Many long for the true Pentecost experience that the early disciples had. Rightfully so, for we should. But many long so much that they are receptive to a counterfeit experience, which is part of the “strong delusion” sent out in these latter days. But is their “speaking in tongues” the same experience that the early apostles had?
Now I know that this may deeply offend many sincere believers who have been swept away in the tide of glossolalia inundating the globe. How can it be wrong if so many are doing it, some would ask. “Few there be to find this way of truth,” Christ said. So beware of what the “many” are doing.
Studying It Out with an Open Mind
Putting aside pre-conceived ideas and traditions, we must go to the scriptures and see what they say in plain English about the subject. He will reveal His truth to the thirsty and sincere and will pour out His Spirit to them (Isaiah 44: 3).
In Acts 2, the early apostles did not utter syllables that no one could understand. No! They spoke in other actual languages. In fact, the feast goers present in Jerusalem from “every nation under heaven…heard them speak in his own language” (2: 4-6). These were “devout men,” who were amazed that the Galilean fishermen were speaking in their language. To emphasize this fact, fifteen different specific languages are listed (v. 9-11).
Filled with the Spirit
So what happened exactly? Peter explained that this is what the prophet Joel foresaw. “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy” (v. 17).
The apostles were not just longing anymore to have an experience with God. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and God was speaking through them. They were vehicles of His words to those without. God was speaking miraculously, expressing His truth through them in another language! That is a miracle because Christ’s disciples could not have spoken any of those languages, for they had never even heard them spoken.
A Practical Miracle
The disciples on the day of Pentecost were not in their own little worship world. Nor were they exulting in a unintelligible form of religious ecstasy. God was using them to speak to others in their own language. It was a practical miracle performed by God through His servants. God needed to convey His truth–through those who knew it–to others who did not speak the same languages as His servants.
So God literally took over their tongues and miraculously spoke through Peter, James, and John and the others.
One of the “Gifts of the Spirit”
This ability to speak in another person’s language is one of the “gifts of the Spirit” outlined in I Corinthians 12: 10. “Divers kinds of tongues” are different kinds of languages. Tongues are languages.
And I must be honest. I do speak English and Spanish. But I have never been taken over by the Holy Spirit and had my mouth speak other foreign languages to people. Wow. That would be something. Other gifts of the Spirit I have been blessed to have received (or rather, to have been a channel of that gift): “word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith”–but not different languages flowing by His Spirit through my mouth.
But someday God will use this gift again. Someday His sons and daughters will be sent to foreign lands, and He will need to speak to the people there. And God will speak through His surrendered servants and will pour out through them comforting words about His soon coming kingdom. And He will comfort them with words in their own language. Kenneth Wayne Hancock