This is an answer to the article “10 Reasons for Speaking in Tongues” by Bill Hamon of charismamag.com.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is not always manifested through speaking in tongues
1. The manifestation that came with the gift of the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues. It wasn’t the wind, fire, noise or feeling of God’s presence that was evidence of the gift being received but a spirit language—believers began speaking languages of the Spirit they didn’t understand. It was God’s plan for the gift to function as a spirit language for His children (Acts 2:4, 11; 1 Cor. 14:2).
Answer: The statement above is misleading as it hides the other manifestations that came with the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as preaching, healing, prophesying, etc.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;” 1 Corinthians 12:4
Speaking in tongues is not the only manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are many gifts actually, and speaking in tongues is just one of those.
“Did you receive the baptism or in-filling of the Holy Spirit?”
“I’m not sure. What do you mean?”
“I mean did you already experience the speaking of tongues?”
Does that conversation sounds familiar to you? Our Pentecostal friends keep on equating the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” with the “speaking of tongues”. They wanted to single-out the speaking of tongues as though it is the only or most important of all gifts, and thus justifies their “pentecostal identity”.
“.. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom,
and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another the working of miracles,
to another prophecy,
to another the ability to distinguish between spirits,
to another various kinds of tongues,
to another the interpretation of tongues. ” 1 Corinthians 12:4-10
Clearly, speaking in tongues is just one of the many gifts the Spirit is giving to the church. By common sense, each of these gifts is manifested according to its purpose. If one has the gift of healing, then its manifestation is through a renewed life of a healed person.
Not everyone can speak in tongues
Each person has his own gift(s) as decided by the Spirit. The Bible does not say all members should have the same gift(s). And so, why do they ‘force’ every member to speak in tongues in their prayer meetings?
“Not everyone is an apostle.
Not everyone is a prophet.
Not everyone is a teacher.
Not everyone can work miracles.
Not everyone can heal the sick.
Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages.
Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.” 1 Corinthians 12:29-30
We plead for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us our gifts. We let the Spirit choose the best gift(s) for us. We don’t force ourselves or impose to others one particular gift such as the speaking in tongues.
Preaching something that the preacher himself does not understand?
“…believers began speaking languages of the Spirit they didn’t understand.”
The statement above is the opposite of how the Spirit works. If one preaches something that he himself does not understand is a very dangerous thing, and Satan likes it that much. The first person to be convinced of the message is the speaker himself, otherwise he is just either fooling himself or his listeners. God is not the God of confusion.
In Acts 2:13, those who spoke in different languages where mocked “as drunk”. A drunk speaks with no careful thought and sense of direction, just as how we see babbling in most pentecostal worship services today. How can one win soul through that? Peter’s speech and the result of the preaching in different languages are answers to the mockery. There was an added three thousand souls that day because of the careful expression of God’s message through the working of the Spirit.
I honestly read all the Bible verses he provided and yet did not find any hint that “the believers did not understand” what they were saying. In fact if we read the passages again and even the onlookers (or multitudes) understood what the believers were saying.
“And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Acts 2:6-8
Wait for the Spirit to give you gifts as He deemed most fitted for you
2. Jesus commanded us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus commissioned the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father, He didn’t say, “Do this if you feel led to do so, or if it fits in your doctrinal or denominational beliefs, or if you have the time, or if you are so inclined, or if you feel comfortable about it.” No! Jesus commanded them to wait until they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus put such importance on their receiving this gift, that’s more than enough reason for every Christian to seek God until they receive it too (Acts 1:4; 5:32; John 14:16-17; Eph. 5:18).
Answer: Strictly speaking, the Bible verses Bill had provided do not say “wait for the gifts” but rather “wait for the promise, i.e. the Holy Spirit”. It is the Holy Spirit that a baptized believer should eagerly ask. One should be baptized with the Spirit first; otherwise, the gifts will not be given. The gifts are powerful tools and thus should be handled by a Spirit-filled person.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not equal to speaking in tongues. We learned that there are many gifts, not only the speaking of tongues. So, yes, we wait for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives; but it does not automatically mean that we should speak in tongues. The gift that the Holy Spirit might give to a believer may not be speaking in tongues, it maybe something else such as preaching, or prophesying, or healing the sick, etc.
“But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.” 1 Corinthians 12:11
Let the Holy Spirit do His task. Let us not go ahead of His plan for us. If the speaking of tongues is not for you then accept it. He will give you something else. Let the Holy Spirit be God in your life.
3. The Scriptures exhort us to be filled with the Spirit and to pray in the new tongues of our spirit language. Our spirit language enables us to live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, be led of the Spirit, have the fruit of the Spirit, manifest the gifts of the Spirit and go from glory to glory until we are transformed into His same image (Gal. 5:22-25; Rom. 8:14; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; 14:15; Eph. 5:18; Acts 19:2; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Answer: Again, I read all the Bible verses provided and I did not find a hint about “spirit language”. We can absolutely live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, have the fruit of the Spirit, and manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit even without that so-called “spirit language”. That is outside from the Bible verses. Just use whatever language you are using now; a language that you can fully understand; and the Spirit will bless you.
If the Spirit allows that you speak in a language you do not know yet, then enjoy the privilege and the miracle, but for sure you yourself will understand the message even before it passes through your mouth.
Speaking of tongues as the “greatest gift”?
4. A spirit language is the greatest gift the Holy Spirit can give a believer. Jesus is the greatest gift God could give for the redemption of the world, and the Holy Spirit is the greatest gift Jesus could give to His church. Of all the resources in heaven and the eternal universe, nothing is more valuable, beneficial or important for the Holy Spirit to give the individual child of God than her own spirit language (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:4).
If you will read 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 again, you will notice that the speaking of tongues was actually listed as one of the least among the gifts, not the “greatest”.
1 Corinthians 12:31 mentioned about the “best gifts”, and it does not immediately mean the speaking of tongues. In fact, Paul mentioned that prophesying is better than speaking in tongues!
“The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:4-5 ESV
We need spirit language to communicate directly with God?
5. Our spirit language enables us to have spirit-to-Spirit communication with God. Humans are spirit beings clothed with flesh-and-bone bodies. While man’s sin deadened the spirit, Jesus brings the spirit back to life by imparting His everlasting life into us. The Holy Spirit gives us a spirit language so we can communicate directly with God (John 4:24; 1 Cor. 15:45; Gen. 2:7; Rom. 5:12; John 3:3-5, 16).
Answer: Jesus never taught that “we need to have a spirit language to communicate directly with God”. When Jesus prayed to His Father He always used the language of His time, the language of His geographical area. The language that He knows: Aramaic, Greek, or Hebrew. For example,
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” is not a strange phrase or words to Him, or to those around Him. That was the language they used those times. People around Him can fully understand what it meant. Talk to God directly with whatever your language or dialect is. He fully understands everything you say to Him.
Praying without understanding what we are saying builds the gate where Satan can pass through
6. Praying in tongues builds and increases our faith. Faith is the medium of exchange for all heavenly things, just as money is the medium of exchange for all earthly things. A major way to increase our faith is to pray in the tongues of our spirit language (Rom. 12:6; Jude 1:20; Mark 9:23; Matt. 9:29).
Answer: Not exactly. One of the many ways to increase our faith is to pray to God with whatever language you know. Praying is communicating with God, talking with God. You should know and understand what you are saying during your prayer. Do not pray as in babbling.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do…” ESV
“When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God…” CEV
” But when you pray, do not babble vain words, as the nations.” MKJV Matthew 6:7
Babbling in vain words is actually what we can see in the pentecostal worship services today. They are even honest to say that they do not understand what they actually said. How can that be a communication or a prayer? Praying without understanding what you are saying builds the gate where Satan can pass through.
Babbling will not activate the fruit of the Spirit
7. Praying in tongues activates the fruit of the Spirit. It’s vital and beneficial to have each of the spiritual attributes become active and mature in us. Praying in tongues helps us fulfill God’s predestined purpose for us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Gal. 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Rom. 8:29).
Answer: The Spirit gives the church different or diverse gifts for the members. Not all will receive the gifts of tongues. “…but having different gifts according to the grace given to us…” Romans 12:6 LITV
The church receives different gifts divided to each individual. And so not all members will receive the same gift(s), not all members will speak in tongues. If so what will happen then to those who did not receive the gift of tongues? Will they not experience that “activating of the fruit of the Spirit”? Of course not! And so the statement “praying in tongues activates the fruits of the Spirit” is logically wrong and not biblical.
Moreover, Jesus never babbled in his prayer. He fully understood what He prayed. So if one wants to be conformed to the image of His Son, then avoid the babbling in your prayer.
Babbling is not the way to fulfill “pray without ceasing”
8. Praying in our spirit language is the main way we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray without ceasing.” Christians can pray in tongues at any time. If we are in a place where it isn’t convenient or wise to speak out loud in tongues, we can pray with our inner man without making an audible sound (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; Matt. 26:41; Luke 18:1; 21:36; 1 Cor. 14:15).
Answer: We can honestly do the “praying without ceasing” or “praying at all times in the Spirit” using our own language–the language that we can understand. There is no need for a so-called “spirit language”. There is no such thing in the Bible; even in the Bible verses provided by Bill.
Shun vain babblings
9. The Holy Spirit directs our spirit language to pray in accordance with the will of God. Probably the only time we can be assured that we are praying 100 percent in the will of God is when we are praying in our spirit language. God always answers requests that are made in alignment with His will (Rom. 8:27; 1 John 5:14-15).
Answer: The last statement is correct: God always answers requests that are made in alignment with His will. Now the question is “is it God’s will for us to pray in babbling?” Obviously, the answer is “no”.
“But shun profane, vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” 2 Timothy 2:16
The most dangerous part of the article
10. Praying in tongues quiets the mind. When Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist, compared brain scans of Christians praying in tongues with Buddhist monks chanting and Catholic nuns praying, the study showed the frontal lobes—the brain’s control center—went quiet in the brains of Christians talking in tongues, proving that speaking in tongues isn’t a function of the natural brain but an operation of the spirit (1 Cor. 14:2, 14).
Answer: It is actually the most dangerous of all! Since the brain is not functioning then the person is prone to be controlled by somebody else, and that is hypnotism which is totally against the Bible!
“For there is no enchantment against Jacob…” Numbers 23:23
God wants us to use our reasoning capabilities when we come to worship Him. He designed us that way and so He expects us to use it; and not to be manipulated by somebody else.
“‘Come now, let us reason together’, says the LORD…” Isaiah 1:18
So what is speaking in tongues in the Bible?
After our baptism from water, we should eagerly ask for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should speak in strange tongues. No, not that way. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the speaking in tongues.
When we are baptize with the Holy Spirit it simply means that we are letting the Holy Spirit work in us. It means that we are willing to let go of our own desires and wants and let the Holy Spirit lead us every moment of our lives. The goal is for us to have a Christ-like character fitted to be citizens of the new heavens and the new earth.
Since babbling or their so-called “speaking in tongues” can also be done by the voodooists and satan worshipers, then that is not the best manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The best manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the converted and renewed life,
- from being rebellious to a commandment-keeper,
- from being a gossiper to a truth-lover,
- from being negative to an individual full of hope,
- from being high-tempered to spiritually matured and understanding,
- from being a mere pew-filler to being active ministry-oriented participant, etc.
The speaking of tongues is simply the speaking of a language that the speaker or the listeners do not yet, but both can fully understand the message.
The speaking of tongues is just one of the many gifts the Holy Spirit may give to an individual. The purpose is to help the church fulfill its mission of spreading the Good News. In the early New Testament church they badly needed that gift of tongues since very few of them can speak other languages. How can they fulfill the great commission of “making disciples from every nation and tribe” if the language they know were so little, perhaps only their own native language? And so God gave them that gift of tongues.
Today, learning of new languages is part of our education system. If a church member is familiar with many languages and he is using it for the Lord’s ministry, then that is a manifestation of a gift of tongues to him. In places and situations where nobody knows either languages and there is no interpreter, God miraculously provides the gift of tongues to the people just like what He did in the early church. In any case, the speaker and/or the listeners understand clearly the message.
And so the gift of tongues is not the babbling of unknown words or phrases. It is simply the ability to understand and/or speak other languages so that the gospel can be preach to other places, and thus the church will be edified. You may want to read this for more info on speaking of tongues.
Doing the wrong way of speaking in tongues will open our lives to the control of the dark spirits. One will notice that the wrong way of doing the speaking in tongues is exactly the same from what we can see in the voodoo and pagan worship: babbling, trance, and the likes.
I hope this article will help us grow more into the right understanding of the gift of tongues. Let us praise God if you have this gift. Amen!