Questions & Answers

Is Conversion Possible Without Tongues?

Can a person be "converted" (born again) without ever speaking in tongues? This question is undoubtedly THE most important of questions. . . because if the answer is NO, then millions of God's people have been deceived. What is YOUR answer? Can a person be "converted" (born again) without speaking in tongues?

Nearly everywhere, (among people who believe in the baptism of the holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues), you will hear it taught that a person is first "converted" - and AFTERWARDS, if they are "dedicated" enough, they may be filled with the Spirit. Let us look at the biblical examples to see why this teaching is both wrong and dangerous - and why believing it will continue to confuse and divide God's people.

It actually amounts to teaching that a person receives the Spirit twice. Once upon "believing in Jesus", and again, upon receiving being baptized with it. One can no more be born of the Spirit twice than he can be physically born twice. A man can be born only once, whether naturally or spiritually. A backslider can be forgiven and renewed in Spirit, but not re-born. God gives His Spirit only once. As we receive our human spirit once, when we are born naturally, we can receive the holy Spirit only once, when we are born of God.

Peter received the Spirit, and, so, was converted, at Pentecost, along with the other disciples. Altogether, about 120 men and women were admitted into the kingdom of God that day. During Jesus' earthly ministry, he continually stressed that the kingdom of God was "at hand", or "near", (Mt.4:17), even saying to his disciples, "there be some...that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mk.9:1). And on Pentecost morning it came, "For the kingdom of God is... righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Ghost" (Rom.14:17).

Paul told the saints in Colossae that God "hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Col.1:13-14). This translation into the kingdom of God, this redemption and forgiveness, is conversion. Obviously, no one could be converted, or translated into the kingdom of God, before the day of Pentecost, when the kingdom was first given to men! It is astounding that so many today believe that men were born again before Jesus died, when his sacrificial death is what made the new birth possible. My friend, the baptism of the holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues, places us into the kingdom of God, just as it placed the disciples into God's kingdom on Pentecost morning. There is no other way to be converted. As Paul said, by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1Cor.12:13).

What is this "kingdom of God" which we are made a part of through the baptism of the Spirit? Jesus' disciples were not the only ones who were waiting to be converted into God's mysterious kingdom. Among others, "Joseph of Arimathea, an honorable counsellor, also waited for the kingdom of God" (Mk.15:43). Watching the Master ride triumphantly into Jerusalem, and thinking that his kingdom would be an earthly one, Jesus' excited disciples "thought that the kingdom of God should appear immediately" (Lk.19:11). Even after his resurrection, as Jesus instructed them to tarry in Jerusalem for the holy Ghost, they desired and expected an earthly kingdom.

They inquired, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). They didn't know that by speaking of the Spirit, Jesus was introducing them to his kingdom. Until Pentecost, they didn't understand Jesus' words, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Lk.12:32)". This is conversion: citizenship in the kingdom of God.

Spiritual conversion makes one a new creature in Christ Jesus, and makes real the biblical promise, "Behold, all things are become new" (2Cor.5:17). In Christ, one comes to know the newness and freshness of eternal life. And it is evident that it takes the Spirit to be converted. It is receiving the Spirit that is the new birth experience. An experience that comes with a "sound" (according to the words of Jesus in John 3:1-8) - a "sound" that is evident in EVERY case!

What about believing in Jesus and turning from sin? Isn't that conversion some may ask? The beginning of one's journey in this joyous life is when he hears the Word and is convicted of sin by its call. Jesus compared the preaching of the Word to a seed being sown in the human heart (Mt.13). Even in the case of spiritual birth, conception precedes the birth. In nature, not every seed sown produces fruit. Likewise, in God's kingdom many who hear the Word do not act upon the conviction which the Word causes them to feel. In vain the Seed is sown in their hearts.

Regrettably, many confuse this conviction with conversion. The Apostle Paul, for example, was convicted on the Damascus road, not converted. He was converted three days later, when he received the holy Ghost (Acts 22:16). Not everyone who is conceived (convicted) will be converted (baptized with the holy Ghost). Many were truly conceived by the Word during Jesus' ministry; yet, only about 120 continued in his Word to be born again in Acts 2. Remember, Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples" (Jn.8:31). Many have been convicted of sin by the Spirit, but have not continued in that conviction, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. They were conceived, but not converted. No one is converted before receiving the holy Ghost baptism. To say, "You must be born again" is to say, "You must receive the holy Ghost baptism". They are one and the same.

The Lord warned his disciples, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3). This godly counsel should stir every heart which has been conceived by the Word, but has not yet received the Spirit, to renewed zeal for the righteousness of God. Persevering in faith to make conversion into God's kingdom possible for us, Jesus triumphed gloriously over the errors of the elders of Israel, who attempted to supplant God's offer of eternal life with their traditions.

Conversion is another word for the new birth, or regeneration. It follows conception by the Word, and it is essential. And just as it was impossible for the disciples to be "converted" before Pentecost - it is impossible to be converted prior to receiving the baptism of the holy Ghost now. This is the teaching of the Scriptures, and it stands unchangeable through all ages, for all people. When we believe the truth - God's people (those with the Spirit) - will finally be able to "be one", and what could be more sweet to Jesus than that?

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