Answers To Objections To Speaking In Tongues

* "It is not for today. It was only for the early days of the church."

Some think speaking in tongues is not for today because of 1 Corinthians 13:8.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Someday these things will be unnecessary.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

When these things stop, as there will be no need for them, will be when that which is perfect is come.

Some say that which is perfect was the completion of the New Testament. Therefore, with the written Word, we no longer need these (or at least tongues and prophecies.) But you must be consistent: if you take that interpretation, you should also say that knowledge is no longer necessary.

All three will stop sometime. When? Verse 10 tells us.

10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When that which is perfect has come. That which is perfect, in this context, does not refer to the completion of the New Testament writings, because verse 11 says:

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

"Then" in verse 12, refers to the same time as "then" in verse 10, when it says, "when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away."

Obviously, we do not see face-to-face with Jesus now. We do not yet know as we are known. The time is coming when we will be face-to-face with Jesus, living together forever with Him. Then we shall know, just as we are also known. Then prophecies, tongues, and the gift of the word of knowledge will no longer be necessary.

That will be when (verse 10), that which is perfect is come. That which is in part will be done away then.

I have heard people teach that the Greek word translated as cease means to quit and never start again. Then, they quote historians to prove that tongues did cease centuries ago. Therefore, they say, tongues could never start again.

First, it is questionable whether speaking in tongues ever did completely quit at any time during this Church age. However, salvation by grace through faith, seemed to have died out in the Church, also. But we know it is still the truth, and for us today.

Second, to build a doctrine solely on the tense of one Greek word in one passage, seems pretty suspect. Especially when there are many scriptures referring to speaking in tongues that these teachers completely ignore.

For example, Jesus said in Mark 16:17, that believers would speak with new tongues.

Also, 1 Corinthians 12:28 says that God has appointed in the church . . . varieties of tongues. Because no scripture tells us He ever took them out of the church, and we are the church, they should still be here.

39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

If God knew that speaking in tongues was only temporary in the church, He made a mistake telling us to not forbid it. If it is not for today, we should forbid it.

First Corinthians 13:8 is the only text that people use who object to tongues being for today.

They might also use as an argument the fact that their group does not practice speaking in tongues. They may think they know everything, so they reason that if it was right their group would do it.

Some say it was just for the day of Pentecost so they could spread the gospel in languages the people could understand. Or, just for the early days of the church because they needed a special boost to get off the ground.

Notice in Acts 2, Peter preached in one language which all understood. Speaking in tongues only got the attention of the people, it was not used to preach to them.

* "It is not for everyone, only some people."

MARK 16:17 NKJ
17 "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

When people say it is not God's will for everyone today to speak in other tongues, they usually imply it is only for second-class or baby Christians.

This objection is taken from 1 Corinthians 12:27-28.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

What are these that God has appointed in the church? Ministries. Apostle is a ministry. Prophet is a ministry. Teacher is a ministry. Working of miracles is referring to a miracle ministry. Gifts of healings is referring to a ministry. Helps is a ministry. Administrations is a ministry.

So also, varieties of tongues, in this context, is a ministry.

This passage is talking about our job in the Body of Christ. Verse 27 says you are the Body of Christ, and members individually. Each member has their own job or ministry to perform.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

These questions obviously have no as the answer. Not all operate in these ministries.

Is it talking about your private prayer life? No. It is talking about your job, or ministry, within the Body of Christ. Not everyone is called to these ministries, whether apostle or varieties of tongues. Not all are called to speak with other tongues in public as a ministry to others.

Although it may not be crystal clear that this is the case just from these verses, it must be true for a few lines later it says, in 1 Corinthians 14:5, "I wish you all spoke with tongues . . . ."

Remember this was not written in chapter and verse divisions as we read it today. Those were added much later. It was written as a letter.

If 1 Corinthians 12:30 refers to private prayer, it is crazy to say a few lines later, "I wish you all spoke in tongues," because it would be impossible.

If all cannot speak with tongues, why would the Bible say, "I wish you all spoke with tongues . . .?"

37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

God is expressing His desire that we all speak with tongues. Paul wrote this down for us -- but it was God's Word.

So there has to be a difference in what He is talking about, between chapter 12 and chapter 14. It is not a different kind of tongues, but a different use. Speaking in tongues, in both instances, is as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. But the use is for a different purpose.

First Corinthians 12:30 refers to a public ministry of speaking in other tongues. It is bringing forth ministry through utterance in other tongues and interpretation. While 1 Corinthians 14:5, refers to your own private prayer time.

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

Here the usage is speaking to God, although it is still the same kind of tongues.

First Corinthians 12 is the only scripture basis that people use for this objection.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

Because it says "to another" it does seem to suggest not all would speak in tongues. Again, this is talking of ministry: our place or function in the Body of Christ. Each one of us has our place -- just as a foot, hand, and ear do in a physical body. So we are given different ministries, responsibilities, or jobs to fulfil.

That does not mean we all cannot speak in other tongues privately. We know that from other scriptures. We must interpret scripture by scripture -- not just take it out of context.

First Corinthians 14:5 says you all should speak in tongues. That is not all the verse, but it is a valid part of it. If the last part of the verse only reverses what it just said in the first part, (as some translations seem to make it do), then God is an idiot. He should have made up His mind what He meant before He started writing.

I wish, or I would, that you all spoke in tongues. And also, that you prophesy. Do both.

Acts 2 is a record of what happened on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:4 says they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then the crowd began asking them questions. In response, Peter preaching said:

ACT 2:32-39 NKJ
32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,
35 till I make Your enemies Your footstool." '
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

He made it clear that the promise, which they received that day, was to as many as the Lord would call. It was not only to the people present there, and their children, but also to those who were far off, even everyone who the Lord would call.

So whoever is called by the Lord can speak in other tongues, just as they did on the day of Pentecost. Everyone who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, can receive the gift, just as they did.

We can also go through the five occurrences in the Book of Acts when they received the Holy Spirit. In three of the five, it says they spoke in tongues right then. (Acts 2, 10, 19)

When the Apostle Paul received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 9), it does not say he spoke with tongues. But we know he began sometime, because in 1 Corinthians 14:18 he said he did. So, four out of five times in the Bible when they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we know they spoke in tongues.

ACTS 8:17-19 NKJ
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

The only time it is not certain they spoke in tongues is in Samaria in Acts 8. However, something outstanding did happen there, evidenced by Simon's response in verses 18-19. Many suppose Simon was offering money to receive the Holy Spirit for himself, but he was not. His desire was to be able to lay hands on others -- so they might receive.

ACTS 8:6-8 NKJ
6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.

What is so significant about that? Simon had already witnessed (verses 6-7) great miracles of healing and deliverance which caused great joy in the city. Yet, we have no record that Simon offered money to be able to do those miracles. Whatever happened when hands were laid on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit must have been impressive. It could not have been something invisible, or imperceptible, to those around.

It does not say, but they probably did speak in different tongues, the same as they did the other four times in the Book of Acts when people received the Holy Spirit.

How could Peter say in Acts 2:39 it is for as many as the Lord shall call; how could Paul write in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that all should speak in tongues, unless it is for everyone?

* "It is the least of the gifts and not really important."

Can any gift of God be unimportant?

People who say this base it on 1 Corinthians 12 and 13.

31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

Some people say, "Yes, some speak in tongues, but it is only for babies." They take that from:

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

They say tongues are only for baby Christians. That when you are a baby Christian you may possibly speak in tongues, but when you mature you should not.

Why did the Apostle Paul, a few lines later in this letter (14:18), say he still spoke in tongues? Was Paul a baby Christian?

Verse 11 must not apply to spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, because he goes on in this letter, in 1 Corinthians 14:1, to tell them to desire spiritual gifts. Then in verse 18, he thanks God that he speaks with tongues. Surely, he is not telling them to quit it.

He is talking about growing up in Christ. That we must care for people and walk in love. If we do not display the love of God to people, all this work of ministry, even if marked by supernatural gifts of the Spirit, is pointless and in vain.

Some get the idea that tongues is the least of the gifts, because it is mentioned last in 1 Corinthians 12, in the list of gifts in verses 7-10. Since tongues and interpretation of tongues are listed last, they say they are the least important.

If we apply that reasoning to 1 Corinthians 13:13, we would have to believe that love was the least. But it says love is the greatest of those three, even though it is listed last.

Just because tongues was listed last, does not mean it was the least of the gifts.

(Even the least of what God has to offer, is better than man could ever come up with.)

If it was not important God would never have given it to the Body of Christ, and said we should all do it (1 Corinthians 14:5; Mark 16:17).

Some say they would rather have the gift of love because that is the more excellent way.

Love is not a gift of the Spirit. Love is

the nature of God and the nature of the believer who is in Christ.

1 JOHN 4:7 NKJ
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The love of God is poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit. Love is listed, in Galatians 5:22, as a fruit of the Spirit. Love will be manifested because of the life of the Spirit inside you.

1 JOHN 3:14 NKJ
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

Love is the nature of God Himself. When we become children of God, new creations in Christ Jesus, we have that love nature.

* "It is just emotionalism."

It is not an emotional experience but a spiritual experience. Someone speaking in tongues may get emotional, just as someone speaking in any known language may get emotional, but they do not have to.

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

There is the definition. When you speak in tongues, your spirit is speaking, as the Holy Spirit gives you the words.

It does not say, if I pray in tongues, my emotions speak.

Nowhere in scripture does it say that they spoke in tongues and were emotional. I do not have to be emotional to speak in tongues, any more than I have to be emotional to speak in any language I know.

Some people do enjoy being emotional, or

are confused by wrong teaching, and think they have to be emotional to speak in tongues. Therefore, they do become emotional. However, it is not necessary.

You are in full control when you speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives you utterance. You are not in an emotional trance where you are out of control.

15 What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

Speaking in tongues is subject to your will. When you speak in tongues, you are not forced to do it. You are not in a trance. It is always under the control of your will -- just as much as when you speak in any language you know.

Some people may desire to act emotional but they do not have to. You are always in full control when you speak in other tongues.

* "It is of the devil."

I have read this, but I know of no scriptural reason for people to give this objection.

I have read of witch doctors, etc., who would "speak in other tongues" while they were under the influence of demons. It is nothing unusual for the devil to counterfeit something of God. However, in those cases, the people were always in a trance-like state under the control of the demon power.

When you speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives you utterance you are not forced to do it. You are completely free to exercise your will.

15 What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

In false, demonic cults, their "speaking in tongues" happens when they are forced to do it while in a trance-like state.

It is not the first time the devil has tried

to say that something from God was of the devil. Jesus was accused of casting out demons by the prince of the demons. They accused Him of being of the devil. We must judge by Scripture.

Jesus made it clear in:

LUKE 11:10-13 NKJ
10 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

There is no danger that a child of God who asks for the Holy Spirit will receive anything bad.

Have no fear! If Jesus is your Lord you are a child of God, and you will not receive any false, demonic spirit. Trust your Heavenly Father!

If speaking in tongues is of the devil, then the Apostle Paul was of the devil, because he spoke in tongues. So did the Apostle Peter, Mary the mother of Jesus, and all the writers of the New Testament.

The devil may have his counterfeit, but there is the real and true which is of God.

39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

According to Seven Hundred Plans To Evangelize The World, in 1988 there were over 332 million Christians worldwide who believe in speaking in tongues, increasing at the rate of 19 million each year. It says, "Charismatics have now sprung up in every country of the world and in every one of Christianity's 150 confessions, ecclesiastical families and traditions . . . ."

Every believer in Christ Jesus can, and should, speak in other tongues regularly!

For instruction on how to receive, please read our paper, You Can Receive The Gift Of The Holy Spirit.

For a list of the benefits of speaking in tongues, please read our paper, You Should Speak In Tongues.

Go to BELIEVE! Papers List
Go to Believers Home Page