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Tract #81
Speaking in Tongues
By George Clark and John David Clark, Sr.


"I want all of you to speak in tongues." (Paul, in 1Cor.14:5)

If we believe Paul's words, then we must admit that there is such an experience as being empowered by God's holy Spirit to speak in a language which we have not learned. The Scriptures bear indisputable witness to the presence of this experience amongst the earliest believers. Beginning in the second chapter of Acts and throughout the New Testament writings, there are references to this extraordinary blessing among both Jewish and Gentile believers.

A few years after the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the Jews at Pentecost, God began admitting Gentiles into the body of Christ by baptizing them with the holy Ghost. This grace, which Jewish believers did not expect to be shown to Gentiles, is recorded in Acts 10:45-46: "All the believing Jews who came with Peter were astonished because the gift of the holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles also; for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God." Later, another group of Gentiles spoke in tongues when they received the Spirit: "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the holy Ghost came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6). These were not isolated events; on the contrary, the context in Acts 19 suggests that Paul was surprised that these believers had not already received the baptism of the Spirit. Further, in all his letters which speak of the subject, Paul speaks of this blessing as if it were a normal part of every believer's life.

In reality, there is no true spiritual life without the language of the Spirit, for receiving the holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are indissolubly united as two parts of one experience in Christ. The moment one receives the holy Ghost, he is moved by the Spirit to speak in a language he has not learned. This is true in every case, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus (Jn.3:8). When all the evidence is rightly divided and justly weighed, it becomes clear that every person who receives the holy Ghost speaks in tongues when he or she receives it, and that if one has not spoken in tongues, then he or she has no basis on which to claim that he has received the Spirit of God.

The only way to receive the holy Ghost, my friend, is by repentance and faith toward God; and the divinely ordained proof that this has happened is tongues. Jesus said it this way, "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me" (Jn.15:26). Or as Paul would later phrase it, "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom.8:16). The Comforter's "testimony", or the Spirit's "witness", is that inspired utterance which is unknown to those who are speaking, but not unknown to God, nor to whomever He might direct it. So, the chief purpose for tongues is to distinguish those who really have repented and received God's Spirit from those who only claim to have done so.

The "Unknown Tongue"

"Let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" (1Cor.14:13-15).

When we speak of an "unknown tongue", what we mean is that it is unknown to the speaker. It is certainly not unknown to God, "for he who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks . . . unto God" (1Cor.14:2). Those who received the holy Ghost when it was first poured out spoke in languages which were unknown to them, but which were known to the Jews from various nations who heard them. Many Jews had travelled from great distances to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost and marvelled that the "ignorant and unlearned" Galileans spoke fluently in foreign languages. They asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears our own native language?" So, in this case, what was "unknown" about the tongues spoken on this day was that the speakers did not know the languages they themselves were speaking.

Speaking in Tongues Foretold

Long before Jesus suffered and died to make the holy Ghost available to men, God chose tongues as the sign of this new covenant; and He announced His choice through the prophets. Through Zephaniah (3:9) God promised, "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." Through Isaiah (28:11 12) He said, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people, to whom He said, `This is the REST wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest', and `This is the refreshing', yet they would not hear." When a sinner hears someone speaking in tongues, the call of the Spirit is to his heart, not to his head; it is to his feelings, not to his understanding.

"There appeared to them cloven tongues like fire, and it rested upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak fervently in other tongues as the Spirit impelled them to do so" (Acts 2:3-4). The purpose for speaking in tongues is primarily as a "sign". Referring to Isaiah's words, Paul wrote, "In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and yet for all that they will not hear Me, saith the Lord.' Wherefore", Paul concludes, "tongues are for a sign . . . to them that believe not" (1Cor.14:21-22). Notice the words, "tongues are for a sign", and ask yourself, "A sign of what?" It is a sign to men, God's designated sign, of the way of the Spirit. A singular beauty of the new covenant in Christ is that God Himself, through the Spirit, speaks when He enters our hearts; we are not dependent upon a man to tell us when we have been born of the Spirit.

There was a man of God who, in a dream, was carrying the crucified Lord to a cemetery to bury him. As he was lowering the Lord Jesus into the grave, Jesus opened his eyes and raised his hands, both of them holding a little money. Then he spoke. "Take this", he said, "You cannot bury this with me." Obeying the command, the man of God took the money from the Lord's hands, and saw that in one hand he held twenty-eight dollars and eleven cents, while in the other he held eleven dollars and twenty-eight cents. As he stared at the money in his hands, the twenty-eight dollars and eleven cents changed into the word "Isaiah", and the eleven dollars and twenty eight cents changed into the word "Matthew"; and he knew the Lord had shown him something of remarkable value from those two books. When he awoke, he turned with great anticipation to Isaiah 28:11 and to Matthew 11:28, wondering what this revelation should mean. In Matthew 11:28-29, he found Jesus pleading with his people, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take of my yoke and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find REST for your souls."

And what does this dream and this promised REST have to do with tongues? Everything, my friend, for the Scriptures from Isaiah 28:11-12 tell how one may recognize the REST of God when he sees it. "For with stammering lips and another tongue shall He speak unto this people. To whom He said, `THIS IS THE REST wherewith ye may cause the weary to REST, and this is the refreshing', yet they would not hear."

Reader, let's get real with God and accept the truth of the gospel. Only those who repent and receive the holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, have found the REST which God promised to His people. I know this is a hard saying, and I would not say it unless I knew it to be true. You see, the man who originally wrote this tract is he who had the vision of burying Jesus. He is the man whom Jesus taught with those two verses.

I should mention that another purpose for speaking in tongues is to enable us to pray more effectively. Paul explained, "Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom.8:26).

The Gift of Diverse Tongues

In his list of a few gifts of the Spirit (1Cor.12), Paul mentions the gift of "diverse tongues". This is not the same thing as speaking in tongues when one receives the holy Ghost. It is an added measure, a deeper walk in the Spirit for those who already speak in tongues, just as the "gift of faith" is for those who already believe. It should be noted that Paul never says that "speaking in tongues is a gift." He knew better. The gift is "diverse tongues".

Many a Christian minister has attempted to excuse his lack of the Spirit by teaching that speaking in tongues is a gift that only some in the body of Christ have received. Don't you swallow that poison, my friend. It is the gift of diverse tongues that is given only to some. As for speaking in tongues, every member of the body does that, because every member of the body has the Spirit of God which testifies when it comes in. Multitudes received the holy Ghost and pray in tongues continually, but few have received the gift of "diverse tongues".

Speaking in tongues through a person is God's witness that He has given His Spirit to that person. It is God's sign of the new birth. Every born-again person speaks in tongues (or has "stammering lips"), beginning the moment of his new birth. If you have not received this experience, please do not take this message as a condemnation or a belittling of your faith in Jesus. It is not. There were sincere followers of Christ in the days of the apostles who did not receive the holy Ghost until someone came along and "taught them the way of God more perfectly". The baptism of the holy Ghost is for you, and so are we. It is essential that you know that nothing but the baptism of the holy Ghost will cleanse your soul. It is the baptism of the holy Ghost that makes a man a member of the body of Christ (1Cor.12:13), and it is the baptism of the holy Ghost that washes from our hearts the stain of sin (Acts 22:16), removing even the desire for sin from the heart of man. The baptism of the Spirit is the experience which makes a man a new creature in Christ Jesus, fit to live in eternity among the saints.

"They Shall Lay Hands On the Sick"


- 1 -
As we read in Mark's true gospel
That "these signs will follow them",
I am wond'ring why they cannot understand.
Are they sure they're sent to preach
His loving truth which is divine?
Are they laying on the sick their humbled hand?

- Chorus -
"Oh, what strange, mysterious power!"
By so many now is said,
As they sit alone and look upon the scene;
But it's real, my friends and loved ones,
For our God has answered prayer;
He has sent us now to teach it plain and clean.

- 2 -
I am sent to give this message
To the preachers, I am sure,
For I see they're drifting now so far away.
Just to tell them of the virtue
That was shed on Calvary's tree
Is the reason that I ask them to obey.

- 3 -
Many days I prayed and fasted
In a church house and the woods.
Many days I was in hunger and in thirst,
Just to prove our Lord can heal
The crowds today who trust in him,
With his gifts and blessings as he did at first.

- 4 -
We will stand the trials and hardships
Just to prove the precious truth,
That the gospel of our Savior doth contain.
They may cast us out as evil,
But we love them yet the more,
For we're living now by faith in Jesus' name.

- 5 -
They may call us devil-workers
As they did our blessed Lord,
For they said the same of Jesus then, you see.
As we stand in final judgment
And 'tis said to us, "Well done",
Then with joy we'll leave this dear ol' battlefield.

- 6 -
I am feeling now the virtue
That was shed for you and me,
And I want to see you people all made whole.
But we must have faith in Jesus
As we come here to be healed;
Then I'm sure we'll reach the dear old gospel goal.

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