What About Speaking in Tongues?

The Gift for the Harvest

Acts 2:1-16

A few things have happened since the ascension of Jesus in Acts. The remainder of Acts Chapter 1 shares that Judas took his own life, and the disciples replaced Judas with Matthias. Some scholars believe Judas should have been replaced with Paul, but that’s neither here nor there.

God’s Strategic Gift (Acts 2:1-5) The day of Pentecost- meaning fiftieth or Harvest, was celebrated fifty days after Passover. This harvest feast was one of the big Jewish festivals. It was a feast of harvest. That’s what it is called in Exodus 23:16 and Deuteronomy 16:10. Men were required to attend, and Jews from other countries would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to be there. Think of the Franklinton Fair, but on a much larger scale! Jesus had told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Father, today was the day! God strategically, while many nations were present, delivered the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I want you to think about the significance of this, God gave the Holy Spirit during the Harvest festival for the harvest of salvations to take place!

I want to distinguish between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit. There is a difference in teachings among Christians concerning this. Some teachings of Christianity believe in a second baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptist doctrine teaches that all true believers are baptized by the Spirit in which the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. This is a one-time occurrence. We see this in Paul’s writings of 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal 3:26-27; Eph 4:4-6. Being filled with the Holy Spirit should be a continuous occurrence and is something the believer should pursue according to Eph 5:18.

God’s Specific Gathering (Acts 2:6-12) In verse 7, the educated viewed rural Galileans as ignorant and unable to speak in a manner that was supernaturally displayed on this day of Pentecost. The list is full of other nations here and we know with Paul’s missionary endeavors the gospel will continue to go forward as we’ll see in Acts. God was strategically and specifically gathering these people together to hear the gospel! Peter shares this gospel message in Acts 2:22-41 and 3000 were saved! Tongues were used for the Great Commission. I believe God will use whatever means he desires to accomplish the Great Commission.

Let’s pause at this point and note what we know about the Holy Spirit from these verses.

  1. The Holy Spirit was promised and came. (Acts 2:2-4) The power was promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8 and Luke 24:49, and by the prophet Joel in the OT. John records Jesus talking about the Holy Spirit’s coming also.
  2. The Holy Spirit appears however God pleases. (Acts 2:3-4) In this context we see the Holy Spirit coming in fire, violently, but we see other appearances throughout God’s Word that the Holy Spirit came differently. John Piper notes, “At times the Holy Spirit makes himself known with visible, audible, touchable manifestations. In the Old Testament there was the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. At Jesus’ baptism there was the dove. In Acts 4 the building shakes. In chapter 6 Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel. In chapter 16 there is an earthquake.”
  3. The Holy Spirit always points to the glory of God. (Acts 2:6-11) We key in especially to Acts 2:11 “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

God Separates Through His Glorious Truth (Acts 2:13-16) There will always be people who doubt the working of the Holy Spirit! We must not put limits on God and the power of the Holy Spirit! Those who are truly transformed by the Holy Spirit, through the gospel message will display fruits of the Spirit noted in Galatians 5:22-23. Skepticism was happening then, it was happening during the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings in the US and it’s happening today. Jesus prayed against division in John 17. The work of the Holy Spirit should thrust us to the Word of God, causing us to ask, is what is happening biblical, is what is happening counterfeit, or true? As a reminder, counterfeit movements of the Holy Spirit only boast in ones’ self, not in Christ! Gifts of the Holy Spirit are to always point to Jesus Christ! Let us not be Skeptic of the true working of the Holy Spirit.  

The second division is elitism. These are the people that feel the display of the speaking in tongues is the evidence of salvation. I’ve never spoke in tongues, unless you count the midnight stumping of my toe in the dark and stepping on a Lego. I have made up curse words and called out 70s musicians that I’ve rarely listened to. I have prayed to speak in tongues, but haven’t. I believe God uses specific means for the Great Commission. I’ve seen Middle Easterners come to Christ as a result of Visions they’ve had explained. I’ve been able to share the gospel with Intellectuals who have come to Christ as a result of the Holy Spirit, overcoming many barriers! We will trust in the power of Holy Spirit!  Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” We must display love most importantly!

God’s truth will either be accepted or dined. We are not the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does a better job than we could ever do, we must be available for the use of and the work of the Holy Spirit. I pray that the working and power of the Holy Spirit ignites us to continue the mission of Acts until Christ calls us home!