wrote to teach the proper handling of the manifestations.  Speaking in tongues as well as all the manifestations are for all believers!

(And for anyone that wants to argue that prophecy has ceased so there are no manifestations see  The Argument that Tongues and other Gifts and Manifestations have Ceased.  Basically, the manifestations will cease when which is perfect is come which refers to Christ’s return, not a council edict declaring which books are acceptable to be read in the churches which is what the canon of scripture is.)

The more I heard all these things about speaking in tongues the more I prayed and looked forward to speaking in tongues myself, I thought about all the things that I have just been saying to you and more.

I thought about this verse:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1Co 13:1 ESV)

That verse clearly says there are tongues of men and angels. I don’t know if there’s more than one angel tongue but there are sure a heck of a lot of tongues of men.

One thing I learned was that, unlike a lot of things, speaking in tongues is a relatively private thing.  And unlike so many other things it’s something that scripture says to do privately, unless it gets interpreted, which is something that we will talk about another time. But speaking in tongues is private because it is communication between you and God.  That is what this scripture is saying.

If you speak languages that others don’t know, God will understand what you are saying, though no one else will know what you mean. You will be talking about mysteries that only the Spirit understands. (1Co 14:2 CEV)

There it is, speaking in tongues is not a situation where you can go to someone in a foreign land and suddenly have the power to talk to them in their language. It’s really not something that you do in front of other people except when people are being baptized in the spirit. We know that because it says up there “no one else will know what you mean.”

That brings up the matter of control.  Who controls when you manifest?  You do.  Look at this:

What is it then, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up. If any man speaks in another language, let it be two, or at the most three, and in turn; and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God. (1Co 14:26-28 WEB)

“Let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God” means that you control your actions.  Speaking in tongues is for your private prayer life. That’s when you choose to do that. If you can speak in tongues and interpret go ahead (I have seen quite a few speak in tongues and interpret.  I personally have yet to see one person speak in tongues and another interpret although I have heard some say this is possible. 1 Corinthians 14:13 says, “Therefore let him who speaks in another language pray that he may interpret” indicating the same person speaks in tongues and interprets.)

Otherwise, keep quiet in the church, the verse says.  You are in control.  You don’t choose what is said, that is the spirit’s job.  But whether to speak or not, that is your job.  The spirit doesn’t take you over.  It’s hearing the Lord’s call. It prompts you.  You may hear or feel the urging of the spirit to manifest. Somehow you sense it.  But you decide to speak.  You decide to open your mouth and start making sounds.  What comes out is the spirit’s job.  You speak the message and you know by the spirit when to stop.  So you stop.  This is reinforced by this verse.

The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, (1Co 14:32 WEB)

1 Corinthians 14:2 says that you are talking mysteries in the spirit to God. How fantastic is that? That is so wonderful! It is an incredibly awesome thing. Here’s some more on what speaking in tongues does.

Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom 8:26 MKJV)

Speaking in tongues helps us pray better than we can with our understanding! “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought” tells us that we don’t always understand spiritually what is going on and so just praying with our understanding will never communicate as perfectly as speaking in tongues! Intercessory prayers are words that are prayed on our behalf and in this case by the holy spirit from Yahweh that lives in us.  Don’t you want that in your life? I know I do.

The verse above says the spirit itself makes intercession for us. How does it make intercession? “With groanings which cannot be uttered” is what the verse says. When we speak in tongues intercession is being made for us, and more perfectly than we can do with our minds. Now nobody is saying not to pray with your mind.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.(1Co 14:15 WEB)

Of course, we pray with our minds all the time but to get that edge of perfect prayer with groanings that can’t be uttered, we speak in tongues, and we do it frequently.

The more I thought about these things the more the desire to speak in tongues grew and grew in me.  And one day I just did it. I just opened my mouth and started speaking in tongues. It was about 50 years ago or so as of this writing and I felt so glorious and thankful when I started speaking in tongues. And I have been doing it for the last 50 years.

Speaking in tongues was a key to Paul’s success also. He spoke in tongues a lot. The apostle Paul said,

I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: (1Co 14:18 KJV)

The apostle Paul spoke in tongues frequently to get that intercession to God in ways beyond what he could pray with his understanding.

The Adversary works to suppress the manifestations of the holy spirit as part of his crusade to steal. kill, and destroy. Don’t let him rob this from you.

The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (Joh 10:10 WEB)

To have life in the spirit is to connect with the Lord and manifest the spirit that was placed in us when we received the holy spirit.

Starting at Pentecost and throughout the ages believers have received the spirit into manifestations.  Here are some examples:

First Century
* Pentecost occurs, the Holy Spirit descends in a miraculous display.
* Clement and Ignatius document the continued use of prophecy.
Second Century
* Justin Martyr argues that God has transferred the gift of prophecy and miracles from Judaism to the Church.
* Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian write about various gifts and miracles including prophecy, discerning of spirits, raising people from the dead, gifts of healing, and receiving revelations.

Third Century
* Origen of Alexandria writes that the gifts continue to be experienced in the church. He notes healings, exorcisms with accompanying signs and wonders.
* Athanasius describes charismatic saints in the desert.

Fourth Century
* Augustine reports healings and miracles.

Eleventh Century
* Symeon writes of a “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and other spiritual phenomena.

Twelfth to Fourteenth Centuries
* Hildegard of Bingen is noted for prophecy, miracles, and other spiritual manifestations.
* Gregory Palamas is known for our the laying on of hands to bring about gifts of healing, miracles, knowledge, wisdom, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
Sixteenth Century
* Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, receives visions, and tongues.

Seventeenth Century
* The Prophets of the Cavennes in France, Protestant resistance fighters, are noted for prophecy and tongues.
Eighteenth Century
* Jonathan Edwards in the first great awakening notes genuine workings of the spirit.
* John Wesley was noted to be tolerant of followers who claim to dreams, visions, healings and revelations. He calls earlier prophetic groups such as the Montanists, “real, scriptural Christians.”

Nineteenth Century
* The West of Scotland revival in 1830 noted prophecy, healings, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
* AMD Simpson, the founder of the Christian missionary alliance, considers the possible reappearance of the gift of tongues and refers to actual occurrences in India and Africa.
* Reportedly there are about 900,000 African Christians who have experienced phenomena like at Pentecost.

20th Century
* Charles F. Parham travels to Shiloh, Maine, where he hears speaking in tongues taught at a school. He begins teaching and praying for the pouring out of the spirit. Students report speaking in tongues.
* William Seymour, following Charles Parham, who leads the Azusa Street Revival, which becomes a significant Pentecostal revival
* By the end of the 20th century there are numerous Pentecostal churches, and the charismatic movement in which spiritual manifestations are seen in mainline churches is widespread. (See The Argument that Tongues and other Gifts and Manifestations have Ceased for more items and sources of information.)

There are people that want to speak in tongues.  If you are one and are reading this then I am telling you that you can do it. Now there are ministries,  assemblies where people speak in tongues who may be able to help lead you if you need help. And there’s no shame in that. But I’m here to tell you that not everybody needs to be led. The desire for me to speak in tongues built up in me to the point where it just came out and I started speaking in tongues.  Many incidents of spiritual manifestations have originated around powerful preaching of the word of God as evidenced by the list above.

Remember, Cornelius and his family just started speaking in tongues as Peter was preaching.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. (Act 10:44-46 WEB)

You can do it. Open your mouth and start speaking the mysteries of God.  Speak in tongues regularly and often.

[1] The Didache, Chapter 7, https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm
[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition, English Translation, 1994, United State Catholic Conference
[3] ibid

© copyright 2023 Mark William Smith, All rights reserved. Last revised 7/15/23

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