The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the subject of Speaking in Tongues
The Spiritual Gifts are a subject that I don’t hear talked about much, and I
have done much studying of the Word and praying for discernment of God’s will
and direction for us on this area of biblical doctrine, so I offer some thoughts
on the subject for you to study.
There are many Gifts of the Spirit, and I think Paul does the best job of
explaining what they are in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14. All three chapters are
devoted to discussing the Gifts. Parts of these passages are also used by a lot
of people to support the claims that speaking in tongues is not relevant to
Christians today. Most churches believe in the Gifts and might even talk about
them, and they don’t have a problem with any of the Gifts except speaking in
tongues. Because of that, I’m going to spend a little time on that particular
I want to stress right at the start here, that Paul says three times in this
section of his letter, to desire and to covet the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor
12:31, 14:1 and 14:39).
In chapter 12 he points out that there are diversities of gifts and that we
should not discount the importance of any of the gifts no matter which is
greater; they are all important and none should be tossed aside as unimportant.
Paul stresses that prophecy is second only to an Apostle (someone with all the
gifts of the Spirit). It is the best gift and should be coveted! He talks about
speaking in tongues but also shows us that it is the least of the gifts, unless
it is accompanied by interpretation. Again, I stress that we cannot discard a
gift because it is not the greatest! Paul concludes this entire argument by
summing up with: 1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and
forbid not to speak with tongues. We shouldn’t discount tongues because it
is the least, and we should not forbid it, and we should desire it! 1 Cor
14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may
I’m going to present some arguments on the subject of tongues that are
scriptural and sound. I simply want to share as much as I can with you since I
know this subject is very controversial and misunderstood. The main point of my
argument is simply what Paul was stressing: To covet and desire the gifts, all
The question of tongues:
There is so much confusion in the world today about speaking in tongues. The
subject of speaking in tongues is not talked about in many churches. There is a
lot of teaching out there that tongues are not relevant today, not necessary,
not important, so you don’t need to worry about it. People seem to be afraid of
it. However, all of this confusion is not because tongues is not of God. The
Bible is very plain that tongues is definitely of God. Take a look at the
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall
they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak
with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as
many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the
gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues , and magnify
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on
them; and they spake with tongues , and prophesied.
1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak
Isa 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this
It is an honor and a privilege to be filled and blessed with the anointing of
the Holy Ghost through tongues or prophecy or healing, or anything at all
because it is from God Himself! I have to ask; why in the world
would anyone not want to speak in tongues? It is a wonderful,
precious gift from God. It is the ultimate worship. A vessel in total submission
to God is perfect worship. Speaking in tongues is also a tremendous increase to
personal faith. Paul says it’s for edification of ourselves, and it truly does
build faith when you speak in a tongue unknown by the power of the Holy
Spirit. How could it not?
So why is it so tough of a question? So many do not seek it or want it and they
explain it away because they don’t understand it? Because it’s not popular? Some
say it’s either not relevant to Christians today or it’s just a gift given to
only a few so it’s really not something that we care about. It’s just those
other people’s thing. But that’s not true. Tongues is just as relevant today as
it was when the Holy Ghost was first poured out, just as are the other gifts. In
order to have any of the gifts, we have to seek the infilling of the Holy Ghost
and be filled with the Spirit and submit to it so that He can use you in that
way! I have to ask; how would you hear tongues and interpretation if no one
spoke in tongues? How could you prophecy if you don’t submit yourself to the
Holy Ghost and allow Him to speak through you? I have heard tongues and
interpretation and prophecy with my own ears, and I have witnessed the healing
of people by the power of the Holy Ghost with my own eyes. The power of God is
just as evident today as it was when Jesus and the Apostles walked the earth.
Is tongues necessary for salvation? The answer is NO!
First and foremost, Paul explicitly says that tongues is NOT a sign for them that believe!
1 Cor 14:22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers
So any church that says you must speak in tongues as "evidence of the Holy Spirit", is dead wrong!
This is a very controversial subject and while some teach that tongues is not
even relevant, some teach that it is necessary and is the actual evidence of the
Holy Spirit, saying that if you haven’t spoken in tongues, you have not received
the Holy Ghost. Paul says that it’s for edification
of ourselves, not for salvation, as I said above. 1 Cor 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown
tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
Acts 2:38 shows us that all who are saved recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul shows us, it's up to God to give us the gift He wants us to have. Everyone does not recieve the same gift.
I will present both sides of the argument for you here:
The Biblical side of the argument about tongues. We must just believe
the Scripture and not try to add to it!
One thing that is common between all the times people were filled with the
Spirit in the Book of Acts, is that they spoke in tongues. In chapter 19 they spoke in tongues and
prophesied. In chapter 10 they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Does that
mean that they all spoke in tongues and they all prophesied, or that they all
spoke in tongues and all magnified God? Or, does it mean that some of them spoke
in tongues, some of them prophesied, and some of them magnified God? How can we
state that everyone must speak in tongues as the evidence of the Spirit based on
these passages when we have to make assumptions to do so? I don’t see how we can
do that, especially since I have not found one place anywhere in the Bible that
says this is the case.
Now, am I saying that the churches that teach this are bad? NO! I’ve been in
them and I have seen the Holy Ghost move tremendously! But, I find it very sad
that there are so many false doctrines, in almost all churches!
To continue; the Biblical side of this discussion is simply what Paul says. 1
Cor 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers
of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all
Paul is clearly stating that not all speak with tongues. But don’t forget that
it’s still important and should not be just discarded as irrelevant! It should
be sought after just as earnestly as the other gifts!
1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts:
1 Cor 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts,
1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak
Covet and desire the Gifts! We should never seek the Gifts of the Spirit,
however, without first seeking the will of God and the infilling of the Holy
Ghost like we have never known it before. I can tell you that God will fill you
fuller of His Spirit than you thought possible if you seek Him with all your
heart and let Him have His way with you. It’s not the happiness or glory of man
that we receive these gifts for, it’s for the glory of God and for us to use to
do His work. When we realize that the power that comes with the Holy Ghost is
for God to use for His purpose through us, God will really start to use us.
Acts 1:8 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 Judaea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Jesus said that power
would come with the Holy Ghost and immediately goes on to explain that the power
will be used so that we would be witnesses over the entire earth. Speaking in
tongues is one of the gifts and, as such, carries power with it.
Here's how I feel: Our salvation is the most important thing of our entire
existence. If I asked the question, "What do I absolutely have to do?", I would
rather err on the side of doing more than I absolutely have to, as opposed to
err on the side of hoping that I've done all that is necessary. It's way, way
too important to just hope that some man’s doctrine is right without pursuing
God and His truth with all that I have.
The bible tells us, Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of
this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. How are we going
to battle the rulers of darkness of this world without all the power Holy Ghost
in us? I urge you to seek Him and His gifts earnestly!
Let’s not let the devil or the things of the world distract us from becoming and
doing what God wants with our lives! Let’s obey the hunger for truth that God
puts in our hearts when we diligently seek Him. Let’s give God the sacrifice of
praise with our lips for it is pleasing to our Lord! (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Here’s the argument that some will use for the thinking that it is the
evidence of the Spirit:
Why did the people of Samaria (Acts 8), when they heard the Gospel, believed and
were baptized, but did not receive the Holy Ghost if, when you
repent and believe you receive the Holy Ghost automatically? They did not
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until Peter and John came and laid hands on
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ
unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which
Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean
spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them:
and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was
great joy in that city. 9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which
beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria,
giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from
the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to
him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with
sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the
kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and
women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he
continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were
done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had
received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they
were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For
as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of
the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the
Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands
the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this
power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But
Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that
the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot
in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Now here’s the really, really big question… How did they know
they had not received the Holy Ghost??? If speaking in tongues is only a gift
given to some, then they would not have known any different. They would have
assumed that they just didn’t get that gift, right? But that’s not so. They knew
they had not received the Holy Ghost! And when Simon saw that by laying on of
hands that they received the Holy Ghost, he wanted that power. How did he see
that it did something? The obvious answer is that they were speaking in tongues
and prophesying and magnifying God just as is documented in the other examples
shown to us in the book of Acts. I emphasize; all of the above, not just
speaking in tongues. There are diversities of Gifts!
Here is another similar example where they had not received the Holy Ghost:
Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul
having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain
disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye
believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be
any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And
they said, Unto John's baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the
baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him
which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this,
they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his
hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and
There are many people who teach that you receive the Holy Ghost instantly when
you repent, or some teach that you receive the Holy Ghost instantly when you are
baptized, but we can see in Acts 8 and 19 that they had not received the Holy
Ghost when they believed and repented, and even when they had been baptized. It
was another thing that happened to them that was a separate and unique part of
being born again. It didn’t always happen in the same order, but it always
happened! In Acts 10 they received the Holy Ghost upon hearing the Gospel
preached and then were baptized later. Don't forget, however, it's not the
Gift of Tongues that is the separate and unique part of being born again, it's
the recieving of the Holy Spirit and the Gift that the Lord gives you, no matter
Acts 10 is also a great study because if we study the whole account, we see some
interesting facts about Cornelius! Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that
feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to
God alway. So we see that Cornelius was devout, and feared God (his whole
house) and he prayed to God always! But, he did not have the Holy Ghost. In
today’s belief system, if a person believes in God, is an upright and devout
person, fearing God and praying constantly, then almost anyone who has been
taught today’s Christianity would say that they are saved and have the Holy
Ghost. Yes? Definitely! But, that’s very clearly not true in this example. Only
after Peter came and preached to them did they receive the Holy Ghost. Acts
10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which
heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished,
as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the
gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify
The teaching here is that every single person who received the Holy Ghost spoke
in tongues. Some records don’t specifically say, but arguably we have to ask if
it’s really necessary to re-iterate every time? The record of Paul's conversion doesn’t say
he spoke in tongues at that time. So that proves that not all do, right? But Paul says,
1 Cor 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all. Tongues
is a wonderful, beautiful thing that is directly from God and is given to every
single person who obeys the utterance when it is given to them. Jesus said that
“them that believe” would speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17).
That’s pretty much the basis for the thought that tongues is the evidence of the
Once again, I stress that I am not telling anyone they don’t have the Holy Ghost because they haven’t spoken in an unknown tongue.
As I stated above; Acts 2:38 shows us that all who are saved recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul shows us, it's up to God
to give us the gift He wants us to have. Everyone does not recieve the same gift.
Now, on the other hand, do the Gifts provide evidence of the Spirit? Certainly. If someone has a Gift and excercises that Gift and you see it yourself, of course that
can be attributed as "evidence" that the Spirit of God lives in them and they have a Gift of the Spirit. We need to test those things, however, as we're told to test
prophets and if anything they say came from God does not come to pass, it's not of God. And as Jesus said, many will come to Him in that day having done
healings and many wonderful works in His name, and He'll say "I don't know you". We're proven by our love for God and our "fruits" as Jesus said. It's what we do in life
that proves our salvation, not gifts or what we say, it's what we do. If we truly love God, it will be proven in our life.
So what is the conclusion?
We have to look to scripture for all of our conclusions, and scripture tells us
that we will be known by our fruits, not one particular Spiritual Gift.
Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Gal 5 and Eph 5 both show us what the fruit of the Spirit is. <-- Please open
your Bible and read these.
Jesus also said that certain signs would follow them that believe and includes
tongues but it is along with several other Gifts, not separated from the other
Gifts in any way.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall
they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18.They shall take up
serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall
lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Paul tells us that not all would have all of those signs or gifts.
I Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers?
are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with
tongues? do all interpret?
Paul tells us that there are diversities of Gifts, but the same Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
Nowhere anywhere in the Bible does it say we will know them by one particular
Again, the main argument for the doctrine that all must speak in tongues is that
is was a common occurrence in Acts when we are given examples of people being
filled with the Spirit. In chapter 19 they spoke in tongues and prophesied. In
chapter 10 they spoke in tongues and magnified God. Does that mean that they all
spoke in tongues and they all prophesied, or that they all spoke in tongues and
all magnified God? Or, does it mean that some of them spoke in tongues, some of
them prophesied, and some of them magnified God? How can we state that everyone
must speak in tongues as the evidence of the Spirit based on these passages when
we have to make assumptions to do so? I don’t see how we can do that, especially
since I have not found one place anywhere in the Bible that says this is the
case, and especially when Paul is very clearly arguing against it in 1 Cor.
In 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 Paul addresses this very question. All three
chapters are devoted to explaining the Gifts of the Spirit. I highly recommend
studying this yourself.
Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.