Speaking In Tongues In The Assembly

A common practice today for many who claim to be Christians is "speaking in tongues". It is maintained by many denominations that miraculous tongues are for the church today. It is not uncommon to see a preacher on stage interrupt his sermon with a fantastic series of strange sounds that cannot be understood. This, we are told, is speaking in tongues.

The same assemblies often witness several from the audience at once bursting out in similar fashion. This typically involves more than one speaking at a time, women speaking and "tongue speaking" that is never interpreted.

Is this really from God? Does God want Christians to behave this way in the assembly of the church? Does this represent the kind of tongue speaking that was done in biblical times? The purpose of this writing is to answer these questions with scripture and expose the modern practice of "tongue speaking" described above, as sinful behavior that is not from God!

According to the Bible, what is tongue speaking? In Acts 2:4 the Bible says, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." When they spoke in tongues, was this a series of syllables that the audience could not understand? In Acts 2:7-8 the Bible says the audience was amazed, "...saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" The tongue speaking in the New Testament was not undiscernable noise. It was people miraculously speaking in ordinary human languages which the speaker did not naturally know! Therefore the modem practice is nothing like what was done in scripture.

What about the practice of several speaking in tongues all at once? In 1 Corinthians 14:27 Paul says, "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret." The Bible says there must only be two or at the most three who speak in tongues. Furthermore, verse 31 says, "For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted." Thus we learn that only one at a time may speak in the assembly.

Clearly, the modem practice creates numerous violations of God’s word. But, violations of God’s word are not the only fruit this reckless practice produces. In 1 Corinthians 14:23 the Bible says, "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad ?" An additional fruit of this practice is that unbelievers will respond with ridicule, thinking the people who do these things are out of their mind!

This brings us to another element of this practice. Does God permit women to speak in tongues in the assembly? In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 God’s word says "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." Does it sound Like God wants women to be speaking in tongues in the assembly? Not only does God not want them to speak miraculous tongues in the assembly, he doesn’t want them to speak at all! Again, we see a blatant violation of God’s word in the practices of many denominations today.

The next violation in consideration is the practice of speaking in tongues without an interpreter. In 1 Corinthians 14:28 the Bible says of the tongue speaker, "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God." The scriptures are clear. If no one interprets what is said, the tongue speaker is to keep silent!

Some attempt to minimize the prohibitions given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 by saying they are only Paul’s opinion. But in verse 37 the Bible says, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." These are God’s commands! When people do things that violate these laws, it is sin! As the apostle says in 1 John 3:4, "...sin is the transgression of the law." When people transgress these regulations God has given for the church, they are not pleasing God. They are sinning!

Is God the author of this practice? When people claim God is guiding them to speak in tongues in this way, are they telling the truth? Clearly not! In 1 Corinthians 14:33 God’s word says, "For God is not the author of confusion; but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." The next time you witness the confusion of several, including women, simultaneously speaking tongues that cannot be understood and are not being interpreted, know this. God is not the author of these ungodly, unorderly practices.

This practice, as it is done by many today, is unscriptural and is nothing at all like the tongues spoken of in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 14:22 the Bible says "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe but to them that believe not..." In scripture, the stated purpose of tongues was to be a sign to persuade unbelievers. But this work of confirmation was to end.

In 1 Corinthians 13:8 the Bible says, "...whether there be tongues, they shall cease..." Tongues had a specific purpose, but the time has come when that work has ceased. 1 Corinthians 13:10 says tongues would be done away "when that which is perfect is come". The "Perfect" is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), the complete will of God. When God completely revealed his New Covenant will, the miraculous gift of tongues ceased.

The above scriptures make it clear. The modem practice of "speaking in tongues" is not from God. It is nothing like the tongues spoken in the Bible. It is sin because it violates God’s word. Do you want to be a part of a practice that is so foreign to God’s word? Distance yourself from this folly and avoid the denominations that conduct assemblies contrary to God’s commands. Accept God’s purpose for tongues, and forsake the customs of men that violate God’s commands for the church.