Getting realistic about "tongues"
The following paragraph consists of the admonishment from a "charismatic" Pentecostal man in California who (after 50-some years of being a believer, had finally realized his need to be Torah observant - while remaining very much "Pentecostal"....) attempted to force us at The Refiner's Fire to "learn" to speak in tongues. He insisted that, unless we were "slain in the spirit" as evidenced by "tongues", we were not "saved". He wrote:
"In fact it is IMPOSSIBLE to fulfill what Yeshua called us to do WITHOUT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is evidenced by speaking in an unknown tongue. I know this both from the Word and from my personal experience. I am putting together a small, hopefully if this is possible, treatise regarding this, the Lord has already given me the scriptures and the dialogue to present to you."
First of all, NOTHING in Scripture tells us we aren't "saved UNLESS we speak in "tongues." NOTHING! Secondly, this guy - by suggesting the Lord supposedly gave him the scriptures and dialogue to tell us these things - may have taken God's Name in vain! (Exodus 20:7) "The Lord" would NEVER tell you to pass on information that cannot be verified in Scripture....
Can anyone really prove what constitutes "speaking in tongues?" Hardly. All we really have is our opinions on what Scripture says about it. What we DO know is, that "tongues" was the universal remedy to the confusion of language at Bavel/Babylon (Genesis 11:9) - to learn the language of the Spirit that unifies all souls in righteousness. And we also have Paul's hard to understand writings about the "gift of tongues" - but for us at The Refiner's Fire, we truly cannot see that those writings refer to "babbling."
For us, the bottom line (at this point in time, at least) is that "the gift of tongues" refers to someone simply being able to understand a foreign language without ever having learned it; it is their supernatural gift! One of the reasons for this is because we have asked ourselves why the "babbling" that comes out of people's mouths is not consistent. Everyone's "tongues language" sounds different. If what emanates from someone is truly a "holy tongue," why can we not hear consistent rhythm and sounds and words used in a structured and conventional way that we can eventually begin to recognize and learn? After all, "tongues" is supposedly a "holy language" - NOT "languages."
In our two-year experience at a "charismatic church," we never once heard anything that remotely resembled a true language, let alone a "holy" one. What we heard was senseless babbling in different dialects (i.e., Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, etc. - by people whose backgrounds didn't match the dialect they had adopted. This was very strange because, it seems, there shouldn't be ANY notable "earthly dialects" in the gift of "tongues")....
According to Scripture, "tongues" is one of the spiritual gifts that YHWH (Yahweh) chooses to give certain people. As with all other spiritual gifts not everyone receives the gift of "tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are many forms of gifts; but the Spirit is one. 5. And there are many forms of ministrations; but Master YHWH is one. 6. And there are many forms of power; but Elohim, who works all in all men, is one. 7. And to each man, there is given a manifestation of the Spirit, that it may help him. 8. To one, by the Spirit, there is given a word of wisdom; and to another, by the same Spirit, there is given a word of knowledge: 9. To another, by the same Spirit, faith: to another, by the same Spirit, gifts of healing: 10. And to another, miracles: and to another, prophecy: and to another, the discerning of spirits: and to another, (diverse) kinds of tongues: and to another, the interpretation of tongues. 11. But all these works that one Spirit; and He distributes to everyone according to His will.
Romans 12: 4 For just as there are many parts that compose one body, but the parts don't all have the same function; 5 so there are many of us, and in union with the Messiah we comprise one body, with each of us belonging to the others. 6 But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; 7 if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; 8 if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully.
There is way too much emphasis on "tongues" today - especially in charismatic churches where it is a prerequisite to "being saved." It seems hardly anyone stops to think that arguing about the merit of "tongues" is unproductive and has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. Equally important, "tongues" is actually the ONLY spiritual gift that can be faked!
Furthermore, if someone "interprets" it is rarely anything profound; it's usually some fluff, like, "I, the Lord God say to you that you need to be good and treat your neighbor as you want to be treated." We never once heard someone mention that God said to tell the congregation to stop wallowing in religiosity and start obeying His Torah! We never heard one person "interpret" that God said to stop eating pork, or to stop keeping man-made holidays, and start keeping HIS commanded Sabbath and Feasts"....
Spiritual tongues are listed last on the gifts list for a reason and, as Rav Shaul himself says, he would rather speak five words of sense than ten thousand words in a tongue:
1 Corinthians 14: 18. I thank Elohim that I speak with tongues more than all of you. 19. But in the assembly, I would rather speak five words with my (spiritual) understanding, that I might instruct others, than a myriad of words in a tongue.
Please note that nowhere does it say we have to "learn" to use our spiritual gifts, as so many insist. When YHWH gives you a gift, you "simply know" how to do it. For instance, hundreds of links come up when you Google "prophet schools" or "prophetic training" or words to that effect. Same thing happens when you Google "learn to speak in tongues?" WHERE does Scripture suggest we have to learn from other humans how to speak in tongues, or to prophesy? Yes, these skills can be honed as we use our gifts, but there is no reason to pay for any seminars by some "scholar" whose only goal is to make money from something GOD GAVE YOU FOR FREE!
Let's do an indepth study on "tongues" by answering some pointed questions:
QUESTION: What exactly is the spiritual gift of "tongues"?
Isaiah 8: So when they tell you to consult those squeaking, squawking mediums and fortune-tellers; [you are to answer], "Shouldn't a people seek their God? Must the living ask the dead for teaching and instruction?" For they will indeed give you this unenlightened suggestion. (CJB)
Isaiah 66:18 "For I [know] their deeds and their thoughts. "[The time] is coming when I will gather together all nations and languages. They will come and see my glory....(CJB)
And they did! Read on....
Acts 2: 1. And after the days of Shavuot (Pentecost) were fulfilled, all were assembled as one. 2. All of a sudden there was a sound from heaven like a roaring wind and all that House in which they were sitting was filled. 3. And (it) appeared to them like tongues divided, and fire sat upon every one of them. 4. And all of them were filled with the Ruach haKodesh, and they were compelled to speak in different tongues, just as the Spirit had given them to speak.4. And all of them were filled with the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), and they were compelled to speak in different tongues, just as the Spirit had given them to speak. (AENT)
The problem is, many stop reading the rest of that passage which shows that "tongues" refers to LANGUAGES, not unintelligible "babbling"!
Acts 2: 5. Now there were men who were living in Urishlim who feared Elohim - Jews from all nations that are under heaven. 6. And when that sound occurred, all the people gathered and were rioting because they were hearing each man among them who were speaking in their own language. 7. Now they were astonished, all of them, and wondered while they were saying one-to-another, "Can't grasp it!" These, all of them who are speaking, are Galileans.
8. "How do we hear, we each man the tongue in which we were born?" 9. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and those who dwell in Beth-Nahrin, and Cappadocians, and those from the areas of Pontus, and of Asia. 10. And those from the areas of Phrygia, and of Pamphylia, and of Egypt, and of the areas of Libya that are near to Cyrene, and those who have come from Rome - Jews and proselytes. 11. And those from Crete, and Arabians. "Behold we are hearing from them that they are proclaiming the wonders of Elohim in our language!" (AENT)
It would seem that tongues must be understood to be a plainly enunciated language; it is not spoken noises, sounds, or muttered syllables - which is demonic delusion! Furthermore, Aramaic word construction makes it plain the disciples continued with the ability to speak these languages without previous knowledge or study of them. This was a spiritual gift from God, not human learning.
1 Corinthians shows that when the Ruach manifests itself, we truly have the ability to understand the language; we don't just utter words we cannot comprehend.
1 Corinthians 12: 1. And concerning spiritual matters, my Brothers, I would have you know, 2. That you have been pagans; and have been, without distinction, led away after idols in which there is no speech. 3. I therefore explain to you, that there is no man that speaks by the Spirit of Elohim, who says that Y'shua is accursed: neither can a man say that Y'shua is Master YHWH, except by the Ruach haKodesh. (AENT)
Footnote: Simple and beautiful, yet perhaps the most powerful statement of belief in all of Rav Shaul's letters. A declaration of such magnitude as this most certainly demands original Hebrew and Aramaic to comprehend the fullness of such a bold statement and revelation.
1 Corinthians 12: 4. Now there are many forms of gifts; but the Spirit is one. 5. And there are many forms of ministrations; but Master YHWH is one. 6. And there are many forms of power; but Elohim, who works all in all men, is one. 7. And to each man, there is given a manifestation of the Spirit, that it may help him. 8. To one, by the Spirit, there is given a word of wisdom; and to another, by the same Spirit, there is given a word of knowledge:
9. To another, by the same Spirit, faith: to another, by the same Spirit, gifts of healing: 10. And to another, miracles: and to another, prophecy: and to another, the discerning of spirits: and to another, (diverse) kinds of tongues: and to another, the interpretation of tongues. 11. But all these works that one Spirit; and He distributes to everyone according to His will. 12. For as the body is one, and in it are many members; and all those members of the body, though many, are one body; so also is the Mashiyach. (AENT)
Some suggest 1 Corinthians 13:8 demands that tongues stopped when the New Testament revelation of God was written, basing their thoughts on these words: Love will never cease. But prophesying will end; and tongues will be stopped; and knowledge will disappear. 9. For we know but partially; and we prophesy but partially. 10. But when completeness will come, then that which is partial will disappear.
When we are in heaven, God's special gifts will no longer be required; tongues will not be necessary to glorify YHWH and/or reach the lost.
QUESTION: You mentioned the word "demonic". Do demons speak in tongues too? If so, how can we tell the difference between demon trickery and Holy Spirit giftedness?
Leviticus 17: 7 No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons, before whom they prostitute themselves! This is a permanent regulation for them through all their generations.' (CJB)
1 Corinthians 10: 19. What then do I say? That an idol is anything? Or, that an idol's sacrifice is anything? No. 20. But that what the Gentiles  sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to Elohim. And I would not that you should be associates of demons. 21. You cannot drink the cup of our Master (Y'shua) and the cup of demons; and you cannot be partakers at the table of our Master, and at the table of demons. (AENT)
FOOTNOTE: Actually "Pagans." By calling these people khanpa rather than aimmeh, Rav Shaul is making a clear distinction between the Gentiles who are learning Torah under his leadership from their fellow residents who are still steeped in anti-Torah lies and polytheism.
Luke 4: 33. And in the assembly there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, 34. And said, "Leave me alone! What have we to do with each other Y'shua the Nasraya? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, you are the Set Apart one of Elohim." 35. And Y'shua rebuked him and said, Shut your mouth and come out from him! And the demon threw him down in the midst and departed from him, though he did not harm him at all, 36. And a great amazement seized every man, and they were speaking with one another and saying, "What indeed is this message that with authority and power he commands to unclean spirits and they depart?" (AENT)
Luke 8: 29. For Y'shua was commanding to the unclean spirit to go out from the man. For much time had passed since he was held captive by him. And he was bound with chains and with bonds and he was restrained, but he would break his bonds and would be driven by the accuser into the wilderness. 30. And Y'shua asked him, What is your name? He said to him, "Legion" because many demons had entered into him. 31. And they were beseeching him that he would not command them to go to the abyss. (AENT)
In Israel demons spoke out of people in the human language they understood; therefore they speak in "tongues" (languages). They have possessed people for thousands of years and therefore know many languages. In the pagan priests and mediums the demons mystified the crowds with muttering and unclear noises, making it sound like some kind of a secret language which would then be "translated" by false prophets and priests....
One way believers are protected from deception is through the Word of God. If the translation of the message through a qualified language expert is against YHWH or Yeshua it obviously is not from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of YHWH calls Yeshua accursed!
It is our contention that those who "babble" unintelligibly are NOT speaking the words God has given them; they are simply babbling and fooling themselves into thinking they are somehow communicating with God in a "better" way. Examples:
Example 1: When I first "got saved" in a Baptist church, I had a friend who told me she had a secret, which was that she spoke in tongues. Being a "new babe in Christ" I naturally asked her what that meant, and she quickly revealed that it was a "holy language" spoken to God which "opened up a whole new world" for her. And then she went on to reveal that she had "taught herself" by lying on the floor and just "letting the words flow" - which, for her, began with reciting the alphabet in Spanish. "After awhile," she told me, "it just came naturally, and the words just flowed." "I can't understand what I'm saying," she told me, "but God knows!"
Example 2: A friend of ours who was a Messianic Rabbi once told the story of a friend of his who attended a charismatic congregation for the express purpose of testing their "gift of tongues." At one point when people began to babble "in tongues" he stood and recited the Shema in Hebrew. Seconds later, someone stood to "interpret" his words, insisting that the Rabbi's friend had just uttered some "new revelation" from God - and immediately shared what he THOUGHT he had understood - which, in actuality, had nothing whatsoever to do with the Shema!
QUESTION: What is the purpose of "tongues"?
1 Corinthians 14: 21. In Torah it is written: With a foreign speech, and in another tongue, will I speak with this people; and even so also they will not hear and obey me, says Master YHWH. 22. Wherefore, tongues are established for a sign, not to the believers, but to them that do not believe. But prophecies are not for those who disbelieve, but for them that believe. (AENT)
1 Peter 4:10 10. And let each of you minister to his associates the gift which he have received from Elohim; as being good stewards of the manifold grace of Elohim. 11. Whoever will speak, let him speak as the Word of Elohim: and whoever will minister, as of the ability that Elohim have given him: so that in all you do, Elohim may be glorified through Y'shua the Mashiyach to whom belongs glory and honor forever and ever. Amen. (AENT)
Rav Sha'ul/Paul spent a lot of time explaining to the church at Corinth that the most important thing to God is self-sacrificing love to one another, not using selfish religious practices to build themselves up. He gives a long explanation of agape love [1 Corinthians 13], and then applies love to spiritual gifts [1 Corinthians 14]. In a local church of people with all the same language, a gift of tongues could only be used in a selfish manner.
Once he got this point established, he made this clear statement: "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; ..." This statement kills the theory that speaking in tongues is for personal use or spiritual edification of the church. Tongues is for one purpose: to minister to the lost unbelievers. This is exactly what YHWH used tongues for in Acts 2. Spiritual gifts are never designed for selfish use; "minister it to one another" is obviously to serve someone else.
1 Corinthians 14: 26. I therefore say (to you) my Brothers, that when you assemble, whoever of you has a psalm, let him speak; and whoever has a doctrine, and whoever has a revelation, and whoever has a tongue, and whoever has an interpretation. Let them all be for edification. 27. And if any speak in a tongue, let two speak or at most, three; and let them speak one by one; and let (some) one interpret. 28. And if there is none to interpret, let him that speaks in a tongue, be silent in the assembly; and let him speak to himself and to Elohim. (AENT)
Have you ever noticed that all the interpretations given in tongues-speaking circles are "secret messages from God," and normally not words to God? Paul says they are all words to God or men. "...if I pray in a tongue...sing with the spirit...bless with the spirit...."
1 Corinthians 14: 6. And now, my Brothers, if I should come among you and speak to you in tongues, what should I profit you; unless I should speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophecy, or by doctrine? 7. For even inanimate things that emit sound, whether pipe or harp, if they make no distinction between one sound and another, how will it be known what is sung or what is harped? 8. And if the shofar will give an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for the battle?
9. So likewise if you utter many words in a tongue, and there is no interpretation given, how will it be known what you have said? You will have been as if you spoke into the air. 10. For behold, there are many kinds of tongues in the world; and there is not one of them without meaning. 11. But if I do not know the import of the sound, I will be a barbarian to him that speaks, and the speaker will be a barbarian to me. (AENT)
1 Corinthians 14: 12. So also you, since you are searching for the gifts of the Spirit for the edification of the assembly, you seek to excel. 13. And let him that speaks in a tongue, pray that he may interpret. 14. For if I should pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my (spiritual) understanding  is without fruits. 15. What then will I do? I will pray with my spirit, and will pray with my understanding; and I will sing with my spirit, and will sing with my understanding.
16. Otherwise, if you bless in the spirit, how will he that fill the place of one unlearned, say Amen on your giving thanks; for he does not know what you say? 17. You bless, indeed, very well; but your neighbor is not edified. 18. I thank Elohim that I speak with tongues more than all of you. 19. But in the assembly, I would rather speak five words with my (spiritual) understanding, that I might instruct others, than a myriad of words in a tongue. (AENT)
FOOTNOTE: Derived from da'at, this word represents a kind of heavenly understanding coming out through prayer as opposed to earthly knowledge.
There is no evidence or statement given in Scripture for the commonly practiced "private prayer language" theory. No secret angelic unknown language either! Chapter 14:10 makes it clear Paul is thinking of regular human languages. Paul stated he spoke in tongues more than all the believers in the Corinthian church. But, not in a gathering, and not in private because he is the one who said it was to be used for a sign to the lost. The only way he could have spoken "with tongues more than you all" as a sign to the lost would be while he traveled the world preaching in the tongues of the lost people that lived all over the Roman empire. Again this would be a sign to the unbelievers matching the historical experience of Pentecost.
In a local assembly such as the church of Corinth illustrates, when believers misuse a spiritual gift, it only brings division into the body and confusion to unsaved guests who speak the same language. "23. If therefore the whole assembly gathers, and they all speak with tongues, and there come in unlearned persons, or those that disbelieve, will they not say: These people are crazy?  " [14:23]
FOOTNOTE: In other words, "charismatic" manifestations are not to become such a focal point of identity in the fellowship that they become a stumbling block to those entering the Malchut (Kingdom of) Elohim.
A QUICK NOTE:
Genesis 10: 5 From these the islands of the nations were divided into their lands, each according to its language, according to their families, in their nations. (CJB)
According to the context, the nations were divided by tribe, nation and tongue (Greek - glossa). They were NOT divided by some heavenly prayer tongue! In this context, "tongue" means a literal language.
Acts 2:4,11, 10:46, 19:6, 1 Cor 12:10,28,30, Rev 5:9, in most Greek versions use the Greek word glossa. The Hebrew words translated as glossa are lashown, lashon, leshonah, saphah, and sepheth.
Acts 2: 1. And after the days of Shavuot (Pentecost) were fulfilled, all were assembled as one. 2. All of a sudden there was a sound from heaven like a roaring wind and all that House in which they were sitting was filled. 3. And (it) appeared to them like tongues divided, and fire sat upon every one of them. 4. And all of them were filled with the Ruach haKodesh, and they were compelled to speak in different tongues, just as the Spirit had given them to speak. (AENT)
Footnote from the AENT: The universal remedy to the confusion of language at Bavel, Genesis 11:9, is to learn the language of the Spirit that unifies all souls in righteousness.
Some use 1 Corinthians 13:1 to prove that when they are "babbling" they are using the holy language of angels: 1. If I could speak in every tongue of men, and in that of Messengers, and there should be no love in me; I should be like brass that resounds, or the cymbal that makes a noise. But Matthew 6:7-8 forbids "babbling": 7. And when you pray, you should not be chatterers like the pagans, for they hope that by many words they will be heard. 8. Therefore, do not imitate them for your Father knows what need you have before you ask Him.
The truth is, the term "angel" (in some versions) means messenger or heavenly beings. Among the ancient sages/rabbis for several millennia, the "Language of Angels" has been understood to be Hebrew. This applies to both heavenly angels and earthly messengers. Hebrew was and is believed to be the Holy Language by which YHWH created the universe, the language of Eden, and the basis of all other languages. The Talmud, Shabbat 40b, reads: "Secular matters may be uttered in the Holy Language (Hebrew), but sacred matters must not be uttered in a secular language."
The "languages of men" represent the other languages (and their derivatives) of the seventy nations that resulted from the dispersion from Babel, where YHWH divided the earth by languages. But "Prayer Language" has historically been understood to be Hebrew. Hebrews, to this day, generally pray in the Hebrew tongue, regardless of their native language.
Our question to all those who insist one cannot be "saved" unless one has received the Holy Spirit through the evidence of speaking in tongues is this:
Honestly, does anyone truly know whether there is such a thing as a "Holy Tongue" that is spoken here on earth? Since you believe you are so much "better" and "holier" than those of us who have never received the "gift of tongues" - then WHY has YOUR "Holy Spirit" never told you to be TORAH OBSERVANT? Belonging to YHWH is all about obedience to His "forever" commands!
A true believer (one who believes in YHWH as God and His Divine Son), is Torah observant because he/she knows that Torah is YHWH's Divine Instructions in Righteousness! The Holy Spirit reveals this Truth to those who are constantly listening and seeking the things of God.
1 Peter 4:10 says YHWH gave spiritual gifts to minister to other people, not Him. There is no need to speak in tongues in a local church full of people of the same language, unless a language interpretation is required. Paul teaches this also. "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers....". When those who have never been trained can speak Spanish or French or German or any other language, it is a sign of God's power to these people. That is exactly what happened in Acts 2!