Are there different types of “speaking in tongues”?

There seems to be three types of the gift of tongues: First, a private prayer language that does not need to be interpreted (Rom. 8:26); second, a language that does need to be interpreted - this defines proper usage in the Christian congregation (Acts 19:6); and third, in the missionary context – as it appears in the context of evangelism where people are presenting the Gospel (Acts 2:11). Some churches teach that you have to speak in tongues to prove your salvation. This is a grave mistake since not all people speak in tongues. Not all people are given this gift by the Holy Spirit.

Many churches place a heavy emphasis on speaking in tongues. Is this proper? Some questions that come to mind are:

* What is the purpose/motive for speaking in tongues?
* Does it edify (build up) the church body?

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church that was fraught with schisms. Many were seeking their own interests. Check out the following passages of Scripture:

" Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." (I Corinthians 14:12)

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

When a believer exercises their spiritual gifts, what is their motive? Is it to encourage, to build up a body of believers? There were believers in the church of Corinth that were praying in tongues. The Apostle Paul addressed this use of tongues.

"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." (I Corinthians 14:13-15)

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Based on the aforementioned text, how shall one pray? The Apostle Paul directs believers to not only pray with their spirit but also pray with their mind (understanding). Do you glorify the Lord in your body AND your spirit? The Apostle Paul clearly states that when a Christian prays, it is to be done with our spirit AND with understanding. To do otherwise would be unfruitful (a waste of time).

What is the purpose of tongues as seen in the Bible? The use of tongues should not be based upon experiences but on biblical guidelines. What does the Apostle Paul place more emphasis upon when worshiping the Lord? The following passage shows that when worshiping the Lord at church the emphasis should not be on speaking in tongues but teaching others.

"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 14:18-19)

"Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not 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, 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. 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." (I Corinthians 14:22-26)

"Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Corinthians 14:39-40)

According to the Apostle Paul, tongues are for a sign to unbelievers. When a church comes together to worship the Lord, it should be done in a manner that builds up the church (edifies); "decently and in order." Note that the Apostle Paul did not forbid speaking in tongues.