I am writing this post to show from the Bible that the power to speak in tongues is part of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Everyone that receives the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is given the ability (power) to speak in tongues. The ability to speak in tongues (aka pray in the spirit) is a very powerful tool that Jesus made available to His church, and it is very important that Christians understand, receive, and use this gift.
Consider these facts from the Bible:
1 – Every time that we see people speak in tongues for their first time in the Bible, it happens when they are receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:6
2 – Conversely, every time that we see people receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, we see that something happens that is noticeable to any observers that are present. There is a definite tangible evidence that makes it obvious that something has taken place, even if we aren’t told what this evidence is. Acts 2:4, Acts 8:17-19, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:6
3 – In every instance that we are provided additional details about the “tangible evidence,” we find that it is speaking in tongues. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:6
4 – There are no examples where we are told that some of the recipients of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues but others did not. It is always 100% of those receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that are doing it.
5 – In the letters from the apostles to the churches (aka the Epistles), we see several places where the believers are being encouraged to “pray in the spirit” (aka speak in tongues…see 1 Cor. 14:14). We see this in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Jude. It was assumed that the recipients of these Epistles were able to speak in tongues. The believers were being encouraged to make it a regular practice. This shows that it was common, normal, and expected that nearly all of the believers in any given church would have this ability. Otherwise, it would be useless to encourage them to do it if they were not able to. 1 Cor 14:14-15, Eph 6:18, Jude 1:20
So, according to the Bible, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit includes the power/ability to speak in tongues. (Note: I know that there are a lot of people who disagree with this statement. There are many great men and women of God that disagree with this. There are entire denominations and religious organizations that disagree with this. But, it is better to believe the Bible rather than human tradition.)
It may be helpful at this point for the reader to take a closer look at all four places in the Bible where the experience is described with some level of detail. Not all four accounts have the same amount of information, but they do present a consistent picture. The rest of this post is devoted to pointing out those consistencies.
I will approach this in the following manner. I will begin by showing the first and last examples we have in Acts. They occurred approximately 20 years apart, and they will serve at “bookends” that show that nothing changed even after all those years had passed. Next I will point out some things from the other two examples that occurred in the years in between.
The Day of Pentecost
Read Acts 2:1-4. This is the day first time that God made the Baptism with the Holy Spirit available to the church. In this account, the writer makes the following statement:
Acts 2:4 – And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
On the day that the Holy Spirit is poured out on the church, the says that they “all” spoke in tongues. So, 100 percent of the people that were baptized with the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues. Another way of saying it is “there was not a single person that was baptized with the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues.” And yet another way of saying this is “every single person that spoke in tongues was a recipient of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
These are very powerful statistics. 100 percent. The entire Christian church was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and the entire Christian church spoke in tongues. 120 of out 120 people present spoke in tongues when they received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
I have heard people who try to downplay the power of this passage by saying something like this: “It only happened like this because they needed to speak in other languages to preach to the foreigners that were present.” Acts 2:5-12 is used in support of this argument.
There are two big problems with that line of thinking.
1 – The passage doesn’t mention anything about preaching the gospel in tongues. Instead, it says that they were “speaking the wonderful works of God.” They were worshiping, not preaching. Their exuberant means of worship caused a crowd to gather around. Then Peter started preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in a common language they all understood. He begins his “sermon” by commenting on the event that just took place, indicating that the “tongue talking” was over now and it was time to preach.
2 – We will see in the other examples in Acts where people spoke in tongues and there were no unbelieving foreigners present that needed to hear the gospel message in a different language.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that people preached the gospel in tongues to foreigners. Sometimes it is a sign that draws attention, but it is never mentioned as a way to preach the gospel. The gift of speaking in tongues is given as a blessing and a gift to the person that is receiving the Holy Spirit baptism. It is part of the “power” that Jesus promised us in Acts 1:8.
To summarize quickly, here is what we have so far. The first time that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Acts, 100 percent of the people that received it spoke in tongues. There were no exceptions.
Paul at Ephesus
Read Acts 19:1-7. This is the last recording in Acts where we get some details about people getting baptized with the Holy Spirit. This takes place 20-25 years after the day of Pentecost, but as you will see, the experience is exactly the same.
In this story, we are told that there are about 12 men present (verse 7). It says that all 12 of them spoke in tongues when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit (verse 6). 100 percent of the people that were baptized with the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues.
There are no unbelieving foreigners present, and there is no mention of any interpretation or anything else like that. It just says that they “spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
It is very simple. The ability to speak in tongues is included as a part of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Read Acts 8:4-24. This is the story with the least amount of detail, but here is a brief summary:
Philip preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Samaritans. They believe and get baptized. The church at Jerusalem finds out about it and immediately sends Peter and John to them to lead them to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. They are successful on their mission, and we do not have much more information outside of that.
We aren’t told anything else about the people that received the baptism. There is no information provided. So this story does not say anything about speaking in tongues directly.
However, if you read verses 17-19 carefully, you will notice something. A bystander name Simon observed what happened and he was so amazed by it that he offered to bribe them in order to be able to do the same thing. This tells us that something happened that was definitely noticeable to anyone present. It also tells us that it was something powerful enough to prompt Simon to act in this way.
So there was some kind of “evidence” that could be observed by a bystander, and this evidence was something very unusual. Since all three of the other examples in Acts say specifically that speaking in tongues was a result of getting baptized with the Holy Spirit, it is not a stretch by any means to assume that was the case here as well.
The House of Cornelius
Read Acts 10:44-48 and Acts 11:15-18.
Here we have an entire household getting baptized with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. In this story, I want to point out two passages. Both of these are quotes from Peter.
Acts 10:45-48 – And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have ?”
Acts 11:15-16 – And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
When Peter hears these people speak in tongues, he immediately thinks of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. He associates the two together. According to his logic and to his thinking, a person speaking in tongues is a person that has been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Peter was present on the day of Pentecost, and he was also present in Samaria. Of all the human beings that have ever walked the earth, Peter should know whether or not speaking in tongues is a part of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. And he has made it clear in these two passages that this is what he believes. Peter associates speaking in tongues with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. They go together. The are a part of the same experience.
It is plain to see beyond any reasonable doubt. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit includes the power to speak in tongues.
Do I Have To?
One of the questions that people often have when talking to me about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit goes something like this: “Do I have to speak in tongues when I get baptized with the Holy Spirit?”
This question makes it sound like speaking in tongues is something you wouldn’t want to do unless you had to. But the only reason that a Christian would not want this gift and ability (at least in my opinion) is because he/she does not understand it. Unfortunately, I have found that a large percentage of the Christians I talk to have a very poor understanding of this subject. (If this is you, please read my posts about the PURPOSE and BENEFITS of the experience.)
So, that being said….my answer to the question “do I have to” is simply this: “no, you don’t have to…you GET to.” You get to speak in tongues when you receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is included as part of the experience, and it will change your life forever.
>>Back to SERIES HOME
>>Next in SERIES: Why Speak in Tongues?