The word "tongue" in Acts chapter 2:5-11 is the word "glossa," a simple word defined as the literal tongue. The simple inference to other languages or a language or speech. Following the giving of the Great Commission and Jesus' ascension we find the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a local church in Jerusalem. We have with this a definitive occasion of "speaking in tongues" with the word "tongue" being the greek word "glossa" or "literal tongue."
Joel Osteen and others of his persuasion are bringing much confusion and false doctrine with a Pentecostal blend of Norman Vincent Peale's positiveness to the average Christian TV viewer. When the doctrinal walls were torn down the Pentecostal movement discovered a religious gold mine.
Churches began to pop up with generic names inviting those who liked a merging of worldliness and spirituality into a movement. Rick Warren followed suit with hard rock preludes to his services and soon in the Baptist world the walls came tumbling down.
Someone said to me, "Doctrine divides!" My response was, "Yes, doctrine divides the sheep from the goats."
Now, slowly and deliberately enter the subject matter of "prayer language" or "heavenly languages" or "ecstasy" in "tongues." The stage has been set and the door is open for the invasion of the true Pentecostal doctrines. Notre Dame and Catholics are now speaking in "tongues of ecstasy." The Protestant world is enamored by these suave TV personalities who are wolves in sheep clothing. What is the truth of "tongues" in the Scriptures?
1) Acts 2:6, "Every man heard them speak in his own language." These are no heavenly tongues or some tongues of ecstasy or unnatural tongues. Verse 8, "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, where we were born?" Please note that follows with a list of the nationalities of those who were present, about 15 nationalities. Verse 11, "We do hear them peak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
2) God mocked the worldly church of Corinth for fake tongues.
I Corinthians chapter 14 uses the word "unknown" in the discussion of "unknown tongue." This chapter is a mocking of the worldly church at Corinth who were attempting to emulate what happened on the day of Pentecost. Those words used by the church at Corinth were "unknown" to God and Man.
3) These tongues were learned. It is clear from I Corinthians chapter 14, verses 16 and 24, where is mentioned "the unlearned" who could not understand their words in foreign languages. In verse 18 Paul said, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." Then Paul said, "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" or a foreign language not understood by those present.
3) The purpose of the speaking in "tongues" or "languages" is for the spreading of the Gospel. People were convicted and converted through the testimony of those who spoke the word of God on the day of Pentecost. It takes the same Gospel whether delivered in English, German, Latin, or Spanish to save a soul from Hell.
4) The tongues of Pentecost were incidental to the souls saved. Dr. Curtis Hutson use to say if I had a bag of a million dollars and poured out the million dollars. Then you began to worship the bag instead of the million dollars you are a candidate to fall for the modern emphasis on speaking in tongues. It is not the tongues, but the 3,000 souls saved that is the central miracle.
5) This incidental miracle of tongues was never intended for everyone. I Corinthians 12:30, "Do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" Obviously, not all need the miracle of languages as the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost this incidental miracle helped them preach to others who did not understand the Aramaic which was regularly spoken.