The word 'tongues' is only mentioned in one place in the gospels.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
God says that speaking in a tongue is a sign. God says that speaking in tongues (one of the signs) shall follow or accompany those who believe. God says that when believers went forth and preached that speaking in tongues (one of the signs) was present. These verses do not tell us exactly what is meant by speaking with new tongues, so let’s examine some more scripture.
The Book of Acts
Acts 2:1-14 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
It is obvious from this scripture that the kinds of tongues that were being spoken at this event were other human languages for the spectators themselves declared that this is what they were hearing. The Greek word for ‘other tongues’ is heteroglossos (Strong’s G-2084) and is correctly and literally translated as ‘other tongues’. Notice also the content of their message - the wonderful works of God.
Acts 2:15-21 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Joel 2:28-32)
Peter filled with the Holy Spirit recognizes these events as a fulfillment of scripture given by the prophet Joel. Specifically he says that these events are signs of the Spirit of God being poured out upon mankind and basically explaining that they are prophesying in tongues - in this case other human languages. God is doing this in order to spread the news throughout the world that the Messiah has indeed come, and he is doing this in men’s own languages.
Act 10:45-48 And they of the circumcision (Jewish folks) which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
On this occasion Peter and several other Jewish men went to preach Jesus to Cornelius a Roman centurion and all of his household including slaves. These Jewish men were astonished! They were not expecting non-Jews to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They knew these men received the gift of the Holy Spirit because they heard those speaking in tongues and glorifying God in the same manner that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. That is, when these gentiles spoke in tongues they were speaking in the languages of men.
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Paul was in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor and found some disciples there. Once again we see that speaking in tongues and prophesying are signs of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This verse does not say what kind of tongues were given in this instance; however it would be safe to assume that it is speaking in other human languages just as in all the other instances of people receiving the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 1:4-7 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
In his introduction Paul says that they have a lot of spiritual gifts including "all utterance".
I Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
I Corinthians 12:28-30 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
Paul clearly indicates that speaking in tongues as well as interpreting tongues are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Note also that it is the interpretation of tongues not the translation of tongues.
I Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
This is the first indication of any type of heavenly language here mentioned as being spoken by angels. In the context Paul is giving examples of how useless gifts are or how useless a person’s dedication is without love. Some say that Paul is just using examples and therefore there is no such thing as speaking in angelic languages; however all the other examples Paul uses are not made up but are in fact examples based upon earthly realities. It would be safe to say here that both Paul and the believers in Corinth are familiar with speaking in tongues of both men and angels. In other words Paul is speaking directly to them concerning their practice and common practices of the day.
I Corinthians 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but 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. (v.12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Some use these verses to say that now that we have the entire Bible then these gifts have been done away with. They base that on the phrase "when that which is perfect is come" saying that this refers to the written New Testament which at that time had not been completed. There is however no indication anywhere that this phrase is referring to the New Testament rather it is referring to the glorification of the believers upon the return of Christ as noted in the phrase "face to face". Also if their interpretation would be correct then they would also need to say that we have perfect knowledge which of course we do not. The gifts of the Spirit still exist today, for they are "of the spirit" which is still here today, but Paul is making the point that love must be the environment for the gifts of the spirit.
I Corinthians 14:1-5 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
I Corinthians 14:6-11 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so
many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
I Corinthians 14:12-19 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
I Corinthians 14:20-25 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues (unlearned human languages) are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying servethnot for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues (unknown heavenly languages), and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
I Corinthians 14:26-40 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 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. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. ...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. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.
Speaking in tongues is a sign of the Holy Spirit.
Speaking in a human language that you have never learned is a form of speaking in tongues.
The primary beneficiary of speaking in a human language that you have never learned is the hearer. They hear the gospel and the great works of God in their native language.
Speaking in an unknown tongue is also a form of speaking in tongues.
The primary beneficiary of speaking in an unknown tongue is the speaker, therefore;...
In a gathering of believers, speaking in an unknown tongue without interpretation is of no value to the audience.
Paul spoke in tongues, as well as many believers in various cities and regions.
It is unbiblical to forbid speaking with tongues; however if there is no interpreter then the speaker should speak silently to God since he would be edifying only himself.
Prophesying is preferred over speaking in tongues.
Do you speak with tongues? Do you forbid others to speak in tongues? Either human languages that you have never learned or an unknown language? Can you interpret a message in tongues? Is speaking in tongues practiced in your church or fellowship? These are the practices of believers in the New Testament. Jesus never changes. The signs and gifts of the Spirit are still in effect today. The same Spirit that was poured out upon the Jewish and gentile believers 2000 years ago is the same Spirit that is still here today. Are you willing to become a truly biblical believer accepting the Holy Spirit and all the gifts and blessings that God offers through Jesus or do you love your traditions and false beliefs more than the truth of Gods word?