Though Paul told the Corinthians that the gift of tongues would cease at some point in the future, he also acknowledged that they were an active spiritual gift in the Corinthian church. He therefore set forth guidelines and limitations to govern the use of tongues in the church. (I Corinthians 14:26-40)
As you read his list of guidelines and limitations, ask yourself if the modern tongues being used in the church in Africa conform to these biblical rules.
- Tongues were to be used for edification of the church. (26)
- No more than three people in the assembly were to speak in tongues during a service, and then each in turn (27).
- There were to be no tongues spoken unless they were interpreted (28) (Note: A simple test for the gift of interpretation would be to record the tongue, have three with the gift of interpretation each listen and give the interpretation, then compare to see if they say the same thing.)
- Any confusion or disorder in the assembly was an indication of something that did not originate from God (33).
- In the church women were to keep silent and were not to speak in tongues or prophesy (34).
- To recognize these regulations as the commandments of the Lord was imperative (37).
- Though not forbidding tongues in the Apostolic assembly, the predominant command was “desire earnestly to prophesy” (39).
- Everything in the church is to be conducted “decently and in order” (40). Decently means properly, gracefully. Order means in turn, one at a time.
These eight guidelines for the exercise of the gift of tongues in the local church were given by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church. Paul knew that if these guidelines were followed, tongues would eventually cease.
In fact tongues did cease. If the biblical gift of tongues were still operative today the guidelines for the exercise of the gift would still be in effect.
The honest fact is that most contemporary Charismatics violate every one of these Apostolic guidelines. Even if tongues were for today, we must make the observation based on God’s Word that what we see around us is NOT the biblical gift of tongues mentioned in the New Testament, and therefore NOT of the Holy Spirit.