Do I Have to Speak in Tongues? // Veracity Fount – TGC Africa – The Gospel Coalition Africa

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TGC Africa creates faithful Christian content to strengthen African believers. Through this process ministry friendships develop with like-minded churches and parachurch organisations across Africa. We long to amplify the presence of gospel centered ministries in their home countries, pointing local Christians to trustworthy, edifying resources available on their doorstep.
This series of Word Bite videos were created by Veracity Fount, a parachurch organisation operating in the city of Kampala, Uganda. In short video clips Joseph Byamukama answers a few common questions Christians ask from a biblical standpoint, that is also concerned with historic theology. To find out more about Veracity Fount please visit their website or visit their offices at Plot 2, Musuubire Henry Close, Bukoto Kampala, Uganda.
Throughout 1 Corinthians, Paul deals with the desire for personal reputation, fame, and glory. The church was full of people with tremendous spiritual gifts. Only, how they used those gifts resembled the world’s values and ambitions more than Christ’s. Speaking in tongues had become an expression of spiritual superiority rather than the means of serving God’s people. It set some apart, instead of recognising that God diversely gifts his people so that they might depend on each other.
Tongues had become about the especially gifted rather than the gift.
In short, tongues platformed the speaker instead of Christ. It had become about the especially gifted rather than the gift. Things are no different in many churches today.
Many Christians have asked this question, forced to do so because of an overemphasis on tongues, as well as a misunderstanding. But as Joseph says in this short video: “Spiritual gifts do not make us superior to others.” Speaking in tongues doesn’t somehow make you better than ordinary believers. “If you don’t speak in tongues, you’re not inferior.” Those truths are precisely what Paul teaches. It is Christ’s grip on you that matters, not your demonstration of his gifts.
Spiritual gifts do not make us superior to others.
Ironically, claiming that spiritual maturity hangs on impressive gifts is actually a mark of immaturity. And insisting that someone has to speak in tongues as evidence that they’ve experienced God is not only unkind; it’s unbiblical. “What if you don’t speak in tongues?,” Joseph concludes, “That’s okay. All you need is Christ, and Christ alone.”
This gift doesn’t set mature believers apart from immature ones. Nor does it distinguish between spiritual and regular Christians. We all need the gospel. But God doesn’t give all of us the same gifts.
Speaking in Tongues: Am I Spiritually Deficient Without it?
Pauline Guidelines For The Gift Of Tongues
2 Lessons From Pentecost For Practising Tongues
“So what if I don’t speak in tongues?” you might ask. Most Christians, especially in Uganda or Africa, have heard that you must speak in tongues as a measure of your spiritual maturity. In fact, they may be told that when you speak in tongues you confuse the devil. But what does the Bible teach? 
Now 1 Corinthians 12 has a lot to say about the gift of tongues, but one, it says they are God’s gifts to some, not to everyone, but to some. You see, God gives different gifts to different people so that we may be united. We may be dependent on each other as his people. The world tends to pursue self-sufficiency and independence, but God calls us to unity and co-dependence. 
Secondly, spiritual gifts do not make us superior to others. You see, the world tends to measure us by what we do, by what we achieve, but Christ calls us to find our identity only in him. So, if you don’t speak in tongues, you’re not inferior. If you speak in tongues, you’re not better. 
Thirdly, the idea that when we speak in tongues we confuse the devil assumes that there is a gap or a distance between us and God so our prayers need to travel that distance, but we are united with Christ in God, which means that actually God listens and hears our prayers, even before we say them. We do not need to confuse Satan because we are in Christ and in God. 
So, what if you don’t speak in tongues? That’s okay. All you need is Christ, and Christ alone.
Joseph Byamukama was born in Western Uganda and is a PhD candidate in New Testament Studies at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. He is based in Kampala, Uganda and the Team Leader at Veracity Fount, a ministry that seeks to help equip the Ugandan Church through theological research and resources. Joseph blogs at and is married to Daphne and they have two sons, Abaho and Abaasa.
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