I used to attend a Pentecostal church. If you have ever been to one then you know what I mean. If you have not been to one then let me explain. The people love to speak in tongues. They raise their hands, close their eyes and speak gibberish they call speaking in tongues. It really cannot be explained as being anything else but gibberish. And the reason why I say that is because that is what is sounded to me. Perhaps at one time they each had an individual experience where they spoke in a tongue. But now it has turned out that they feel inclined to do it every time in corporate worship.
Whether you believe in the gift of speaking in tongues or not is not what I am addressing. Let’s assume that you do. I am telling you right now that speaking in tongues during a corporate worship service is not a biblical practice. It does not make you more spiritual. It makes you a distraction and it really hurts those who may be at your service as first-time visitors. If what is being done is considered a “prayer language” then it should remain in the prayer closet because that is something that happens between the person and God. It is not meant for public worship. Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for his practice of everyone speaking in tongues during corporate worship which seems to be lost on the Pentecostals.
I don’t know what to believe about tongues. Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for their abuse of tongues. Now Paul does not tell them to cease speaking in tongues nor does it seem that they only speak in tongues when an apostle is in attendance. I will say that the way spiritual gifts are abused today I know that this is not the way they are supposed to be practiced. It is not meant to be done like some type of showman on a brightly lit stage where people pay x amount of dollars to attend where they hope to be one of the lucky people to experience a miracle. A true man of God would not seek to profit and live lavishly off those profits if that person has been chosen by God to be a vessel of the works of the Spirit.
We want to experience miracles. Some are so desperate. I remember someone telling me that they heard of an event where the Spirit allegedly move in a powerful way and were regretful for not being there to experience it. People want to and will travel almost anywhere so they can experience a manifestation of the Spirit, or what they believe is one. They will go to events and concerts hoping that one will happen and they can feel the rush. What is the difference between that person and the junkie who is jonesing for his next high?
What I am saying is that people who are not cessationists are usually sensationalists. There is too much hype around the performance of the spiritual gifts and too many people looking for external experience of “signs and wonders” and not enough searching of the scriptures and testing of the spirits. When Paul and Barnabas were worshipped by the people in Lystra who were calling them Zeus and Hermes, they tore their clothes and earnestly pleaded with the people to stop. Today, Benny Hinn would stand there accepting their worship because he would believe he was worthy of it.
Whether the Spirit has ceased to work through the spiritual gifts spoken of 1 Corinthians 12 is still up for debate I think. I can’t definitively say they are because there may be a time when the Spirit moved or will move in such a way. I do know definitively that what is seen around this country of sensational encounters and manifestations and visions are not from the Spirit.