You can have the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit and just like real life gifts from friends, they are optional.
It is possible to have a friend who never gives you gifts. There is a belief in some Christian circles that speaking in tongues is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
While it is true that you can’t speak in tongues unless you have the Holy Spirit, claiming that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the Holy Spirit is a long shot.
So, if speaking in tongues does not conclusively represent the Holy Spirit, what does?
Evidence of Having the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues
When a believer yields to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and accepts Jesus as his Lord and savior, He receives the Holy Spirit.
The first sign that a believer has the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22, the different components of the fruit of the Holy Spirit are mentioned.
They are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. There is no way someone will have the Holy Spirit and miss any of the above components of the fruit of the Spirit.
But the gifts of the Holy Spirit which include speaking in tongues, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, interpretation of tongues, healing etc, don’t come automatically with the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
These gifts are given by God as He wills. Our duty in getting the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to desire and ask for them. The rest is up to God to decide.
Speaking in tongues being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit means that it can be given to some believers and not others.
Speaking in tongues is given primarily to believers who are invested in prayer. It makes sense to give a prayer gift to someone interested in prayer rather than some random believer.
But since it is God who decides who gets the gifts, we can’t say it is a law that God will only give the gift of speaking in tongues to someone invested in prayer.
In any case, speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit and a believer can have the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues.
Speaking in Tongues when you have the Holy Spirit
Despite speaking in tongues not being a must for people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, why would anyone filled with the Holy Spirit not desire to speak in tongues?
The Holy Spirit is our helper. When it comes to prayer, the Holy Spirit helps us to pray with groans that are too deep for words.
Why wouldn’t a believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit want the Holy Spirit to help him pray?
As much as the fruit of the Holy Spirit is a stronger indicator of having the Holy Spirit than gifts, gifts are important.
Jesus, who was full of the Holy Spirit, performed miracles which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We are also told that by the Spirit of God Jesus was able to cast out devils.
The workings of the Holy Spirit are certainly important in the body of Christ.
Therefore, know at the back of your mind that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the surest evidence of being filled by the Holy Spirit but at the same time, desire to have His gifts.
The Argument of Speaking in Tongues being the Evidence of the Holy Spirit
The argument that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of being filled by the Holy Spirit has its foundation in scripture.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples of Jesus in the upper room, they spoke in diverse tongues.
The diverse tongues were a sign of the Holy Spirit but that did not mean we identify the Holy Spirit by the gift of speaking in tongues.
When Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, He said the Spirit is like the wind. And in fact, on the day of Pentecost, there was the sound of a mighty rushing wind together with speaking in tongues.
Just as we can know the wind is blowing by hearing the sound but fail to know the direction of the wind, so it the Holy Spirit.
There is no specific sign that represents Him. At the baptism of Jesus, He showed up in the form of a dove. On the day of Pentecost, He came with the sound of a rushing wind and the disciples spoke in tongues and became courageous.
But regardless of how the Holy Spirit shows up, He always comes with His character. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, if there is any ‘evidence’ of Holy Spirit, then it must begin with His character. Apostle Paul echoed this message indirectly when he said he would be a resounding gong if he was able to speak in tongues of men and angels but didn’t have love.
Tongues are a gift of the Holy Spirit but love is the character of the Holy Spirit. With Apostle Paul making it clear that love matters more than speaking in tongues, He confirms that it is better to use love as evidence of having the Holy Spirit than speaking in tongues.
In concluding, the most important thing is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Get the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of speaking in tongues and pursue Jesus.
In this dispensation, the most important factor is that we believe in Jesus as the only one who can save us from death and live lives that reflect our faith.
The Holy Spirit came to help us achieve this mission. The mystery behind the workings of God is beyond what we can say.
Since the Holy Spirit is God, it will be foolish of us to claim that speaking in tongues is the evidence of His presence. It is clear that love is the greatest evidence of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.