Book Review: An Essential Guide to Speaking in Tongues by Ron Phillips

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

An Essential Guide to Speaking in Tongues

Charisma House (June 7, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Under his ministry, this church has experienced tremendous growth and has exploded into new realms of renewal and spiritual awakening. His weekly television and daily radio programs are broadcast worldwide and are available on the Internet. He is a sought-after speaker and the author of numerous books, including Our Invisible Allies and Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare.

Visit the author’s website.


What does it mean to speak in tongues? What does the Bible say about it? ·

How can I experience it for myself?

Many people have questions about how the Holy Spirit can work in their lives—especially when it comes to speaking in tongues. In An Essential Guide to Speaking in Tongues, Ron Phillips explains the gift of tongues and unfolds fresh revelation and comprehensive biblical support for the practice along with powerful illustrations from his own life.

As a Spirit-filled Southern Baptist pastor, Phillips brings a welcome balance to the topic, helping you to understand that speaking in tongues is a blessing of God that gives you the ability to boldly approach God’s throne with the Holy Spirit’s power and language.

Discover how speaking in tongues can become an essential part of the life of every believer…including you!

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616382406
ISBN-13: 978-1616382407


The Holy Spirit and His Work

Jack Harris has an interesting hobby. The eighty-sixyear-old pensioner is given a new jigsaw puzzle every year for Christmas. Most of his puzzles take no more than a few months casual work to assemble. He took up this hobby to occupy his time during the winter months, which made working in his garden impossible. In 2002, Jack was given a five-thousand-piece puzzle for Christmas, and this puzzle would prove to be a special challenge.
Jack did not finish the puzzle by spring. He hadn’t even finished it by the next Christmas. In fact, this massive puzzle took up residence on Jack’s dining room table for over seven years. Upon placing the final piece into its position, Jack stood back to admire his work, and it was then that he noticed the puzzle was missing a piece.

Had the piece been eaten by a dog? Accidentally thrown away? Had it never been in the box to begin with? No one knows. His daughter—who originally gave her father the puzzle—tried to contact the maker of the puzzle to procure a spare piece, but it had taken Jack so long to finish the puzzle that they no longer made it. She said, of her father, “He was just so disappointed when he found one piece was missing. It’s sad really because now it will never be complete.”

So many churches should feel tremendous sympathy for Jack Harris. You see, they experience the feeling of a missing piece—a missing person, really—every day.
The “missing person” in today’s church is the Holy Spirit. Though the church confesses the Holy Spirit to be fully God, He is seldom worshiped and often ignored.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit did not come into existence on the Day of Pentecost, but He came into prominence. John 7:38–39 is where we are clearly told that at the ascension and glorification of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was to be given or poured out upon the church without measure.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Acts 2 records that remarkable and powerful moment! There were sounds not heard since the Holy Spirit roared over the waters of creation. There were sights eyes had never seen in divided tongues of fire. There was a supernatural miracle of speaking and understanding that took place.

The History of Pentecost

Let’s contemplate the history of Pentecost. We have mentioned the events of Pentecost as recounted in Acts 2. This is, in fact, the “Pentecost” that most people think of when hearing the word Pentecostal. However, the fact is that Pentecost has a much richer history and meaning.

At the first Passover, the Hebrews made their exodus from slavery in Egypt. Fifty days later this newly emancipated nation sat in the shadow of Mount Sinai. Understand the scene here. It’s been almost two months since their liberation, and the children of Israel are becoming frustrated already. Moses descended from Sinai and gave God’s commands (not the Ten Commandments yet, but the promises and covenant conditions), and the people willingly agreed. God then tells Moses to inform the people that He wants to speak in such a way that the people can hear God speak for themselves. God gave Moses instructions that the people were to sanctify themselves in a number of ways, and on the third day, which was Pentecost, God would come down upon the mountain and speak. So it was on that third day, the people assembled themselves as God had instructed.
God descended on the mountain, and the people saw fire and heard thunder and the sound of trumpets. According to Exodus 19:16, this sound was so loud that people in the camp trembled. Here, the narrative becomes cloudy if the reader doesn’t understand the varieties of Jewish literary approaches. In Exodus 19:19 it says that when Moses spoke, “God answered him by voice.” The implication here is that some people heard simply noise (thunder, wind, and trumpets), and some heard God’s voice. Chapter 19 continues on with Moses going up the mountain to speak to God. Then in the last verse of chapter 19, it says that Moses went back down the mountain to speak with the people.

Now watch how chapter 20 opens: “And God spoke all these words, saying . . . ” What we have here is a classic Eastern literary device—similar to an ellipsis—where, essentially, the first verse of chapter 20 (remember, chapters and verses didn’t exist in the Hebrew text) is the continuation of the story that is begun in Exodus 19:19. So, when it says there that “God answered him by a voice,” the next thing to happen chronologically is Exodus 20:1.

So what was it that God wanted the Israelites to hear? Read Exodus 20:2–17, and you see that the words God spoke to the Israelites were the Ten Commandments. In short, God wanted His word to live inside them! But the people were too afraid. Again, some heard only rumblings and loud noises. “Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us, and we will hear. But let not God speak with us, lest we die’” (Exod. 20:19).

Fast-forward approximately fifteen hundred years to the events of Acts chapter 2. The apostles and other disciples are gathered in the upper room. Christ Himself has sanctified them and told them to wait. Let’s take a close look at what the Greek text tells us.

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
—Acts 2:3
Take note here of the word sat. This word in the Greek is kathizo, which can mean to sit or hover, but in its form here it means to dwell. So this fire came down to dwell in the believers there.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [in other languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance.

—Acts 2:4
Without making the attempt to become overly exhaustive, let’s just look here at the words “began to speak.” It is beyond a question of debate that the people there were saying something. But what?

And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

—Acts 2:6
A certain multitude of people heard these men and women speaking in their, the hearers’, own language. The implication in verses 6–12 is that various hearers heard various speakers in their, the hearers’, native language. This seems to make short work of those who say that the glossa (tongues) given on Pentecost was an earthly language. But is there more evidence to support this?
Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

—Acts 2:13
Have you ever wondered what these others heard? We have already said that it is beyond debate that those present in the upper room were saying something; so why did some hear their own language and some hear the kind of babbling that would cause them to believe that the disciples were simply drunk on new wine?
Let’s compare the two events. At the first Pentecost in Exodus, God tried to place His word in the hearts of His children, but they refused out of fear. The Pentecost of Acts

2 found His children ready to receive. Simply stated, Pentecost, as well as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is God breaking open the windows of heaven to place the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead into the lives of those who are willing to accept it.

Are you willing?
The Curse of Babel
After the Flood, mankind was joined together and united in geography, culture, language, and purpose. Today, this kind of unity is much sought after, but look at what is said in Genesis 11:6 (kjv) regarding this situation:
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

The word translated imagined has, in the Hebrew, a very negative connotation. The word truly implies plotting or scheming. Essentially, God saw the wickedness in their hearts and saw that the ability of the people to do wickedness was enhanced by their ability to all speak a unified language. So God saw fit to confound their languages and disperse them from that one place.
It is this curse that lasted through the centuries up until the time of Christ. God raised up governments and empires that unified much of the known world. Consider it: at the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire had succeeded the Grecian empire of Alexander the Great, facilitated travel throughout the empire by building roads, and unified the empire’s speech by adopting a form of Greek as its common language. This facilitated the spread of the gospel, to be sure, but it was also a physical manifestation of a greater spiritual truth.

At Pentecost the curse of Babel was reversed, and all the nations could hear the good news of Jesus. There was a powerful sermon based upon Old Testament prophecy: “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel . . . ” (Acts 2:16). The message of Jesus was preached, three thousand received salvation, and the church was born. Acts 2:38 speaks of the gift of the Spirit, but what does the Holy Spirit do?

The Work of the Spirit Is Indispensable
A cursory search through Scripture shows us that the Holy Spirit has a place of extreme prominence and significance. We turn the pages of our spiritual history and find that Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit:

• Was the agent of Creation (Gen. 1:2)

• Inspired the sacred Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:21)

• Conceived the Lord Jesus in the womb of Mary (Luke 1:35)

• Filled Jesus at His baptism (Matt. 3:16)

• Taught through Jesus (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18)

• Raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11)

• Birthed the church into being (Acts 2)

• Convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7–11)

• Brings the new birth (John 3:5–8)

• Speaks to the church today (Rev. 2–3)

• Enables us to pray (Rom. 8:26)

• Makes the Word of God come alive (Heb. 4:12)

• Makes worship possible (John 4:20–24)

• Glorifies Jesus (John 16:13–14)
The Work of the Spirit Is Individual

We will discuss this in slightly more detail later, but it is important to note that your experience with the Holy Spirit will be your experience. It won’t be some pale imitation of the experience had by a loved one, a mentor, or a pastor you admire. God wishes to enable a work in you that can only be one by you! That is one of the many reasons obedience to the call of God is so important. The work God has for you to do is work only you can do. To help the believer accomplish this, God has sent His precious Holy Spirit.

The gift of the Spirit is God Himself indwelling the believer (Acts 2:38). The gifts of the Spirit are the abilities of Jesus manifested through His people. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the action or power of Jesus in and through His people. This is a repeated event. (See Ephesians 5:18.) Primarily the filling is the enabling of the believer to bear witness to Christ. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the acceptance by Jesus into the realm of the Spirit, especially the body of Christ, the church. This is a once and for all event. (See 1 Corinthians 12:13; Matthew 3:11.) The fruit of the Spirit is the attitude of Jesus demonstrated in the life of the believer. (See Galatians 5:22–23.) The call of the Spirit is the anointing of Jesus sometimes described as the Spirit coming upon (Greek, epi, “into”) an individual for a special service.
The Work of the Holy Spirit Is Inscrutable!

Make no mistake about this: the Holy Spirit will not be used! Those who think they can live in sin and still flow in the work of the Spirit are headed for disaster. Those who would live without a devotional life are rushing in “where angels fear to tread.”

The Holy Spirit will not be managed. The Holy Spirit will never fit into our human mold. He will be in control, or He will not stay. This might seem constricting or even tyrannical to those who do not understand that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
The Holy Spirit cannot be contained. (See John 3:8.) Like a mighty wind the Spirit of God moves. The hurricane of heaven that roared over creation acts in sovereignty. Like a mighty flooding river the Spirit moves and overflows. Ezekiel 47:1–12 pictures the river of God flowing out of the temple. Jesus said in John 7:38 that out of the temple of our hearts there could be a river of living water. Like a mighty fire the Holy Spirit of God consumes. Hebrews 12:29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” To try to contain the Spirit of God is an impossible task! He will break the dam of denominationalism.

He will transform tradition. One might as well try to harness a hurricane or fetter a fire or flood! Beloved, when you receive Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live in you.

He is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. He comes to bring gifts, to bear fruit, to fill, to anoint, and to enable.

The question to all of us is this: Do you have the Holy Spirit? “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”

(Rom. 8:9, kjv).
The believer is “led by the Spirit of God,” and God’s Spirit bears witness with the believer’s spirit that he is a child of God (Rom. 8:14–16). The Spirit of Christ sends the birthing of “Abba Father” into your hearts (Gal. 4:6). (See also 1 John 3:24; 4:13.) A final question as we open this book on the grace of tongues: Does the Holy Spirit have you?

My Take
If you are curious about speaking in tongues or just looking for a book to hand to someone else, this is an excellent resource. I plan to use this to hand to others who are looking for more information on this sometimes controversial topic. Ron Phillips has done a wonderful job of explaining the scriptural and historical basis as well as the reasons why you might want to speak in tongues. The book is small and easy to read, making it a wonderful, easy to use tool.

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