Q. A friend of mine and I are debating 1 Cor 13:8 and the cessation of tongues. I have been reading several of your Q and A pages and find them helpful. Could you give us your interpretation of the cessation of tongues? Has tongues ceased? If so, how is it explained of those that are very devout still using tongues, even pastors.
A. First let’s understand that the vast majority of people who claim they’re speaking in tongues really are not. They’re using something they call a prayer language, about which the Bible is silent. A true message in tongues is given in a language foreign to the person giving it but can be translated into an understandable language by a person with the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:27-28). It’s a way for God to authenticate a message He has for us.
As for your question on 1 Cor. 13:8 and the cessation of tongues, the answer is in verses 9-12. At the resurrection / rapture we will cease being imperfect and will become perfect. At that time we will no longer need the spiritual gifts to help each other understand God’s plans and purpose. The limitations placed on our minds by our sin nature will be removed and we will know fully, even as we are fully known. Until then, we need the gifts we and others have to help us understand. Therefore the cessation of tongues and other gifts has not taken place and will not take place until the rapture.