What about the gift of tongues for today? Are all supposed to speak in tongues?
The spiritual gift of tongues mentioned in the Bible were true languages of men (Acts 2:4-8) the Spirit gave them utterance to speak in tongues (languages), and the people were able to understand them. They understood by either the one exercising the gift or another present so all would understand and be edified. 1 Cor. 12:10: “to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. V. 28 there are a “varieties of tongues.”
1 Cor.14:2: “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him;… He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.”
V:4 “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,…5-6: “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification”.
Unless everyone is edified by the interpretation a tongue is less important of a gift than prophecy which all can understand.
Paul rebuked the Corinthians regarding the misuse of the gift[s] of tongues. The one who spoke in a tongue either understood what he was saying as he uttered the previously unknown language to him or someone else would interpret.
1 Cor 14:8-14: “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. 12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Confusion occurred among the people when the speaker who uttered the tongues did not make the communicated message known afterwards (v.13) or failed to have an interpreter (vv. 27, 28). This resulted with those who heard not being edified; as far as their understanding, it was not fruitful. The one speaking was edified by what he spoke in the same way as those in the church were edified and built up when they heard God's truth spoken in their native language (v. 4). Edification requires understanding on the hearer’s part.
The same was true for one praying in a tongue -1 Cor. 14:13-15: “Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”
The person who spoke a tongue did not utter senseless, unintelligible, ecstatic gibberish; it was not repeating of two or three syllables rapidly or repeatedly. Those who claim to speak in tongues in this manner are not actually exercising the biblical gifting of tongues. Coherent words that had structure comprised their prayer. Others could not amen what they heard if the prayer was ecstatic utterances without the structure or content of a real language. The speaker was “giving thanks” to God (v. 17). A person cannot express specific praise to god without articulating words. We communicate by language not grunts.
How many people think their spirituality is based on speaking with another tongue? The Bible says otherwise.
Paul corrected those who thought this by stating V.19-20 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.”
Showing maturity involves using the gifts properly- the whole theme of this gift is for understanding and communication. This is why Paul says better a few words that one can understand than going on and on with words that have not interpretation for the hearers to understand. With this we can judge if what is being presented today is authentic tongues or hype and spiritual ones-up-manship of the one behind the pulpit.
1 Cor.14:26 “Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue…., has an interpretation.” If one speaks out loud there is to be no neglect of interpreting the language for others who do not speak it.
Do all speak in tongues, is this required as the proof one is filled with the Spirit? Acts 19:6: “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
If one wants to make a doctrine from a few scriptures than we can conclude from this that everyone must also prophecy, not just speak in a tongue. You either have the Holy Spirit or not at all- all believers have the Spirit, not all believers are under His control, even those who speak in tongues. Being filled with the Spirit means being under His control, it is not an experience that departs the Scriptural standards.
Some of the people that claim to speak in tongues all the time and do it in front of others are the most unspiritual people I have seen.
James 1:26: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.” If one is constantly speaking in a tongue not knowing what he is saying and is unable to control his mouth – he is not under the control of God.
Here is the basis of operation of the spiritual gifts 1 Cor. 12:7-11 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
From this we learn that men cannot pass on a spiritual gift to anyone, it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit who lives in the believer. One cannot tell you the first words of this language or rev you up to speak it. Nor can they hear the same words and interpret them differently each time. Again tongues are languages according to the Bible.
This is why Paul ends his teaching and correction by saying “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:29-31).
As a church they were to pursue the best gifts for their edification and what was needed for their congregation. One could not choose which gift they wanted, God gave those in the assembly what was necessary for their spiritual health.