The Tongue of a Thief

For some considerable time now, many have sought to claim that salvation does not come apart from speaking in tongues or glossolalia.  The advocates of a such a soteriological scheme use the encounter in Acts 10, for example, to support their claim. Peter preaches to the gentiles, and, as they hear the Word preached, they receive the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in tongues. The assumption made by these teachers is that if these gentiles spoke in tongues after receiving the Holy Spirit like the Apostles in Acts 2, then this must be something that happens to everyone that receives the Holy Spirit.    

The thief on the cross heard Jesus say that he would be in heaven that very day, yet we don’t hear him speaking in tongues.  Why not? Is this the only time that we see someone saved that didn’t speak in tongues? No! In fact, examples of the Holy Spirit being received without the corresponding sign of tongues abound in the scriptures.  The whole of Samaria was saved and received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by Peter and John, yet the people did not speak in tongues (Acts 8:14-17). Again, in Acts 16, Paul tells the jailer that in order to be saved he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believes and is baptized immediately (Acts 16:29-33).  The problem is that there is no mention of the speaking of tongues; the jailor remained silent. We find that there just isn’t any scriptural evidence to suggest that speaking in tongues must accompany salvation. What’s more, it would be quite an omission by the Holy Spirit Who authored the scriptures to forget “speaking in tongues” in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five!  What should we expect to find in a man who has received the Holy Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).” Speaking in tongues is not mentioned. 

Jesus was baptized Himself with water by John the Baptist who testified that also Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit Who descended from heaven in the form of a dove.  When Jesus came up out of the water, what happened after the Father said that Jesus is His Beloved Son? Did Jesus speak in tongues? No. The omission of such is startling if you consider those who teach that salvation does not come unless it comes with speaking in tongues.  That Jesus Himself, upon receipt of the Holy Spirit, did not utter words in a strange tongue should be startling to the teachers of such doctrine. But it really isn’t strange at all because Jesus Himself taught that the Kingdom of God comes to a man without a sign or a wonder–that the Spirit is received quietly, without notice, being invisible (Lk 17:20).  

The thief did not speak in tongues, but he was assured of Paradise by the only One Who could ever bring him into it.  Is there anything left for us to do than to conclude that such teachers of “no salvation without glossolalia” are false teachers who are come to steal and to destroy?  We must conclude that there in none other requirement for salvation than that which Paul answered the jailor: “[b]elieve on the Lord Jesus Christ.” What else could ever purchase eternal life for a man?

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