Do I Have to Speak In Tongues In Order to Prophesy and Work Miracles? – John Boruff

Yes; or, probably in most cases. Smith Wigglesworth is very clear in his Ever Increasing Faith, chapters 12 and 13: that the miraculous gifts come from the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is received through concentrated prayer, praise, and worship. “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high…and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). And so Wigglesworth and the early Pentecostals applied these texts in the following way: they would hold “tarrying services,” or meetings that were specifically dedicated to praying for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of feeling God’s presence, and speaking in tongues, as the Spirit gave utterance (Acts 2:4), and in some cases, this would also result in the interpretation of tongues and prophecy (Acts 19:6). A sort of domino effect would occur, with the miraculous gifts of prophecy, inner visions, words of knowledge, healing, deliverance, and miracles all flowing out from feeling God’s presence and having these thoughts come into the mind, and lead the Pentecostal worshipers to pray in these ways. The Holy Spirit then “distributes the gifts just as He determines” (1 Cor. 12:11). Wigglesworth believed it was possible for Pentecostals to prophesy and heal without feeling God’s presence, but that it always resulted in carnal behavior. He believed that all usage of miraculous gifts should only be done in the context of feeling the presence of God during worship (see 1 Corinthians 14).

Wigglesworth expressed a view that agrees with the Assemblies of God, that the “initial physical evidence” of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. I agree with this view. We might assume the initial non-physical evidence is feeling God’s presence upon the person praising, worshiping, or praying in a concentrated manner. We might say the secondary physical evidence after tongues is interpretation and prophecy as in Acts 19:6, and that the other miraculous gifts flow out in a domino effect.

John Wimber and the Vineyard have maintained a different view (even though Wimber spoke in tongues). They’ve maintained that speaking in tongues is not a necessary evidence of Spirit baptism. To them, the born again experience (regeneration) is the same thing as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I don’t agree with this view, because Paul asked the men, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). To me, this proves that at first Paul assumed they were regenerated or born of the Spirit, because he thought they “believed” in the Gospel, something that is impossible without the Holy Spirit entering the heart. Ephesians 2:8: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” But when he asked them if they had “received the Holy Spirit,” it is clear he meant it in a more experiential sense: what Pentecostals understand as “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” and so we see in Acts 19:6: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” A full-blown Pentecostal domino effect that launched them into the realm of miraculous gifts!

I believe the Vineyard is a powerful denomination; and depending on the pastor, some real miraculous gifts can be used in these churches. But I also believe, along with Smith Wigglesworth, that if we want people to experience the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, then we should first direct them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit—that is, praising and worshiping God with a concentrated mind, feeling God’s presence, and praising God in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:15: “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” This is a surefire way to move into the other miraculous gifts of the Spirit. It all starts with worshiping God “in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24), but then it progresses into feeling the Holy Spirit come upon your body, and allowing spontaneous prophetic thoughts come into your mind. If anyone really wants to be used in the miraculous gifts, then Pentecostal praise and worship is most reliable pathway to them!

I am aware that John Wesley and many other saints have experienced miraculous gifts without speaking in tongues[1] (and for this, the Vineyard has a point); but I think if we are going to be fully Biblical and experiential, then the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14 need to guide us into the miraculous gifts; and there’s no getting around the prevailing idea that speaking in tongues plays a role in the initiation process, as well as a role in Spirit-filled prayer, praise, and worship. Why not hunger for it all? As we progress into this chapter on the prophetic gifts, I want you to first ask yourself: have you at least been baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues? And if not, then why not ask someone who does to lay their hands on you and pray for you to receive it? (Acts 19:6). Don’t stop praying until you do! (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:4).

Suppose you have tried and tried to praise and worship and speak in tongues, but you keep on failing; perhaps you have thought: “Do all speak with tongues?” in 1 Corinthians 12:30, means that you are one of those “No” tongues people. Well then don’t despair. I still think you can experience a dimension of the miraculous gifts, but it might be limited. At the very least, it seems, that feeling a “witness” or presence of the Holy Spirit is all it takes as an evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit: especially if you feel the Spirit surrounding your body with comforting peace. None of the Old Testament prophets spoke in tongues that I know of; and nobody would say that Moses, Elijah, and Elijah weren’t baptized in the Holy Spirit or experienced with miraculous gifts. Feeling the presence of God seems to be the minimum evidence of Holy Spirit baptism in the lives of saints. While I disagree with the Vineyard that regeneration is the same thing as the baptism in the Holy Spirit; and I maintain the Pentecostal view that baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second charismatic work of grace, after conversion—I can agree with the Vineyard that speaking in tongues is not absolutely necessary as an evidence of charismatic Spirit baptism. Tongues are a very strong proof, but they are not absolutely necessary. At the very least, however, I would say that feeling God’s presence is necessary: and this is most easily developed during charismatic praise and worship with a concentrated, prayerful mind.

In a way, my view of Spirit baptism is a blend of the Assemblies of God and Vineyard views. But I do not believe regeneration (or saving grace) is exactly the same thing as charismatic Spirit baptism: this is made very clear by Acts 19:1-6, where disciples of John the Baptist crossed paths with Paul, and he prayed for them and they were baptized with the Spirit, spoke in tongues, and prophesied. This appears to be two works of grace. However, there seems to be an argument in this passage favorable to the Vineyard view: these were initially disciples of John the Baptist, not Jesus…HOWEVER, after meeting Paul, and hearing the Gospel, they became Christians and were: 1. water baptized and 2. Spirit baptized. Apparently it is possible that saving regeneration and charismatic Spirit baptism can happen at the same time—as in the case of Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:44-48), or shortly following one another. But look: their charismatic Spirit baptism happens after their water baptism (19:5-6). Paul would not have water baptized them if he felt they rejected the Gospel: and so, they were saved first (regenerated in their hearts), and then they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (felt God’s presence and experienced miraculous, charismatic gifts).

I think the “two works of grace” view—the Assemblies of God view—has the stronger argument, also because the apostles and disciples of Jesus in the upper room on the day of Pentecost were clearly born again of the Spirit, and had healed people in the synoptic gospels, before Acts 2. But in 2:4: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.” It sure looks like the “two works of grace” view is the most accurate. However, unlike the Assemblies of God, I can side with the Vineyard that feeling God’s presence is absolutely necessary as evidence of Spirit baptism, but not necessarily speaking in tongues. On the other hand, I would still strongly encourage people to seek the gift of tongues if they want to experience the other miraculous gifts.

But since Paul places speaking in tongues at the end of his list of miraculous gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; and because he argues in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that the prophetic gifts are greater than tongues, and that prophecy is the greatest of the miraculous gifts—provided such gifts are used with a loving spirit (1 Cor. 13)—I have decided to treat the prophetic gifts first in this chapter on “Growing in Revelation”; and all the successive chapters, I’ve tried to prioritize in the same way that Paul did in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. For this reason, the last chapter on the gifts will deal with tongues, because they are the least important, but by no means unnecessary (especially when it comes to the first obvious physical sign of charismatic Spirit baptism).

[1] see Daniel Jennings’ The Supernatural Occurrences of John Wesley.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Baptistic Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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