3 unbiblical methods used to get the gift of tongues

laying on of hands for gift of tongues

I have seen many techniques which are used to “help” or “push” people along to start speaking in tongues. Most of them do not follow the Biblical pattern. First, let’s put aside differing views of tongues and spiritual gifts (I have a more lengthy article here if you are interested). Now let’s deal with just the teaching about how to get people to speak in tongues. I would gently remind my reader, this list is not against a charismatic view of gifts. Also note that I love the Holy Spirit. Anyway, this list specifically deals with the very unbiblical ways many teach about how to obtain the gift of tongues. ‘Tongues’ are sometimes known as the baptism of the Spirit, or worse “the Holy Spirit” as many very tragically think tongues and the third Person of the Holy Trinity is the same thing that can be possessed and owned. I do love my charismatic brothers in Christ and gladly pray with them, but if they make these mistakes I will call them out.

1. “You can only get it if you believe in it”

Oh really? In all three (out of three) Biblical instances where people speak in tongues, for the first time, none of them even know tongues exist. No one tells them anything about tongues, how they work, how to get them, or anything at all. No one in the Bible ever knew about tongues before they began to speak in them. It. Just. Happened. Acts 2:2-4 – It happened suddenly, with no explanation. The disciples were waiting for the Holy Spirit, but they had no idea what He would do. Then out of nowhere “tongues of fire” (literal flames) appeared above their heads and tongues (literal languages people understood; Acts 2:7-8) came out of their mouths. Acts 10:44-46 – A group of Gentiles are hearing the Gospel, they hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit yet, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they begin to speak in tongues. which the Jews hear and understand as praise to God. Acts 19:2-6 – Twelve guys, who haven’t heard of the Holy Spirit and didn’t even believe in Jesus, were baptized. Right after, Peter lays hands on them, and boom, no explanation, no call to believe in tongues, no anything. They begin to speak in tongues and prophecy.

2. “You have to go through ‘sanctification’ and confession before you get it”

The Gentiles in Acts 10:44-46 and newbies in Acts 19:2-6 didn’t even know what sanctification or confession means. Both groups were so brand new to Christianity they just hardly had a few seconds to become Christians before they started speaking in tongues. They had no chance or time to be called by the pastor into a special confession meeting. They didn’t talk about generational curses or past history of being unbelievers. They accepted Jesus and boom! Besides, it makes no sense at all, most especially to those who think tongues is a sign someone has the Holy Spirit. Look, the Holy Spirit is given to people to sanctify them and make them holy (1 Pet 1:2, Rom 15:16, 1 Cor 6:11, 2 Thess 2:13). Then you say one first needs to be sanctified and holy to get it?? That’s a freaking circle! You FIRST need to be holy to receive it, but the only way in the universe to become holy is by FIRST receiving the Holy Spirit. Ahhh! It’s impossible!

3. “Repeat this phrase until you get it”

A guy who is shaking profusely as he is ‘filled with the ghost’ leans over and whispers mystically telling a teenager to just keep repeating some phrase over and over again. As far as Scripture is concerned there is not one single example or teaching that tells us to do this. But more than that, all examples of speaking in tongues were completely the opposite. The Biblical way shows a spontaneous gift from God. There is no psychological manipulation. There is no social or physiological motivation, such as telling people they will go to hell or are weak believers if they don’t speak it. There is no special little method to help people along. So then, if you come along and you do use such a method, you know what this tells me? It says you don’t have faith in this gift you proclaim. It says you don’t believe God can do this without a little psychological manipulation. It’s as if the only way God can do something is if you trick, push, or maneuver people along. It’s shameful, tasteless, and more importantly not Biblical.

Lets stop pretending we are spiritual and love

To conclude, lets stop focusing on arrogant little methods. People often fight about this spiritual gift stuff. I would encourage you to learn from Paul who says “earnestly desire the higher gifts” and then says let me show you a more excellent way to do this (1 Cor 12:31). Right away, keeping the context the same, he says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” That way to desire “higher gifts” is through love. Spiritual gifts are only given to serve others out of love. If that’s not your purpose for having a gift, you’re a selfish little Corinthian. Now, let’s love and not slander each other over our differences, such as this little post. Thanks.

7 responses

  1. Good post Yuriy. We need to have the word of God be our foundation for experience, not experience for our foundation.

  2. What do you mean by 12 guys didnt even believe in Jesus? The people that prayed in that upper room were men and women of faith.

  3. great post, brother. Happened to see your blog on a google search. I have felt the exact same way about it. Your points are square on.

    I am a pastor who prays in tongues. Actually, I never experienced the gift until I desired it. I concur with your estimate that the 3 examples in Acts were not precipitated by teaching people about tongues. But Paul does teach about tongues in 1 Cor 12-14. Even saying that he wished all spoke in tongues…(which presupposes that not all do/will.)

    In my non-charismatic background, the mantra was: “if God wants me to have it, He will give it to me.” That’s a true statement, if I add the following, “…and I am not prejudiced against the gift to start with and truly hungry for all that I see reflected in the Scriptures regarding the Spirit-filled life!”

    Finally, I have on occasions heard people speaking in tongues that was really just fleshly manipulation. Someone “taught” them “how” to do it (as you address in this post). And they were doing it. But it was not God.

    Oh, and ecstatic speech is also a favorite display of demons. It happens in Hindu temples frequently. Definitely a need to be discerning.

    Sorry for the length. And thanks for speaking up about this. Keep writing and holding forth the truth!

  4. Well written Yuriy! I myself do not speak in tongues. I was not given that particular gift. The bible teaches me I can seek it just as I can seek the other gifts but personally I enjoy my prayer time in a language I understand. The bible tells me that to pray in tongues does not aid in my understanding and understanding is needed if one is to grow. I know may people who do speak in tongues. When some of them do my spirit can sense the presence of God. I myself was baptized by the Holy Spirit one afternoon and I awoke in the middle of the night to find my mouth moving and a strange language coming out of me. I had nothing to do with it personally. I did nothing, tried nothing. It did freak me out and I actually held my mouth closed for several minutes until it stopped. I did not feel energized in my spirit as some claim. I had no previous understanding that this could or would happen. I’d always assumed tongues was something the person themselves instigated. I had never seen a spontaneous eruption of tongues before. I had to have it explained to me from the scriptures. It has been 24 years since that and I have never spoken in tongues since. I know many who have told me, “you have it you just have to use it.” I was not the one using it that night. If the Lord desires to have me speak in tongues I fully believe He will do it if and when it is His will for His purpose just as He has used me in other gifts. I don’t seek the gifts I seek the gift giver and he does what He needs to as I walk with Him. The gifts are after all for the maturing of the body not for personal gains of any kind. Excellent article Yuriy, Chris

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