Stewarton Bible School

The Gift of Tongues

Numerous claims are made these days concerning the 'gift of tongues' and the 'Baptism of the Holy Spirit.' Tens of thousands of believers, and they come from many denominations, profess to have the 'gift of tongues,' the divinely inspired ability to speak in foreign languages they have never learned and often cannot even understand. Are their claims true? Is the Almighty currently using the 'gift of tongues' throughout the world to communicate with believers? Is this the genuine 'gift of tongues' we are witnessing? Or is it a dangerous spiritual counterfeit which is deluding millions of sincere souls into sin? The aim of this paper is not to prove that there is no such thing as the 'gift of tongues:' because there is. Rather, our aim is to warn the church of a counterfeit experience which is currently being accepted as the real gift of tongues and baptism of the Holy Spirit. The two most common claims made by those who speak in 'tongues' are:
  1. Unless a believer speaks in tongues, he/she is not baptised in the Holy Spirit.
  2. Unless a person speaks in tongues, he/she cannot be saved.
These are serious claims, which terrify many genuine seekers after truth. Indeed many believers are driven to distraction as they frantically struggle to 'speak in tongues' or be 'baptised in the Spirit:' experiences, they believe are necessary for salvation. Day after day they plead with God to give them this gift; but to no avail. They see others in the church receiving what is variously described as 'the anointing,' the 'blessing,' the 'experience,' but it escapes them. Why? Why? Why? they ask themselves in silent anguish. If, on the other hand, these claims are wrong, being based on a misunderstanding of the Scriptures, then we are witnessing a very dangerous deception indeed and one that must be exposed without delay.

Do All Speak in Tongues?

To begin with, let us ask the question: Do, or should, all true believers speak in tongues? The Bible answer is abundantly clear that not all believers will speak in tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:29 "Are all Apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak in tongues? do all interpret?"

The implied answer in every case is No! All believers do not work miracles. All believers do not have the gift of healing and all believers do not speak in tongues. The church will certainly have individuals who have one or more of these gifts; but every believer will not speak in tongues. That is perfectly clear from the Scriptures. Remember that throughout his ministry the Saviour never spoke in tongues. Doubtless he could or would have - if the need arose, but the fact is - he didn't. The Bible gives absolutely no indication that the Saviour spoke in tongues: and who will doubt that he was filled with the Holy Spirit?

As for that second claim that 'unless one speaks in tongues one cannot be saved' this is even more dangerous than the first. In the history of the church there have been thousands of believers of great spiritual stature. Men like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Noah, Daniel, Job, Ezra, John the Baptist and many, many great reformers of this age: believers who have taken the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. All these spiritual giants never spoken in tongues. Dare we say that they will not be saved? The very idea is ludicrous; and were it not believed by so many people, we would dismiss it without second thought. But many sincere believers, who are not aware of what the Bible teaches on this matter, are being deceived by these unscriptural claims and are living their lives in silent torture - because they cannot speak in tongues.

Prove all Things

We are told in the Scriptures to prove all things. (1 Thess.5:21) This has and is still being done. Modern linguists have recorded and analysed many tape-recordings of so-called messages in tongues. The astonishing fact is that they have yet to find a single truthful message given this way in a recognisable human language. In every instance the recorded sounds have proved to be unintelligible gibberish or blasphemous statements which totally contradict the Scriptures. Linguists have tape recorded many so-called messages in tongues and have yet to record a single uplifting message in a language used by mankind. Does that tell us something? It certainly does. It tells us that the vast majority of these so-called 'messages in tongues' are nothing but a confused jumble of meaningless sounds which are certainly not the work of the Holy Spirit. Recent reports coming in tell of people grunting like pigs, growling like lions and laughing themselves silly. We can be certain that some other spirit is at work here; probably the same lying spirit we read about in 1 Kings 22:19-23.

Is there a Genuine Gift of Tongues?

Most certainly there is a genuine gift of tongues: but it is rare. Today many people speak several languages and no matter where on earth you may go, there is always someone who can speak your language and act as an interpreter for you. So the gift of tongues is not as necessary today as it was in ancient days; just as the gift of healing is not necessary to a perfectly healthy audience. When the early Apostles spoke in tongues on that memorable day of Pentecost (Acts 2) they spoke meaningful words which were understood by thousands of festival-keeping Jewish visitors to Jerusalem who were not so well acquainted with the accent and language spoken by the Apostles. Yahweh used the gift of tongues in those circumstances to get across the Gospel in foreign languages they knew very well. In that situation there was an absolute need and the gift of tongues was the answer. Note the detail in the following passage:
Acts 2: 1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6: Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7: And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8: And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Note certain little-known facts in this passage: But what do we see in the churches today?

By their Fruits ye shall know them

It is a sad fact that many of the people who claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit live lives of blatant sin. Fornication, adultery and sodomy are a growing plague these days; and they are rampant in churches which boast of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Every one has heard about the famous American TV evangelists whose blatant sins brought great shame on the Christian faith. These men were supposedly filled with the Holy Spirit: they spoke in tongues and did many mighty miracles. But the truth was they were deep-dyed sinners. To be sure they profess Jesus Christ: "Lord, Lord" they say; but on the great Day of Judgement they may find to their eternal shame that they are excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 7: 22: Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.

The Importance of Obedience

The Bible teaches that Yahweh gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him. In other words, He bestows His Holy Spirit on those who keep His commandments; not on those who blatantly break them.
Acts 5: 32: And we are witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit is also, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.

To receive Yahweh's Spirit you must obey Him and ask for His Spirit. You do not have to beg or pester Him; because He is more eager to give His Spirit than you are to ask. But if you are unwilling to obey the Almighty's law, He will not give His Spirit to you.
Luke 11: 11: If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12: Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

James 4:4 "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your own lusts."

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Every true believer should manifest in his/her life the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If there is no fruit, you may be sure that you are looking at the counterfeit: no matter how many miraculous gifts that may or may not be present. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that distinguishes the true from the false. Another fact is that we shall all be baptised in the Holy Spirit in Yahweh's time. Do not despair if you have to wait for Him: and most certainly do not dictate as to which gift He should give you. That is His decision. Meanwhile you could add to your faith, obedience, holiness and the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5: 22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Care should be taken not to confuse the fruit of the Holy Spirit with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fruits are listed in Galations 5:22-23. Gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Speaking in tongues is just one of the gifts: and those who have this gift are by no means the foremost in the church.
1 Corinthians 12: 28: And God hath set some in the church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Another fact we learn from this text is that every believer does not have the gift of tongues. Note the phrase 'God hath set some in the church:' not all, but some. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand is an entirely different thing. Every member of Yahweh's church should have, in varying proportions, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the gifts are distributed according to the Almighty's choice, not ours. In order of priority - if there is such a thing - members in the church are as follows: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Miracle-workers, Healers, Helpers, Organisers, Speakers in Tongues etc. Here for comparison is the list of Fruit, Gifts and Positions. Remember that all believers should bear the Fruit of the Spirit; whereas the Gifts and Positions are distributed according to the Almighty's will. Not all believers will have all the gifts any more than everyone could hold every position.

JoyProphecyProphets / Evangelists
PeaceKnowledgePastors / Teachers
Long-sufferingMiraculous powersMiracle workers
FaithOrganisational skillsManagers
MeeknessTonguesSpeakers in tongues

Closing Note

We repeat: Stewarton Bible School does not say that there is no such thing as the gift of tongues or even that it is a thing of the past. When needed, divine gifts are still all useful for the building up of the church. What we are saying in this article is that many millions of believers are being currently deceived into praying for and accepting a counterfeit gift of tongues. They are believing the False Prophet, the Lying Spirit and most of them don't even know it. There are some, a few, who have the genuine gift of tongues. But you will recognise them, not so much by their words (which will generally be understood by foreigners in the audience) but by their sanctified and obedient lives. People who are full of the Holy Spirit are extremely holy people: they do not sin. Moreover they have great peace of mind and do not repeatedly fluctuate between peaks of ecstasy and troughs of despair. In their lives they will exhibit the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in abundance. Above all, they do not reject the Almighty's law as though it were an obsolete yoke. These are the souls who are filled with the Holy Spirit: not the laughing, growling and gibberish-speaking deceivers in the popular churches of today. If you keep these facts in mind you will not be deceived.

SBS     Vital Topics     The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
1995     ... Updated: December 1999