God’s Gift: Speaking in Tongues

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Christianity, evangelism, holy spirit, Mattersey Hall, renewal, spiritual gifts, spiritual life

I have recently been teaching my 2nd Year ‘Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies’ class at Mattersey Hall Christian College, and we have been discussing speaking in other tongues from the Book of Acts and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. One of the unspoken questions, especially among Pentecostals, might be this: why did God choose such a peculiar spiritual gift to accompany the Baptism in the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6) and the ongoing devotion of praying with one’s spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14)? Let’s face it – speaking or praying in a language that the speaker does not understand is… well… a little strange! What may lie behind God’s purpose in bestowing such an unusual ability when His Spirit comes upon us for the first time? Here are some thoughts:

  • Speaking in tongues at the Baptism of the Spirit reminds the believer that they have been empowered to take the Gospel to foreign lands. This was the response of many early Pentecostals at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each time you speak in tongues, let it be an indicator of your own missionary call – yes to your closest neighbour, but also to the ends of the earth too. When the Spirit came on people in ‘Acts’ they invariably left town to preach Jesus elsewhere. Speaking in tongues should draw your attention to the urgent spiritual needs of those far, far away.
  • Similarly, speaking in tongues is an indication that all kinds of people need to be reached for the Lord. In the Book of Acts there was religious racism – a prejudice against sharing God’s word with the Gentile peoples. That is unlikely to be an issue for us today, but we can still have a reluctance to engage with certain ‘types’ of people – whether they are too rich or too poor, too sinful or too religious, too dangerous or too pious, to speak in tongues is to remember that God’s word is for people who aren’t at all like me!
  • Speaking in tongues is an instruction that we are to share God’s love in the language of our hearers. At Pentecost this meant in their own national tongue (Acts 2:11), but there can be a broader application. The unchurched world do not share some of our religious language and ‘Christianese’ and we must learn to break down the Gospel message, without compromise or dilution, into a form that our contemporary culture can fully understand. That is all part of being Pentecostal.
  • Finally, speaking in tongues is a thrilling assurance that a supernatural God is with us for the task ahead. In a post-modern Western society, significantly penetrating our culture can perhaps seem a complete impossibility – a battle that simply cannot be won. But take heart, the Lord of the harvest Himself is with us, willing to stretch out His hand to perform miracles and confirm the word with accompanying wonderful signs.

So, the next time you are speaking to God in your ‘unknown tongue,’ just maybe your mind need not be completely unfruitful. Perhaps you can catch afresh an exciting burden for reaching others for Jesus Christ, people who are far, far away, powerfully demonstrating that ‘everyone who calls upon’ His Name shall be saved (Acts 2:21).  Just be sure that when you go, you speak in their language. That’s completely Pentecostal!

Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s