3. Is Speaking In Tongues Required for Salvation?
Salvation And Speaking In Tongues
Another area that has been a source of conflict for many Charismatic Christians, especially those of us who are brought up under the Apostolic/Pentecostal banner, is this issue of speaking in tongues. So Is Speaking In Tongues Required for Salvation? Some believers have adopted the thought that speaking in tongues represents salvation; it doesn’t. Because of this incorrect assessment, it has led many God-fearing people to question their own salvation, wondering if they were filled with the Holy Spirit because they did not hear themselves speak in tongues.
NOTE: The Bible does NOT state that there are three requirements (repent, be baptized, and speak in tongues) before one can receive this “gift” of the Holy Ghost (some non-biblical person added that requirement for you).
Although there are those of us who have repented, accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, received water baptism, and have the personal experience of speaking in tongues, which is something that has and continues to occur for some (See: Not Everyone Speaks In Tongues) and for some this phenomenon occurs more frequently (1 Corinthians 14:18), the act of “speaking in tongues” however does not prevent anyone from sinning nor does it guarantee you deliverance from hell or everlasting life in heaven with God. Speaking in tongues is just one of many spiritual gifting’s, but it is certainly not evidence that you now have obtained permanent eternal life (salvation) status with God. Why? Because of the “obedience” factor that exists and you can not get around it.
The Holy Ghost is a gift from God given to those who are obedient to the will of God and his plan of salvation. (Acts 5:32) and (Matthew 17:5; Acts 2:37-38). This gift is promised to those who have truly repented and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
The evidence that we have God’s Holy Spirit (The Holy Ghost) is demonstrated (made manifest) by the fruit we bear, the life we live (Matthew 7:18-23). It is important that you understand the difference between speaking in tongues (a spiritual gift) and salvation; the gifts and calling of God are given without repentance (Romans 11:29), salvation (the gift of eternal life) however requires repentance and a continual walk with and in the will of God.
Distinguishing A “Gift” From The “Initial Sign”
Ministries who teach/preach that an “initial sign” of speaking in tongues is mandatory in order to prove you have received the Holy Ghost when asked have no actual biblical scripture to support their claim. We as Pentecostals basically claimed that there are two different types of tongues with different purposes; (I can speak on this fact because I am of the Apostolic background).
Most Pentecostals claim that there are “tongues” that evidence the “initial sign” of the Holy Ghost (which occurs after repentance and baptism) but allegedly differ from the “gifts” of tongues, which are seen as “spiritual” gifts mentioned in the book of (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
It is this contention that is of great importance. This claim that there are two types of tongues (the “initial sign” and the “gift of” tongues) being the justification for mandating the requirement to speak in tongues is the crux of their error.
NOTE: Most Christians do not deny prophecy as being a spiritual gift, however, they fall short in trying to justify several inconsistencies.
The first is trying to explain how (tongues) identified in (Acts 2: 4) are not a spiritual gift but instead a (required) “initial sign” evidencing the “indwelling” of the Holy Ghost after someone is baptized;
The second problem is trying to explain the (Acts 19: 5-6) incident which reflects the Holy Spirit manifesting the “initial” evidence of dual signs (gifts) upon the people. They try to justify tongues as mandatory because it is referenced in more than one instance. They therefore claim it as an “initial sign” requirement yet they cannot recite any scripture that makes such claims or which distinguishes the difference between these two spiritual signs (tongues or prophecy).
Both tongues and prophecy are listed as spiritual gifts and if they are gifts then only the Spirit decides who may speak in tongues, as tongues, (being a gift), is not guaranteed to anyone, but as God wills.
NOTE: Adding this criterion to the scriptures is manufactured. You will not find the words initial or required associated with tongues in any scripture.
(Acts 2:4) “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
(Acts19: 5-6) “On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied”
(1 Corinthians 12:4, 11) “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… ……..to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
(Romans 11:29) “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
It is also clear from these passages that there were:
1. No limitation as to how many gifts could be received;
2. No stipulation as to which gift would be made manifest; and
3. No limitation as to whom God could give these gifts to, tongues being one of many listed spiritual gifts, a gift which can be given to someone without repentance or to whom so ever God desires or wills.
You will not find “initial sign” or “unknown tongues” associated with salvation in any scripture, these also are man-made practices many have turned into man-made requirements.
Note: Jesus did not indicate that his disciples had to teach any recipients how to speak in tongues, and they certainly could NOT teach someone else how to speak in an unknown tongue for as the name implies that which is unknown cannot be taught.
In reality, many recipients are basically “trained” to make or recite “unintelligible” words in an attempt to equate their murmuring to the “unknown tongues” mentioned in the Bible.
Unless someone has the ability to translate babbling, “unintelligible babbling” is not language but random sounds made by the mouth.
Telling a new convert they have received the Holy Ghost is a very dangerous practice if it is based on “unintelligible” sounds or words coming forth from someone’s mouth, after being “prompted” by the ministers to speak in this manner.
This leaves room for fraud to occur, especially if the recipient made themselves babble in order to excuse themselves or to see if those who deem themselves to be “qualified” would actually claim that their manner of speaking was the result of the Holy Ghost. (That individual would probably doubt the rest of the ministry as being a fraudulent practice from that point on)
Any ministry claiming the infilling of the Holy Spirit for someone else, other than the recipient himself making that claim, places themselves as well as the church in jeopardy of telling a LIE!
Selectively Omitting Other “Initial” Signs
(Acts 19:5-6) & (Mark 16:16-18)
It is of little surprise that we as Christians do not claim dual requirements having to be met at the same time, as indicating the “initial” evidentiary sign of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, (i.e., Acts 19:5-6, the combined tongue speaking and prophesying) even though it is clearly stated that both occurred after the Holy Spirit came on other individuals. We are now presented with a new potential problem; deciding which verse I want to identify or label as being an “initial occurrence” vs. the verses I choose to call or label as being an “initial requirement”
(Acts 19:5-6) “On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied”.
Clearly in (Acts 19:5-6) an “occurrence” is being recalled and recorded in the New Testament (or in the Dead Sea scrolls), yet it is not stated anywhere as being a “requirement“.
Occurrences or Requirements?
Christ said These signs (Plural) shall follow them;…
Similarly, if we hold fast to Biblical occurrences that took place as being requirements; then all Christians professing themselves to be “saved” (especially those of us who are Pastors and said to be called by God) should exhibit all of the following signs (plural) as stated by Jesus, as the “initial” evidence of being “saved” (which is commonly referred to as being filled with the Holy Ghost).
(Mark 16:16-18)“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”.
I know of no one exhibiting all of these signs, verifying that they have all of these listed God-given abilities. If there are to be any “initial” sign requirements in determining who is “saved”, or who is not, then this is clearly the scripture to focus on. This should be the foundation of any test, as Christ himself has clearly indicated, “These signs (PLURAL) shall follow them”. DO YOU EXHIBIT ALL OF THESE SIGNS? DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO DOES?
I cannot remember the last time I saw a “saved” Christian picking up a rattlesnake or drinking a cup of poison to “confirm” that he/she was saved. OK, maybe that would be a little too extreme for most of us. Well, tell me then when do individuals (like yourself) start exhibiting the evidence of your ability to heal by the “laying on of our hands”?
I am sure that we all know many seriously ill people. I cannot remember the last time I saw any “saved” Christian or Pastor eagerly and honestly with assured confidence profess to be able to lay hands on any randomly chosen sick individual and claim healing or deliverance from a deadly disease, sickness, or terminal illness (indicating one of the undisputed signs of being saved). I personally don’t remember any who openly declared a specific time when that healing would take place, “immediately” or “let’s just keep our fingers crossed”, and pray that God heals them”.
Of course, we all know that God is the only one who can heal, but it is indicated that God has given all of those who are “saved” his approval, his authority, and the ability to heal by the means of laying on of hands. This is scripture.
You see it is quite easy to claim to speak with “new tongues” or “unknown tongues” (which is an ambiguous sign) easily generating “unintelligible vocal activity” or “unintelligible babbling” claiming it to be a “Heavenly language” (for lack of better wording). Those who cling to this justification may only be adhering to this sign as it is clearly the easiest one to “fake”, anybody can be taught to mimic unintelligible vocal activity. It is undoubtedly harder to fake the rest of the God-given evidentiary Biblical signs of being saved.
It is not surprising that we tend to avoid claiming “ALL” of these signs as “joint” requirements.
Why, because this was not an actual commandment here, neither were the other passages as mentioned earlier, but it is nonetheless undisputed that along with the sign of “tongues” Jesus also indicated there were several other signs which were all part of the EVIDENCE of a TRUE BELIEVER, ONE WHO IS SAVED!
As with the sign of speaking in tongues, just because something is mentioned which occurred, or could occur, does not necessarily make it the exhaustive (complete) listing or a combined list of all requirements that must all be obtained unless the Bible specifically states it as such.
Now we have a context interpretation decision, either these signs evidenced what “could” take place as God so chooses to gift an individual or all of these signs must occur at the same time in order to fulfill the listed requirement Jesus identified.
Remembering the word “initial” is not used in any of these passages of scripture, as it is often said “We can’t take part of the word and omit the parts we don’t want to practice” The whole picture has to fit in the most harmonious and logical manner.
If we are looking for evidence of the Holy Ghost, it seems that we need a larger arena to be surveyed or a reevaluation of our logic.
Although these miracles occurred at that time, these attributes may come about later or be developed over the course of time, (spiritual growth and gifts, some being faster than others considering those who are babes in Christ).
If Tongues Are Mandatory; Are Infants Who Die Doomed?
If the Holy Ghost must make “EVERYONE” speak in tongues as the condition to enter heaven (or be “saved”) then if this were true all infants who die prematurely would be doomed. Thankfully we know this teaching has little merit. First, we know God is just. Second, Jesus was born a human infant, whom we say was also “totally man” (Hebrews 2:14, 17) and the seed of David (Romans 1:3-4) so let’s test this man-made theory further.
Comparing The Humanity Of Jesus
The Bible says that Jesus was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5). How could He have been without sin if babies “inherit” the guilt of Adam’s sin and if Jesus was indeed a real “human being” (not just the outward appearance of a human) and the true blood offspring (descendant) of David who was also a descendant of Adam (both who were sinners)?
If a baby is guilty of sin, what happens if it dies before it is baptized or speaks in tongues, or if its parents refuse to baptize it?
If babies were guilty of sin if one dies without baptism or speaking in tongues, then wouldn’t it follow that it would be eternally lost? Almost no one will accept this conclusion, yet to deny the conclusion is to admit that babies really are not guilty of sin.
Furthermore, if speaking in tongues is essential to salvation, if a baby is a sinner, then its salvation from sin must depend entirely on the actions of others and God to allow it to reach an age of understanding. It must rely entirely on its parents to choose to baptize it. It has no choice in the matter, and cannot possibly influence its own destiny. This contradicts all the scriptures quoted showing that salvation is a matter of individual choice (2 Corinthians 5:10; etc.).
Since salvation is a matter of individual choice, and since a baby cannot confess its belief in Christ, cannot repent of its sins if it had any, and cannot choose or express a choice to be baptized, even if it wanted to, we can conclude that a baby is not lost, to begin with. Therefore it does not need baptism nor must it speak in tongues. Acts 10:47 and John 3:5 refer to “men” (adults), not children; “Can any man forbid water” and “except a man is born of the water”. There is no indication that these words were ever intended to be applied to a newborn child (nor are there any examples of such) but this was written to men and women who had a level of “understanding” and comprehension, not infants.