One of the questions most commonly asked about the baptism in the Holy Spirit is whether it is always accompanied by speaking in tongues. I have come across this question a couple of times recently, so I thought it would be appropriate to prepare a response. As there are proof texts that quoted by both sides of the argument, I will first just provide all the texts without editorial, so we can get an idea of the biblical voice on the matter.
[Update 15/03/06. I originally missed two verses, 1Co 13:8 and 1Co 14:22, which I have now inserted for completeness.]
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; (Mk 16:17)
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Ac 2:4)
For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. (Ac 10:46)
And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Ac 19:6)
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good... to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. (1Co 12:7,10)
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (1Co 12:28)
Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1Co 12:30)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1Co 13:1)
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1Co 13:8)
For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. (1Co 14:2)
The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. (1Co 14:5)
Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. (1Co 14:5)
Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? (1Co 14:6)
So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. (1Co 14:9)
Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. (1Co 14:13)
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. (1Co 14:14)
Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. (1Co 14:22)
If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? (1Co 14:23)
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (1Co 14:26)
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. (1Co 14:18)
If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. (1Co 14:27)
So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (1Co 14:39)
[All verses ESV]
The first, obvious, thing to mention is the sheer volume of passages on this subject. It is clearly an important matter, and one not to be ignored or swept under the carpet. Paul himself says, he does not want us to be ignorant of spiritual gifts.
Now, those who would propose that tongues is just for a select few would point to the verses in 1Co 12, that say that each has a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good, but that not everyone has the gift of tongues. This would certainly be a plausible exegesis if 1Co 12 was the only passage on the gift of tongues we have, but as can be clearly seen from the list above, it is not. How does such an exegesis square with the other scriptural passages that say that speaking in tongues is a sign for all who believe? Why two chapters later in 1Co 14 would Paul express his desire for everyone to speak in tongues if this was never going to be a possibility? Why would he describe a scenario of an unbeliever walking into a meeting where everyone was speaking in tongues if this could never happen? Did he suffer from short term memory loss, and forget what he had written two chapters earlier?
Most importantly we need to ask ourselves a question: are the occurrences of baptism in the Spirit as recorded in the book of Acts normative experiences for believers today. It is an important question for all who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, because if they are not, we have a big problem, as there are no other descriptions given! In each case in the book of acts the manifestation that the Spirit had fallen on a group of believers was that they spoke in tongues. If there was any other manifestation, it is not explicitly recorded for us.
So how then are we to understand the instructions in 1Co 12? Well the alternative to Paul contradicting himself in 1Co 14 is that he is actually reinforcing the same argument. In 1Co 14 he is talking about orderly worship in the church, and how if everyone speaks in tongues then no-one goes away edified. In this context the instructions in 1Co 12 make perfect sense; when we come together as the people of God there are manifestations of the Spirit distributed amongst us for the common good. Thus 1Co 12:7-10 finds and echo in 1Co 14:26. These two chapters are not contradictory, but complementary.
The baptism in the Spirit is a gift from God that he does not withhold from any believer. The fact that some have not yet realised this and taken hold of it is another issue and one that we see clear scriptural mandate for in Acts 8 and Acts 19. But it is available to all. When we come together though, it is clear that for orderly worship the Spirit does not intend us all to bring messages in tongues, and that those that are brought should be interpreted.