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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3 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!

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