Dear Roger,

I am a member of Casas and I work for (company name withheld). We take the girls to various Assembly of God Churches, but I am allowed to bring some of them to Casas on Sunday mornings and they love it.

The Church we go to on Saturday night is offering Bible classes that I thought about taking…. The application is very detailed and asks if I have been filled with the Holy Spirit with evidence of tongues, and (do I use) tongues in my current prayer life? This was the only question on the application that I did not know how to answer... except (to say) “no”.  :)

I welcome any advice and suggestions.

Thank you,

(Name Withheld)

Dear Name Withheld,

The Bible makes a clear distinction between the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Filling of the Holy Spirit. They are not the same. In direct reference to your question, some believe that the Bible teaches that speaking in tongues is the manifestation that occurs when a person receives Christ. They also teach that speaking in tongues is the sign of being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Peter preached to Cornelius in Acts 10, Cornelius and his family received Christ before Peter’s sermon was even finished! They simultaneously spoke in tongues. Peter took this as a sign that even Gentiles could receive Christ. He thought previously that only Jews were welcomed into the family of God.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he encountered some Jewish disciples of John the Baptist. After hearing about Jesus they believed in Him and became followers of Christ. When Paul laid hands on them they spoke in tongues as the “Holy Spirit came on them” (Acts 19:1-7).

Those who believe in speaking in tongues and simultaneously being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit derive their understanding and practice from the two passages above as well as several other like them in the early passages of the Gospels.

One example is when John the Baptist declares that when Jesus comes, He will “baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Frankly, there is a wide variety of interpretations of the meaning of John’s words.

The other extreme view regarding this issue is held by those that teach that the spiritual gift of tongues no longer exists today. They base this on 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul teaches (as I shared in my last answer to you) that tongues will “cease by themselves”.

They teach that tongues is a “sign” gift that was needed in the first century to help the early Christians understand that Christianity was for Gentiles, too, since Gentiles coming to Christ had the same experience as the disciples had on Pentecost. These folks teach that since we have the Bible we no longer need this sign, so the gift stopped.

Now, “Name Withheld,” let me draw what I think are solid principles that may be of help to you as you make your own decisions concerning your beliefs and practices.

First, it seems to me that it is impossible to hold the position that tongues are the sign of conversion and/or the baptism or the filling of the Holy Spirit! Paul explicitly declares that not all shall speak in tongues, but that all are baptized of the Holy Spirit (compare 1 Corinthians 12:30 with 1 Corinthians 12:13) Thus, Paul clearly makes a distinction between speaking in tongues and being baptized in the Holy Spirit.