Are Tongues Only For "Some" in God's Assembly?
Misguided teachers use the following verse to justify their belief that: 1) it is possible to be born again without ever receiving the baptism of the holy Ghost (with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, and, 2) to teach that only "some" in God's holy assembly speak in tongues (while others do not).
Here is the verse from a letter of the apostle Paul to a group of Corinthian believers: "Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts..." (1Cor.12:30- 31).
The answer to Paul's questions here is a rhetorical "no". Not all in the assembly heal. Not all in the assembly interpret. (In most places today there is NOTHING to interpret!!). Not all speak in tongues. This is a convenient MISquote taken out of context which perverts Paul's point. A verse taken out of context so Satan's ministers can teach that speaking in tongues is not a necessary part of the conversion experience. And sadly, the undiscerning hearer never questions such doctrine, much to the hurt of their own souls, and to body of Christ.
When reading 1 Corinthians 12:30-31, it cannot be rightly understood without verse 28. There Paul explains WHAT KIND of tongues not all in the assembly have: the gift of "divers tongues". This gift is an added measure of the Spirit, available only to SOME in the assembly, as described in 1Cor.12:9-10. Using these verses to teach that only SOME in the assembly speak in tongues (and others do not), is the same as saying that only SOME in the assembly have faith and others do not, because faith is among the gifts mentioned here (along with divers tongues) that only "some" have! Do only "some" in the assembly have faith? Or do we all? Of course, ALL in the assembly have faith, for "without faith it is impossible to please God"! However, there are SOME in the assembly that have a deeper measure of faith - a special "gift" of faith. Just as there are some in the assembly who have a deeper measure of "divers tongues" - a gift Paul and others used in ministry.
No dear reader, do not believe Christian ministers who tell people trying to find God, that conversion is possible without speaking in tongues. They are filthy liars. Speaking in tongues is what happens to EVERY person who is born again. There is NOBODY who is a member of God's assembly, who does not speak in tongues. Jesus compared the new birth to the unpredictable wind. He said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the spirit" (Jn.3:8). These words are of the greatest importance, for in them Jesus has given us a description of the new birth - a description which applies to everyone who is born of the spirit. In other words, Jesus has given us a sign which lets us know who is born again and who is not.
This sign, the one consistent element in every experience of new birth, is "the sound thereof". This mysterious "sound" of the Spirit caused quite a stir in Jerusalem when the disciples were born again. "And they were all filled with the holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). Yes, the sound of the wind of God, which our Lord said was the one consistent feature of every new birth experience, is the sign of speaking in tongues. When the holy Ghost is received, some may weep, and some may laugh. Some may jump for joy, while others may fall prostrate on the floor. Some may be overcome with the power of God, and some are dealt with very gently by the Spirit. But the one invariable evidence of receiving the Spirit is the sign of tongues. Every one who receives the holy Ghost speaks in tongues when he receives it. If you have not spoken in tongues, you have not yet received the Spirit of God. However, even if that is the case with you, my friend, you should not be discouraged! Rather, you should be thankful that the baptism of the holy Ghost is still available!
If "tongues are for a sign for unbelievers", as Paul said (1Cor.14:21), then one should ask, "A sign of what?" The obvious answer is that speaking in tongues is a sign ordained by God to point unbelievers to the way of Christ. The Spirit which speaks in tongues through men when it enters is the real Spirit of God (1Jn.4:1-3). As one man said, "When Jesus was here, he cast out dumb spirits. He doesn't now give men one." The Spirit of God isn't dumb. It speaks when he enters in; therefore, tongues are for a sign to those who are seeking the way into eternal life.
"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound", wrote the Psalmist. This joyful sound is the sound of the Spirit confessing Christ through the one who has received Him (1Jn.4:1-3) in a language which the speaker has never learned. It is what Peter called the "answer of a good conscience toward God" (1Pet.3:21), and it is "more sure" than hearing God's own voice coming out of heaven (2Pet. 1:17-19). Speaking in tongues is the "testimony" Jesus said the Spirit would give when it came (Jn.15:26-27). It is the "witness" which empowers us to proclaim God to be our Father (Rom.8:15). It is "the record" which God has given concerning His Son, and every soul who refuses it calls God a liar (1Jn.5: 10). It is the "deep" which "calls unto deep" in times of trouble (Ps.42:7). It is the means by which men "call on the name of the Lord" (Zeph.3:9). One can easily understand why Paul was motivated to say that no one could say Jesus is Lord without the holy Ghost (1Cor.12:1-3), for it is the holy Ghost which empowers men to be partakers of and, so, living witnesses to his glory (Acts 1:8).
The disciples were born again on the day of Pentecost, when a sound of wind blew down from heaven into an upper room, and the "sound thereof" was heard by the crowds in Jerusalem, coming from the disciples' tongues! In amazement, the multitude beheld the disciples stagger as drunk men under the mighty power of God. Some mockingly said the disciples were drunk (Acts 2:13). However, Peter soon let these misguided onlookers know that the men and women they were watching were not drunkards. He explained, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). Of course, what Joel had prophesied was the outpouring of God's holy Spirit upon men - the new birth!
One is born of the Spirit when he receives the Spirit. This is why Paul wrote, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom.8:9). When one receives the Spirit, it is called in the Scriptures the "baptism of the Spirit". The disciples received the Spirit (the promise of the Father) on Pentecost morning when they were baptized with it (Acts 1:4-5). The believers in Samaria received the Spirit when they were baptized with it (Acts 8:14-17). Cornelius and his household received the Spirit when he was baptized with it (Acts 10:44-47). Therefore, since receiving the Spirit is to be born again, and since receiving the Spirit is to be baptized with it, we can say that we are baptized by the Spirit into God's holy assembly (1Cor. 12:13). Or we can say, "baptism saves us" (1Pet.3:21). Or we can say that we are "baptized into Christ" (Rom.6:3; Gal.3:27). However we choose to express it, the new birth and the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues are the same experience, and unlike the added measure of the spiritual gift of speaking in "divers tongues", it is what must happen to every person if they ever hope to be saved in the end.