God Wants More For You. So Do We.

Are Christians Supposed to Speak in Tongues?

Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 7

This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.
Alright, welcome back to the Ask Pastor Alex podcast.
We’re here with another episode and another question.
And the question for this episode is, are Christians supposed to speak in tongues?
Good question.
And I really want to start this off by a simple answer.
And the answer is no.
If you’re asking, are Christians supposed to speak in tongues, meaning every Christian
must do this, the answer is an emphatic no.
And I want to say that at the start because there is a lot of confusion about this today
and there are a lot of ways to really trouble people and confuse people.
For instance, my own story.
I remember I had been a Christian for only a couple of months and I was at my uncle’s
funeral and I was approached by a woman who was a professing Christian, a woman that I
knew to be a Christian, had a level of respect for.
And she came and approached me and she said, oh hey, I heard you’re a Christian now.
And I was like, yeah, the Lord saved me.
It’s amazing, you know, I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be a Jesus
follower but yeah, life is great.
And she basically said, well have you spoken in tongues yet?
And I was like, no.
I mean, again, I had only been a Christian for a couple of months.
I didn’t even really know what that meant.
And she said, oh, well I’m sorry to tell you but you’re not actually a Christian.
I was like, what are you talking about?
You know, like I was thinking to myself, I know that I had believed.
I had repented of my sins.
I had believed in the gospel and what Jesus had done for me.
I put all my faith and trust in Him.
And now here she was saying that even though I had done all of that, I wasn’t actually
a Christian because I hadn’t spoken in tongues.
And that really messed me up for a little bit.
I mean, it really confused me.
And so I had to do a lot of research of my own and a lot of searching.
And I’m worried that there’s that same perception still out there today that if you don’t speak
in tongues, then you’re not actually a Christian.
And so let’s get into what the Bible actually says about this.
One of the most important passages, arguably the most important passage in the New Testament
about speaking in tongues is found in Acts chapter 2.
All right, so Acts chapter 2, beginning in verse 1, this is what the Bible says, when
the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled
the entire house where they were sitting.
And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the
Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
And at the sound of the multitude came together and they were bewildered because each one
was hearing them speak in his own language.
And they were amazed and astonished saying, are not all of those, are these who are speaking
And how is it that we hear each of us in his own native language?
And if you skip down to verse 11, it actually says both Jews and proselytes, Cretans, Arabians,
we hear them telling in our own tongue the mighty works of God.
Now that’s an incredibly important passage for a number of reasons, but basically what
happens is Jesus had just ascended back into heaven, and so he told the disciples to wait
until the Spirit came.
And so they’re gathered together in one place waiting for the Spirit to come.
This is an act of obedience to the Lord’s command.
Hey, stay here, wait for the Spirit.
That’s what they’re doing.
And then the Spirit does descend upon them.
And you see these divided tongues and there’s fire, which is normally in the Bible a symbol
of the presence of the Lord.
And so there’s these tongues, there’s this fire going on, and it says that they began
to speak in other tongues.
Now the most important thing that you need to note here all throughout this passage is
that word tongues simply means language.
A tongue was just another language.
It was a known language.
And so what’s happening here is all the disciples, even though you see the majority of them are
Galileans here, they’re speaking in all these other languages from every nation under the
sun, even though they didn’t actually know those languages.
The Spirit had given them the ability to communicate in these other languages.
And verse 11 is incredibly important because notice that it says, we hear them telling
in our own tongue.
So people who didn’t know the language were speaking the language.
And it says, telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.
So in other words, the disciples weren’t just speaking in these other languages as a show
or as an act or as some sort of sign that they were filled with the Spirit.
It was not an ends in and of itself.
It was a means.
In the means, the purpose of these tongues was to communicate the Word of God.
It was to communicate the Gospel of God and tell people about the mighty works of God.
So the purpose of these tongues was actually to tell about God to people in a language
that you didn’t actually know or understand.
And so just to make it very clear, speaking in tongues was the ability to speak in a language
you didn’t know for the purpose of communicating the Word of God.
And there’s some really cool biblical theology going on here in Acts chapter 2 as well because
Acts chapter 2 is actually the undoing of Babel.
If you remember back to Genesis chapter 11, the great tower of Babel, just think back
to what had happened.
There was the flood and then after the flood, God makes a covenant with Noah and his family
and then we get the table of nations and we read about all of Noah’s descendants and things
like that.
And you look in those chapters and you see that they were supposed to continue on fulfilling
the purpose that God had given Adam and Eve.
Remember, God told Adam and Eve, you’re to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth
and have dominion over it.
So all the people who came from Noah were supposed to spread out.
They’re supposed to go across the world, having dominion over the world and fulfilling God’s
original purpose.
But what do they do instead?
They’re united together.
They’re all in one place and it’s an act of disobedience.
God said, go and they said, actually, we’re going to stay.
And so they stayed and gathered together in one place.
And not only that, but they were unified not only in an act of disobedience, but they had
sinful intentions.
They said, let us make a name for ourselves.
They wanted to be great.
And so they said, we’re going to build this tower.
It’s going to go all the way up to heaven.
And basically, the idea was they thought that they could dethrone God.
They thought they were actually going to make it to the throne room of God.
They were going to kick him off the throne.
They were going to be gods.
And you see that the Lord looks down on them and says, hey, what are they even doing?
We’ve got to get out of heaven and literally come down to the earth to even see what’s
going on down there because I can’t even tell from up here.
And so God descends upon the earth and he sees that they are united in this act of sinful
And what does he do?
He wants to put an end to their sinful purposes.
And so he confuses first and foremost, he confuses their languages.
They’re no longer able to understand each other.
So it’s ironic, right?
There are people who are literally from the same family and from the same place and they
can’t understand what each other are saying because their languages have been confused.
And then God actually scatters them after that as well.
And so he sends them on their way.
Now look at Acts chapter 2.
It’s the undoing of Babel because we see that the people are in one place just as they were
in Genesis 11.
But this time it’s an act of obedience because remember Jesus said, stay here, wait for the
So there they are waiting for the spirit and the spirit comes and the spirit gives them
the ability to communicate with people that they don’t know and from places they’ve never
been and they’re actually able to talk with them.
And so it’s literally the reverse of Babel.
And so it’s this great example of how Jesus fulfills all the promises of God and undoes
sin’s curse.
And he continues to undo sin’s curse by the giving of the spirit who undoes the curse
of Babel and gives people the ability to understand each other in languages that they don’t even
And so that’s a really important thing to understand especially with Acts chapter 2
is that it’s a continuation of this redemptive history unfolding before us and showing how
Jesus is righting all of our wrongs and especially through the giving of the spirit.
One final note I want to make on this point is that modern tongues, almost all modern
tongues are completely 100% unbiblical.
And now that might sound incredibly emphatic and like maybe I’m overstepping there, but
just think about a couple of the examples that we see in modern tongues today.
When you hear about people speaking in tongues or you think even about people speaking in
tongues you’re normally thinking about some sort of utterance that makes no sense, right?
I mean you think about a lot in the Charismatic Church.
Whenever they’re speaking in tongues it’s in this unintelligible babbling.
These utterances, this gibberish is all it is, really frankly, it’s just gibberish and
no one can understand it and then they pass it off as speaking in tongues.
Okay, look, here’s what we’re going to say about this.
Regardless of how they feel, and again we want to be cautious of people’s feelings,
but at the end of the day the Word of God is truth, and so regardless of what they say
and how they feel we go back to the Word of God for our answers.
And the Bible says that tongues were known languages, they were not babblings, they were
not gibberish, they were not utterances that nobody had the ability to understand.
Speaking in tongues was the ability to communicate the Word of God in a language you didn’t know.
And so, I mean, if you want to think of an example of this, what this would look like
in modern day if this ability still exists, and that’s a whole other question so you can
submit a question about, are the spiritual gifts still for today?
Yeah, that’s another podcast.
But if this is still able to happen today, it would look like this.
If a person was visiting somewhere like Brazil, never been to Brazil, doesn’t know Portuguese
at all, and is wanting to witness to some people while in Brazil, and the person is
trying his best to communicate and all of a sudden he just starts preaching the gospel
and he starts telling people about Jesus and what Jesus has done and the good news and
how you can know him as your Lord and Savior and all this stuff, and come to find out he
was actually preaching in Portuguese the entire time.
Didn’t realize that he was doing it.
He didn’t know Portuguese, but the Spirit had given him the ability to actually communicate
the Word of God and communicate the mighty works of God and especially the gospel of
God in a language he didn’t know.
That would be an example of what a modern day speaking in tongues would look like.
But this rolling around on the floor, speaking in gibberish and utterances and things like
that, that is not biblical tongues at all.
That is very easily disproven.
And so again, just want to encourage you as we conclude this episode, you do not have
to speak in tongues to be a Christian.
The Bible says, repent and believe.
If you have turned from your sins, you’ve trusted in Christ alone for your salvation,
then you are right in the eyes of God because of what Jesus has done for you and you have
trusted in him.
You are justified by grace through faith.
And so that’s all you need for salvation.
Look to Jesus, not to tongues.
And thanks for that question.
Really fun, interesting question.
I look forward to answering more in the future.