I recently received another social media question via Facebook from Donica. She writes, “I was recently part of a Word of Faith church in Houston and speaking in tongues were a must in order to have the Holy Spirit. My question is this, is it necessary to speak in tongues in order to be a Christian?”
I address this at length in The Complete Bible Answer Book; here’s a portion of that answer.
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 but that is not what the Bible teaches. The apostle Paul makes this plain, believers are “all baptized by one Spirit in one body (1 Cor. 12:13) yet not all who believe speak in tongues (vv. 10, 30). I don’t know if you can get any clearer. So tongues can be a manifestation it can’t be the only manifestation.
Furthermore, even if one does speak in tongues it is not a guarantee that they been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 13, “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging symbol.”
Also, Scripture makes this point clear, the normative sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit isn’t speaking in tongues, it’s the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, repentance from sin, and obedience to God. (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 John 4:12-16; cf. Eph 1:13-15). In sum righteousness, not tongues, is the core of Christianity compressed in a single word.