Before we begin let’s first establish that nowhere in the new Testament in the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NLT, NIV are the phrases “initial evidence” or “with the evidence”. In fact the word “evidence” isn’t even found in the New Testament. The idea that the Holy Spirit MUST be accompanied by any type of evidence or physical manifestation is not found in the Bible. The next thing to establish is that the Holy Spirit is NOT an “IT”, the Holy Spirit is a He. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be given as our helper. The concept to understand is that the Holy Spirit is a gift from the Father as a guide to help us and is a “he” not an “it”.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
If you have been taught that tongues is the Holy Ghost / Holy Spirit, then it will be difficult for you to read this article because you will not see the separation or understand the context of what the scriptures are saying. With this said, it is important to understand that tongues is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit and not the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus said that signs would follow believers and tongues is just 1 of the signs mentioned and it is not commanded as something needed to be saved. If we must take the following scripture as proof that tongues is required we must also include the entire passage which includes: healing, drinking poison, snake handling and so on. Since not all of us have these gifts, it is safe to then conclude that these are simply separate gifts and signs that will be given to those who believe, none of which are required of the individual.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.
What about Acts 2:38? What amazes me about this scripture is how it is used as a battle cry for some and yet very few actually know what it says and why. Before reading just Acts 2:38, read the entire chapter, better yet, the entire book of Acts. In context, Peter was addressing the Jews, telling them what they had done (crucifying the Savior). The Jews responded by asking Peter what they must do because of this. Peter told them to repent and be baptized because of the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) as promised by God.
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Notice that Peter (in regards to the Holy Spirit) is speaking of a promise and not a command, just as Jesus spoke of in John 14:26. Nowhere in this passage do we read that Peter is saying that one must speak in tongues, that tongues is the Holy Spirit or that one even will speak in tongues. Also notice that tongues is not mentioned in this passage, nor do we find “with the evidence of speaking in tongues” or “with the initial evidence”. I am not saying that many had not spoken in tongues and / or prophecied that day, I am pointing out the fact that Peter simply refers to the “gift of the Holy Spirit” with no mention of tongues; this is a leap and an assumption made by certain groups. If you read further you will find no mention that these Jews that Peter was speaking to in Acts 2:38 even spoke in tongues.
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
This main issue here is confusing the Holy Spirit as only tongues and making assumptions. When reading through the New Testament we find that when people received the Holy Spirit the Bible shows that some prophecied, some spoke in tongues and some scriptures do not mention any type of sign or evidence of the Holy Spirit.
Can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues? Yes. In Acts 4 we find that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and no tongues were spoken by him.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people
I know of many Christians who operate in the Gifts of the Spirit, but have never spoken in tongues. I know of people who will never be able to speak in tongues because they have no tongue to speak with (birth defect) and they love God. I would hope that God would not be the kind of God who would keep them out of heaven for not being able to speak in tongues when He gave them no tongue with which to speak with.
I highly recommend reading through the entire book of Acts and not just cherry picked scriptures taken out of context with leaps and assumptions as to who the Holy Spirit is and His role in our lives. Lets now have a look at what Paul says about this matter. We find that Paul is very clear in the distinctions of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that tongues is just one of many gifts and there is nothing about tongues being the only evidence or the initial evidence.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
From this passage we are told that you can have the Holy Spirit by having any of the above mentioned gifts and having the Holy Spirit or “evidence” of the Holy Spirit is not limited to tongues. A question to ask is “didn’t everyone in the early church speak in tongues?” No, not according to Paul, in fact he down plays the gift of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31
28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
In the next chapter Paul expresses that love is the best gift to have and without love all the other gifts are pointless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
To hold the view that tongues are required to be saved we must
– overlook that not everyone spoke in tongues in the Bible and assume everyone did
– ignore the role of the Holy Spirit as a helper and that He is a He and not an it or a force like Star Wars
– ignore that Paul said not all speak in tongues and that tongues in of themselves do not save
– send everyone who does not or cannot speak in tongues such as mutes or those who were born with no larynx or tongue to hell
Tongues are just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit and there is no justification or redemption given by the gifts. We are justified by our faith in Jesus, through the work He did at the cross to save us.
22 The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
So then, the Law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
This means that the Holy Spirit was given to us as a gift to help us; the Holy Spirit and tongues are not a curse. We are simply asked to believe and receive Jesus into our lives. Salvation comes from Jesus at the cross through our faith in Him and not because we exercise any gifts or because we are at any point good enough to be blessed with the gift of tongues, even though we have accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized.