As we begin this article, I have something very important to say. I hope you consider it very carefully and thoughtfully. Please try to keep an open mind. O.K., here goes; "Sabadoni threedweet umbyboy". Did you get that? Do you feel like you are a better person having read those words? Did it help you in your relationship with God? I hope your answer is "No, I didn't get anything out of it at all." That is precisely the point. The things that are done in the name of "speaking in tongues" accomplish the same thing as you reading those nonsense words above.

It is called the "charismatic movement". It used to be confined only to "Pentecostal" denominations but now appears in a far wider range of religious bodies. If it is not tongues as spoken in the Bible, then what is it? How is it different from Biblical tongues? Obviously, if it is of God then we better also seek the gifts. But how can one know?


"Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they shall cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and prophecy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away" (I COR 13:8-10).

This passage tells us how long gifts of prophecy, tongues and the inspired impartation of knowledge would last. They would last until the "perfect" comes. Whatever that is, with its arrival came the end of inspired tongues.

The word "perfect" means to be complete or whole; without any "parts" missing. There will no longer be any need of getting additional "parts" once we have the "perfect" so Paul says the parts will cease. The "parts" mentioned in this context are the various ways in which God revealed His will in the first century. Once all His Word was revealed, the various ways of revealing it would not be needed any longer so they would cease. That is exactly what this passage teaches! Read it again! Is it not so?


"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what He does" (JAMES 1:25).

Yes, we may look at and practice the "perfect" law of Christ. We can only do so because "that which is perfect" has, in fact, arrived. And since that is the case, then we know that tongues in the Biblical sense have ceased.

Our faith is not produced by seeing signs but by "hearing the Word of God" (ROM 10:17). It was with these signs that our Lord confirmed the words of the first century prophets and apostles as His own; the signs were to "confirm" the Word as it was being revealed (MARK 16:20). This message is complete, confirmed and "delivered once for all". There is simply nothing left to add to it (JUDE 3).


"And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?" (ACTS 2:8). There are many remarkable differences between what was practiced in the first century and what is being done today. They spoke in languages understood by the hearers but which they themselves had never learned. They did not speak in some sort of gibberish or unidentifiable "language". (ACTS 2:6,11).

Tongues were used to communicate. In fact, all the word "tongues" means is "languages". The miracle was not in the language but in the fact that the teacher could speak it having never learned it. This communication was a method of revealing God's word which would edify, or build up, the hearer. Modern day "tongue speaking" does not edify in the Biblical sense of the word, there can be no edification if the message is not understood (I COR 14:11-13).

We also see that in the New Testament church only two or three were to speak in a tongue, and then only one at a time, and even then only if there was somebody to interpret. How far from this is what is being done today! (I COR 14:26-28).

Interestingly, Paul teaches that if one speaks in a tongue and is not understood, he might as well be "speaking to the air" which simply means doing so is of no profit at all (I COR 14:9). There is a lot of this "speaking to the air" going on today!


Since the scriptures show that tongues have ceased, then what explanation can be offered for what is happening today? Several can be suggested.

Deliberate deceit would be one explanation, but I do not think for a minute that it is the only one. Even "tonguespeakers" I've talked to say they are sure that others of their number are pretending (just the way some of all groups pretend - Jesus called them hypocrites).

Psychological pressures is certainly a valid explanation to be considered. It is obvious that the louder the preacher, the faster the music, the heavier the beat; the easier it is to slide into the euphoria needed. Its rather easy to do something you really want to do and that others around you are doing. In fact, sometimes it is diffiscult not to get caught up in the emotion.

We are also warned against "power, signs and wonders" that Satan will use to deceive. The best way to guard against any false way is to take ones stand based on the Bible as absolute truth. It is a love for God and His truth, whatever it may be, that will give the victory!

By Jon Quinn

Return to the General Articles Page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /