Speaking in tongues? You mean that scary gibberish that some fanatical charismatics speak? I heard it once during a church service and another time when someone was praying and it totally freaked me out!.
Nop. That isn't me speaking. But that's typical of what I've heard from several Christians when the topic comes up. It's weird, it's scary, it's freaky. And it's only for those fanatics. Right? Hmm. Well, that's not what the Bible says.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:2-4
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 1 Corinthians 12:10
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28
I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 1 Cor 4:5
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 1 Corin 14:18
Yet how many believers do you know who actually speak in tongues? Here's another question, when was the last time you heard a sermon on speaking in tongues? If you're part of a regular non-charismatic church, I'm guessing never. I'm not saying the charismatics have it right either. Often they go too far into the spiritual gifts and forget what's important. Jesus!
Being baptized in the Holy Spirit was a big deal in the early church, and according to Scripture, it was a completely separate event from getting saved. When a person receives Jesus and makes Him Lord, his spirit is born again. That's salvation. But that person is still not baptized in the Spirit. Believe me, I don't completely understand the difference, except to say that the baptism has a separate function all together. When a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, they receive spiritual power that enables them to not only do supernatural things, but to do what God has called them to do on earth.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
This extra supernatural power displays itself in the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we read about in 1 Corinthians. The gifts of miracles, healing, prophesy, teaching, words of wisdom and knowledge, faith, and of course tongues.
Here you can clearly see that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is separate from salvation
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17
As you read through the book of ACTS, you'll see that every single time the apostles laid their hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit, the people spoke in tongues. Tongues is a manifestation of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. There's nothing freaky or spooky about it. And I believe, aside from salvation, it's the 2nd most important gift God gives His children. He doesn't want us to go through this life without His power within us. He's basically handing us the ability to do what Jesus did on earth. Why turn that down? Certainly we are saved without it and certainly we can still do good things and lead others to the Lord without it. But why not receive it?
Now, I'll make this personal. I used to think tongues were kinda weird myself. But over the years, I've dramatically changed my mind. When I discovered how important being baptized in the Holy Spirit was and how much it would bring me closer to God, I asked God to baptize me and then received the Holy Spirit. I thanked and praised God, then opened my mouth, drew in a deep breath and just spoke upward from my spirit. Does it sound silly? Sure, at first. Believe me, it's not gibberish. We are actually speaking a REAL language from somewhere on earth or in heaven. In fact, it's the Holy Spirit talking through your spirit to God. Your mind has nothing to do with it. You won't understand a word of it. Which honestly makes it really hard at first. It takes practice. Lots of it. For years, I didn't really speak in tongues much, but for the past year, I've picked it up again and I can honestly say I'm VERY GLAD I have. Here are the benefits I've noticed:
- The Holy Spirit can, through you, pray for things that you may not even be aware of
- It's a great way to worship God in Spirit and Truth
- While you're speaking in tongues, if you focus on God and His love for you, He often will speak to you in your spirit
- The more I speak in tongues, the closer to God I ultimately feel
- After I speak in tongues, my spirit feels lighter
- If I don't know how to pray for a situation, I switch to tongues
- In a church group if there's a person there with the gift of interpretation, speaking in tongues is a great way to hear from God.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; Romans 8:26
I'm so glad I didn't give up on tongues. It has really helped my walk with God. Sometimes during a busy day, I speak in tongues under my breath as I go about my tasks, knowing that while my mind might be busy, my spirit is communing with God.
If you haven't yet received the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to do so. You can simply ask God for it, receive it, and then start speaking whatever bubbles out of your spirit. And remember tongues is just one aspect of the power of the Spirit. It's time the western church wakes up to all God has for us on this earth. Believe me, we're going to need all the power we can get to face what's coming in 2017.