Question: Our church says you must speak in tongues or you don't have the Holy Spirit. Is tongues for all?
Response: Not a single verse says that the sign of having "received the Holy Spirit" is to speak in tongues. No one can be saved without being indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit. A Christian has been "born again...of the Spirit" (Jn:3:7,8) and "by one Spirit...baptized into one body" (1 Cor:12:13). Those whom Paul asked, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost...?" (Acts:19:2-4) were not yet Christians. They were followers of John the Baptist and had never heard the gospel of Christ until Paul explained it to them.
Paul asks a rhetorical question: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing?" (1 Cor:12:29,30).
The obvious answer is, "No. Not every Christian is an apostle, prophet, teacher, worker of miracles, healer, etc." There is no reason for the next two questions to have a different answer: "Do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" Of course not-unless all are apostles, prophets, and workers of miracles.
The spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are said to be distributed by the Holy Spirit when and to whom He wills. "Tongues" is part of this list. Just as no one can prophecy or heal at his own initiative or power, so no one can speak in tongues except as given at the time by the Holy Spirit. A basic error of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements has been to put tongues in a different category-a "gift" that one can "learn," should continually "practice," and can use whenever one pleases. That is not biblical.
One might as well practice walking on water or raising the dead as "practice speaking in tongues." We do not get any gift from God by practicing. That false teaching has led multitudes astray and causes "tongues speakers" (including leaders) so often to fall into immorality.
"Tongues" is the most dangerous gift. One could hardly deceive anyone to believe that he was raising the dead or restoring a missing limb. But it is quite easy to deceive oneself and others into thinking one is speaking in tongues. Millions have been and still are under this delusion, with serious consequences evident everywhere.