By Hank Hanegraaff

It has become increasingly common for Christians to suppose that the full gospel includes the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Thus, the question: “Is speaking in tongues the evidence of being baptized by the Holy Spirit?”

First, as the apostle Paul made plain, believers are “all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), yet not all who believe speak in tongues (vv. 10, 30). Thus, tongues may be a manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but tongues cannot be the manifestation.

Furthermore, even if we do speak in tongues, it is not a guarantee that we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. For says Saint Paul, “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Indeed, without love, “I am nothing” (v. 2). Moreover, sociopsychological manipulation tactics such as peer pressure or the subtle power of suggestion can induce ecstatic utterances wholly apart from the Spirit.

Finally, as Scripture makes clear, the normative sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues but the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, repentance from sin, and obedience to God (Romans 8:1–17; 1 John 4:12–16; cf. Ephesians 1:13–15). “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5–6). As such, the fruit of the Spirit is not only speaking in tongues, but “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). In sum, righteousness, not tongues, is the core of Christianity compressed in a single word.

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 NKJV

See also What does it mean to say that the Holy Spirit is in you? 

***Note the preceding text is adapted from The Complete Bible Answer Book: Collector’s Edition: Revised and Expanded (2024). To receive for your partnering gift please click here. ***