One of the most common questions that is posed to me is the question, “Can we speak in tongues today?” I would like to consider this subject today. First of all let’s consider …
What is speaking in tongues?
Is the speaking in tongues today different than what we see in the Bible? Acts 2:4 states that as the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit that they began to speak in other tongues. What was “tongues?” Verse 8 gives us the answer. “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?” So speaking in tongues in the Bible was simply speaking a different language that you didn’t know or speak before! When looking at Chapter 2 this makes perfect sense. It was the day of Pentecost, there were people there from all over the world, Peter and the Apostles were about to preach the first Gospel sermon. God gave them the ability to speak different languages so that they could be understood by everyone!
Is this the definition of “tongues” today? Are they speaking a different language or is it just gibberish that makes no sense?
What was the purpose of speaking in tongues?
Why did the Apostles speak in tongues? Mark 16:17-18: “And these signs will follow those who believe; in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”
Why could Jesus and his apostles do miracles, heal the sick, cast out demons, speak in tongues, etc? Verse 20: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and CONFIRMED THE WORD through the accompanying signs.”
The reason that Jesus and his Apostles could do these things were so that they could prove who they were! Remember, the New Testament was yet to be written. How else could Jesus and the others prove who they were but by doing these miracles? Now that we have the Bible in its entirety these things are no longer needed. I Corinthians 11:8: “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues they will cease … ” When will tongues cease? Verse 10: “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” What is, “That which is perfect?” Jesus? No, when this book was written Jesus had already come and ascended back into heaven. That which is perfect is in reference to the Holy Scriptures.
Who was tongues a sign for?
Most, if not all, of the speaking in tongues today are done in the church. But this was not who it was intended for. Consider I Corinthians 14:22: “Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers … ” Paul goes on to state in verse 23 that if an unbeliever comes into the church and a bunch of people are speaking in tongues, they will say that you are out of your mind! What a true statement!
Order in the assembly must be kept.
In Chapter 14 of I Corinthians Paul further explains to the church how it is to keep order. As we go through this, see if speaking in tongues today is the same way. In Verse 27, Paul tells them if anyone wants to speak in tongues, there can be two or at the most three and they are each to take a turn. They MUST interpret what they are saying. According to Verse 28, if there is no interpreter, they are to keep silent! Why? Paul states in Verse 26: ” … Let all things be done for edification.” If a person is speaking in a tongue or a different language and there is no one to interpret, it edifies no one!
Tongues today are no longer needed. We have the inspired Word of God to guide us and lead us in the path of what God desires for us.
The writer is an evangelist at the North Broadway Church of Christ in Sidney.