The Jimmy Swaggart Series
Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.
Recently, a reader sent me the following e-mail:
Thank you for exposing JSM. Iím wondering if you could possibly do an article on your site relating to the following which I believe is very confusing to quite a few people. If Jimmy Swaggart has fallen from grace and is in an unsaved condition, how is it that he can still speak in tongues when he preaches? Since he still speaks in tongues, isnít the Holy Spirit still with him?
I'm so glad this woman wrote me about Swaggart's "speaking in tongues."
Jimmy Swaggart is a great deceiver, and one of his methods of deception is speaking in tongues. Swaggart's speaking in tongues is false; born of an evil spirit and not the Holy Spirit. It is a clever strategy of the devil to imitate a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
In order to understand Swaggart's Great Deception, we must examine the four types of speaking with tongues:
First, there is the speaking of tongues on the day of Pentecost.
Second, there is fake or false tongues.
Third, there is the gift of tongues.
Fourth, there is demonic tongues.
Let's briefly look at each...
First, let's discuss the speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost...
To begin, Christ prophesied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. When Jesus declared the Great Commission, He said signs would follow them that believe:
Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel to every creature.
And these signs shall follow them that believe;
In my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues.
Mark 16: 15, 17
Notice that Jesus explains "In my name...they shall speak with new tongues." Of course, this prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2: 1-4
Acts records there were Jews of every nation dwelling at Jerusalem. And when the Jews heard of the speaking in tongues, they gathered and "every man heard them speak in his own language" (2:6). And they were amazed!
But before going on, let's go back...back to the Tower of Babel. After the Flood, men became proud and imagined they could build a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). God saw their wicked pride and proclaimed: "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language that they may not understand one another's speech" (v. 7). So, the Lord God confounded their speech and scattered them across the face of the earth.
But under the New Covenant, in order to fulfill the Great Commission of spreading the Gospel around the world, early believers were baptized "with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Matthew 3:11). And this fire - "cloven tongues like as of fire" - was the baptism of the Holy Ghost, including speaking in other languages to fulfill the Great Commission:
Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel to every creature.
On the day of Pentecost, believers did not speak common conversation in other languages, but the Word of God - the Gospel: "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). They spoke "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (2:4).
In other words, God divided arrogant men at Babel. However, on the day of Pentecost the Lord God sought to reconcile men to God through the preaching of the Gospel message of repentance and sanctification. Therefore, the first believers through the power of the Holy Ghost declared the Word of God in every language. To repeat, there were Jews of every nation dwelling at Jerusalem. And when the Jews heard of the speaking in tongues, they gathered and "every man heard them speak in his own language" (2:6).
Moreover, Acts 10:44 records the later outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Gentiles: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."
However, preaching the Gospel to others in an unknown tongue did not die with the early church. Here is a true story...
About fifty years ago, my dad traveled to Guatemala. During his visit, he encountered a witch doctor who did not know the English language. Suddenly, the Holy Ghost fell upon my father and he began to preach the Gospel to the witch doctor in his own language...a language my father never spoke in his life!
Speaking in tongues in other languages is still possible today. However, because of our unbelief and following false prophets preaching corrupt doctrines of good works instead of Godly character - humanitarian good works instead of holiness and righteousness - the Holy Spirit does not find many holy vessels.
Fake or False Tongues
Next, let's discuss the second type of tongues - false or fake tongues. False tongues are not the moving of the Holy Spirit, but the moving of the spirit of man - the moving of the flesh. Those who speak in false tongues are filled with pride and desire to appear more righteous and holy than others. Unfortunately, Pentecostals are deceived by televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart who swagger across the stage and speak in false tongues. They believe the tongues are a true moving of the Holy Spirit, therefore, the speaker must be Spirit-filled.
But tongues are easily faked. In fact, a man once demonstrated to me how easily he could fake speaking in tongues. And as a student at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in the 1970s, students often faked speaking in tongues in chapel services. And members of the Assemblies of God and Church of God often fake speaking in tongues to appear more godly than other members, or to manipulate congregations. For example, many years ago, Karl Strader, pastor of Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, Florida, coached congregants to fake tongues and proclaim false interpretations to rebuke members in the congregation who protested Strader's heretical teachings. Within a few years, over half the congregation left. The church quickly died.
Just as Swaggart's speaking in tongues is false, born of an evil spirit of pride and not the Holy Spirit; the fake tongues at Carpenter's Home were born of an evil spirit of Strader's pride, not the Holy Spirit.
And another illustration of false tongues...
Several years ago, an Assemblies of God pastor asked those in his congregation who had never spoken in tongues to come to the altar. A couple of young men went forward; I moved close to the altar to observe. The pastor and elders laid hands on the men, but nothing happened. Then the pastor urged the men to begin to utter sounds such as a-a-a-a and promised these utterances would cause them to speak in tongues. Nothing happened...
Truly, the gift of tongues is abused.
As for Swaggart, he abruptly babbles in the middle of a sentence pretending it is the work of the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues. Irrefutably, babbling in the middle of a sentence is wholly contrary to Scripture. True speaking in tongues is a message of edification for the saints, not to interrupt the preaching of the Gospel. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (1 Cor. 14:33). "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor.14:40). To abruptly stop in the middle of a sentence and pretend to speak in tongues creates confusion. It is disorder. It is contrary to Scripture. It is blasphemy.
Swaggart blasphemes the Holy Spirit when he pretends to speak in tongues. By faking the work and words of the Holy Spirit so that he can deceive folks into following his corrupt gospel, Swaggart is speaking evil. In other words, Swaggart spreads a doctrine of devils while pretending to be filled with the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues.
Swaggart despises the true Word that commands us to be purified and sanctified unto spiritual perfection - holiness. Defiantly, he preaches his own corrupt gospel - unconditional eternal security - in his own bible, The Expositor's Study Bible. This is blasphemy.
Essentially, Swaggart curses God and the true Gospel that commands us: "Be ye holy" (1 Peter 1:16). Swaggart refutes Jesus' words commanding the perfection of Christian character:
Be ye therefore perfect,
even as your Father
which is in heaven
Undeniably, Swaggart curses God and His commandment of holiness and sanctification - perfecting Christian character - and preaches unconditional eternal salvation in his corrupt message of the cross.
When Swaggart speaks against God's Law of repentance and holiness by preaching his own filthy and corrupt gospel, he is blaspheming God.
And when Swaggart pretends to be filled with the Holy Spirit by speaking in false tongues, he is blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
Reader, beware of false prophets who blaspheme God and the Holy Spirit by speaking in false tongues.
Reader, beware of Jimmy Swaggart.
The Gift of Tongues
Next, let's discuss the gift of tongues. Paul lists the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12. And verse 10 specifies tongues and interpretation of tongues: "to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues."
Later in the same chapter, Paul lists the order of members of the body of Christ:
And God hath set some in the church,
after that miracles,
then gifts of healing,
diversities of tongues.
Are all apostles?
are all prophets?
are all teachers?
are all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing?
do all speak with tongues?
do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts:
and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way.
In chapter 14, Paul states that true believers should prefer the gift of prophesy. Paul declares prophesy - preaching, or truthfully interpreting Scripture - is superior to speaking in tongues. Simply put, plain and truthful preaching of the Scripture is a better gift than speaking in tongues.
When we truly speak in tongues, we speak to God, not men (1 Cor. 14:2). But when we prophesy, we speak to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). Speaking in church is to edify the church. Therefore prophesying or preaching - interpreting Scripture by inspiration and revelation - edifies the church and is the best gift.
However, Paul does not forbid the speaking of tongues in church.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue,
let it be by two,
or at the most by three,
and that by course;
and let one interpret.
But if there be no interpreter,
let him keep silence in the church;
and let him speak to himself,
and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:27, 28
Notice that Paul says if anyone speaks in public worship in an unknown tongue, then someone else must interpret.
To learn more about speaking in tongues, prayerfully study 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. Also, read Matthew Henry's excellent commentary on chapter 14 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/1Cr/1Cr_014.cfm). Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the Truth about this gift, and give you discernment to judge false tongues from true tongues.
Last, there is demonic tongues. Demonic tongues differ from false or fake tongues in that it is the devil speaking, not man. The person is demon-possessed. Whereas Jimmy Swaggart pretends to speak in tongues, demonic tongues are uttered by the Devil himself.
And to be perfectly clear, no true Christian will speak in demonic tongues. For two spirits cannot inhabit the same body: an evil spirit cannot take possession of a Spirit-filled Christian. However, those who are are not filled with the Holy Ghost may become possessed by evil spirits (Matthew 12:43-45). But...take heed...a true believer may open the door to demons by backsliding into booze, drugs, pornography, and other evil, including evil doctrines.
And remember the story I told you of my father speaking with other tongues to the witch doctor? Well, the witch doctor replied to him in English, a language he did not speak! This was demonic tongues.
Finally, here is another illustration of demonic tongues...
Swaggart's False Tongues is Blasphemy
Swaggart blasphemes the Holy Spirit when he pretends to speak in tongues. By faking the work and words of the Holy Spirit so that he can deceive folks into following his filthy and corrupt gospel, Swaggart is speaking evil words out of an evil heart. Swaggart despises the true Word that commands us to be purified and sanctified unto spiritual perfection - holiness. He preaches his own corrupt gospel - unconditional eternal security - in his own bible, The Expositor's Study Bible.
Undeniably, when Swaggart speaks against God's Law of repentance and holiness by preaching his own filthy and corrupt gospel, he is blaspheming God.
And when Swaggart speaks in false tongues pretending to speak for the Holy Spirit, he is blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
Jimmy Swaggart is a blasphemer.