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What does the Bible say about the gift of speaking in tongues?

What does the Bible say about the gift of speaking in tongues?
“They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Imagine the astonishment of the crowd! They could not believe their ears “because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed ... saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:6-8).

It is clear from this passage that speaking in tongues is not a matter of uttering some ecstatic language of heaven. The tongues in this case were real languages that people could understand, and every person of every race was edified and enlightened by hearing the gospel preached in his own mother tongue.

Did this gift of tongues continue to operate in the early church when it was necessary to reach unbelievers? Yes. On certain occasions, it was needed in order to overcome the language barrier and also to confirm the Gentile converts into the largely Jewish-oriented church.

Every true Christian should long for an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. However, many misunderstand Scripture, believing that if they haven’t spoken in tongues, they haven’t been baptized with the Spirit. This is dangerously misleading. We have a wonderful God who has given His people many different gifts, but He doesn’t give the same gifts to every person. Read 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 and you will see how diverse the spiritual gifts are — and how not all have been given the same gifts.

Though individual members can have different gifts and talents, they can all receive the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23, says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The Holy Spirit’s main purpose in baptizing and pouring out His power is to convict people of sin and give them the power to overcome. The greatest evidence that we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit is the transformation of character that takes place within us as we submit our lives to God.
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