Is Speaking in Tongues “The Evidence” of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Jesse Morrell

I was send an email asking me:

“what about “today’s” practice of “Speaking in Tongues”?   It’s such a controversial subject.”

This was my response:

Regarding speaking in tongues, I see in Acts where some were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. This occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2:4). But it was not in a mysterious or heavenly language, but in earthly languages that these men did not know naturally (Acts 2:8-11). So I disagree with those who use these examples in Acts to say that speaking in a heavenly language is the only evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Using their logic, I could say that speaking in an earthly language that you do not know naturally is the evidence, since that is what actually occurred at Pentecost.

In Acts 19:6 we read that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and consequently spoke in tongues and prophesied. Do we take this to mean that prophecy is the evidence of the Holy Spirit and that everyone who is truly baptized in the Holy Spirit will prophecy? No, there is no logic in assuming that what occurred in this particular situation is what is going to occur in every particular instance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that some are given the gift of tongues, but not all (1 Cor. 12:30). Just because some in Acts spoke in tongues when they were baptized does not mean every believer will. Some in Acts preached the word boldly when they were baptized (Acts 4:31). This passage makes no mention of tongues at all. So does that mean that bold preaching is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Does this mean that everyone who is baptized in the Holy Spirit will immediately preach the word with boldness?

There are many different evidences of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some spoke in tongues, some preached with boldness, some prophesied, etc. Tongues are a gift and it is still for today, but not everyone baptized in the Holy Spirit has it. And there are no doubt many fake tongues out there. A church once tried to “teach” me how to speak in tongues. They told me, “Just say anything and God will turn it into tongues.” That is baloney. The Bible says that the Spirit giveth utterance (Acts 2:4). Men should not attempt to speak in tongues unless the Spirit of God is giving them utterance.

In quick summary, speaking in a language that you don’t naturally know, like Russian or Chinese, can be the evidence of the baptism (Acts 2:4). But so can prophesy (Acts 19:6) and bold preaching (Acts 4:31). But not everyone is going to speak Chinese, or prophecy, or preach boldly. The Spirit may manifest in different ways for different people (1 Cor. 12:30).

Jesse Morrell

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4 Responses to Is Speaking in Tongues “The Evidence” of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Jesse Morrell

  1. It appears to me that when the Bible talks about speaking in an “unknown tongue” it is referring to an earthly language that is not known by the one speaking it, thus an interpreter is necessary. And at other times an unknown tongue also seems to be referring to an earthly language which nobody in that church knows, so the prayer is therefore up to God alone who knows all languages. If a man speaks an unknown tongue (that is, unknown to himself) and nobody in the church understand that tongue either (suppose it is Russian and nobody in the church knows Russian), then the prayer is only understood by God Himself. To the rest of the church, the tongue of Russian is a complete mystery, for no man understands it.

    In all honestly I am not sure that the verses commonly used to teach that there is a type of tongue which is not an actual earthly language, are actually teaching or saying that. I think that all of the verses used to speak about the gift of tongues is speaking of an earthly language. I do not see any passage that specifically states that there is a gift of tongues which is not an earthly language at all.

    Maybe there are people out there with the gift of tongues, who think that they are speaking a heavenly language, are actually speaking an earthly language. Of course, it could be easy to think it is a heavenly language instead of an earthly one because it is an unknown tongue. The spirit is speaking the language through you, your mind doesn’t know the language, so you might confuse an earthly language with a heavenly one.

    But the idea there there is a heavenly tongue meant for all believers to speak in, and only some who are given the gift of earthly tongues, I do not believe in and do not see the scriptures teaching this. I believe that some are given the gift of earthly tongues. That is what was seen in the book of Acts. And Paul said that not all speak in tongues, as this is not a gift for all. The men at Pentecost spoke in an earthly language which men on earth understood, not a heavenly language. Though it is possible to speak an an earthly tongue in a church where nobody understands it, thus needing an interpreter.

    Those who were given new tongues at the Tower of Babel were truly given the gift of tongues. By tongues I mean languages, as that is all that the word means. Though what occurred at Babel was different because each individual understood their own new language, whereas with tongues the one speaking it may not understand it. Nevertheless, they were given the gift of tongues at Babel in the truest definition of the words.

    I am learning Greek and am able to pronounce some of it. As I get better I will no doubt be able to quote scriptures in Greek. By doing this, I am speaking in a different tongue. You could say that I am speaking in tongues. But of course this is not the gift of tongues only because I studied to understand it and know what I am saying, as opposed to the spirit supernaturally speaking the language through me. But speaking in any language is speaking in tongues, though it is not always the “gift” of tongues but could simply be the “study” of tongues.

  2. I’ve been praying for tongues for years and do not believe I have ever been given it, though I have been filled with the Holy Spirit many times. At most I have had moans and groans by the Spirit in prayer (Romans 8:26); I’ve had that a lot, but not sure that really qualifies as tongues though it is praying in the Spirit.

  3. Shaun says:

    Because some people insist that you have to speak in tongues, I worried for years that my Holy spirit baptism was somehow incomplete. Of course that’s baloney, but such teaching can do a lot of damage. I have seen preachers so determined to get people speaking in tongues (after water baptism), that they even resort to telling them “Just say bub-bub-bub…” Sick!

  4. Dick Daniel says:

    I speak in tongues as in tongues that probably nobody knows, but I also refused to go along with the “Just say bub-bub-bub…” idea and have always felt it was harmful. My personal conviction seemed to match what Lester Sumrall told me once when he was still with us, and that was said in just three words, “Don’t help God.” I do not advise others to do what I did because Sumrall said that to me, but because it has always been my strong conviction that God wants us to be honest, to face issues straight on and to take them to the Lord in prayer rather than trying to make things work or miracles happen on our own.

    For me, I did not believe in tongues for the first eleven or so years of my Christian life. And as I picked up my pet proof-texts to take my stand against tongues, my friend Christopher Chan brought up those verses and used them against me to prove that tongues were real, they were unknown, and they were for personal edification. That is, tongues help us grow spiritually and in our prayer life–that is, they help build us up–not puff us up, where prophesy builds up others.

    But once I believed in tongues, I still could not speak in tongues or sing in the spirit (in tongues) while everyone else in church around me seemed to be able to do so. So I prayed and asked God, and by this time I was in a bit of agony over this. I wondered why I could not speak in tongues, and I felt the Lord asking me, “Dan, what do you see around you?” I answered, “Lord, they’re singing praises.” “What else do you see?” “They’re raising their hands in prayer.” “Dan, why aren’t you doing that? You know I have asked you to do that. You have read it in scripture, but you won’t do it.” I felt ashamed and yet proud. I did not want to be a Pentecostal or look like one. But when I answered God, I admitted to another problem, and that was that I did not want to make a big show raising my hands in praise and singing praise only to mess up and sin afterward, so I told God I did not want to bring dishonor to His name this way. But His answer to me was, “Dan, you’re already dishonoring me by refusing to trust and obey me. When will you start?” And I answered, “Now.” My singing and praise flowed into tongues, not because I was trying to say, “Blah, blah, blah” but because the Holy Spirit seemed to give utterance naturally and that began a life of prayer that seemed to be much more intense and powerful than I had ever had before. Thirty years later, it’s still the same.

    I find the same is true about healing. Jesus commanded the disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, make disciples, etc. But He also commanded them to teach their disciples to do what Jesus taught His disciples to do. So, the notion that this was somehow dispensationalized away after the resurrection is impossible since the Holy Spirit was not given until after the resurrection. And the notion that this was somehow dispensationalized out of existence with the death of the last apostle was made nonsense by the fact Jesus commanded the disciples to teach their disciples to do what He taught His disciples to do. Preaching the Gospel, healing, raising the dead, making disciples, baptizing in the Name of Jesus for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is to be carried down from one disciple to the next to the next.

    And if the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit can help us bear fruit, if it can help us bring others to salvation more effectively, if it can help us stay out of sin more effectively, then doesn’t that sort of give us a moral obligation to take hold of this blessing, this providence, this grace if not for our sake, for God’s joy and for the salvation and effectiveness of others?

    I am sure my mother and some of my grandparents are in heaven now even though they never spoke in tongues as they were not aware of what it was or what value it had. They knew to be filled with the Spirit, and I am sure they were even if they did not speak in tongues. But if you know and have the opportunity and actually believe it is real and scriptural, then I personally do not see why some would come to the conclusion that it must not be from God but must be from the devil. II don’t want to be about the business of telling people that they’re blaspheming the Holy Ghost when they say such things as in most cases they probably have no intention of doing that at all. They just see something that looks unusual and quickly come to the conclusion it is supernatural and therefore must be from the devil. And for some people, it may very well be that since there are churches that are entirely out of control emotionally and can almost get into a Kundalini fest. I believe the Holy Spirit is holy and that when He is operating, He is very orderly and proper and not in the least bit out of control. I believe when the Holy Spirit operates, there are good fruits. Not artificial good fruits, but real good fruits.

    Anyway, this is more lengthy than I intended. I hope it is helpful and does not bring confusion or controversy, but rather just another side of things. But whatever is said, I would not recommend taking the word of man but rather pray for wisdom and let the Word of God, the Bible, be read in context for proper understanding–not for proof texts to prove a man’s preconceived ideas or claims, but give it time to tune out man and consider what God has to say since He is the final authority. If I or any man am off base scripturally, throw out what we’re saying and seek God instead, and I am sure if we seek God, He will not give us a snake or rock when we ask for bread.

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