Born again but cannot speak in tongues? Find Answers

I am always moved by questions regarding a believer's inability for a self-leadership activity. I am so interested in the…
Achinike Amadi

on January 30, 2024

  • I am born again but cannot speak in tongues. Does it imply I have not received the Holy Spirit? Featured image
  • I am always moved by questions regarding a believer’s inability for a self-leadership activity.

    I am so interested in the below question not for the literature behind the question but for the path, everyone with this question is on or, at most, the new level said person is about to enter.

    This is why I am choosing to carefully create a dedicated post with bible-backed answers to this question about a supernatural ability in Christ.

    The Question: “I am born again but cannot speak in tongues. Does it imply I have not received the Holy Spirit?”

    tongues graphic

    Most people would either say “Tongues is fake” or make it a denominational debate; “it is a Pentecostal thing, with their loud noises, and boisterous worship”. What they fail to realize is how significant the tongue gift is.

    Objectively, when we look at the gifts or manifestation of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we discover something important that many people miss.; out of all the gifts mentioned, only speaking in other tongues was not performed in Old Testament times. No time in the Old Testament was it recorded that a person spoke in a divine language. People began to flow in this supernatural ability only after the ascension of Christ.

    Speaking in tongues is therefore a proof and declaration that, truly Christ is glorified; seated with the Father from whence he has sent us the Holy Spirit who now lives within (not upon) us just as promised.

    With that said, I hope that this response post offers;

    • clarity to separate the assurance of your salvation from your supernatural exploits.
    • a lens to reframe your question
    • encouragement to direct emotional power that would bring you to the ideal and desired place.

    Response: 5 Things to note about the tongue gift, the Holy Spirit, and You.

    Below are several discussion points that would put the above-mentioned offerings in motion.

    #1. You can not be born again without the Holy Spirit.

    How do I know this? From Jesus’s comprehensive and essential teaching on The Supernatural in John 3:1-21

    The Kingdom of God amongst other things is the realm of possibilities where the will of God is upheld and established; a reality where the impossible is made possible by the influence of the divine power. It is both a coming reality and an already-existing inner spiritual experience as a person can carry the kingdom of God on his/her inside (Luke 17:20-21).

    When you understand this, Jesus’ reply(John 3:3) to Nicodemus’s statement (John 3:2) will make more sense. While the mighty supernatural deeds of Jesus were important, there was something more important than personal glory. For Jesus, more important than personal glory was his selfless desire for all peoples to enter into and live in this kingdom.

    One requirement for this, he explains, is Eternal life (John 3:16,5)—found in him(position) and given by the Spirit(operation). Hence, his call to believe in the Son of Man(John 3:14-15), and be born again(John 3:6)

    So you can’t truly be born again without first receiving the Holy Spirit for it is the Spirit that gives spiritual (God-kind) life. If you are truly born again, then you have been born of the Spirit.

    #2. It is possible to believe in Jesus and not yet receive the Holy Spirit.

    A good example of this situation was cited in Acts 19:1-5. To paraphrase, Paul encountered 12 believers at Ephesus who had not received the Holy Spirit. After Paul’s investigation, he found the issue to be a result of a lack of knowledge and an outdated belief system. When they subscribed to the baptism of Jesus which is for salvation, they received the Holy Ghost when Paul laid hands on them.

    Before hands were laid on them, they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit. Yes, Believing is a prerequisite however there is something specific to believe; the salvific work and lordship of Jesus.

    Moreover, receiving the Holy Spirit is not always instantaneous or automatic. There are situations or ‘transitory’ moments when believers tarry for the Spirit of God like the apostles did. These situations are not compulsory but they are possible.

    But in the end, by God’s wisdom and power, all who believe in Christ inevitably receive the promise of the Holy Spirit and start to live the Christ kind of life.

    #3. It is also possible to have received the Holy Spirit and not realize it.

    It is also possible to have received the Holy Ghost and not realize it. Here are several reasons why;

    • The receiving of the Holy Ghost is a mystery(John 3:8) and a spiritual occurrence. Thus, it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14)
    • It is a supernatural experience that is not dependent on human intelligence nor does it require full human awareness for it to occur. It operates on supernatural principles higher than what the human mind can conceive. The only prerequisite is genuine faith in Jesus and his finished work of salvation.

    Because it is not God’s design for the presence of the Holy Ghost to go unnoticed or be hidden from a believer, the Holy Spirit ‘announces himself’ amongst other signs. But Receiving comes before Announcement and again this isn’t always instantaneous. So between these events is an interval of oblivion, teaching, and discernment.

    #4. The ability to speak in tongues is for Every Believer

    The Tongue gift is for every believer

    Limiting Belief; “I cannot speak in tongues because I wasn’t given the gift of tongues”. “The Holy Spirit shares his gift in the ratio of 1:1 that is, one gift to one person. In other words, I can only flow in the one gift I was given and if it is not the gift of tongues then I can’t speak in tongues.”

    This limiting belief emerged in most people from the misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. So we would be doing some bible study and exegesis in a bid to clear this common misconception.

    1 Corinthians 12:8-11

    8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

    Joel 2:28

    **28 And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.29**Even on My menservants and maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

    In truth, this verse, like Joel 2:28, illustrates the diversity of Gifts, abundance in the Spirit, and the inclusion of all peoples. When we look at both verses side by side, we see how similar they are and thus we can apply the same laws of interpretation.

    Is Joel 2:28 saying that only old men would dream only and only young men would see visions only? The answer to these questions is No. The verse is simply opening our minds to conceive a possibility (out of the countless) of the future when the promise of the Spirit has been fulfilled.

    See how Good News Translations renders 1 Corinthians 12:11

    But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person.

    This verse talks about diversity and inclusion and not singularity. A Different gift to each person is not the same thing as one gift per person. Think about it. A believer in the Church could for instance have 2 of the gifts and the statement would still hold true. To use a more familiar concept. It is like using a checkbox versus a select-only field when filling out forms. One allows only one selection out of different options, The Checkbox field allows multiple selections —as needed— out of several different options.

    Where it says, as the holy spirit “decides/determines/wills/wishes” not willed. The tense is in the present which shows that it is a process likely to occur continuously. This should open your mind to the fact that the Holy Spirit can decide to give as many gifts (more than one gift) over the course of your walk with God. It is not a one-time transaction.

    Furthermore, all the times in the bible where it was recorded that a group of people spoke in tongues, the bible records ‘ALL’ who were present spoke in tongues. The disciples in the upper room (Acts 2:2-3) and The household of Cornelius (Acts 10:24;44-46) are perfect examples.

    If it was God’s design for only a select few to have the gift of tongues, we would have seen the partial selection demonstrated in these people groups. But in both cases, the bible records ALL spoke in tongues.

    #5. Rephrase from” Cannot” to “Do not”

    I am born again but cannot speak in tongues”

    Every born again ie every person with the spirit of God on his inside has the innate potential to speak in tongues. When we received the Holy Ghost, we received the Source/Giver of the gifts.

    Contrary to popular opinion, a believer’s sustained ability to speak in tongues is a function of desire, spiritual growth, and service. All three elements are within a believer’s circle of influence. We inevitably are responsible for these factors and thus only those who steward these elements speak in tongues.

    Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? – 1 Corithians 12:30

    We have access to any spiritual gifts. However, we do not function in all of them. Not all at once anyway.

    Rephrasing the question as “I am born again but do not speak in tongues”, will help you see the gap in our spiritual growth and the role we must play in bridging it. Having done this, you are now empowered to take the proactive next steps to activate the gift of tongues and flow in it.


    It is possible to have the Holy Spirit and not speak in Tongues. In him, we have access to all, but we do not function in them all.

    However, as we grow and mature into the full stature of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:13) and as our capacities increase to do more for the kingdom, we can expect to function in as many gifts according to the needs of our ministry and the will of God.

    Still, achieving this ideal outcome depends on the believer. You have a role to play.

    Achinike Amadi
    Hello, I'm Archie(not from the comics). I share lessons from experiential Christianity and curate resources that could help you practice self-leadership.

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