By Edwin Christiaan | www.instituteoflove.net
Within the Christian church and all of its denominations, there has always been a battle between those who are against speaking in tongues versus the proponents of speaking in tongues. Usually, the Charismatic circles are for, while the Evangelical and Baptists are against.
Those, who don’t believe speaking in tongues is for the church today, often link it with Charismatic/Pentecostal Christians, who in their opinion are somewhat flaky people who don’t know the Word of God properly. They claim that speaking in tongues simply doesn’t exist anymore! Many Charismatics, who actually speak in tongues, vehemently disagree! These adversaries of the speaking in tongues phenomenon see it as a demonic practice, a form of occult chanting, and they forbid anybody from practicing it. Further, they teach against it, saying that the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the speaking of tongues as a confirmation, was a one-time event only for the believers at the time of Pentecost.
Perhaps this bizarre denial of the existence of speaking in tongues come from the fact that those who are not filled with the Holy Spirit themselves, cannot take part in something they don’t have! They cannot teach something they don’t know!
I would like to show you that speaking in tongues is very real, and that the Word of God is actually very clear about how to view it in a church setting. As an apostle for the New Covenant Church, Paul taught that no one should forbid speaking in tongues!
“So, dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues.”
1. Corinthians 14:39 NLT
Right off the bat, if any church forbids or disallows the practice of speaking in tongues, they are not following the Word of God!
Secondly, while Jesus was eating with His disciples one day, He told them that they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
“Once when Jesus was eating with them, He commanded them, do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5 NLT
That day soon arrived!
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Acts 2:1-4 NKJV
All the disciples were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues! This had to happen to empower them for ministry.
Then came the day when Jesus commissioned His disciples to go out and evangelize the world. Here, He promised, that those who come to faith in Him, will also speak in new tongues!
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:15-18 NKJV
I take that to include any and all persons who believe in Christ and is saved.
Speaking in tongues is a manifestation of being filled with the Holy Spirit, or having the Holy Spirit falling on you.
It is a mysterious spiritual phenomenon that is driven by the power of the Holy Spirit within a person.
An example of this was when the Apostle Peter ministered at the home of Cornelius, a Roman army captain:
“Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.”
Acts 10:44-46 NLT
Exactly the same thing happened when the Apostle Paul traveled through the interior provinces and came to Ephesus. A group of believers there had never heard of the Holy Spirit, but when Paul laid hands on them, they began to speak in tongues.
“Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.”
Acts 19:6 NLT
It is God’s desire for every born-again Christian to speak in tongues. In fact, it is a natural occurrence that follows those whom the Lord Jesus has chosen to belong to Him. If a church forbids believers from speaking in tongues, it is the same as forbidding the Holy Spirit! Who would want to make themselves guilty of such a blasphemous act?
Perhaps the confusion in this area has to do with the fact that the believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost spoke in tongues that were actual languages. That is why foreigners living in Jerusalem were amazed when they heard the believers speaking about the wonders of God in their own languages. The other times speaking in tongues are mentioned, are when the Apostle Paul teaches on this subject in his letters to the Corinthian church.
In these letters, Paul says that speaking in tongues is a private prayer language that strengthens the person who speaks it. He also says that the those who speak in tongues, don’t understand what they are saying. Whether he means that they don’t understand because they don’t know the particular language they are speaking in, or whether it is because it isn’t an earthly language they are speaking, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that Paul says, that speaking in tongues cannot be uplifting to the whole congregation unless someone knows how to interpret what is said, simply because it is not delivered in a language everyone present can understand!
“For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.”
1 Corinthians 14:2 NLT
“A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally...”
1 Corinthians 14:4a NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you?”
1 Corinthians 14:6a NLT
“It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space. There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. But if I don’t under-stand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me.”
1 Corinthians 14:9-11 NLT
SOME GET TONGUES AND SOME DON’T?
The Apostle Paul was explaining that speaking in tongues is a gift we should all desire, along with all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives- especially the ability to prophesy.”
1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT
He didn’t mean to say that some get the gift of tongues while others don’t. He meant to say that, in general, we all should desire everything that comes from Christ.
We should certainly not prohibit anything!
When believers do not receive the Holy Spirit as a result of their conversion, it is a sign that something about the conversion is not real, or genuine. It may be a sign that the person is not chosen to belong to Christ. See, we falsely teach in the Christian church that anyone who wants to can just say a prayer and claim Jesus, so to speak, and then they are saved. It doesn’t work like that. We are not the ones who choose to be saved or not. We cannot decide such things by our own will. The truth is, we are all either chosen in advance for salvation or damnation. This has been predestined by the Almighty God already before we came to be a human being.
When/if someone responds to the Gospel message of Christ, it is because they are drawn by the Father, and their acceptance is merely the confirmation of what God has already preordained, not a product of their own will and choosing. God is the One who chooses those He wants as His children, and the rest are not chosen!
That is why we need to understand that speaking in tongues can only happen as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. And being filled with the Holy Spirit can only happen to those who are predestined and chosen to belong to Christ. Just because someone “wants” or “desires” to follow Jesus, doesn’t mean they get to. This is where we have gotten so many things wrong. And this is also why there is confusion among Christians about why someone gets the gift of tongues and others don’t.
It is simple! The true, chosen children of Christ; those who cannot be snatched out of His hands; those who are chosen in advance, will be endowed with power from God to enable them to live a victorious Christian life on Earth, and to give them the anointing they need to share the Gospel with others.
(See Gal. 1:15-16, Acts 10:41, 2. Cor. 4:3, Rom. 9:16, 24, Eph. 1:4, 11, John 6:44, 64-65, Rom. 8:29).
Many believers fall away from faith because of different factors. They are like the soil in Mark 4, who hears the Word, but falls away because of earthly snares or temptations. It was never meant to be like that. Christians were meant to be endowed with power from the very beginning of their encounter and walk with Christ. That is why Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to empower the believers. They needed His power within them to overcome all obstacles, persecution, temptations, false teachers, and false doctrines. Without this, they would be sitting ducks, just waiting to fall prey to any blow they might suffer. Instead, they were strengthened by God’s grace to persevere and endure even the most difficult circumstances, and not fall away from Christ.
That is why the Holy Spirit’s infilling is of such great importance. It is fuel to our cars, oil to our lamps.
Without it, it is impossible to function as effective Christians. It is very dangerous to stifle the Holy Spirit and the way He works. It leaves our churches with only a form of religion, but denying God’s power!
The Word of God warns us against those who claim to be believers but who reject the power of God. They are literally rejecting how the Holy Spirit works!
“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”
2 Timothy 3:5 NLT