Speaking In Tongues
Ronny Van Asch
What is speaking in tongues? What is the purpose?
When I became a born-again Christian in 1970, I was attending a Southern Baptist Church and I was confronted with their belief that speaking in tongues and healing had ceased. As a young believer, I went to the Lord in prayer and searched the Scriptures to see if they were correct or not. I believed that if I asked I would receive an answer from the Lord and the Truth would set me free. I also bought books on the subject and started attending pentecostal meetings.
What I understood after studying I Corinthians 12, 13, 14 was that the Holy Spirit is the One who distributes the gifts to each individual as He sees fit and according to His will. The gifts are not something to seek but to be received from the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit alone who works or energizes all the gifts as He chooses. The person who has the gift of speaking in tongues is in control of the gift according to the Scriptures. When in a group, and unbelievers are present, it is better to be quiet unless there is an interpretation. In I Corinthians 14:22 it says, “Therefore tongues are for a sign , not in those who believe but to unbelievers…” The first unbelievers were the Apostles. They weren’t expecting tongues to be present.
In the book of Acts, God had to convince the apostles that God’s blessing (the gospel) was also for the Samaritans and Gentles. It is recorded in Acts that these groups of people received the Holy Spirit and it was evidenced by speaking in tongues as a sign to prove that God had indeed given the gospel for them and not for the Jew only.
I had an experience at one of the meetings I was attending. While praying in a large group, someone spoke in tongues and when I heard it I got goose pimples. I waited a little while and asked the Lord, “what happened to the interpretation?” If there is no interpretation, then this message cannot be from God according to His Word. At that point, I rebuked the man who spoke and right away he ceased. This happened twice. The third time, at another meeting, the speaker spoke in tongues and I felt at peace and right away an interpretation came.
God tells us in I John 4:1 that we are to “test the spirits” to see if they are from God. Over the years, I have tested the spirits each time I have been in groups where speaking in tongues is present. Speaking in tongues can be from the flesh, the Devil or from God.
Another incident occurred, when a lady, that attended a Bible study that I was teaching, started speaking in tongues. I let it go for awhile and was getting ready to rebuke her when she said, “I apologize. This was from my flesh and not from the Spirit.” I forgave her and we thanked God for the peace and clarification.
I also want to relate to you another incident, when I went to a meeting and the speaker asked if anyone wanted to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. Many times before, people laid hands on me and prayed and nothing happened. While I was sitting in a row of 12 people, the speaker had a little explanation and I started to pray with my head down and my hands folded, when all of a sudden I felt a rumbling and shaking in my stomach. I said to myself, “what is this?” It kept on moving to my chest, throat, mouth and to my jaws and it felt like something wanted to come out. I kept my mouth shut because I knew I was in control and the speaker had given a false teaching according to the Bible. I didn’t want the glory to go to him but to God only. This speaker was teaching that Peter could walk on water as long as he was speaking in tongues. But once Peter ceased speaking in tongues it caused him to sink. This is totally a lie! It isn’t biblical at all.
I asked the Lord that if I was wrong to forgive me and may I receive the gift of speaking in tongues. I did not receive the gift after that. Speaking in tongues is a language that the Holy Spirit gives to further the preaching of the gospel.
People like Donnie Swaggart, who say that their ministry is helping people get “baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues” are totally wrong. Swaggart believes that those that speak in tongues have more “power” than others who do not speak in tongues. This is also false!
People who prescribe to the belief that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the Holy Spirit usually believe that the elite (those living in a specific manner) will be raptured. That is not what it says in I Thessalonians 4: 17. The Bible says that believers in Jesus Christ are the Bride of Christ and all will be raptured.
Many evangelists and preachers of the past have had ministries which were marked by the fullness of the Holy Spirit:
D. L. Moody
R. A. Torrey
Dr. J. Wilbur
Charles G. Tinney
Charles H. Spurgeon
John R. Rice
None of these men spoke in tongues as the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit. God used them all in a mighty way.
For more information on this topic, I recommend the following book: Charismatic Chaos by Dr. John F. MacArthur.