Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues
What is Speaking in Tongues?
What is speaking in tongues?
The word “tongues” is simply an old English word for “languages”. Simply stated, if you speak in different tongues, it means that you speak in different languages.
Everybody has their own "tongue". It is an old-English way of saying everybody has their own language. One person's "tongue" can be English, another person's "tongue" can be Spanish, and yet another person's tongue can be French.
However, when Pentecostal Christians use this term it almost always is referring to a supernatural phenomena described in the Bible. Let's look at a few scriptures:
What is Tongues?
Ac 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit
Waiting & praying in one accord
Ac 10:44-48 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
The Holy Spirit fell on them
Ac 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
The Holy Spirit came upon them
The laying on of hands
In the table above we see three instances of speaking in tongues in the book of Acts.
The first happened when the people were “filled with the Holy Spirit”
The second happened when the Holy Spirit “fell” on the people
The third happened when the Holy Spirit “came” on the people.
This leads us to ask the questions:
Does everyone who is “filled with the Holy Spirit” speak in tongues?
Does everyone upon the Holy Spirit “falls” speak in tongues?
Does everyone upon the Holy Spirit comes upon speak in tongues?
Filled with the Holy Spirit
Some people claim they were "filled with the Holy Spirit". Some people hold THE infilling with the Holy Spirit to be synonymous with speaking in tongues. But is this true?
In order to fully understand what the term "filled with the Holy Spirit" means, we must examine the scriptures thoroughly. We must study every occurrence of the phrase, and note whether or not speaking in tongues is accompanied by the infilling of the Spirit.
Such a study would prove that speaking in tongues does not accompany every instance of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, most of the time it doesn't.
The book of Acts clearly records an instance, arguably the first instance of a supernatural phenomena where the Spirit of God animates human beings so intimately that He takes hold of their tongues and speaks through their mouths.
In other words, we see in the book of Acts an instance where God speaks through people. The Lord took control of the disciples tongues and spoke through them with languages they did not learn, proclaiming the works and wonders of God.
However, we must keep in mind that everything that was spoken was understood by somebody in attendance. There were people present from other nations, presumably people who did not understand Hebrew. Therefore God spoke through the apostles in the mother languages of the people present, thus overriding the need to learn the language.
The Holy Spirit overstepped the intellect, and overrode the need to learn the languages of the people present. This in itself was a sign and a wonder. But why? This miracle of God shows us to what extent the Lord will go to communicate to unbelievers, and people of other nations and cultures. The Lord wanted to proclaim His message to these people, and He was willing to go the extra mile to do so.
Down through the ages there has been reports of men and women who have received this gift of what they call "speaking in tongues". From the saints of old to the men and women of God today there have been many reports of people who have authentically received the gift of speaking in tongues. I would call it "authentic tongues".
What do I mean by authentic tongues? I mean that a person, empowered and animated by the Holy Spirit, spoke in a language he or she has never learned. Not only that, but to make it "authentic", someone was present to hear the message and understood the message leading to the praise and honor of God and/or the exhortation and comfort of His people.
My "Tongue" is English
Imagine being there in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost. It says that people from many other nations and languages were present.
Perhaps someone was there who spoke English. If that were the case, they probably heard one of the disciples speaking English. Let's not forget that none of the apostles of the Lord spoke English. In fact, there is no record that the Lord Himself ever spoke English. Having the Bible translated into English, sometimes we forget this important point.
So then, there is a good possibility that English was one of the "tongues" that was spoken on the day of Pentecost.
Many Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians believe that speaking in tongues entails speaking in a language that you do not understand. If they were at the upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out they would almost certainly misjudge the gift of tongues. They would say that everyone that was not speaking in English was speaking in tongues. They would probably approach the English speaking apostle and ask him why he didn't receive the "baptism of the Holy Spirit". Perhaps they would ask the English speaking apostle why he didn't receive the gift of tongues. This would be foolish on their part because the English speaking apostle IS speaking in tongues.
The Evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Without writing a large volume here, I must say that the scriptures does NOT teach this. If you look up everywhere in the scriptures where the phrase "baptism of the Holy Spirit", "baptized in the Spirit", "filled with the Spirit", etc... etc... you will find that on only a few occasions does it ever mention that the parties involved ever spoke with other tongues.
Speaking in tongues can be an evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it certainly is not the only evidence.
I am reminded of the words of William Seymour (1870-1915), the founder of Pentecostalism in the United States:
“If you get angry or speak evil or backbite, I care not how many tongues you have, you have not the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
That is the truth. That is solid Bible teaching. But how many times do you hear that taught in Pentecostal churches today?
Teach me to Speak in Tongues
There are many churches today that "teach" people to speak in other tongues. They say something like "just say one syllable words at first and the rest will come"
They teach you that you should begin by saying, "Ba Ba Sha Ka La La".... or something to that effect.
They tell you to keep "speaking in tongues" and your "heavenly language" will get more fluent after time. They teach that the more you speak in tongues the more fluent you will be in tongues.
ALL of these teachings are false and misleading according to the word of God. NONE of the disciples had to be "taught" how to speak in tongues. The absolute opposite is true. NONE of them were taught at all. It was a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit, an authentic work of God, NOT a work of the flesh, nor was it the work of a human. The whole idea is that the tongues they spoke in was not taught or coached by any man. It was a fluent, and supernatural language given by the Holy Spirit Himself.
The gift of "speaking in tongues" is very real. There are people who actually have the authentic gift of tongues. One example is that of an old man who attended the "Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship". Whenever the Holy Spirit would come upon him in power he would shout. Nobody knew what he was saying. People thought he was just making funny sounds by shouting things like "HEY! SEE! CHA!" (those where not the actual words and sounds that he made, but I think you get the picture).
But one day, he was sitting beside a Japanese man when this happened. The Japanese man approached him and asked him if he knew he was speaking Japanese. The old man was shocked, and said, "No, I didn't know that".
The Japanese man said that he kept on shouting "Jesus is #1!" over and over again in Japanese. This is remarkable because apparently one of the popular sayings of advertisers in Japan is "_____ is #1"
This is an example of true, authentic tongues. it was a sign and wonder that glorified God.
However, sadly enough there are way too many churches, pastors and Christians out there that teach people to babble, and then tell them that they have the gift of tongues.
There are too many Christians out there teaching others to babble and then they get excited and say they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. This is a deception and a fallacy.
It is time that Pentecostals REALLY be baptized in the Spirit. But the number one "evidence" of the baptism of the Spirit is LOVE. Never forget that.
- My Personal Blog
Teachings from the LORD that you will not find anywhere else.
More by this Author
There have been many "revivals" over the centuries. These events are marked by unusual behavior, and extraordinary signs. But is it real? Is it really God?
This is the most exhaustive teaching on tithing found anywhere on the Internet. Dig in, and read every argument for and against the practice of tithing.
Ethiopia houses some of the worlds most fascinating mysteries. Find out what they are right here