“It was Jesus Himself who initiated the subject of speaking in tongues in the New Testament. He said that it would be a “sign” that would accompany believers as they went into all the world and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“…[Acts 19:1-6] is a third clear instance in the book of Acts — along with Acts 2 and Acts 10 … — where believers received the baptism with the Spirit and spoke in tongues.”
“Speaking in tongues”! Just utter that phrase among Christians, and you elicit a wide variety of reactions, sometimes very strong reactions. Bible studies by the thousands have been written for it … and against it. Many ask a legitimate question: “Is speaking in tongues for today?”.
Historically, speaking in a tongue (glossolalia) by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was common among Christians in the first-century Church, then seemed to fade out gradually in succeeding centuries. In the very early twentieth century there came a resurgence of this biblical practice, most notably in Topeka, Kansas, and in revival meetings on Azusa Street in Los Angeles.
From those and other places of spiritual renewal came many of today’s leading Pentecostal denominations. Subsequent movements in which speaking in tongues was a prominent feature included the Latter Rain revival, the mid-20th-century healing ministries, the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, and the Charismatic Renewal. In this latter movement especially, the biblical doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues, spread broadly into both the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations.
By the early 21st century, speaking in tongues (the theological term is glossolalia) — that is, languages unknown to the speaker, given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — had become broadly if not universally accepted within worldwide Christianity. Many portions of the worldwide Church today have once again come to embrace one of the historical ancient landmarks of the Church that Jesus created.
But historical and anecdotal testimonies, as interesting as they may be, are still secondary. The Bible must be the source of primary importance in establishing the present-day validity of speaking in tongues. So to that treasure trove, the Bible, we will now turn to answer the question: “Why should we speak in tongues?”
Mark 16:15-17 He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues.
The verses above are an excerpt of Mark’s account of Jesus’ Great Commission. It was Jesus Himself who initiated the subject of speaking in tongues in the New Testament. He said that it would be a “sign” that would accompany believers as they went into all the world and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Acts 1 and 2 we saw the first group in Jerusalem being “baptized with…filled with the Holy Spirit.” Peter certified that these Gentiles in Acts 10 had received the identical experience — “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So Acts 2, the first New Testament day of Pentecost, was not a one-time occurrence. To the contrary, Peter asserts that these Gentiles had received the identical gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter recounts this again in Acts 11:15-17 — “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” (underlinings mine) The Gentiles in Acts 10 received the “same gift,” the same baptism with the Holy Spirit, that the 120 had received in Jerusalem in Acts. And in both instances they manifested the identical evidence — they immediately spoke in tongues.
And notice once more (vss. 10:47-48) that Peter made a clear distinction between water baptism and their having received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:1-6 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 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.
Here is a third clear instance in the book of Acts — along with Acts 2 and Acts 10 just studied above — where believers received the baptism with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. So we have a consistent bible pattern — believers who are baptized with/filled with the Holy Spirit will immediately speak in tongues.
Summary: There is a source of “power from on high” that too many Christians have either overlooked or rejected to their own loss. Come and read about the mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit — a gift that is “for you” and for today. It will change your life!