Question: Is it true [that] in order to have the Holy Spirit in you, [you] have to speak in tongues?
Answer: The simple answer would be-No! Some Christians misunderstand basic things about this subject of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit, and they erroneously teach that you have to speak in tongues in order to be saved. Let me illustrate this, at our Fourth of July parade, someone said, (over the loud speaker in his car) “Jesus loves you and died for you, and rose again. You need to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues so that you can be born again, and go to heaven.”
The ‘proof text’ he used was, “.unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) This verse, of course, is speaking of salvation, and the context is ‘being born again’ by the Spirit of God. This verse has nothing to do with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. [Look at our tract What does it mean to be born again?]
Do you see how those who are not taught well in the Word can get everything mixed up and become a stumbling block to the world. When the unsaved hear things like the above statement, it causes them to get turned off on the gospel message. The Scripture you may be confused over could be Acts 10:44-47. Here the first Gentiles saved and brought into the Church were baptized by the Holy Spirit as soon as they believed. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision [Jews] who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
“For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” This may seem like an exception to the order in the rest of Acts, but God did this because the ‘Jews’ would never have accepted that the Gentiles were saved unless they saw something tangible. [For more on this look at our Acts Bible Study starting at Part 1.]
Paul made it very clear in another place that at the moment of salvation a person is baptized into Christ and into the Body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
St Paul says, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when speaking in Hebrews that these teachings are basic doctrines in the Church, and that every Christian should learn them as soon as they get saved: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection (maturity), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)
So a person needs to repent of their sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their heart and life in order to be saved. Christ comes into a person at the moment of salvation and you have Christ’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, living within you then. Look at this passage in Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
Again, every time after the first time Gentiles were brought into the Church (Acts 10) there is no mention of tongues. (That is not to say tongues is not for today, but they have nothing to do with a person’s salvation.) Look at Acts 16:30-31 where Paul is asked by the Philippian Jailer what does a person have to do in order to be saved. “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'”
Notice that there is no mention here of speaking in tongues nor baptism. However, after they were saved, they were baptized in water. “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:32-34)
So tongues has nothing to do with salvation. Here is another verse every person in the world should know concerning this area of salvation and eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Our job is to repent (turn from) our sins to Christ and He will save us. Salvation is not of works like keeping the Law, doing good works, keeping the Sabbath, speaking in tongues, etc. it is by faith in Christ alone plus nothing. “.not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7) [Look at our Romans Study.]
Now once we are saved, we should do good works, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Titus 3:8) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Once we are saved, we should also be filled with the Holy Spirit, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:18-21) There are those who do speak in tongues when they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but again this is after their salvation. (Acts Study)
The most important thing in the world we can do if we want to go to heaven is to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. Have you done this yet? If not, you could pray a prayer like this right now, Father God be merciful to me a sinner. I believe that your Son Jesus Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That He is both God and Man. I believe He died on the cross for my sins. I believe that He rose again from the dead the third day. Right now I repent (turn from my sins) and ask Jesus to save me, and make me a child of God. I ask this in Jesus name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer and really meant it, God came into your life by His blessed Holy Spirit. He did make you a child of God. It does not matter what you have done in the past you could be rich or famous, you could be a murderer, an adulterer, nothing is too hard for God to forgive. When this happens in your life you will know it. You will want to be baptized, and join a local church to fellowship with other Christians. You will want to read your Bible and pray.
You will want to share this good news with others. I have heard that Paris Hilton was witnessed to recently, and may have received the Lord. If this is true, she can start all over again, and so can you! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I hope this helps, and thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell