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Speaking in tongues.
Brad Sadler

This is a prickly pear among many believers today. No where in scripture does it say believers have to speak in tongues. Paul says it so clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 where in verse 29 he says “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?“. The obvious answer to these rhetorical questions are “No, of course they don’t”.

For many, the desire to say the every Christian should speak in tongues (even though Paul says that not everyone will speak in tongues) is most probably motivated by a doctrinal understanding where they view being Baptised in the Spirit As an experience subsequent to conversion that sees speaking in tongues as the initial sign of having received this Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (See post on Baptism of the Holy Spirit)

It seems better to take 1 Corinthians 12:30 to mean just what is written there by Paul… not all speak in tongues. The gift of tongues, like every other gift of the Holy Spirit, is not given to every Christian who seeks it. The Holy Spirit “Apportions to each one individually as he wills“ (1 Corinthians 12:11).

One point must be made when referring to speaking in tongues with respect to the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, because there are some instances in the New Testament where individuals received the Holy Spirit and immediately began speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:46 and 19:6).

But it is important to realise that are also instances in the New Testament where individuals were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they did not speak in tongues. When Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) the result was strength for overcoming the temptations of Satan in the wilderness. When Jesus returned from the wilderness He returned “In the power of the Spirit“ (Luke 4:14)and the result was healing, miracles, casting out demons and teaching with authority and power.

When Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, she spoke a blessing to Mary (Luke 1:41-45). When Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied (Luke 1:67-79).

Other results of being filled with the Holy Spirit include preaching powerfully (Acts 4:31), maturity and sound judgment (Acts 6:3), testimony when on trial (Acts 4:8) and a vision of heaven (Acts 7:55).

Therefore, it would appear that while an experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit may result in the gift of speaking in tongues, it may also come without the gift of speaking in tongues.

However, scripture doesn’t say that only a few will receive this gift of speaking in tongues. As Paul also viewed this gift as useful and edifying in the church and privately, it’s not surprising that many in the church today have received this gift of speaking in tongues.

Personally, I would encourage everyone to desire this gift of speaking in tongues.