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Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Is Speaking in Tongues Christian?


On the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, I want to point out that the gift of tongues spoken of in Corinthians 12:4-11, is not the same as speaking in tongues as evidence of the baptism of the Spirit. Please note that I'm saying "evidence," because some people, including myself, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit but the evidence/confirmation of speaking in tongues was not manifested until later. The Bible proves, by its teachings, that the gift of tongues and speaking in tongues is not the same thing.

Notice how the passages that speak of people being filled/baptized with the Spirit, talk of their speaking in tongues and/or of a visible sign of such baptism, either in that same passage or in another, that relates back to individual being mentioned (Acts 2:4, 10:45-46, 19:6). Acts 8:18 is the only scripture that doesn't say that the people spoke in tongues, and also that does not say in another part of the Bible that these people spoke in tongues. Acts 8:18 says, "And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands, the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money."

Take notice that this scripture says, "when Simon saw that the Holy Ghost was given." The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17), so by the word "saw," we know that there was a visible manifestation of the baptism of these people in the Spirit. Are we to say that the evidence could have been something else like falling to the ground or shouting praises? No, because if it was usual for the baptism of the Spirit to be manifested in a variety of different ways, how could Simon have been so sure that they had received the Holy Ghost? He affirmed with no doubt that they had been baptized in the Spirit, and he was correct as the Bible says. If the sign of the baptism can be any type of manifestation, he could not have been certain whether they had received the Spirit or whether they were simply praising God like anyone can do whether they have been baptized or not. Simon was sure of his affirmation because he knew of the unchanging sign of having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit--speaking in tongues. On this note, we also have to ask if speaking in tongues is simply one of the spiritual gifts distributed by God, why did all of these people in all of these scriptures (Acts 2:4, 10:45-46, 19:6), receive the very same gift, at the time they received the baptism? Why does this particular spiritual "gift" show up in scriptures that speak of someone being filled with the Spirit? Why does nobody ever receive any of the other gifts?

What Is the Gift of Speaking in Tongues?

Another problem that can't be explained away with calling speaking in tongues a spiritual gift, given only to some, is that Jesus Himself declared that all who believe on Him will manifest the sign of speaking in tongues. He said, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues" (Mark 16:17). We can't translate a sign into a spiritual gift.

Still another problem that can't be answered by calling speaking in tongues a spiritual gift is the fact that the Bible speaks of two kinds of speaking in tongues. There are the tongues that are natural native languages spoken by the nations of the earth as seen in Acts 2:4, and there are the tongues that are a heavenly language that no man can interpret without God because they are not a language to man, but only to God (1 Corinthians 13:1). Notice that all of the spiritual gifts listed in Corinthians have one purpose, one main goal--the edification of the church. This is precisely why the book of Corinthians gives explicit instructions on how tongues are to be handled in the church. There must be an interpreter or the person that speaks in tongues is to be silenced or speak quietly to himself (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). The church's failure to keep this commandment has caused much harm. Again, the gift of tongues is for the edification of the church.

There is another type of tongues which is speaking in a heavenly language (1 Cor. 13:1). Paul explains that this is when an individual is in private communion with God which is not the edification of the church but rather that of the individual. Often the person is alone or speaks to himself (quietly) while in the congregation (1 Cor. 14:28). This is personal communication with God that is not the business of anyone else. There is no interpretation but the one that God gives directly or indirectly only to the person with whom He is dealing. Again, this is not edification of the church. This is edification of that particular believer. Edification of the church is the addition of souls to the family of Christ, as we will see later, as well as the up-building of the whole assembly of the saints such as through prophesy (1 Cor. 14:22). This is why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14:13-15, speaks of the need for the individual to pray for understanding of what he is speaking in tongues so that this move of the Spirit on him is fruitful, meaning it builds or edifies his spirit man. The one kind of tongues is for the edification of the church and thus requires a separate interpreter. The other tongues is for the edification of the individual believer and thus the believer himself may be the interpreter (1 Cor. 14:13). There's a big difference here. Only the people in Act 2:4 can be said to have manifested not only the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit but also the gift of tongues because they edified the church at the same time they were baptized in the Spirit. In other words, their speaking in tongues preached the gospel to unbelievers who were around (Acts 2:4-41). All of the heathens that believed on that day, were added to the church, about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41). This is the church's edification. This is how it is supposed to be. The Bible says: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not...(1 Cor. 14:22). This is being on fire for the Lord. Sadly, most churches can’t speak of the addition of 3,000 souls to the family of Christ within a lifetime. This is in part due to the stubbornness of man against God, predicted in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but it is also due to the Church’s failure to be filled with the Spirit to the overflowing that runs over to others.

Believing that speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift that not all will receive also presents a problem in light of the scriptures. For one, if we say that we may not have been chosen to receive that gift and therefore if we never speak in tongues, it must not be God’s will; what about at least the sign of tongues that should follow every single believer? (Mark 16:17) Also, in addition to the sign of tongues as a believer, we are commanded to seek after all of the spiritual gifts. We are directly told to be zealous of the spiritual gifts, to yearn after them so that we may be used of God in the growth of His church. If we do not hunger for and seek after souls for Christ, we are not operating fully under the Spirit. Paul said: Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12). Paul, later, even tells us to covet (desire) earnestly, the spiritual gifts. He cannot be any plainer in trying to get this point across. He said: But covet earnestly the best gifts and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31). The more excellent way is the complete way of God which leads to the winning of souls. Prophecy is the best gift of all (1 Cor. 14:39). We read Paul saying: ...Wherefore brethren, covet to prophesy...(1 Cor. 14:39). 'Covet' is a direct command. This is God’s Word telling us what to desire. Please do not misunderstand me to mean that we should seek the gifts in the way most people would think of this mandate. We are not to just long to prophesy any chance we get. We are to seek earnestly, with all of our might, the Giver of these gifts, with the mindset that we do not want any belief, thought, hindrance, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, doctrine, tradition, fear, or anything else to interfere with being a wide open vessel for the gifts of God to His glory. It is to this that Paul is referring as the "more excellent way." Also, most people misunderstand the receiving of gifts to be something permanent. The gifts of God are operational only when His Spirit moves and according to His will. A servant of God may manifest the gift of healing at one time, and the gift of prophesy at another. Spiritual gifts are not something we walk around with. They are, simply put, the manifestation of God’s power at any given time, in any place. We see this in scripture with the people filled with the Spirit in Acts 2:4. The sign of their filling with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, was manifested, but also the spiritual gift of tongues was seen because remember, God used them in the edification/growth of His church on that day. The only reason they did not need an interpreter is because they were speaking languages that the people who overheard them, understood. Below is food for thought on this subject:

MAN-I don’t believe in speaking in tongues.

BIBLE-And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. Mark 16:17

…Forbid not to speak with tongues 1 Corinthians 14:39

MAN -According to Acts 1st and 2nd chapters, speaking in tongues is only used to preach to people of a foreign language.

BIBLE - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels. 1 Corinthians 13:1

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 1 Corinthians 14:2

Man-I don't believe in tongues because I don't believe you should be in confusion about what you're saying.

Bible -Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 1 Corinthians 14:13

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also... 1 Corinthians 14:15

For God is NOT the author of confusion... 1 Corinthians 14:33

Man -You automatically receive the Holy Spirit at Salvation.

Bible -If this is true, why did Jesus tell His already saved apostles to WAIT to be endowed with power from on high (the baptism of the Holy Spirit)?

In Acts 1:4 Jesus said: ...wait for the promise of the Father which saith He, ye have heard of (from) me.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you… Acts 1:8

Acts 19:2 says: He said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

These are only two of the scriptures that plainly demonstrate that it is possible to be saved, to have received the Holy Spirit at salvation and yet be without the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Man -I don't like the idea of speaking in tongues because I'm afraid I, or the other person may have received this from the devil.

Bible -If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:11-13

Man -Tongues were just for the day of Pentecost, they have ceased in our day.

Bible -Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

This verse is not referring to the spiritual gifts, which includes tongues. ‘That which is perfect’ is not the complete, written Scriptures. This would mean that knowledge and wisdom, also spiritual gifts, would be done away with, and we know this is not so. That which is perfect is the second coming of Christ.

Man -Speaking in tongues is a sign of fanaticism.

Bible - And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. Mark 16:17

Man -People are just magnifying themselves when they speak in tongues.

Bible -For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:46

Man -I am embarrassed and ashamed to speak in tongue.

Bible -For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He shall come in His own glory and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26

The Operation Of The Holy Spirit

The Bible also teaches what the operation of the Holy Ghost is in the life of the believer thus opening our eyes to the need to be baptized in Him.

He guides us into all truth.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth... St John 16:13

He gives us power to witness.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

He assures us that we are the children of God.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Romans 8:16

He makes intercession for us.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities (weakness), for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

He enables us to bear the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance... Galatians 5:22-23

He gives us what we should say when in situations in which we would not know how to answer others.

But when they deliver you up, (hand you over to be persecuted) take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your father (the Holy Spirit) which speaketh in you. Matthew 10:19

He brings to our remembrance the words of our Lord Jesus. Jesus said:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance. St John 14:26

Just as we are to be obedient and be baptized in water, (Acts 2:41, Matthew 3:16) we are also to be baptized in the Holy Ghost.

...Be filled with the Spirit Ephesians 5:18

John (the Baptist) answered saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water but one mightier (Jesus) than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.
Luke 3:16

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It is becoming a need for me to be able to communion with my Creator in a heavenly language. I am recognizing almost a sorrowful burden in my soul from a lack of genuine connection with His Holy Spirit. I know God has so much more available for me and for my fellow Christian friends. Some how I know I need more of God through me. I am asking for His Holy Spirit to intercede for me as I am not sure how to even pray to receive.
by: Esther
Posted on 2010-12-14 00:44:05

In response to Esther: Anyone who has received Jesus as Savior can simply pray to God asking him for the baptism in his Spirit. Luke 11:9 says, "...Ask, and it shall be given you...." Luke 11:13 says, "...How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Please remember, however, that a "lack of genuine connection with His Holy Spirit" is NOT caused simply by a lack of communication in a heavenly language.
by: Heavenly Manna
Posted on 2010-12-16 02:21:37

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