In early New Testament days, the gift of tongues was possessed by Apostles (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Corinthians 14:18), and Some of the early church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Not every Christian spoke in tongues.
1) Directly from the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44,45).
These are the only recorded incidents of the Spirit being "poured out" on individuals and empowering them to speak in tongues. Both occasions were special.
2) By the Laying on the Apostles Hands by an apostle (Acts 19:6; Acts 8:14-17).
This gift allowed those who possessed it to speak by the Holy Spirit in other Languages (Acts 2:6-11).
There is no reason to think that the gift of tongues is anything other than a language when it is spoken of in other passages.
The word "unknown" used in the KJV (1 Corinthians 14:2) causes some confusion. This word is added by the translators and refers to a language in which the speaker was heretofore unskillful, hence unknown to the speaker.
The ones who spoke in tongues were to speak a portion of God s will either a revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or doctrine (1 Corinthians 14:6).
While writing to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts, Paul called the gift of tongues A Sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not (1 Corinthians 14:22).
For Christians to speak to unbelievers in the unbelievers native tongues, never having learned it, as was done on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-14), attracted attention, convinced the people that the power of God was present, and provided a way for the unbelievers to hear the gospel.
The gift of tongues was given mainly for the benefit of Unbelievers.
In an assembly of believers, the ones who had the gift of tongues were to keep Silent unless there was someone who could Interpret their languages.
Even if there were interpreters present, only a few of those who had the gift of tongues were to speak in an assembly, and they were to take turns doing so.
Everything was to be done decently and in order in the assembly and for the edification of the saints gathered together (1 Corinthians 14:27,28,40).
Paul informed the Corinthians, whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
The spiritual gifts prophecies, miraculous tongue speaking, and miraculous knowledge were for a time when there was partial knowledge of God s will. They would no longer be needed when God s will was completely revealed.
Today, all truth (the perfect law of liberty, that which is perfect ) has been fully revealed.
Therefore, spiritual gifts, including the gift of tongues, have ceased.
It is sometimes argued that the coming of that which is perfect is not the completed Word of God, but Christ at His second coming and that the gift of tongues will continue until Christ comes again.
According to Paul, prophecies, tongues, and knowledge would cease while faith, hope, and love continued (1 Corinthians 13:8,13).
When Christ comes again, our faith will turn to Sight, and our hope will become Reality (Romans 8:24); at Christ s second coming, faith and hope will no longer exist!
Therefore, spiritual gifts, including the gift of tongues, must end before Christ comes again and while faith and hope still exist. The coming of that which is perfect cannot be Christ at His second coming. But the coming of that which is perfect could be the complete revelation of God s word to man. God has finished revealing the New Testament to man, and faith, hope, and love still exist.
Two reasons people think that people can speak in tongues today, or think they have received the gift of tongues are:
1) They are Duped by Charlatans.
2) They are Betrayed by their own misunderstandings of the scriptures and/or their own emotionalism.
A comparison between the gift of tongues as taught in the Bible and things practiced today should convince us of the rampant error and deceit that prevails in religion about tongue speaking.
1) In the New Testament, those who received the ability to speak in tongues received it directly from the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 10:44-46) or by the laying on of hands by an apostle (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6).
Today, many are taught the art of speaking in tongues and have to practice repeating phrases over and over before they receive the gift.
2) In the New Testament, the gift of tongues was a language spoken and understood by men (Acts 2:6-11). Today, many who claim to speak in tongues claim an ecstatic utterance not known as a language. Their tongue is often unintelligible jabbering.
3) In the New Testament, those who had the gift were admonished to speak one at a time (1 Corinthians 14:27) and to make sure the gift was used to edify the assembly. Today, several who claim the gift usually speak at the same time. The gift is used to excite, not to edify.
4) In the New Testament in an assembly of believers, one who possessed the gift was to remain silent if there was no interpreter. Today, many speak in assemblies without an interpreter, and if there is an interpretation given, it often goes beyond the things written in the New Testament and is often a message about an imminent return of the Lord.
5) In the New Testament, the gift of tongues was not the supreme gift (1 Corinthians 14:1). Today, the gift of tongues is a high badge of honor.
How can one think such perversions come from the Lord?
The gift of tongues was needful in developing the infant church, but as the church matured and the word of the Lord was completed, the need for signs of confirmation (Hebrews 2:3,4) and the revelation that came through the gifts passed. Today, we no more need the gift of tongues, a sign to the unbelievers, than we need Jesus to return and continue to work miracles on earth as a sign that He is the Christ. The signs given and recorded are sufficient (John 20:29-31). Today, we have things more excellent than the gift of tongues; we have love (1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13) and a completed New Testament.