Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. -- 1Corinthians 14:1-5 (ESV)
Paul has spent a fair amount of time writing to the Corinthians about pursuing prophecy -- not tongues. Paul is making a clear delineation between these two gifts. Prophecy is for the people. It edifies the people. It uplifts the people. It provides encouragement and consolation to the people. The prophecy speaker edifies and builds the church but the tongue speaker only edifies and builds up himself. Think about that in relation to how tongues is practiced at your charismatic church. The "interpretation" that usually follows, if there is one, sounds a lot like the prophetic word described here. It is edifying in nature to the people and the church. As pointed out earlier in my own church, there was a few who understood this and simply prophesied instead of babbling first. Most however engaged in the inane babble, followed by a self-interpretation that is prophecy, not tongues.
The other consideration here is Paul is admonishing the Corinthians to stop speaking in tongues if there is no interpreter! Now, if the gift of tongues was really meant to be gibberish, how could one know if there would be an interpreter? He simply wouldn't. If tongues were foreign languages however, one would know if there existed an interpreter in the church that day to prove the tongue was reliable and provided by God. Without the existence of that interpreter in service, the tongues being spoken are mysteries to everyone in attendance. That is what Paul is speaking about in Verse 2, not some mysterious new language that no one understands. Unfortunately, this is what modern tongues has devolved into:
The first clip highlights the absolute silliness and narcissism of modern tongues as well as the level of self-deception we sink to. Tongue speaking in the Charismatic church is considered a spiritual badge of honor and people wield it as such. This preacher though convinced himself that the Holy Spirit wanted him to say, "Pookie-Poo" over and over again as some form of heavenly language. The second clip is the more modern Heidi "Shaka-Baba" Baker who essentially is demon possessed when she starts her fake tongues rant. While we are on this, Baker engages in something that many preachers do today. This lapsing into tongues and back into English with seemingly no rhyme or reason and certainly no interpretation. The bible is very clear. Without an interpreter we are to stay silent.
Beloved, I understand this is a touchy subject because this is simply how we were raised and taught. Sound doctrine requires us to test ourselves however and to test all spirits. It should not be discouraging to discover we have been taught wrong. Freedom from what is false should always be a moment of great joy for we once we were blind but now we see. When I realized that being slain in the spirit and talking gibberish for tongues were not biblical those areas were returned to God, where they belonged. I no longer had to pursue the gifts of proof of my super-spirituality or feel less than for not having the same experience. The bible says that the Holy Spirit decides what gifts go to whom and when. How liberating is that! I have watched people try to teach people how to speak in gibberish tongues and that is nothing short of blasphemous! Schools of the fake supernatural such as Bethel are simply lying when they claim they can teach you how to prophesy, let alone speak in their false tongues.
As hard as this may be, take it and consider. The next time in church watch how tongues is used. Is it a performance for the speaker to draw attention away from Christ and onto themselves? Was there an interpreter? Were they forced to interpret themselves? Was the interpreted word directed to God or to the church? If you know of unsaved folks there watch their reaction. Is this bringing any glory to God? Any at all? Who was being exalted during the tongues? Was everyone focused on God or the speaker? These are serious questions beloved. the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for show. They are not designed to draw attention away from God. I understand why many have wandered away into cessationism. They see the same abuses I see in the church but they choose to throw out the baby with the charismatic bathwater. That is equally unbiblical. God would never go to the detailed lengths He did regarding the order of church services and the gifts if they were only meant for the Apostolic Age, which only had 40 years left at the time of the writing. We are so bound by the experience of the apostate church in this country we cannot see what might be outside of our shores. It is any wonder that the Holy Spirit is not moving in a church that has fallen away from God? Look into the underground church in China or the oppressed church in the Middle East and that picture might be entirely different. God is still active beloved and His spirit still moves. He still heals. He still delivers. Do not chase false charismata to bring glory to yourself. Step into the glorious light that shines only to exalt Jesus.