By Kenneth E. Hagin
There is more to being filled with the Holy Ghost than speaking in tongues, but tongues are an important and integral part of receiving the Holy Ghost, since they are the initial evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:4). Also, speaking in tongues is an integral part of the believer’s devotional prayer life, for as the Apostle Paul said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues . . .” (1 Cor. 14:18). I, too, can say with Paul, “I thank my God I speak with tongues.”
In the Church world today, many people say, “Tongues have been done away with, because the Bible says that tongues will cease.” The Bible does say that one day, tongues will cease (see First Corinthians 13:8–12), but that is not referring to this present Church Age. In Heaven, there will be no necessity for tongues, because that which is perfect will have come (1 Cor. 13:10).
There are those who purport to believe in speaking in tongues but do not feel that tongues are necessary for all believers. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between the gift of tongues that accompanies the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which every believer can receive, and the gift of tongues that is a ministry gift. (For a more detailed teaching on this subject, please read my study guide entitled, The Holy Spirit and His Gifts Study Guide.)
In this article, we are talking about the gift of tongues given for every believer. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for all those who believe (Acts 2:38–39); therefore, speaking in tongues as an evidence of the Spirit’s infilling is also for all those who believe.
Many have been robbed of the blessings God intended them to have by believing that speaking in tongues isn’t for everyone. But the Word shows us that every believer needs to be filled with the Holy Ghost. And the Word says that when we get filled with the Holy Ghost, we will speak with tongues (Acts 2:4).
However, speaking with tongues does not occur as just one initial experience of being filled with the Holy Ghost, and then it ceases. Speaking with tongues is a continual experience for the rest of one’s life.
Notice that in writing to the Church at Corinth, Paul very definitely encouraged the Corinthian Christians to follow the practice of speaking with tongues in their own private prayer lives. And he gave a number of reasons for it.
Devotional Use—Speaking Divine Secrets
There is the devotional use of tongues. First Corinthians 14:2 says, “For he who speaks in a ‘tongue’ addresses God, not man; no one understands him; he is talking of divine secrets in the Spirit” (Moffatt). Here, Paul is talking about the individual Spirit-filled believer employing the use of tongues in his prayer life. Through speaking in tongues, you can pray out the plan of God for your life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tongues are also used as a means of spiritual edification. The Bible says, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifteth himself . . .” (1 Cor. 14:4). The word “edifieth” means to build up. Further down in the chapter, The Amplified Bible reads, “My spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive . . .” (1 Cor. 14:14). So praying in tongues is not for mental edification, but for spiritual edification.
For the believer who is filled with the Holy Ghost, his tongues are given to him to use constantly in his worship and devotion to God. The Bible says in Acts 10:46 concerning Cornelius and his household when they began to speak with tongues, “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. . . .” Speaking with tongues is a supernatural way to magnify God.
Doorway to the Supernatural
Speaking with tongues is the doorway into all the other spiritual gifts. Some people want to experience all the gifts of the Spirit at once, but you have to go through the door to get into the supernatural. Also, it is as the Spirit of God wills, not as we will (1 Cor. 12:11). In other words, you can’t force or “put on” a manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.
The Bible teaches us to desire spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). The Bible also teaches us to earnestly covet the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31). But remember that those words were written to people who already spoke in tongues. They weren’t written to people who did not speak with tongues.
I have found in my own life over a period of more than 60 years that the more I speak in tongues—the more I pray and worship God in tongues—the more manifestation of the other gifts of the Spirit I have in my life too. And the less I speak in tongues, the less manifestation of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit I have operating in my life.
The Holy Spirit knows what is coming in the future, and I am thoroughly convinced that if we will be sensitive and responsive to Him, He will show us things to come (John 16:13). He will equip each of us for what lies ahead in life, if we will yield to Him. Praying and speaking with tongues is one way to do that; it is one way to be built up spiritually in order to prepare and be ready for whatever may come in the future.
God has given each of us a supernatural means of edifying ourselves, or building ourselves up, spiritually. God has given to us a supernatural means of communicating with and worshipping Him. Are you as a Spirit-filled believer taking full advantage of the gift of tongues?