Is Speaking in Tongues Essential
Is Speaking in Tongues Essential?
To fully understand what the Bible is saying about speaking in tongues you have to look at the setting. When the apostles set out after Pentecost, they preached to a mass of people from many countries and different languages. Tongues served as a communication tool and a sign. Many Jews that lived in different countries came to Jerusalem for worship and feast days. Most were bilingual. They spoke in the language of their home and because of the laws of the Roman Empire they also spoke Greek. The sign of tongues was not to show that the apostles had salvation, but to bear witness to a culture that had countless religions. No god but our God could take uneducated men and give them understanding about the plan of salvation and equip them to speak in the native tongues of lands they had never visited and speak a language they had no knowledge of.
Look at 1 Corinthians 14:22, "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe." There is no way to misinterpret this scripture. Tongues are an evangelistic tool not a sign of salvation. When the people gathered at Jerusalem saw unlearned men speaking their language, they were convinced that the Jesus being preached was real and had the power to do this miracle. Some people have gotten the idea that tongues are necessary for salvation. I am at a loss where this idea originates. It does not come from the Bible. The Bible clarifies this issue in several books. Tongues - according to scripture - is a minor gift. It is a lesser gift and nowhere in scripture is it even remotely implied that tongues plays any role in salvation - other than being a tool to reach people of other languages. Look at 1 Corinthians 12
28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Verse 28 clearly teaches that tongues are the least of the gifts. Even administration is considered a more significant gift. Why? The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 14:
4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
Tongues edify the speaker only - unless there is an interpreter (such as the 3000 unbelievers converted at Pentecost). The gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are listed in the order of edification. The gifts that build up the body of Christ are more significant than a gift that only edifies the individual. Verse 5 gives a strong example as to why the doctrine of tongues for salvation is in error. "I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied". Clearly Paul is acknowledging that other believers have not spoken in tongues and clearly he is saying that prophesying is a greater benefit than tongues are.
Do tongues apply today? There is no reason to say it doesn't. In a culture where everyone speaks the same language it has little value but in a missionary environment I believe God can use tongues just as He did in the first century.
A changed life is the evidence of salvation. Righteousness is not from anything you can do, it is from faith in Christ. Romans 4:5 says, "To him that does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness". It is important to understand grace. Assurance of salvation is from a clear understanding of grace. I recommend reading 'The Grace of God' at http://www.exchangedlife.com/sermons.htm .
If someone is looking for an outward sign of the inward change, Jesus told us, "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples that you love one another" (John 13:35). The Bible also tells us that our lives should have changes if we belong to God.
Look at 1 John 2:6-10:
6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
This is the evidence that the Holy Spirit that is in you. When your receive Christ, you receive the Holy Spirit. The evidence is a changed life. A life of walking in Christ. When the Holy Spirit comes in, you cannot sin because you will be led by the Spirit. I have met people who are ‘slain in the Spirit’ and speak in tongues regularly, but other than a weekly emotional charge, the live just like the world. A disciple of Christ will live a Christ-centered life. John 15:1-8 tells us that a disciple abides in Christ. To abide is to enter God’s will and remain there. When we sin, we quickly repent and get back into a LIFESTYLE centered on following Christ. Speaking in tongues does not equate to abiding in Christ. "If you abide in Me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit…" (John 15:7-8a). Our asking should be as a disciple so that we might glorify God in heaven. Getting ‘slain’ does not equip you to abide. How much scripture is hidden in your heart through memorization? Abiding in Christ and having His word rooted firmly in our mind is vital. "If anyone does not abide in Me, He is cast out as a branch and is withered." You can emotionally charged and speak so that no one can understand, but that doesn’t solidify your faith nor does it give you salvation. Salvation is through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is completely place your trust in the saving grace of God offered to each of us Through His death on the cross.
The evidence of salvation is not speaking in tongues, but a transformed life. A life that has been set apart from the world when a person surrenders themselves to the will of God. These passages are provided for us to make a self-examination. I can look at a person’s actions and judge those actions as good or evil. I can judge whether someone’s teaching as scriptural and Biblically grounded or false and ungodly. Judging fruit is scriptural and mandated by God. Judging someone’s salvation or the intent of the heart is unbiblical. Only God has the right to examine someone’s heart. The concept of evaluating someone’s salvation based on tongues is a violation of scripture. Examine yourself based on scripture. Was there a point in time when you surrendered your life to Christ? Was there a moment of brokeness when you recognized that you are indeed ungodly and cannot become righteous by your deeds? Have you invited Jesus into your heart and made Him Lord? Has there been a change so that you are no longer living for the world, but living for Christ. Walking in obedience out of love for God is evidence of salvation. Speaking in tongues is not. Emotional responses are not a sign of spiritual life. Emotions has a role in a Christian's life, but the evidence of Spirit-filled life is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). If we are falling or being slain in the Spirit every week and don't see God developing these things in our life, we are not walking in the Spirit. With or without an emotionally charged style of worship, if these fruits of the Spirit are growing in your life, you are walking with God.