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Is all tongues real?

Submitted: 4/20/2011
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Question: Isn't the gift of tongues speaking in other languages? I know there can be tongues of men and heavenly ones, but shouldn't they all sound like a language? All I hear today is babbling and repetitive unknown phrases, and honestly, if my emotions are stirred up I could slip over my words too. How do you distinguish between emotion and the Spirit? And how do you know if someone isn't just faking?

Answer: There are thousands of different languages spoken around the world. Some are very complex with many interesting sounds, while others are very simple with only a few basic sounds. In addition, there are the languages of heaven which we have not even heard yet. Because of this, we should be careful not to rush to judgment and say that someone is only babbling. After all, even Paul was called a babbler by the unbelievers in Athens (see Acts 17:18). When I have been in foreign countries listening to people speak in a language I don't understand, if often sounds like little more than a string of meaningless sounds.

Having said this, I agree that some people do not seem to be speaking in an actual language but only making a few simple sounds, often very repetitively. This concerns me. In the end, speaking in tongues is not the final evidence we should be looking for. We should also expect to see the fruit of the Spirit described in Galations 5:22-23.