The true Holy Spirit gift of tongues is being slandered today more than it has ever been before in all recorded history. Millions of people are claiming to speak in "unknown tongues" by the power of the Holy Ghost. The truth of the matter is that they couldn't be more wrong! To be able to clearly see their error you must understand: (A) what the true Holy Spirit gift of tongues is, (B) how it is used, and (C) who God gives it to.
(A) What The True Gift Is
The true gift of tongues is the ability to speak in foreign languages without ever having been taught those languages. It's not an "unknown" jibber-jabber or bibbel-babbel. It's a plain, simple to understand, language. It's spoken by an individual who knows and understands exactly what he or she is saying. When someone speaks to you using the gift of tongues, you will understand them perfectly in the same language you have used since you were born. Acts 2:4-11
(B) How It's Used
The gift is used to communicate the gospel message of salvation to people of all different kinds of languages (tongues). As recorded in the book of Acts, the only time the gift was used was in an area where there were people from different areas who spoke different languages. In Acts the 2nd chapter, on the day of Pentecost: "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven...And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another...how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" Acts 2:5-8
The only other places in Acts where mention is made of the use of the gift of tongues is in the cities of Caesarea and Ephesus. These cities were major seaport cities. People from many different nations and tongues would pass through them regularly. The gift of tongues was very much needed to enable the church to testify and preach the message of salvation to the many travelers from many different nations. When everyone already speaks the same language, the gift of tongues is not needed and God does not give it.
The claim by many today is that speaking in tongues is the witness that you have received the Holy Ghost. But in at least 46 places in the New Testament where it tells or teaches of people being filled with the Holy Ghost, it says nothing about speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians the 12th chapter plainly states that there are many gifts of the Holy Ghost, but different people have different gifts and not everyone has the gift of tongues.
Let's consider the most Holy Ghost filled individual that ever walked on the face of the earth: the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 4:14, Mark 1:8-12, Matthew 12:28) In the power of the Spirit, Jesus healed multitudes, performed miracles, cast out devils, prophesied and taught many the wonderful word of God. But while doing all this Jesus never taught the people in a foreign tongue. And most certainly he never jibber-jabbered in an "unknown tongue"! Jesus said his mission while on earth wasn't to the Gentiles, but to the Jews. "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) The people that Jesus taught while on earth all spoke the same language. Therefore there wasn't any need to use the gift of tongues. By example, Jesus showed that the gifts of the Spirit are only used when there is a need. This is so God might be glorified in their use and not man!
Later Jesus sent his disciples into all the world to preach the gospel. When there was a need to speak to people of different languages, the Lord provided the gift of tongues to do so.
Some claim to pray in an "unknown tongue" by the Spirit of God. But no where in the Bible does it teach such a thing. They get this idea by reading 1 Corinthians the 14th chapter, and then they incorrectly combine this with the following scripture in Romans 8:26-28:
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." ~ Romans 8:26-28
The scripture above shows us where we don't know how to pray, except to express a deep burden for God to intercede according to God's will. It shows us that the Spirit "makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." There is no unknown tongue referred to at all here. In fact, no words are actually verbally spoken in this example. All that is referred to is a burden that is so heavy that we do not have the words to express it.
(C) Who God Gives It To
Finally, the Bible plainly teaches us that not everyone can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Only those who are saved, obeying God and who commit no sin. (Acts 5:32, Hebrews 6:4-8, I John 3:3-10, Hebrews 10:26-31)
Many try to argue that I Corinthians the 14th chapter supports the teaching of "unknown tongues" and the need for someone to translate these "tongues." First of all, it should be noted that the word "unknown" in this chapter was never in the original! In the King James Version it is specifically italicized to show that it was a "supplied" word in the translation. The interpreters did it this way to describe a language not known by a majority of the congregation. The phrase "unknown tongue" isn't used anywhere else in the Bible! The city of Corinth was another major seaport city with many people from different nations passing through regularly. This chapter deals with the problem caused when people of different languages come together to try to worship God together. People of different languages were coming to the congregation at Corinth and trying to use their native language in the worship services. The majority of the congregation did not speak their language. That is why they were in need of an interpreter. The problem dealt with in this chapter is not people using the gift of tongues. The true Holy Spirit gift of tongues does not cause problems, it solves them!
Now if you are one of those who believes that the Holy Ghost has given you the power to bibble-babble in an "unknown tongue," you do have some very serious problems that you should be seriously considering:
(1) Multitudes of different churches and sects are claiming to speak in "unknown tongues" but yet are divided into different bodies and doctrines. They know nothing about Holy Spirit directed Bible unity where the body is one, with one name in God, and where the ministry sees eye to eye on the doctrine. (John 17:9-23, I Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:1-6, Isaiah 52:7-8) The best these "unknown tongues" ministers can produce is a union of churches still holding to their own names and their own doctrines.
(2) A strong characteristic of many who speak and pray in these "unknown tongues" is the sin nature still working inside. Multitudes of church members and preachers still have to sin once in a while, but yet are able to still speak in an "unknown tongue." But the true Holy Ghost causes people to be holy and live free from sin all the time! (I Corinthians 3:16-17, Romans 8:1-5, Galatians 5:16-26) And the Holy Ghost will never lead you to act in a way that is contrary to the Word of God. There have been sincere people who unknowingly through ignorance were deceived for a while by this "unknown tongue" spirit, but when true light was shown upon it, they came completely clear away from it.
(3) Finally, it is a well known fact that even in open heathen, pagan, religious ceremonies they speak in "unknown tongues." These people do not even believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Isaiah the prophet foretold of God's church this way: "Thou shalt not see a people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering (ridiculous) tongue, that thou canst not understand." (Isaiah 33:19)
Once people get drunken on the "good feeling" satanic "unknown tongue" spirit, it is rare that they ever get free from its deception. But yet, by the mercy of God, some have. Will you hear the true Bible message of deliverance from all sin, from all satan's power; even freedom from the deceptive, binding, "unknown tongue" spirit.