My family and I are currently reading about the baptism of the Holy Spirit from William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton’s Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springfield, Missouri: Logion Press, 1993) in our after-breakfast family Bible reading. We’ve just finished reading Chapter 8, “The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost.” In my last post I reported on our reading about the signs of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and in this post I’ll report on our reading about tongues.
As I’ve already observed, the book of Acts indicates that speaking in tongues is the initial physical sign or evidence of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However it has at least two other important functions, using the gift of tongues included among the spiritual gifts listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and praying in tongues in one’s private devotions. Paul seems to be referring to the latter when he tells the Corinthians, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you,” his going on to say, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:18-19, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). My next few posts will be on the spiritual gifts.
Menzies and Horton end the chapter by considering some questions that have arisen about speaking in tongues. Here I’ll give just their conclusions. If you’d like to know the reasoning that they use to reach a conclusion, ask in a comment on this post and I’ll give it in a reply to your comment.
1. Doctrine can be based on substantial implied truth as well as on declarative statements.
2. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that speaking in tongues would cease at the end of the apostolic period or when the New Testament canon was complete.
3. Although Paul’s rhetorical question “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:30) requires a negative answer, he is referring to the gift of tongues rather than to speaking in tongues in general.
4. There were periods in church history when no speaking in tongues occurred because any doctrine can suffer from neglect.
5. Although there is a danger that people will seek for tongues rather than for the actual baptism in the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t invalidate the doctrine.
6. When people truly understand the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it will result in humility rather than in pride.
7. Although dedicated believers who haven’t spoken in tongues have accomplished great things for God, we should accept this provision which God has made available to all believers.