Writings on Christianity

Do I REALLY Have the Holy Spirit if I Do Not Speak in Tongues?

Can I be confident that I actually have the Holy Spirit if do not speak in tongues? Did I really experience the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit?’ Didn’t the Holy Spirit fill the Christians on the day of Pentecost and empower them to speak in tongues (Acts 2:4)? Shouldn’t we expect this today? Aren’t there many Christians today who speak in tongues?

I recently preached on Acts 2:1-13 at our church and these kinds of questions naturally arise. After studying the issue afresh—and after thinking about it over the past 20 years of being a Christian—I am persuaded that all Christians have the Holy Spirit and have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, even they never speak in tongues. In fact, I think that speaking in tongues, as the Bible defines it, was a supernatural gifting unique to the apostolic era, and not something we should expect to see today. It was a phenomenon unique to the 1st century church—like the presence of living apostles, miraculous healings of the kind done through the apostles, and writing of Scripture. What we see today by those who claim to speak in tongues is different from what we see in the book of Acts. Thus, it is a mistake to claim that a Christian has not received the Holy Spirit if he never speaks in tongues.

Here are 3 reasons why this is so (I drew these from my sermon notes on Acts 2:1-13):

1. Speaking in tongues in Acts 2:1-13 refers to speaking in other human languages understood by other humans.

I believe John Stott in his commentary was right to say that this passage in Acts is how we ought to interpret other passages in the Bible that refer to speaking in tongues. Acts 2:1-13 gives us the clearest picture of what ‘speaking in tongues’ looks like when it is actually happening. If we see speaking in tongues today, it will look like this. But, as other cessationists argue, this is not something we see today.

Miraculously speaking about Jesus Christ in foreign languages one does not know was a sign that God the Holy Spirit gave at unique moments in the Early Church to validate and confirm the reality of the gospel. As the gospel spread to new people groups, we see at times God bring about this supernatural experience (Acts 10:44-48; 19:6).

As Stott and others note, today when we send out missionaries to foreign countries, we enroll them in intensive language learning programs, so that they can speak and communicate the gospel in foreign languages—we do not rely on those who are able to speak in tongues, because we don’t see that happening today as we saw it in in the Bible.  

2. The Apostles taught that not every Christian is gifted to speak in tongues.

God gave different gifts to different people (1 Cor 12:8-11). Some Christians were given the gift of tongues in the Early Church, but others were given different gifts: “There are varieties of gift, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:4). This means that even if the experience of speaking in tongues practiced by Pentecostals and continuationists today is what the Bible is speaking about, it is false and misguided to assume that all Christians should speak in tongues—or to claim that Christians who do not speak in tongues have yet to experience ‘the fullness of the Holy Spirit’ or the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit.’  God the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people, and not every Christian was (or is) gifted with speaking in tongues. (Paul rhetorically asks in 1 Cor 12:30 “Do all speak in tongues?” with the assumption that the reader would answer, ‘No, not all speak in tongues.’).

3. Everyone who becomes a Christian has experienced what is called the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit.’

Several years ago, I heard a sermon by British preacher Dick Lucas where this became clear in mind. Titus 3:4-7 makes the connection between justification by grace and the experience of the Holy Spirit. If you have one, you have the other:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

If you are a Christian, you have been “justified by his grace” (Titus 3:7) and you also have experienced “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Evidence that this baptism of the Holy Spirit has occurred is that you have repented of sin and believed in Jesus Christ, and now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are starting to live a holy life—putting sin to death in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:13).

In the end, I find the cessationist position most convincing. (You can find a good primer on it here). I love my continuationist brothers and sisters, but I disagree with their understanding of speaking in tongues today. If we want to understand what it means to speak in tongues, then Acts 2:1-13 is the clearest picture and we need to ask if what we see today looks like that.

15 replies on “Do I REALLY Have the Holy Spirit if I Do Not Speak in Tongues?”

Good post, Tom. I agree, the supernatural “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit are no longer required, since the ordinary preaching of the Word, combined with the closing of the Scriptural canon, are indeed sufficient for us. There is no need for any new revelations, or prophecies, etc. Also, there is no need for modern apostles like the ones we had in the first century, who were given the “sign gifts” to demonstrate the authority they had in Christ – until the New Testament books were written and the canon of Scripture was closed. Lastly, regarding the primary role of the Holy Spirit, it is the Spirit who convicts (John 16:7-11), regenerates (John 3:1-5; Rom. 8:11; Titus 3:5-6), indwells (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Rom. 8:9), baptizes into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Col. 1:13), seals (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30), fills us with the fullness of Christ (Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16), empowers the preaching of the gospel (1 Pet. 1:12), and works in us to grow in the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-25).

Brothers,i was giving the gift of speaking in tongues 4 years ago after a supernatural healing i started to speaking in tongues as i started praying,is being 4 years and i have totally gave my life to jesus, i dont make up words, the tongues or lenguage or say Holly Spirit speaks and i know sometimes when he tells me about something,and others i just pray and the words come out,sometimes sound hebrew o like different dilects , but my speaking when i pray its amazing to me cuz it takes over and i cant stop,but i know what iam saying and hear my self, comes to so normaly, but you have to totally give u self to God then the Holly Spirit does the rest,the bible say that the things of the spirit only the spiritual understand them,but we should not teach that them are not for today,because you dont know,if you dont have them does not mean that them are not real,actually get toguether with believers that really give up the world and fallow jesus and learn more about what jesus said,cuz if you have not received the gift of tongues might be cuz there are parts of your life u have not totally give up yet,i used to go to church for years ,but now i dont want nothing from this world,that is the difference of a real cristian from a warm cristian,please seek the gifts of the Holly spirit,you just need to ask the Holly Spirit to feel you,if you give up the world totally he will feel you,he knows your heart if you believe he will do it,he will give you the gift dont miss out on the gifts of the Holly Spirit….

Thanks for this clarification. A sermon I heard today insisted that speaking in tongues is THE evidence of the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit & it seemed a great pressure to put on people, almost a failing in following Christ, in being a child of God, to not demonstrate this gift. After praying, reading scripture & being directed to this explanation I feel much more confident about any future discussions about this topic.

Peace of Christ

Not everyone that say Lord will enter,that is preasure ,ask the Holly Spirit to feel you,it say in the bible to ask for this gifts,please do, one of the reson we dont get it is cuz we dont believe is for us,or because to get it we have to try to live sanctified lifes must times we dont want to leave tjings from this world,if jesus you will receive a counselor,guide,the Holly Spirit ask him to come into your life with that special anointing,he will help you santified your life here while we wait for Jesus, do we want conforting teachings or we want the truth??? Are we cristians to have a calm life,??? Or to serve Jesus even if we get punish for fallowing him??? because being a cristian is pick up you cross and fallow me.. speking in tongues is a gift, ask with u heart and turn from this world and he will feel you,you will never be the same,hang with all believers yes is ok,but hang more with the Holly Spirit feel ones so you can learn more of what God has for us, look for Jenny weaver,isaih saldivar,Daniel Adams,the demon slayers,you will learn so much more that God wants you to know,the bible is a guide inspired by the Holly Spirit….believe and he will open ur understanding by the Holly Spirit…blessings…amen…

I really thank you for clearing that up. I knew that I have the spirit but heard things like prayer language and other things that had me wanting to reclarify that point in my mind. Thanks again!

Well if there is a prayer lenguage that comes from God,would u want it or your fine just without??? I have knowing jesus for 51 years but was feeled with the Holly Spirit 4 years ago when i gave up the world and only one to serve God nothing else, find out who the chossen ones are this days,we are getting closer to jesus coming or to dying of different things if you was called (die) today are u sure you going to be with the Lord??? There is more secrets to being a cristian than just going to church the Holly Spirit is in you YES,but there is more to the Holly Spirit, do u want more or you find with what u got or u want all God has for u…??? Love u in the Lord…

Thank you so much for the clarification, I really thought that if I don’t speak in tongues means that I’m not filled with the Holy Spirit. May God bless you

Though I understand your reasoning behind the article and agree that speaking in tongues itself is not necessary, as Christians are fill with the spirit upon acceptance and surrendering all to Christ, I see no where biblically that the gifts were taken away or removed.
It has always been my conviction that these gifts were given to us for the work that we are to do as Christians. As James 2:14-26 states, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works ?…
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Since we are not to change the word of God, Mathew 4:4 “ But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed with out of the mouth of God.” Saying that because the times have changed Gods word has changed would be an agreement that the culture we live in determines what Gods word says.

I appreciate the clarification. You receive the filling of the Holy Spirit when you believe and receive the Gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Each gift of the Holy Spirit is given to each believer as the Holy Spirit determines (1 Corinthians 12: 1-31). Please notice that “to each is given the manifestation of the Holy Spirit for the common good.” This means that a “private prayer language” is not the gift of tongues.
Having the gift of tongues is NOT required to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “For to one is given…., to another…, to another… but all through one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12: 1-31) No where in Scripture have I found “You must have the gift of tongues to prove you’re filled with the Holy Spirit.” I have been given the gift of prophecy which is to encourage, edify & uplift the body of Christ. I do NOT have the gift of tongues and for anyone to tell me I’m not filled with the Holy Spirit because I don’t speak in tongues is a lie from the pit of hell. I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for over 45 years and am an ordained minister.
The gifts of the spirit are still in operation today, all 9 of them: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, working of Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues & Interpretation.
May this information help & bless you.
Love in Christ Jesus.

I enjoyed the comments Shirley Whitlock makes and also agree with her. Because, I know people who are saved and do not speak in tongues. I am one from the old-school TEARING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT,BY CALLING ON THE NAME OF JESUS. I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY GHOST I KNOW HE IS R E A L!!!!!!

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