Anyone who knows anything at all about the issues in Christianity today knows that one of the most popular fads of the day is speaking in (falsely so called) tongues. Those who practice this are commonly known as “Charismatics”. As on any issue, the question concerning the issue of tongues is, “What does the Bible teach about this?” The following points give something of a summary concerning the Bible on tongues:
1. Bible tongues were human languages. This fact can easily be seen from the classic passage on tongues, i.e., Acts 2:4-11. Thus, in reality, one cannot make a valid comparison between Bible tongues and what the Charismatics of our day call “tongues”, for they are 2 different things. What the Charismatics call “tongues” today are not tongues at all in the Biblical sense; what the Charismatics call tongues are nothing more than unintelligible gibberish, or baby talk.
2. Tongues were not an everyday occurance in Bible days. The book of Acts covers a period of approximately 30 years. In this 30 year period, we are told of only 3 episodes of tongues-speaking (Acts 2; 10; 19). Of the 27 books of the New Testament, tongues are only mentioned in 3 of the books (Mark, Acts, I Cor.). Of the 21 N.T. epistles, tongues are only mentioned in one (I Cor.), and in that one, tongues are not exalted, but rather downplayed.
3. Tongues was considered to be a lesser gift (I Cor. 12:28-31; 14:5)
4. Tongues were never meant for every Christian (I Cor. 12:7-11,14-19,29-30)
5. Tongues were regulated in public services. Four specific rules are set forth in I Cor. 14 which were to regulate tongues in public services: (1) No more than 3 people were to speak in tongues in a given service (14:27); (2) Those who spoke in tongues were not to do so simultaneously (14:27,40); (3) There must be an interpreter present if tongues are used (14:27-28); (4) Women were not to speak in tongues (14:34).
6. Tongues were a sign gift given to the apostles and their immediate converts to validate to unbelievers (particularly unbelieving Jews) the office, ministry, and message of the apostles (Mark 16:15-20; I Cor. 1:22; 14:22; II Cor. 12:12).
7. Tongues were never intended to be a permanent gift to the N.T. church, but were to cease (I Cor. 13:8-10). Evidence suggests that tongues ceased with the completion of the N.T. and the passing of the apostles.
Thus we see that the Charismatic Movement is not Scriptural. Be sure you are led by the Bible, not by popular fads.