Hello all! My name is Matthew, I’m a minister from Detroit, MI. I have come to notice over the last few years that there are aspects of the Bible I just never have been familiar with (taught). One of those being the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I feel like I don’t know all that this entails. Are we all capable of speaking in tounges?
Speaking in Tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit and is a part of the Pentecost experience of Acts ch. 2. it is also described in Acts 10:46: in Acts 19:1-7; and in I Corinthians chapter 12. I have friends that speak in tongues. There are a number of gifts given by the Holy Spirit, some have counted 21 different gifts, that may not be all the gifts of the spirit but the ones mentioned in the New Testament, there is no one place where all of the gifts are listed. I do not think that any one person has all of the gifts which suggests that some will not have the gift of speaking in tongues. Not having a particular gift does not suggest a spiritual deficit but rather that God has not chosen to bestow a particular gift for reasons we can only speculate, he gives the gifts we need. I have heard speaking in tongues that seemed contrived and false. It is a genuine gift but one that can be disruptive if inappropriately used, I Corinthians gives guidelines for it’s appropriate use, The Corinthian church seemed to have a tenancy to miss use it. Many modern churches do not have people in them that speak in tongues, one reason may be that God does not bestow gifts unless they are desired or accepted. Any Christian be given the Gift of tongues, but seeking a particular gift seems to be a selfish desire for the prestige of having a gift for the wrong reasons rather than a desire to serve God in a servant capacity. The speaking in tongues seems to be a gift that assures the Christian of God’s presence and validation of himself as a recipient of of God’s grace.
@MattAlex Good question There are a couple differences of opinion among Christians that you need to keep in mind regarding this topic.
- some Christians believe tongues were foreign languages - not ecstatic speech. If this is the case, then modern tongues would be the ability to speak a foreign language you have never spoken before…
- some Christians believe that the gifts ceased and others believe they are still active today
Personally I believe tongues were other earthly languages, but I know and respect people who believe and practice otherwise. I do believe God is still active today, but I think that the more miraculous gifts are normally given by God when the Gospel enters new places to verify it is God who is at work. You might find the below threads helpful. Christ grant you wisdom.
I am budding in. I became a Chrisrians before 4 yrs or age with the help.of Easter Coloring Book. At 18 years of age, I renewed my faith with 1 John1:9 confession and prayer. My faith had been tainted by willful sin. I didn’t think the LORD could forgive me. Some people judged me for not having s prayer language. This wasn’t scriptural. 'Some" will speak in tongues. But the end of that 1Corinthian Chapter, Paul exhorts us to ask for all Gifts. In college while washing up, I asked the LORD. I thanked Him and then started singing worship songs in the shower. I was all of the sudden singing in a different language. It was amazing. I now pray in English and prayer language. I especially turn to the LORD to pray for others as He brings people to my mind. It is a blessing. Just ask the LORD God. Our ABBA, he wont deny you.
Nice to meet you Matthew. I concur with what I have seen written here and also want to share with you my personal experience which took me years to come to terms with in light of Biblical teaching. When I was 20 y/o and a new Christian not really knowing much about the Bible, I came to believe that I had lost my salvation. The day before I had gotten drunk with my best friend while we were supposed to be spring cleaning his house. I lived with my mom, and when I drove home and arrived in a drunken state, she was irritated, naturally, and I was irate and certainly disrespectful. I slept it off during the day, got up for a while, made peace, and then tried to sleep. Well I remained racked with guilt and could not sleep. I “sensed” that perhaps demons were somehow attacking me. I declared the blood of Jesus, and that I was forgiven on and on to no avail. I “sensed” they were laughing at me. Well, I had read the gospels, so I started to imagine the passion with Jesus going to the cross. What was that like? I thought. Lying there, and being nailed. Now I knew pain, I was a disabled Marine with two broken bones in my leg and they didn’t know how many in my feet, but I wondered how he felt. Then all of a sudden, it was a flash of intensity, I felt lower than dirt at the bottom of the ocean. Unworthy of forgiveness, I felt not only deserving of Hell for my sin but I was fine with it. I was going there, I deserved it, and there was nothing I could do about it. About 5 am my friend showed up. We had to finish the job we started and the trailer to take the trash to the dump was hooked up to my car, so I went off with him. “I’m lower than whale s**t,” I said. I couldn’t explain, really. He had just gotten out of the Marines and had not shared what I knew. Anyway, on the road we went. As I drove for about 15 minutes these questions popped into my mind. “Did I still love Jesus?” Yes, I thought, certainly. “Would I sell my car, my stuff, and put on a robe and go preach the gospel?” Yes, I thought, whatever and then in a flash, all of a sudden I felt this joy rising up inside me where God confirmed that in fact I was saved, it was all true, and while I was driving 65 mph I tried to say something to my friend but all that I could say came out and sounded like gibberish. His language was English, so I don’t know what I was speaking. That’s how it happened to me, nobody else there but me, my friend and the Holy Spirit. Now I can speak in tongues now, and sometimes I do, but mostly I pray in English. What the word says is that when you pray in tongues, glossolalia is the technical term, the Holy Spirit is praying for you and what he knows you need (1 Cor. 14). What we need is to praise God and thank him all the time as we seek his will in our lives “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Anyway, that’s my story from the book of my life, for what it’s worth. Hope it helps you.
Thank you for sharing your story, Michael. How blessed we are to have a God that pursues us!
It was my pleasure. The thing is, that happened long before I became indoctrinated into any kind of system of theology. Our Lord does pursue us, and when we decide we want to know what is true, he complies. Agape’ is true, charity, love. Matthew, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you have spiritual gifts provided for the common good. The best way I know to discover them is through going to the Source. As a minister the more you seek God’s help as you preach and teach, the more you will discover his activity in what you say and do. As regards the baptism of the Holy Spirit, people experience it all different ways so it does not always come ecstatically. There is a lot of literature on it, but my suggestion is to press into God and ask for wisdom. He loves to give. You will know.
Regarding speaking in tongues. There are reported events where a person speaking in tongues was reported by others present to be speaking in a language in which they were fluent. Other times the speaking was in random languages with no clear language identified, Other times worship groups began speaking in several different tongues or languages with a clear group rhythm that observers described as a group ethic having a conversation of praise.
Many of my Pentecostal tongues speakers have indicated that they do not know what they are saying other than it was an expression of praise or prophesy, They always always experienced of the presence of the Holy Spirit and they were refreshed spiritually. I do not speak personally in tongues but have confidence in their honesty through the evidence of their christian lives.
@Aleric Thanks for sharing I think we have to make a distinction between someone being honest and that same person being correct. A person can be honestly wrong. That does not mean they are bad - they are just speaking from their own experience. I think we have all probably had this happen in our own lives as we get older. We look back on our younger, honest selves and go, “Wow, I can’t believe I thought that…”
Thank you so much for your story and your wisdom, Michael! It has encouraged me greatly, God bless you!
I know people who say that speaking in their own prayer language directly to God has had a deeply profound impact on both their spiritual growth and the personal lives. I have seen NOTHING in the Bible that says that this or any other gift of the Spirit has “passed away” or that it is a foreign language and I don’t understand why anyone would say this? If someone does not have the interest to pursue this gift, I think that is fine as it does not have anything to do with salvation. I do think, however that it is quite rude to imply that just because one chooses not to that they are some how more mature or more grounded or some such thing. That sounds as bad as those who think the opposite is true and that those who do use these gifts have some how progressed beyond those who do not. The Apostle Paul was a HUGE proponent of the Gifts of the Spirit and it was presented as an event subsequent to salvation. I don’t see how one can reject or oppose the subject without setting aside and/or totally ignoring significant portions of the New Testament.
Let me preface my response by saying that I have never spoken in tongues – largely due, I’m sure, to a Pentacostal girlfriend I had in high school that was the epicenter of a bad experience with charismatics.
That said, I do believe that tongues is a gift that is still present and available for the body of Christ. But I’ll hedge that opinion with the following – just like the disciples who could not cast out certain devils, or Peter who walked on water only to sink a few steps later, what God empowers us to do comes from Him, not from us. If He Wills that you speak in a tongue that you don’t know, or in a heavenly language, or whatever, it’s His prerogative. If He Wills that you NOT speak in such languages, that’s ALSO His prerogative. And just like how you can’t “learn” how to walk on water, you can’t “learn” to exercise God’s power without God Himself being the driving force of it, both to wield when and if He chooses.
Might we speak in tongues by God’s direction? Sure. Might we never speak in tongues? Quite possible. If the gift manifests or not is none of our concern. The gift is not ours to use, but God’s to use through us. Our only concern is to be available for whatever God chooses to do through us at any given time – to be “instant in season and out”, as it were.
If tongues were other Earthly languages as you say. Why would Paul say that he was glad that he spoke in tongues more than all of you? What would be the point or the significance of making such a statement if it were nothing more than a foreign language? Also, keep in mind that Paul came to be a Christian long after the day of Pentecost as did others in the book of Acts, so what occurred on the day of Pentecost was not a one time, isolated incident
. Lastly, what scripture would you reference to verify that the gifts ceased?
@1rickolson To answer your questions, we need to look at I Corinthians 12-14. One thing we need to notice (a fact that is often ignored in modern teaching, at least in my experience) is the fact that chapter 13, the famous “love chapter,” is placed right in the middle of this discussion. Taking the passage as a whole, it’s clear why: The church in Corinth had apparently become obsessed with the idea of measuring spiritual maturity by the type of supernatural gifts people received, as well as their frequency. In I Corinthians 13, Paul is essentially saying, “Love (i.e. a commitment to building up and seeking the good of others) must be at the center of Christian life, and if the gifts of the Spirit are not being used to that end, then they are being abused.” This follows from the text of I Corinthians 12, which centers on the fact that different gifts and vocations are given to different people for building up the Church, and since all are necessary, none should be looked down upon as “lowly.” (It’s worth noting, incidentally, that I Corinthians 12:31, which is often translated as, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts” may also be translated as, “But you are eagerly desiring the ‘greater’ gifts.” The latter interpretation would make sense given the context, which suggests that the Corinthians considered some gifts more valuable than others.)
Moving on to I Corinthians 14, Paul discussed the merits of two particular gifts, namely the gifts of tongues and prophecy. In his view, the gift of prophecy (relaying a message from God which may chastise, encourage, or foretell) is preferable to have because it is more readily helpful to building up the Church. Tongues, by contrast, would require someone to understand the language being spoken, without which the words are gibberish. When Paul says that he is grateful to have spoken in other tongues more than others (I Corinthians 14:18), he quickly follows by saying that he would rather speak fewer words that are intelligible to all; he most likely brings it up so the people know that he isn’t talking down a gift that he himself has not received (similar to the way he boasts about his sufferings in II Corinthians 11 in his denouncement of so-called "super-apostles). Later, in verse 22 he describes tongues as a sign for unbelievers; this is consistent with Acts 2, where the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in other languages known to foreigners visiting Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks). This also explains why Paul could claim to have spoken in tongues more than any of the Corinthians: As a trailblazing evangelist, Paul traveled across the Roman Empire to places where Christian communities were small to nonexistent, and would have encountered people from across the empire and beyond who spoke different dialects and mother tongues (though they all spoke Greek and/or Latin as a common language). It makes sense that the Spirit would have enabled him to speak many of these languages in order to jump-start new communities and legitimize a message that, to those cultures, sounded laughable.
It should be noted that explicit references to speaking in tongues are fairly rare, even in the book of Acts, and there is always a discernible, Church-building purpose for the gift being given. Aside from the first instance in Acts 2 (where the obvious purpose is to gain the attention of the international community of Jews in Jerusalem), we see the gift of tongues show up in Acts 10 (as a sign to Peter that uncircumcised Gentiles are accepted by God into the Church just as the Apostles were, and possibly as a sign to Cornelius’ friends and family, who may have come from across the empire) and in Acts 19 (probably as a demonstration to the Ephesians, who had never heard of the Spirit, of the Spirit’s power). Acts 8 is often accepted as another instance of the gift of tongues being given (though it is not explicitly stated), in which case it is, again, either a sign to the believers of the Spirit’s power or a sign to the Apostles intended to break through the cultural barriers between Jews and Samaritans. It is noteworthy that none of the recipients of Holy Spirit in these passages had any apparent expectations of receiving the ability to speak in other languages, as they had apparently never before witnessed or heard of such manifestations of the Spirit’s power.
One other matter to address is I Corinthians 13:1, in which Paul refers to “the tongues of men and angels.” It should be noted that this is the only reference in all the New Testament to speaking in angelic languages, and given the context, it’s quite likely that Paul is either using the term rhetorically or is referring to Corinthian abuses (i.e. pretending to speak in another language, then claiming that it must be a heavenly tongue when nobody is able to interpret it). Finally, as Paul notes in I Corinthians 13:8-12, the gift of tongues is ultimately a means, not an end in itself, and it will pass away. Some take Paul’s words to be in reference to the end of the Apostolic era, while others (myself included) take them to be referring to the full coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth; when we all see God face to face and can speak to Him without any barriers, there will be no need for such indirect communication.
@1rickolson Good questions First off, I’m not a cessationist - I believe God still does miraculous things through His Church. However, I have seen abuses of supposed spiritual gifts and people faking them, so I am always very cautious about claims of this nature. If you read the posts I linked, one of them provides arguments both for continuationism and for cessationism.
Second, while it is clear the Corinthians believed they spoke in angelic languages (per 1 Cor 13), I am not convinced that either the apostles or Paul, a belated apostle, claimed to do so. But I am not opposed to others speaking in tongues - that is simply my opinion.
In addition, whether or not tongues are a modern gift, I do not think it is wise to deny someone fellowship by examining whether or not they display certain spiritual gifts. I think that will only lead to harm to the body as a whole.
I agree that there is no wisdom in accepting or denying fellowship to someone based on any type of Spiritual Gift. I am not aware of Churches that do this but, as with everything else…I am sure that they exist. The same with those who “fake it” or “push people down” and all of the other abuses that we hear about.
I personally believed that I am filled with the Holy Spirit but do not speak in tongues. I know those who do and some of those consider it to be INVALUABLE to their growth in the Lord. They believe that it is their spirit praying God’s perfect will directly to God for others and that it builds them up in their Most Holy faith as described in Jude 20 and Romans 8:26. I believe that Holy Spirit provides everything that Jesus told us He would provide in John 14 and 15 as he explained His coming departure and His promise to send the Holy Spirit. I have read books, watched videos and sermons that stand on both sides of the issue. At the end of the day, I find myself wondering if God has more for me in this area. They are listed as “gifts” of the Spirit and I can’t help but ask myself if there have been unopened “gifts” sitting under my Christmas Tree these past 30 plus years that would bless me to bless others if I would simply take the time to open them and enjoy them?
@1rickolson I can see that perspective We don’t want to miss out on what God has given us. Personally, I tend to desire a greater ability to edify others through sound teaching and to walk in the Spirit in joyful obedience more than tongues in private, since I think that is where Paul places the emphasis.
1 Cor 14:5 - The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
I have heard Speaking in tongues that sounded like gibberish and I suspect they were but at times I recognized Words I knew in other languages. I have heard accounts by credible sources that an event spoken in tongues was actually a sermon given in a language the speaker did not know but was understood by others present that it was given in their language though not directed to them or to their benefit.
@Aleric I have heard credible accounts of people speaking languages they did not know when sharing the Gospel and I believe God is more than capable of doing so. But I do not think the ability to speak foreign languages is something all believers should expect based on Scripture.
I would agree with you that Speaking in tongues is necessary to be filled with the Spirit, though there are some Charismatic that require it as a necessary sign of being filled with the Spirit ie. The Apostolic Church. Many Charismatic churches encourage speaking in tongues and even expect it. An observation regarding the I Corinthians practice of speaking in tongues Paul defines speaking in tongues in Ch. 12 and puts guidelines regarding its use along with other expressions of worship (Ch. 14), Chapter 12 is placed in the midst of of the which is an exportation for sacrificial love. The Corinthian Church seems to have strong personalities with a bent toward pride, even with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul.s statement regarding his speaking in tongues may be a tongue-in-cheek comment for Paul probably was fluent in several languages including Hebrew (the Rabbinical language; Aramaic the common language for the Jews; Latin (he was raised as a Roman); and Greek (the common language of the provinces where Paul preached).