A Special Sign for the Early Church

In his sermon, “A Dangerous Pentecost,” Halford Luccock tells of Lorenzo de’Medici, the great Florentine patron of the arts who was very proud of the spectacles he staged for the citizenry. Among his productions were several amazingly realistic religious pageant … More

Tongues

There were three great Jewish festivals to which every male Jew living within twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to come—the Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost was so called because it fell on the fiftieth day, a week of weeks, after the Passover. At least as many came to the Feast of Pentecost as came to the Passover. On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place (v. 1). Warren Wiersbe said, “We are not going to move the world by criticism of it, nor conformity to it, but by the combustion with it.” The coming of the Spirit was by a mighty wind or a roar, fire, and a tongue upon each head (vv. 2-3). The disciples began to speak in real languages which were understood by those from various lands (v. 4). The miracle was the giving of the ability to speak these languages.

At Pentecost all of these people heard the disciples speak the wonderful works of God in their mother tongue (vv. 5-11). The people who heard this were perplexed and amazed at what they were witnessing, and tried to say that the disciples were drunk (vv. 12-13). Again we need to note that they  were speaking in a known language, and not an “unknown tongue.” The only tongues speaking the Bible knows anything about are established languages of the day, spoken supernaturally as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. Unless we are instructed otherwise in Scripture, we must assume that when “speaking in tongues” is mentioned in Acts or I Corinthians, it refers to an identical experience where believers were praising God in languages that are known. This leaves no room for tongues speaking as it is often practiced in churches today.

Application

We know that God wants every man to hear the Gospel in his own language (II Peter 3:9). I need to keep asking the Lord what part I am to play in His program to accomplish this.

Acts 2:1-13 (English Standard Version)

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

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