The topic of the “Speaking in Tongues” is way too vast to address in one article. And even if we wanted to do it, we would not be able to, because I for one do not understand everything about it. But we believe that the question of whether tongues have already ceased or are still available to Christians today can be answered in one article, and with a fair amount of certainty. Here is the key verse, the source of all controversy:
1 Corinthians 13:8 – Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
It is without question true that not only tongues, but also prophecies and knowledge will cease and vanish away. So the only question that truly remains is
“When will all these ceasing take place?”
The context provides a definite answer to this question.
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 – Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
God tells us exactly when this will take. It is when that which is perfect has come. You and I will agree that the only perfect One is our Lord Jesus-Christ. At the time of Paul’s writings to the Corinthians, Jesus-Christ had already come the first time, was crucified, was resurrected, and then was seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 8:1). And we can also agree that He is still there today because He has not returned yet (otherwise, we must have missed the memo!). When He returns, there will be no more need for tongues, prophecies and knowledge because He, the perfect One, will be here Himself.
There is no need for an ambassador when the president is around himself. But when the president is not around, the ambassador, who represents him, testifies that he (the president) exists. Likewise, the Spirit we have received from Jesus-Christ testifies of Him (John 15:26). But when Jesus-Christ is here Himself, there will be no more need for any testimony from anyone…He will be here Himself!
Verse 12 further confirms that the time for tongues, prophecies and knowledge to cease has not yet arrived.
1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
It is quite evident that today, we do not know the same way we are known of God. God and Jesus-Christ know us better than we know them. Therefore, verse 12 is still the present. We know in part, we do not know everything, and we certainly do not see face to face. That is the case because that which is perfect (Jesus-Christ) has not yet come (His second coming, and everything this second coming implies for us).
Conclusion: Therefore, it seems to us that the logical conclusion from the scriptures is that not only speaking in tongues, but also prophecies and knowledge have not ceased. If one maintains that tongues have ceased, then such should confess that prophecies and knowledge have ceased as well. But how can our God allow for knowledge to cease?! It is precisely the lack of knowledge that destroys His people (Hosea 4:6), so He (God) will never allow such things. Those things will stop when His Christ, Himself, is here! So now, the who, where, when and how of speaking in tongues are a different matter. We should endeavor not to be stuck in our ways, which is the hallmark of pride, and instead endeavor to study the scriptures and voluntarily submit ourselves to what God is telling us, at least to the best of our understanding.
To God, His majesty, and to His Son Jesus-Christ, be the Glory for all Eternity! Amen.