The best way to expose error is to reveal the truth, and the finest way to test the tongues phenomenon is to get the full biblical doctrine of tongues before us. Many believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. If a person doesn't speak in tongues he is automatically classified as lacking in essential grace and power. This judgmental, mechanistic manner of measuring the Christian experience of other people has produced a large class of spiritual egotists—those who feel themselves to be living on a higher plane than their weaker, unanointed brethren.
Does the baptism of the Holy Spirit require some sign or evidence to confirm its operation? The Bible teaches that it is a gift, and must be received by faith. Paul's doctrine is "that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14). If it is by faith, then it is not by feeling. In claiming the promise of forgiveness, we do not demand a sign from God that He has fulfilled His word. We know it is done because He said it would be. In the same way we should claim the promise of the Spirit by faith, not requiring some special evidence from God that He kept His promise. By demanding signs and evidence people are doubting the Word of God.
The fact is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is just as available to all Christians as is forgiveness of sins. This does not mean, though, that all Christians will receive all the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, Paul states that the gifts, including tongues, will be divided among the Christians. The Holy Spirit Himself decides how the gifts will be distributed, and to whom.
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom... to another faith by the same Spirit... to another prophecy ... to another divers kinds of tongues... dividing to every man severally as he will" (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
Then Paul proceeds to illustrate the different gifts as being parts or members of Christ's body, which is the church. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (1 Corinthians 12:18). Systematically he points out how impossible it would be for all to receive the same gift. "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" (Verse 17). Then he dramatizes that thought with these questions: "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers?... do all speak with tongues?" (1 Corinthians 12:29, 20). And the answer, of course, is no. The gifts are divided to various members— never the same gift to all members.
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