In earliest times, people spoke the same language. This unified language was used in rebellion against God in the building of the tower of Babel, Gen 11:1ff. God quelled this rebellion by confusing the people’s language and by scattering them over the face of the earth, Gen 11:9. In the future life, the unity of language will be restored in the praise and service of God, Rev 7:9-12; cf Zeph 3:9; 1 Cor 13:8. Some foretaste of this is found in the NT church in the miraculous gift of tongues at Pentecost, Acts 2:4,11. This was a remarkable sign of the universality of the gospel message. In the worship of the church, tongues plus interpretation also bears witness to the promise of the future eradication of language differences. In private prayer, a token is given in the gift of tongues of the final victory over the effects of the fall, which included a broken fellowship with God. (Based on Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1069ff)
Classic Pentecostal churches regard tongues-speaking as the unvarying accompaniment of the baptism in the Holy Spirit:- ‘If we only wish to perform the barest minimum essential for life everlasting, then once we have repented of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we may live and obtain life eternal. But how much more there is for the serious Christian! How much more rewarding is the life of commitment and service a dedicated child of God may participate in…For surely the unknown tongue is the initial, audible evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.’ (Quoted in Hollenweger, The Pentecostals, 10)
More recent developments within that tradition – the Charismatic movement, Third Wave, etc., tend to have a reduced emphasis both on a two-stage description of the Christian life (accepting Christ and being baptised with the Holy Spirit) and on the expectation that all will speak in tongues.
The matter is determined by the clear teaching of Scripture. When Paul asks, in 1 Cor 12:30, ‘Do all speak in tongues?’, the clearly-implied answer is, ‘No.’ It is just as he has stated in 12:11 – the Holy Spirit ‘apportions to each one individually as he wills.’
Grossmann warns: ‘Where people regard glossolalia as a sign clearly indicative of Spirit baptism and so of a higher status in the kingdom of God, it is easy for an unhealthy anxiety to develop, producing a passion for this charism and attempts to bring about a “breakthrough” by the use of various exercises and forms of psychological conditioning. Frequently the result which follows is an ecstatic counterfeit experience, associated with crying, shuddering, shaking, falling down, clapping and shouting. Such phenomena can be a sign of demonic activity, but often they indicate mere human adjuncts resulting from an urge to be accepted, psychological instability, a breakthrough of repressed emotions or something of that sort…’ (S. Grossmann, Stewards of God’s Grace, 112)