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Volume six — article 9 Volume 6 | HomeA Lutheran pastor Looks in ~ "Tongues"
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A Sermon by wilhelm H. Albach Editorial Note: william H. Albach is minister of the expect Lutheran Church in Greenacres, Washington. Scriptural quotations are from the Revised standard Version.

"Now worrying spiritual gifts, brethren, I carry out not want you to it is in uninformed." ns Cor. 12:1.

The exercise of so-called "unknown tongues" is not only on the boost in Christendom, however it has actually been relocating up from the one of the one-time unsophisticated Pentecostals into Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic and also other circles. The twentieth-century motion is infiltrating everywhere and bringing with it confusion, doubt, strife and also discord. Much of Christendom sits by, at a loss regarding what come do about the movement, hoping through Gamaliel (Acts 5:38, 39) that it is no of God and that it will as such fail. That, in my estimation, is no the solution. What is essential is a diligent initiative to inform Christians ~ above the issue so that they will be able to meet it v knowledge and also understanding.

More 보다 thirty year ago, while ns was still a college student in the seminary, i was safety a vacation in Chicago. Finding myself bored one evening, i went because that a walk, looking for excitement. I discovered it much less than two blocks from where I was staying—in a former Jewish synagogue being provided by a group of Pentecostals. A organization was in progress, and curiosity attracted me in. The fairly huge auditorium held a scattering the people. ~ above the stage sat the clergyman. I took my place as an observer in the balcony. There was no order come the service. The preacher would preach or pray in a monotonous, high-pitched ton of voice. Who would begin singing a catchy gospel hymn and be joined by the remainder of the congregation. There were clapping that hands and stamping of feet. Noisy periods were interspersed with lengthy moments of pure silence. I had sat through probably thirty minute of this when, the end of a period of silence, a woman rose and also began come speak v unintelligible sounds. That was my arrival to the gift of tongues. Though ns was only a very young man at the time, it was obvious to me that the entire company had been aligned to overwhelm the emotions and also that what I had actually witnessed was not a gift of the spirit of God however emotional intoxication or hysteria. John L. Sherrill, in his book, They Speak With other Tongues, reports his examination of the tongues movement. As a newspaper writer, he carried out a very thorough and also seemingly unbiased examination of the movement. He defines his an initial experience v a Pentecostal service, and, except for the truth that his suffer took place in new York, I might have been persuaded that he had actually attended the same business that i had. Later on experience with Pentecostals and also other revivalistic groups, however, has satisfied me the they all usage the exact same techniques, playing on the emotions until the emotionally weak or responsive give way to manifestations of emotionally intoxication or hysteria. I perform not average to be disrespectful the Christian womanhood or the womanhood in general when ns say that proof of this is to it is in found also in the fact that females take a leading role in this movement and also are more readily responsive to the technique than men. Women are simply much more inclined come be emotionally than room men. The twentieth-century tongues movement had its start at the an extremely beginning of the century when, in the year 1900, a young Methodist minister, Charles F. Parham, felt the there to be something wrong with his spiritual life and set out to uncover a solution to his spirituality problem. That gathered together a commune of part forty "Bible students" — men, women and children — in an abandoned mansion in Topeka, Kansas. That knew the direction that their research studies would have to take, and eventually the group came to the conclusion that they necessary the "baptism the the holy Spirit" manifested in the gift that tongues. On new Year"s Eve, 1900, the team met together and prayed native dawn come dark for the gift that tongues, but in vain. Finally a young mrs recalled that in the publication of Acts, in two instances (Sherrill says "often"), the gift the tongues complied with the laying on that hands. Follow to Sherrill, she asked Parham come lay his hands on her while praying for the gift, and while the did so she automatically began to speak in one unknown tongue. In every circumstances that Sherrill reports in detail of world receiving the gift, there space details that are usual to castle all: (1) the person is dissatisfied through his spiritual life; (2) his quest for spiritual satisfaction leads him come the publication of Acts; (3) he becomes convinced that the systems to his trouble is the baptism of the Spirit shown up in the gift that tongues; (4) he prays for hours on end for the gift; (5) he speaks in ecstatic utterances unintelligible also to himself. Much more can be said about this, but let us merely note the common denominators in other terms: the gift seems much more readily accessible to those who space spiritually disturbed, emotionally troubled, physically and emotionally exhausted, especially responsive come suggestion, auto-suggestion or self-hypnosis. Let united state note additionally that invariably they themselves diagnose their own spiritual illness, prescribe what is necessary for your cure, and also storm the throne that God through prayer until He gives in and gives lock what they firmly insist they need to have. Does the divine Spirit really give these world the capacity to speak in unknown tongues? us cannot deny the the Spirit provided that gift to the hands-on worker on the very first Christian Pentecost, bring about them come speak in tongues unknown come themselves yet intelligible come the foreigners gathered in the city of Jerusalem. We cannot deny that it is possible for the heart to give that very same gift today. But I have actually neither read nor heard of any kind of convincing proof the the spirit does today provide the gift the tongues. Oh yes, I have heard and also read numerous strange story of world relating their own experiences, or of world relating 2nd hand the experiences the others asserted to have actually had. John Sherri II, because that example, relates the case of a male who received the gift, rushed out into the street and spoke in one unknown tongue come a stranger. The stranger responded in one unknown tongue—unknown to the man with the gift—and ultimately asked the tongues-speaker how he might speak such perfect polishing if he himself could not know it. And also another story is said of a male who obtain the gift, speak to a girl in a park in the unknown tongue, and also is informed that he is speaking antiquated Arabic. However invariably the two or 3 witnesses, by who testimony the reality of the stories can be established, space not available; the identity of the Polish man or the girl in the park are not do known. Sherrill"s initiatives to have actually taped tongues-speaking played ago to language scholar revealed no well-known language on plenty of hours of tape. The original Pentecost The one occurrence of tongues-speaking in the bibles which is recorded in information is the of the disciples on the first Christian Pentecost. Lock testified that Jesus Christ ours Savior in recognized languages so that foreign-language world in the city could know the wonderful works of God in Jesus for the world"s salvation. This particular day the gift of tongues is not talked of together a way of interacting the gospel to those who cannot know our very own language, however as a special gift of God to offer the speaker spiritual and also emotional assurance that he has actually received the gift of the Spirit—a purely subjective, emotional experience. The Pentecostals, at least in their at an early stage history, insisted that the gift of tongues, when offered publicly, it is in matched v the gift of interpretation—that someone obtain the special gift of being able to translate that which was stated in the unknown tongue. Sherrill notes the this happens in his investigations, but at the exact same time he notes the there is no relation in between the amount of speaking the is excellent by the speaker and also the lot of speaking done by the interpreter in the interpretation. He also notes, incidentally, the the interpretation is invariably couched in the words and phraseology the the King James version of the Bible. The tongues-speakers allude out the the gift of tongues is often, frequently spoken of in the Bible, especially in the book of Acts. As much as the publication of action is concerned, it is not mentioned often. In enhancement to the story that the very first Christian Pentecost, that is specifically mentioned twice: (1) In the story that the switch of Cornelius and also his household at Caesarea, we space told that the gift of the Spirit had actually been poured out upon the family of Cornelius; and those who had actually come with Peter to be amazed, for, according to plot 10:46, " . . . They heard them speak in tongues and also extolling God." (2) once Paul came to Ephesus, he found disciples who knew nothing of the divine Spirit, having actually been baptized only in John"s baptism. Paul told lock of Jesus, and then we are told in acts 19:5, 6: "On hear this, lock were i was baptized in the name of the lord Jesus. And also when Paul had actually laid his hands upon them, the divine Spirit come on them; and they spoke with tongues and also prophesied." We keep in mind in both of this passages the implication the the tongues talked were not ecstatic utterances but, together on the very first Christian Pentecost, were well-known languages; because that we are told the those who spoke in the one instance glorified God, and in the other instance "prophesied." The Corinthian trouble For irradiate on the tongues movement, we need to turn come the most in-depth statement in the holy bible on the subject: 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14. This ar is lot quoted by the Pentecostals in assistance of the movement; yet, strange enough, it to be not written in assistance of the gift that tongues but, rather, to placed the gift that tongues, as then employed, in the appropriate place and perspective. Paul was writing to a troubled congregation, comment a letter in i beg your pardon questions had actually been asked around some of your problems, among which was this ~ above the gift that tongues. Quite apparently, then together today, the gift that tongues had end up being a very divisive aspect in the Corinthian church. Those who had actually it not just felt, but additionally gave indication the they thought themselves exceptional to those that did not have actually the gift. Then, together today, there to be strife, dissension and also apparent lovelessness in dealing with the problem—lovelessness ~ above both sides, but especially disturbing as it to be revealed through those that supposedly had actually received the holy Spirit into their hearts and lives. It is in presenting this answer come a certain question ~ above the subject that Paul writes, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not desire you to be uninformed." and now allow us just touch the highlights of the section. Who has actually received the divine Spirit? Paul says, ". . . No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the holy Spirit" (12:3). In various other words, everyone who believes top top Jesus as Lord and Savior have the right to be sure that he has actually been baptized with the Spirit. That does not need some unique manifestation that the Spirit"s presence in his life. This is just one of the sad things of the Pentecostal movement. That not just promotes a Christian neighborhood divided into two class (those who have the gift and also those who execute not), however it additionally raises doubts in the minds of numerous of those who carry out not have the gift as to whether they space truly Christian. Paul then points out that there is a selection of the presents of the Spirit, all provided by the exact same Spirit (12:4-11) and also given for the common great (12:7). He enumerates these gifts of the heart as (1) the utterance of wisdom, (2) the utterance of knowledge, (3) faith, (4) presents of healing, (5) the working of miracles, (6) prophecy, (7) the capability to distinguish between spirits, (8) tongues and (9) the interpretation of tongues. Note that the the nine gifts, tongues and related translate are noted last and also least of all. Ns cannot think that this is an accidental listing top top Paul"s part, for later in the chapter (12:28-30) Paul gives the list in another way: ". . . God has actually appointed in the church first apostles, 2nd prophets, 3rd teachers, then workers of miracles, climate healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in assorted kinds the tongues. Are all apostles? space all prophets? are all teachers? do all work miracles? do all possess presents of healing? execute all speak v tongues? perform all interpret?" In short, I sense that Paul tactfully do the efforts to minimize the gift of tongues amongst all the gifts that the heart gives. That condemns, together it were, by the use of faint praise. In the following section that 1 Corinthians 12, Paul supplies his illustration that the church as the human body of Christ, in which every member, through the certain gifts given by the Spirit, contributes come the well-being of the entirety body. Typically treated out of context just as a description of the members that the church working together in Christ, in paper definition this discover something that the difficulty that the Corinthians were experiencing and the trouble experienced in contemporary congregations once the tongues movement has gone into in. In an introduction of the section, Paul says, in effect, the it is the objective of the eye come see, the ear to hear, the tongue to speak, etc. If all members the the human body were to have actually the same function, then the human body itself can not function. The eye cannot as such despise the foot due to the fact that it cannot see, nor challenge the tongue lord it end the nose since it can not speak. God wisely made the body, Paul says, "that there might be no discord in the body, yet that the members may have the same care for one another" (12:25). Yet we find in the tongues motion a propensity on the component of the Pentecostal aspect to look down upon those who perform not have the gift as incomplete Christians, to think themselves superior to every others and also their gift the most necessary gift in the body of Christ. This attitude, perhaps much more than anything else in the tongues movement, accounts because that the emotionally opposition to, and rejection of, the motion by those who do not have actually the gift. Paul does not have that high regard because that the gift of tongues. After ~ enumerating the gifts of the soul for the 2nd time, v the gift the tongues in ~ the end of the list, he concludes the chapter: "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And also I will present you a still an ext excellent way" (12:31). Through that, Paul embarks top top his wonderful chapter on love—love so apparently doing not have in the instance in Corinth—one that the three best of God"s presents (faith, hope and also love), and also the biggest of the three. Right here we need to comment that us cannot but pray the all Christians could be disturbed around their spiritual condition and seek advancement of the same. Below we cannot assist but comment that the cure have the right to be known—and it is no the gift that tongues, but it is love. Here we cannot help but comment: let no the spiritually disturbed prescribe come God the gift that tongues together the cure, however seek indigenous God the rise of love because that God and also for other man by the indwelling power of the spirit of God. Edifying the Church that is in 1 Corinthians 14 the Paul makes his most telling statements on the topic of the gift that tongues. "Make love her aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you might prophesy" (v. 1)—not the you may have the gift the tongues yet that you may prophesy—that friend may have the capability to teach, exhort, admonish, comfort and build up one one more in your Christian faith and also love. "For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men however to God; for nobody understands him, yet he utters mysteries in the Spirit. ~ above the various other hand, he that prophesies speaks to guys for their upbuilding and also encouragement and consolation. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he that prophesies edifies the church. Now I want you every to speak in tongues, yet even an ext to prophesy. He that prophesies is higher than he who speaks in tongues, unless some one interprets, so that the church might be edified" (vs. 2-5). The Pentecostals here uncover encouragement for speaking in tongues but ignore the truth that Paul phone call the gift the prophecy greater. Ns here find the apostle Paul speaking, as we say, v tongue in cheek, minimizing a exercise in the Corinthian congregation that is not usual to the Christian church however which has actually been taken end in Corinth native the an enig religions the the Hellenists. What does the gift that tongues contribute to the kingdom that Christ? Those who have actually the gift will tell you exactly how wonderful it renders them feel, just how it has actually increased the size of your spiritual life. That does provide them evangelistic zeal—to propagate your Pentecostal type of religion. The does lead them to find the Scriptures—to filter the scriptures through their bias to discover what they deserve to interpret to support their search of the gift of tongues. Evangelistic zeal and also love for scriptures study, properly directed and also employed, is something we can wish come see more of amongst all Christians. Then they would certainly be less prone come be swept up through every passing error and spiritual fad such as the tongues movement. What does speak in tongues contribute to the church? Paul says: "Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I advantage you unless I lug you part revelation or expertise or prophecy or teaching? If also lifeless instruments, such as the flute or harp, execute not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? and if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will gain ready for battle? So with yourselves; if girlfriend in a tongue utter speech the is not intelligible, just how will anyone recognize what is said? because that you will certainly be speaking right into the air. There room doubtless countless different language in the world, and none is without meaning; however if I perform not recognize the an interpretation of the language, i shall it is in a foreigner come the speaker and also the speak a foreigner come me. So through yourselves; due to the fact that you room eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in structure up the church" (vs. 6-12). Further comment is hardly important except to note that Paul says that our score in all the we execute in the human body of Christ, the church, need to be command toward building up the church—to win those who have not yet obtained the gospel, to develop up the faith, knowledge, love and life that those who have been lugged into the fellowship that the church through the power of the heart in the preaching the the gospel.
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Grow Up! The next section the 1 Corinthians 14 includes words much quoted by the Pentecostals. Paul says, "I say thanks to God that i speak in tongues more than you every . . . " (v. 18). See, Paul speaks in tongues! yet Paul does no say that he speaks in ecstatic utterances as do the Pentecostals. Together an educated and well-traveled man, I have actually no doubt the Paul could say this literally, referring to well-known languages of the people in which he to be conversant. Yet let us concede the he can have talked in tongues in the Pentecostal sense. Then hear the words in the context in i m sorry they have actually been written: "Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue have to pray for the power to interpret. For if ns pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my psychic is unfruitful. What am i to do? I will certainly pray with the spirit and also I will certainly pray v the mind also; I will certainly sing with the spirit and I will sing with the psychic also. Otherwise, if girlfriend bless through the spirit, just how can any kind of one in the place of one outsider speak the "Amen" to her thanksgiving when he does not recognize what you room saying? because that you may give thanks fine enough, however the other man is not edified. I give thanks to God that i speak in tongues an ext than girlfriend all; nevertheless, in church i would fairly speak 5 words with my mind, in order come instruct others, 보다 ten thousands words in a tongue" (vs. 13-19). The Pentecostals feel that they have actually attained spiritual maturity as soon as they have gained the gift of tongues. This provides them remarkable to the spirituality babes who have not yet got the gift. How does Paul rate the gift with regard to spiritual maturity? the continues, "Brethren, execute not be youngsters in her thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature" (v.20). That is a reprimand! the is telling the Corinthian tongues-speakers: You are being childish! thrive up! He had actually implied the exact same thing in 1 Corinthians 13:11: "When i was a child, ns spoke favor a child, i thought favor a child, ns reasoned prefer a child; as soon as I came to be a man, I gave up childish ways." Paul continues in explaining why the gift the tongues was given in the early church together on the first Christian Pentecost: "In the law it is written, "By males of strange tongues and also by the lips the foreigners will I speak to this people, and even climate they will certainly not listen to Me, says the Lord." hence tongues space a authorize not because that believers however for unbelievers, when prophecy is no for unbelievers however for believers. If, therefore, the totality church assembles and also all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they no say the you room mad? however if all prophesy, and also an unbeliever or outsider enters, that is judge by all, the is dubbed to account by all, the keys of his heart room disclosed; and also so, falling on his face, he will certainly worship God and also declare the God is really amongst you" (14:21-25). The tongues-speakers use the prophecy the Isaiah 28:11 as a prophecy the tongues-speaking, however Paul does no quote the prophecy together a prophecy of speaking in tongues—which it is not. H is emphasis is ~ above the thought that every the speak in unintelligible words will transform no one: " " . . .even climate they will not hear to Me. . . " "As initially recorded, the words room nothing however a pronouncement of judgment upon Israel. Israel would certainly not listen to the prophets sent out by God. He would carry foreign invaders and oppressors upon her. Yet not also these speakers of foreign languages would guide Israel to hear to the precepts the God. On the very first Christian Pentecost, speak in tongues unknown to the speaker did convert 3,000 to belief in the lord Jesus. However the tongues spoken were recognized to the however, gathered in Jerusalem, and also the converting strength was not in the reality that the disciples speak in tongues unknown to themselves, yet in the truth that lock proclaimed the wonderful job-related of God v the lord Jesus Christ because that the redemption of the world from sin and also eternal damnation. Speaking in i can not understand gibberish can only antagonize the unbelieving and also contributes nothing come the spiritual growth of the believer. Believers are benefitted by, and unbelievers are converted by, the gift that prophecy, which proclaims Jesus Christ as the world"s just hope for salvation. As exercised in Corinth, the gift of tongues to be a confused and also confusing mess together those who declared the gift supposedly vied through one an additional to display off the gift in public. Those who declared the "lesser" presents were additionally apparently connected in striving to present them off. And so Paul continues: "What then, brethren? when you come together, each one has actually a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or one interpretation. Let all things be done because that edification. If any kind of speak in a tongue, let over there be only two or at many three, and also each in turn; and let one interpret. However if there is nobody to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and also speak come himself and also to God. Let 2 or three prophets speak, and also let the others sweet what is said. If a revelation is made to an additional sitting by, let the an initial be silent. Because that you deserve to all prophesy one by one, so the all might learn and all be encouraged; and also the spirits of prophets space subject to prophets. Because that God is no a God of confusion however of peace" (vs. 26-33). We detailed earlier that women have actually taken a leading duty in the tongues movement, the they are much more easily swayed emotionally and also are much more readily responsive come the methods of those that promote the gift the tongues. In every instance with which i am personal acquainted, the is the woman who has led her husband and/or family into the tongues movement and also is the an initial to have received the gift. This was rather apparently true additionally in Corinth. That is in the context of the statement on tongues the Paul speak the indigenous that have long been used out of paper definition to oppose woman suffrage in the church. In a less permissive society than ours, once women were little an ext than chattels and pawns of the male of the species, the females of Corinth apparently uncovered in the gift the tongues an chance to assert themselves and also to display that they might excel over the men—at least in things spiritual and also religious. And Paul states in this context, "As in all the church of the saints, the women must keep silence in the churches" (vs. 33, 34). Concluding Remarks

The concluding words of the chapter and section encompass these words: "So, mine brethren, serious desire come prophesy, and also do no forbid speak in tongues; but all things have to be done decently and in order" (vs. 39, 40). When I check out these words of Paul, " . . . Execute not forbid speaking in tongues . . ." ns remember likewise the words of Gamaliel: " "So in the present case I phone call you, save away from these guys and let castle alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is the men, it will fail; yet if that is that God, you will certainly not have the ability to overthrow them. You could even be discovered opposing God!"" acts 5:38, 39. I carry out not go along with the advice the Gamaliel to disregard the Christian movement. It to be his responsibility, as a scholar and also as a spirituality leader of the Jews, to assist the Jews to stop error and to uncover the truth. If he had done the in this case, he would no doubt have actually been caused accept the lord Jesus together the Christ and also his Savior. However the caution he offered to the Jews the they can find themselves opposing God Himself, coupled with Paul"s words informing the Corinthians not to forbid speak in tongues, led me to careful 2nd thoughts around taking up opposition to the tongues movement. ns am satisfied in my very own heart and also mind the I should speak out on the subject and also stand in opposition come it. I deserve to understand Paul"s advice in the Corinthian setting: immovable objection to, and also prohibition of, speaking in tongues under the circumstances might only have actually aggravated the situation and hardened the tongues-speakers in your attitudes. Come some extent I would heed the advice the Paul. Anyone who thinks he has the gift the tongues and takes Paul"s advice to rental it only privately, is responsible only for himself and also to himself and to God. Any type of who would usage the an alleged gift publicly and endeavor to propagate the practice among others, I would oppose and forbid to practice tongues-speaking among those over whom the mr has offered me spiritual responsibility—until it might be proven that the gift was truly a gift that God bestowed spontaneously upon the recipient by the soul of God. I have yet to review or hear of a single instance that convinces me the gift is from God. Ns was even more convinced that it was no a gift of God in analysis Aglow with the Spirit, by Dr. Robert Frost, among the shining lamp of the Pentecostal movement. He tells of a minister observing a woman who had come because that the so-called "infilling" of the Spirit however who repeatedly expressed it s her with just one tiny syllable that sounded choose stammering. But the minister had actually a vision the a small stalk-like shooting which thrived upward each time she uttered the syllable. Presently she found an additional syllable, and also a branch showed up on the shoot. With each new syllable she found, there was one more branch top top the shoot, until the vision portrayed a beautiful, symmetry tree. Anyone can perform the same thing by starting with a solitary syllable and including other syllables till one is able come speak fluently and at an excellent length—unintelligibly. Further, i am reminded of the old days once the south was filled through all kinds of small "holiness" groups known as holy Rollers, holy Weepers, holy Laughers, divine Clappers. Everything the details group thought about an evidence of the baptism the the spirit or the "getting religion," that was the manifestation which would take ar in your revivals. Gaining religion or the soul would reason the holy Rollers to roll on the floor, holy Weepers to weep, divine Laughers come laugh, and Holy Clappers come clap. And also where speaking in tongues is thought about a manifestation that the divine Spirit, a vital evidence that one is a full Christian, there will be speaking in tongues. but enough that this, despite I can say lot more. What I have said is the fruit of elevation thinking, of reading authors who space supporters of the tongues movement, and also of browsing the Scriptures. Ns pray the I have actually not succeeded just in alerting girlfriend to, and setup you against, speak in tongues. I would lot rather that we would certainly all discover from those who have gone off at a tangent in this. So plenty of of them gained started because they came to be concerned around their spirituality apathy, indifference and also coldness—and this is a concern that we must all share, for we are certainly not aglow with the Spirit; ours lives do not radiate the love, the concern, the dedication come God and our other man come the level that they should. Pentecostals incorrectly seek the systems to their problem in the gift of tongues. Lock pray because that the gift of tongues for their personal assurance of salvation. We must pray the the assurance the salvation, which we possess solely and alone with our God-given confidence in the lord Jesus Christ, will so possess us with the power of the spirit that it will lug forth in us all the wonderful fruits of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22, 23). Their problem is to propagandize and also proselytize and infiltrate for and also with their Pentecostal error. Our worry should it is in to propagandize and proselytize because that Jesus Christ our divine Savior and to infiltrate the entire people with the precious gospel the salvation v the atoning blood of ours Lord.


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Amen.