Is Speaking in Tongues Evidence of the Holy Spirit?

Is Speaking in Tongues Evidence of the Holy Spirit?
Posted by 'Raymond Goodlett'

We see in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that baptism of the Holy Spirit is a common and initial experience of all Christians who are entering the body of Christ. However, we see later in chapter 12 that not all who have this experience speak in tongues. Reading through the Bible in context helps us understand this question better.  

Whenever I get questions about the baptism with the Holy Spirit, I'll usually start just by showing someone that in the New Testament there are seven passages that deal with that explicitly.

  1. Matthew 3:11, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
     
  2. Mark 1:8, "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
     
  3. Luke 3:16, "John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
     
  4. John 1:33, "And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’"
     
  5. Acts 1:5, "For John baptized withwater, but in a few days you will be baptized withthe Holy Spirit.”
     
  6. Acts 2:38, "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
     
  7. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

Baptism in the Holy Spirit 

You'll find that especially in Acts 1, and when we see the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, it's very clear that Jesus says in a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit. He says that in chapter one, and then in chapter two, we see the Holy Spirit coming. The tongues of fire coming out and resting upon them. It would be right to understand what happened on the day of Pentecost as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. 

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

There's another sense in which the baptism of the Holy Spirit is spoken, and that's in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, where Paul is actually saying, "I don't want you to be ignorant of spiritual gifts and how these things work. There are lots of different gifts, lots of different workings, but it's all by the same Spirit." He goes through these different things, and he says one has faith by the same Spirit, another, tongues, by the same Spirit, another, healing, by the same Spirit. And his point is not to pick the gifts apart and say, "Which one do you have?" His point is all of these are the work of one in the same Spirit.

He goes through all of that to say "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12). He's making this analogy that you have a lot of differences. The Holy Spirit has made you different in very important ways: one has this gift, another has that gift. But then he says you actually have some things about you that are the same.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12 he says, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ."  He looks at the human body and says you've got lots of different parts, but there's a unity despite those differences. He says the body of Christ is just like that. He says in verse 13, if you want to know how we can be sure that the body of Christ is like this, that there is a unity despite all these differences we might observe in spiritual gifts, he says in verse 13, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and all were made to drink of the one Spirit."

One Baptism and Many Gifts 

In one sense you'll find this in many places, sometimes the idea of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is taught in such a way that it distinguishes one group of Christians from the next. Here are those who have it, here are those who do not. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we're told that in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. It speaks of the baptism with the Holy Spirit in this part of the Bible as something that all Christians have experienced as something initial, which has placed us into the one body of Christ.

It's confirmed at the end of the chapter as well. He gets into some rhetorical questions and he says, "Do all speak with tongues? Do all work miracles? Do all do this?" No, which helps us again because sometimes you'll hear, ‘Well if  you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, then you will definitely speak with other tongues.’ Yet, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, we see that this kind of being baptized with the Spirit is a common and initial experience of all Christians who are entering the body of Christ, and then we're told at toward end of chapter 12 that not all who have had this experience speak with other tongues.



We see in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that baptism of the Holy Spirit is a common and initial experience of all Christians who are entering the body of Christ. However, we see later in chapter 12 that not all who have this experience speak in tongues. Reading through the Bible in context helps us understand this question better.

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