First of all, it is vital to see exactly what “tongues” are. The gift of tongues was first given on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down to indwell believers and form them into the body of Christ. We see this in Acts 2:1-4, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, there 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then THERE APPEARED OT THE DIVIDED TONGUES, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and BEGAN TO SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (NKJV). I would especially draw your attention the words “other tongues.” The word “tongue” simply refers to a “language” so when the disciples were gathered and the Spirit filled them they “began to speak in other LANGUAGES”; that is, “other languages than the language they were accustomed to speak in.”  Some teach that tongues is a heavenly prayer language known only to God, but this is refuted in verses 5-8, “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from EVERY NATION UNDER HEAVEN. And then this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE.” So, the supernatural gift of tongues is the ability for one to speak in a foreign language that they had never learned.

When my wife and I were first saved we were told by other Christians to “pray for God to give you the gift of tongues.” We did pray for this to happen but were discouraged because NOTHING HAPPENED. We were then invited to a “Conference of the Holy Spirit” where believers would be “taught how to pray in tongues.” We decided NOT to attend, but to study the scriptures to learn all that we could about tongues. The first thing we learned was that there isn’t one scripture where we are told to “pray for God to give you the gift of tongues.” Instead we learned that this is indeed a GIFT that the Holy Spirit will give to WHOEVER HE CHOOSES TO GIVE IT TO.” We see this in 1st Corinthians 12:1, 4, 7-8, 10-11: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit…to another different kinds of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually AS HE WILLS.” This is conclusive; we are NOT to pray for this gift or seek to have someone teach us how to pray in tongues; if it is the will of the Spirit for us to have this gift HE WILL GIVE IT TO US and we will use it without having to be taught. I might add, in keeping with your question, that those who exercised this gift did not question whether or not they were “doing it in the proper way,” for they were under the complete control of the Spirit and knew He was acting through them (see Acts 2:12-18).

My wife and I were convinced that we did not have this gift and we were satisfied with God’s will. We then met other believers who said, “If you don’t speak in tongues you aren’t saved.” This was confusing because we were quite sure we were saved, based on verses like Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” We knew we had trusted in Christ as our personal Savior and thus the “gift of salvation” was ours! We then searched for scriptures to seek an answer for those who were telling us we had to speak in tongues as evidence that we had been saved. We found the answer in the same chapter, 1st Corinthians 12. In verse 13 we are told, “For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Of course, this is speaking of the “body of Christ” and we know from Acts 2:47 that this happens the moment a person is saved, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” This means that ALL of those at Corinth had been saved and were baptized into the body of Christ. At the end of chapter 12 Paul, in speaking of the spiritual gifts that the Spirit had given them, said: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers” Are all workers of miracles? Do all have the gifts of healings? DO ALL SPEAK WITH TONGUES?” (verses 29-30). These are what we call “rhetorical questions” for the obvious answer to these questions is NO! This means that ALL the Corinthians were saved and members of the body of Christ, but NOT ALL spoke in tongues. This was the answer we needed in response to those who said, “If you don’t speak in tongues you aren’t saved.”

I could end on that note but I want to add one more thought. In 1st Corinthians 13:8 we read, “Whether there are tongues, they will CEASE.” The word “cease” means they would “stop on their own”; that is, they would stop once their purpose had been fulfilled. What was their purpose? The Lord Jesus told His disciples the purpose in Mark 16:17 & 20, “And these SIGNS will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues….and they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and CONFIRMING THE WORD THROUGH THE ACCOMPANYING SIGNS.” Tongues and other supernatural gifts were given to believers as signs to CONFIRM THE WORD!  Once it became evident that the Word they preached was the Word of God, the signs were no longer needed to establish that fact. I believe tongues were meant only for the early church period and after God’s revelation to man was available and accepted as the Word of God, the “sign gifts” ceased.  (368.5)  (DO)