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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

FAQ: Is Speaking in Tongues Necessary for Salvation?

by Adriel Sanchez posted February 25, 2022

We don’t need to speak in tongues in order to be received by the Father in heaven, but we do need to have the Holy Spirit.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. So, recognizing by faith who Jesus is—that’s a work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. But not everyone who has the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues.

This is setting aside the question of if speaking in tongues is still for today. But even if someone holds that view, Paul makes it very clear in 1 Corinthians 12:27–31:

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 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. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Do you all speak in tongues? he asks. The answer is no—it’s just not the case. We don’t all have the same spiritual gifts. And that’s part of the point: God has gifted each of us uniquely. I don’t have the gift of administrating. If I try to do administrating, things begin to fall apart. We’ve seen that in our church. I need to delegate that to other people God has gifted in that way.

A bigger question, and a really important one is, what do we need to do to be received by the Father? Well, think of it like this: It’s not what you do. It’s who you know.

My dad in Mexico owns a circus—it’s a family business that he shared with all his brothers while I was growing up. It’s a pretty well-known circus, and one of the perks of being the son of a guy who owns a pretty well-known circus in Mexico is that here, where I live in San Diego, if there’s ever a circus in town and I tell them who my dad is, they usually let me in for free. I remember the first time I took my wife and being able to do that. I felt extra special, like circus royalty. I got in just because of who I know—who I’m related to. The question for each of us is, am I connected to Jesus? Am I in Christ? Am I adopted into the family by faith? It’s not what you do; it’s who you know. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s not that I speak in tongues, or that I don’t speak in tongues, or that I performed all these wonderful works. No, it’s that I know Jesus by faith, and he knows me. That’s the key.

This article is part of our Frequently Asked Questions series. Listen to Pastor Adriel answer this question on Core Radio here.

Photo of Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.

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