Do I have to speak in tongues to be saved?

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My friend visited a church recently and was told that she wasn’t saved if she didn’t speak in tongues. What does CoG7 teach about this subject?


Speaking in tongues, one of nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, figures prominently in the Church’s communication of the gospel to new peoples and languages (Acts 2, 10, 19) — but never as a requirement for the salvation that is in Christ, received by God’s grace through faith. 

No spiritual gift can do for us what only Christ does by His death and resurrection in our behalf. By clearly implying that not all members of Christ are apostles, prophets, or teachers; not all are miracle workers, healers, or speakers in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28-31), Paul says positively that believers may be saved through Christ without tongues-speaking. God distributes His gifts to each member as He will, not as we will (v. 11). 

Sadly, your friend heard another false version of the gospel. This one, like all false gospels, puts something we do to be saved in place of our being saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. In this case, the thing substituted is speaking in tongues — a good thing in its place but never sufficient for salvation. 

Other issues regarding tongues-speaking are not this simple to unravel. In Acts, for example, most tongues obviously refer to known languages. The tongues in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 ,14, however, were likely unknown — an ecstatic form of speech that brought conflict to the congregation in Corinth. 

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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    Calvin Burrell
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    Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.