Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

Going to Jesus

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Gospel Tract #81

Speaking in Tongues

George C. Clark, Sr. and John D. Clark, Sr.

They were all filled with holy Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit moved them to speak
Acts 2:3–4

I want you all to speak in tongues.
1Corinthians 14:5

If we believe Paul’s words, then we must admit that there is such an experience as being moved by God’s holy Spirit to speak in a language that we have not learned. The Scriptures bear witness to the presence of this experience among both Jewish and Gentile believers. The Jews received the Spirit first, on the day of Pentecost, but a few years later, Jesus surprised the Jews by baptizing Gentiles with the Spirit. When he did this, the Jews who were there “were astonished because the gift of the holy Spirit had also been poured out on the Gentiles. They knew this because they heard them speaking in tongues and magnifying God” (Acts 10:45–46). Still later, another group of disciples spoke in tongues when “the holy Spirit came upon them, and they started speaking in tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:6). So, the baptism of the Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, continued to be experienced throughout the book of Acts.

These outpourings of the Spirit were not isolated events; on the contrary, for in Acts 19, Paul was surprised that these believers had not already received the baptism of the Spirit. Moreover, in all his writings on this subject, Paul refers to this blessing as a normal part of life in Christ.

There is no spiritual life, no new birth, where the language of the Spirit is absent, for receiving the holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are two parts of one experience. Jesus explained this new spiritual birth to Nicodemus like this: “Don’t marvel that I told you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:7–8). The moment one receives the Spirit, he is moved by the Spirit to make “groanings beyond words” (Rom. 8:26).

When all the evidence is rightly weighed, it becomes clear that, first, every person who receives the holy Ghost baptism speaks in tongues when he receives it and that, second, every person who has not done so has no basis on which to claim that he has received the Spirit of God.

Jesus said, “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, HE will testify of me” (Jn. 15:26). Paul would later write, “The Spirit ITSELF bears witness, together with our spirit, that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). The Comforter’s “testimony”, mentioned by Jesus in John 15:26, and the Spirit’s “witness”, mentioned by Paul, both refer to speaking in tongues. So, a prime purpose of speaking in tongues is to distinguish those who have truly believed and repented from those who have not – though many in this latter group think they have.

The “Unknown Tongue”

Let the one who speaks in a tongue pray that he might interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit is praying, but my understanding is unfruitful. How is it, then? I will pray in the Spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding; I will sing in the Spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1Cor. 14:13–15).

Those who received the holy Ghost when it was first poured out spoke in languages that were unknown to them, but were well known to the Jews who had come to Jerusalem from foreign lands to observe the Feast of Pentecost. The visiting Jews marveled that the disciples spoke fluently in foreign languages. They asked, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? So, how is it that each of us hears them speaking in our native tongue?” (Acts 2:7–8).

Speaking in Tongues Foretold

Long before Jesus suffered and died to make the holy Spirit available to men, God had chosen tongues as the sign of this New Covenant. He announced His choice through the prophets, such as Isaiah and Zephaniah. Through Isaiah, God said, “He will speak to this people with stammering lips and another tongue, to whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you will cause the weary one to rest,’ and ‘This is the refreshing’ (Isa. 28:11–12). Through Zephaniah, He promised, “I will change the speech of the people to a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord” (Zeph. 3:9).

God’s Purpose for Speaking in Tongues

Quoting Isaiah, Paul wrote, “In the law, it is written, ‘With strange tongues and other lips will I speak to this people, and even at that, they will not listen to me, says the Lord.’ ‘This means’, Paul concluded, “that tongues are for a sign . . . to those who do not believe” (1Cor. 14:21–22). Notice Paul’s words, “tongues are for a sign”, and then ask yourself, “A sign of what?” Clearly, tongues are God’s designated sign of the way of eternal life. A singular beauty of the New Testament is that God Himself, through the Spirit, speaks when He enters our hearts. In this covenant, we are not dependent upon men to tell us when we are born again; we wait for God to speak.

My father once dreamed he was carrying the crucified Lord to a cemetery to bury him. As he was lowering Jesus into the grave, Jesus opened his eyes and raised his hands, and in both of them was money. Then Jesus spoke. “Take this,” he said to my father. “This will not be buried with me.” Obeying the Lord, my father looked at the money in Jesus’ hands and saw that in one hand was twenty-eight dollars and eleven cents, and in the other hand was eleven dollars and twenty-eight cents. As he was waking from the dream, he watched the twenty-eight dollars and eleven cents change into the word “Isaiah” and the eleven dollars and twenty-eight cents change into the word “Matthew”. When he awoke, he knew the Lord had shown him something of remarkable value from those two books. He took his Bible and 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 to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest! Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find REST for your souls.” Then he turned to Isaiah 28:11–12 and read, “He will speak to this people with stammering lips and another tongue, to whom He said, ‘THIS IS THE REST with which you will cause the weary one to REST’, and ‘This is the refreshing.’ ”

Speaking in tongues is an essential part of the reason Jesus suffered and died, for it is the sign that we have entered into the rest which Jesus purchased for our souls. How can it not be of God? Is it not clear that only those who have repented and have received the holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues have found this rest which God promised to His people?

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, or is baptized with, the Spirit. That gift 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 have faith. It should be noted that Paul never says that “speaking in tongues is a gift.” He knew better. The gift is “diverse tongues”. Multitudes have received the baptism of the Spirit and speak in tongues, but only a few have received the gift of diverse tongues.

Many a person has excused his lack of the Spirit by claiming that speaking in tongues is a thing of the past or that it is merely a gift for only a few believers. Don’t swallow that poison, my friend. It is the gift of “diverse tongues” that is given only to some. As for speaking in tongues, every person who is truly in the body of Christ has that blessing; it came with the Spirit. Speaking in tongues also enables God’s children to pray more effectively. Paul wrote, “The Spirit helps with our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as one should, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groanings beyond words” (Rom. 8:26).

In sum, speaking in tongues (or “stammering lips”, to quote Isaiah) is God’s sign of the new birth. Every born-again person speaks in tongues, beginning the moment the Spirit enters. If you have not received this experience, please do not take this message as 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 explained the way of God more perfectly to them (Acts 18:26). The baptism of the Spirit is for you, and so are we. Let us know when you receive this wonderful blessing, please, so that we can rejoice with you!

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