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What Does the Bible Teach About Speaking in Tongues?

The topic of tongues is covered very clearly in the Bible, but for some reason there is still a lot of misunderstanding about this spiritual gift. So let’s examine the Scriptures together. Please see the relevant list of Bible verses about speaking in tongues at this link. Here are a few unequivocal statements from the Bible about speaking in tongues:

“They will speak in new tongues.”

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

“…the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”

“When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom… to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one.”

“And God has placed in the church…different kinds of tongues… Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

“I would like every one of you to speak in tongues…”

“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”

“Do not forbid speaking in tongues.”

What Did Jesus Say About Speaking in Tongues?

The first thing worth noting is that Jesus Christ Himself testifies in Mark 16:17 that those who believe in Him will speak in new tongues. Secondly, we see from these Scriptures that one frequent manifestation of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is that people begin to speak in tongues. We find in Scripture unequivocal statements by God that He gives His spiritual gifts to each one, just as He determines, and that this includes the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues.

There is no indication whatsoever that God will ever change His mind or His policy on the spiritual gifts. God has given gifts to His church, and has placed them in the church. Nothing is said about removing the gifts from the church age. He even gives detailed instruction for their proper operation to us—the New Testament church.

The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit as he writes Scripture, says that He would like every single believer to speak in tongues. He then expresses gratitude for the magnitude and frequency of his own use of tongues.

Last, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives a clear command: “Do not forbid speaking in tongues.”

The Spiritual Gifts Are Not Divisive

[bctt tweet=”None of the Holy Spirit’s gifts are divisive. False teachings are the source of all division about the spiritual gifts. The gifts themselves are beautiful, lovely, helpful, good, and Holy. They unify God’s people.”]

What Does Scripture Actually Teach About Spiritual Gifts?

Here is my understanding of what Scripture teaches. It’s very straightforward.

God never says that He will remove any spiritual gifts from the earth, or from the current Church Age. In fact, He says something that is very close to the opposite of that. He says that in the last days (which is the current Church Age we are living in), He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and our sons and daughters will prophesy, and our young men will see visions, and our old men will dream dreams. This is the Scripture that Peter quotes when the crowd mocks the disciples for speaking in tongues.

The very first instance of speaking in tongues appears at Pentecost, and what do we see? In that instance, we see that some of the religious pilgrims in the crowd mock the tongue speakers and even accuse them of being drunk. So mocking and slander have always been the primary strategies the enemy uses against outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and especially the gift of tongues.

In Scripture, God explains that He gives the manifestation of the Holy Spirit to every believer for the common good. He says that He has placed in His church various gifts and gifted people. He says that He distributes those gifts just as He determines.

These are the very clear teachings of Scripture: “Do not forbid speaking in tongues”; “Be eager to prophesy”; and “Do not despise prophecies.”

Doesn’t it take a lot of mental and theological gymnastics to throw out such clear commands from the Bible? Don’t the gymnastics make you tired? Why are there so many misconceptions about speaking in tongues and certain other spiritual gifts? Could it be that there is an enemy who wants God’s people to fear spiritual gifts and be hostile toward them?

Be Open to the Holy Spirit

Give Him all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Don’t resist Him. Yield yourself completely to Him. You will never regret it! The Holy Spirit is so wonderful, beautiful, lovely, kind, gentle, sweet, and good. Why wouldn’t you want more of Him?

Ask for more of the Holy Spirit.

Your Father will not give you a snake.

He knows how to give good gifts to His children!

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Readers can get a copy of Called Writers Christian Publishing’s newest release, Speaking in Tongues: Enjoying Intimacy With God Through Tongues and Interpretation only $2.99 on Amazon.

Chris McKinney