Should every one speak in tongues to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit? Some believe it and some do not agree. What we all believe is crucial. Either all should have this sign or not all should. What do the Scriptures say? What is written there is what counts.
Having ministered in relation to this baptism to multitudes, may I suggest that the Scriptures do not record anyone receiving the Holy Spirit without speaking in other tongues? Also, there are five instances in the book of Acts where people did receive and in three cases, there is conclusive evidence they spoke in tongues. In Samaria, Simon the Sorcerer “saw” something when there were those filled with the Spirit. With the case of Paul he obviously spoke in other tongues – or languages. “Tongues” of course would be the seventeenth century of customarily spoken English. There is a principle for understanding any doctrine or truth in God’s Word. It is this, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established”. In the book of Acts there are at least three witnesses and two other that are less definite.
It has been my experience over forty years, that the reason people do not receive is basically due to lack of teaching and of ministry. The Holy Spirit is ministered as in Galatians 3. As recorded in Acts 8, Peter and John laid hands on the people. Philip, the evangelist, appears not to have had that kind of ministry, as did the two apostles. It would seem that it attends the grace of apostleship.
I remember being in Malaysia at a small house meeting of women who were hungry for the things of the Spirit. There was an English wife of a Church of England Vicar present who did not speak in tongues. She said to me, “I have sought but have not received. I see others receive who do not have much spiritual standing and who do nothing in the church. Yet I have not. Therefore, I believe it is not necessary to speak in tongues”. She had a naturally valid reason – but not a scriptural or spiritual one. There was also a comment by one that “God cannot love me because I did not receive”.
My reply was that “Yes, it is the scriptural way to receive the Holy Spirit by speaking in other tongues. God does love you. The reason any of you have not received is not to do with you (as would be recipients) but rather it could be those ministering do not have as yet, the knowledge, the Gifts and/or give proper teaching. I myself have learnt and would consider it to be my lack if someone does not receive. We have to wait on our ministries. It basically is an Apostolic ministry for a person to move in this area to a great extent. We cannot really put any blame on any person”. I prayed for them and they all spoke in other tongues. It has been my experience for just on thirty five years that virtually 100% will receive. In this time, there would have been very few who did not receive.
I went to Indonesia as the first mission venture, in 1970. At first around 70% would receive, particularly after I learnt a few Indonesian phrases to encourage them as I prayed. Being disturbed because the old people were not receiving, I sought the Lord in prayer in the Spirit one day for a few hours. That night they all received. For a few years after that, I kept on waiting on my ministry until one hundred per cent would receive, at the most in five minutes – the average being fifty in attendance. I have seen it happen in crowds of up to four hundred. We have had people and pastors receive who have tried for up to thirty years to receive. When receiving, they all spoke with other tongues or languages. They were humble enough to admit their need.
Also, there have been those who came to the conclusion everyone did not need to speak in other languages because they personally had not received. One Chinese man in Singapore in particular comes to memory. He and his worker denied in the face of the latter speaking volubly in other tongues that it was necessary to speak in such a way. A few years later, we ministered to his wife on her request in their home. She received and then informed him. He came to us in humility of heart, confessing his failure in the past and admitting it was necessary to speak in other tongues. Yes, he received, after all those years.
We, over the years, would have heard many hundreds of thousands speaking in other tongues , generally by standing besides them listening. We have seen unbelievers who were not deterred by the much speaking in tongues. Some have even accepted Christ silently and begun to speak in other tongues, just as in Acts 10 where it happened while Peter was preaching in the house of Cornelius. We have had it occur also while preaching. On one occasion when this did happen, I stopped preaching and had the whole church come forward when they also spoke with other tongues in the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Then I finished the sermon!
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:23 in some translations that go like this – “Strange languages are not meant to warn believers but to attract the unbelievers”. In the face of this, we believers do have things upside down!
Again, may I suggest there are three baptisms with the Holy Spirit involved and one with the involvement of a man, this being baptism in water. The first baptism is that by believing in Christ, we are baptized into His death, by the Father, Colossians 2:12, we were “buried with Him in baptism (of His death on the cross). The second is that we are baptized by Christ with the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:4. Then the third is that we are baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:”And we were all of us baptized, that by virtue of the one Spirit”, Cassirer, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”, KJV. May I point out that we must consider that all of those Corinthians were baptized with the Spirit and all of them speaking in other tongues – otherwise why does Paul take them to account for their wrong ideas about the matter? The body according to these three chapters is to operate supernaturally, and this by every member.
“Let God be true and every man a liar”!
Many fail to realise the difference between speaking in other tongues or languages because of being baptized with the Spirit and speaking in such because it is a Gift of the Spirit – as clarified in 1 Corinthians 14. The first is the gift of Jesus. The second is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus there are two modes of speaking in other tongues or languages because there are two gifts by two different Persons of the Godhead.
In that chapter, there are portions that deal with the two gifts.
In verse 2 to 4, speaking in a tongue as an accompaniment of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is shown to provide several things. First of all, those people are not speaking to others but are speaking directly to God. He is a Divine and supernatural Being. Obviously He requires a Divine and supernatural language of prayer most of the time. Sometimes a person’s prayer bursts out because of a need, a desire or a cry for help. Of course the Lord hears that prayer.
When it comes to communion with God, intercession and also worship, we should have recourse to this Divine and supernatural language. It is generally in other tongues but can be in our mother tongue. We are told in Ephesians 6:18 to “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication”. These prayers are Spirit inspired, Spirit directed and Spirit motivated as we are “in the Spirit”. It is explained by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:14 as his “spirit praying”. This, of course, indicates that one’s spirit where the Holy Spirit dwells is doing the praying albeit being energized by the Spirit of God in prayer with His supernatural operation. In these instances, the language is that of the Spirit being “other tongues”. This is the grace of God meant for every believer.
Can there be a greater activity than to “speak to God”.
This verse 2 informs us that no one understands except God. This includes the fact that the person praying does not understand either. This indicates that it is not the Gift of Tongues in operation because such a gift must be interpreted as it is a revelation of the Spirit to those present. We see this from verse 26, “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue and an interpretation”. All of these gifts are directed to the people to bless them. The other use for tongues as shown above, is to be directed to God.
The wonderful thing about praying in other tongues is that as in verse 2, “they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit”. How glorious! Neither our minds nor our spirits understand them because they are so heavenly and God-given. It reminds us of Paul’s experience in 2 Corinthians 12:1-6. There he, as it appears to be, “was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to speak”. At that time, he heard, he understood and he was not allowed to speak. He was in Paradise either in his spirit or in the Spirit, as was John on the Isle of Patmos, who says he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”.
This was a different and uncommon experience for Paul who normally did what he says in 1 Corinthians 14:13,15 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind or understanding also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also”. He would do this mainly in private but apparently sometimes he would do it in the meetings, because he goes on to say, “Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider, say the ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying?” Obviously he had no objection to having other tongues heard by outsiders or unbelievers.
Paul said this in an undeniably testimony of much praying in other tongues, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than all of you”. This was necessary for him to build himself up so that he could be a blessing in the church as he preached in the known and normal every-day language of the people. He instructed the people and us, to in 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 11:1, “Be imitators (or followers) of me as I am of Christ”. This does not mean that Christ spoke in other tongues. He had no need to because as He said, “I and My Father are One” and also, “the Spirit was given without measure unto Him”. An additional factor that shows He did not speak in other tongues was that He was and is the Redeemer and not like us, the redeemed. Paul followed Christ in the sense that He obeyed Christ, who gave the baptism with the Holy Spirit to him that from inception, was a means of prayer, intercession and worship.
Jesus Christ before He went to heaven, gave this promise about the baptism, in Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. The dictionary shows several meanings for “power”. One of them, mentioned for our purposes here, is “the miracle itself”. When the disciples received this gift from Christ on the Day of Pentecost, they received the miracle of speaking in other tongues. The power lies in the operation of this gift from Christ in a person’s life. I personally have proved that for nigh on fifty years, seeing the fruit the Spirit produces in the life and ministry.
Some do say that God is greater than the Bible and that there is much outside of the Bible. This would be their reason for receiving revelations outside of the Bible. This is not the meaning of the “mysteries” spoken in the Spirit. To start off with, we dare not go outside of God’s Word. It is forbidden in Deuteronomy and in the book of Revelation and is fundamental to our faith or truths of the gospel. The mysteries we speak could be totally Bible based but doubtless there is added the needs of ourselves, relatives, brethren and churches. We could be speaking of heavenly things totally unknown to us and that generally will never be made known in this life.
The point is that we are given the privilege of speaking these mysteries unknown to man and known only to God. How dare we speak against such a thing? It is a wonder of wonders that the Lord would deign to allow this to happen while we are still in this life of sin, toil and sorrow – along with all the holiness, Holy Spirit blessings and presence of the Lord in the lives of all the redeemed, whether baptized with the Spirit or not. For those who do not have this baptism and for those who refuse to believe it is for today, this is one major reason you should desire it. It is in the Bible, here, just quoted – unless you wish to cut the page out! Those who pray like this are experiencing something the unbaptized person can never experience. This should be enough to stir us all up.
Then again, as in verse 4, “Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves”. The first thing we need to do to be blessed in this way and to bless others is to be edified ourselves. We are edified by many things but this is the only way as shown in the Scriptures whereby we edify ourselves. So let us so do!
Jude in verse 20 exhorts every one of us “But, you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit”. It is unreasonable and faithless to receive the first part of this verse and to ignore the second, that is of as much importance. In fact, it is a major means of building ourselves up on our most holy faith.
Paul gives this as his earnest desire, longing and wish for those Corinthians and indeed for all believers. If we accept any part of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians as being for today we are common sense bound to accept every verse there. We are not given the right to remove any verse as many would do. He says in verse 5 of the chapter we are dealing with, “Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues”. We stop that wish there because we are not now dealing with prophecy in this writing but only with tongues.
Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11 in verses 21 of this chapter. It is about praying in other tongues. In verse 12 of Isaiah, God gives this marvellous promise about the speaking and praying in other tongues of verse 11. He says, “to whom he has said, ‘This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose, yet they would not hear”. How terrible, we “would not hear” what the Lord has said! It is a matter of the will being set against the will and purpose of God, this being disobedience and rebellion. May the Lord forgive us in our shortcomings regarding this.
I would like to mention that Romans 8:26 talks of the Holy Spirit making intercession through the people of God in other tongues. Even commentators who are not Pentecostal, do admit that this verse is in relation to speaking in other tongues. Unfortunately, they refuse to believe it is for today when there is not a verse stating such a thing.
Some of the verses in 1 Corinthians 14 deal with the Gift of Tongues from the Holy Spirit. Chapter 12:11, “To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit”. Of course in our prayers in the Spirit, He is the One who is the Activator to a large extent. The Apostle Paul did say, “I will pray with my spirit”. Obviously we are not to be passive but active as he was when he used his will to perform this grace.
Reference to the Gift of Tongues as a gift of the Holy Spirit, is found in 1 Corinthians 14 in verses 4,5; 6-12 “Since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church”. This is to be the purpose of using what God gives us.
Has that verse been removed from the Bible?
Then we see this Gift of Tongues in verses 13-19, 21-25; 26-33 (the Gift of Prophecy also being included); 37-40.
The chapter ends with this injunction – “Do not forbid speaking in tongues”.
We should take note of this command.
As we are endeavouring to point out the difference between the two varieties of tongues speaking, there is no need to venture into the field of explaining all the above verses. It is not the intention to deal with this chapter 14 or indeed 12 and 13.
The present day Pentecostals and Charismatics, sadly, have settled for music as the centre of their services, instead of the Holy Spirit and the Word, who is Christ. This is an unscriptural replacement of what the Lord has set in His church from the beginning. He or the apostles never indicated it was meant to be altered. Let us go on to perfection, to the prize set before us and in the doing of it, we need to go back to what the Lord has laid down as indicated in the Word of God.
It is recorded historically that for the first hundred years of the church’s history, well after the apostles passed away, this is what occurred in the meetings. Actually, there is no mention of musical instruments. They did sing. They listened to preaching and doctrine, with exhortations and prophecies. In addition, as it is stated “In every service the people prayed out loud together in other tongues and also worshipped together out loud in other tongues”. Jesus said to the woman in Samaria, “They who worship the Father must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth”.
In Matthew 24:44 where Jesus has said that the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour, He goes on in chapter 25 to relate the parable of the two virgins going out to meet the Bridegroom. He likens it to the kingdom of heaven. The point of the story is that five had enough oil in their lamps and went in to the Bridegroom. The other five had insufficient oil and went out to buy some more. While they were doing this, the cry went out, “The Bridegroom is coming”. They were too late and were not allowed in. Is not Jesus telling us all that the ready ones are those with oil in their lamps? We can only ponder on this and let the Spirit quicken our hearts as He wills.