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of February 1997
Next up-date: 1st March 1997 (God willing).
Did Jesus talk in tongues? If not, do the following words mean that His disciples did something He did not do?
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance". Acts 2:4.
The answer is "Yes", the disciples did receive and do something that Jesus did not receive or do. Acts chapter 2:7-8 tell us that on the Day of Pentecost (the 50th day after the resurrection) the onlookers heard the disciples speaking in their languages, known languages in use in the world at that time. The next three verses quote some of the languages being used. Therefore this aid from the Spirit was the ability to communicate clearly and simply to foreigners. Jesus did not need this gift when He spoke to His fellow countrymen and women, or even to the local Romans and Greeks, for they all spoke Aramaic, the common Greek dialect. He said of His work, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Matthew 15:24. What He received was the ability to talk in parables, clear languages to farmers and fishermen, kings and rich men, brides and bridegrooms, wives and mothers.
Jesus never left the area around Israel, but He had asked His disciples to go "into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature", therefore their work was to be different to His. Mark 16:15. Therefore their gift was different. "There are diversities (or differences) of operations, but it is the same God which works in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with... But all these works that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing (distributing) to every man severally (or individually) as He wills". 1 Corinthians 12:6-11.
Because of this, in his letter to the Corinthians Paul later wrote that "tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not", while "prophesying" is good for Christians! Chapter 14:22. In verse 5 we are told that "prophesying" is to be desired more than speaking in tongues (maybe we can discuss what "prophesying" means another time?). In fact, all the church talking in tongues all at once in front of unbelievers would just give them the impression that the church is mad. Such a babel of languages. Verse 23.
Speaking in "known" languages, (the word "unknown" in the KJV is in italic print which means that it has been added into the King James Bible by the translators. It is not there in the New King James version), could be a useful tool. It is written, "If any man speak in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course (or one at a time); and let one interpret (for those who do not speak the language so all may share in the blessing)". Therefore the use of foreign languages by the disciples in their travels was intended to help non-Jews to understand the gospel as fully as possible.
The following verses from the letter to the Corinthians seem to sum it all up:
"And even things without life giving sound (man-made instruments), whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you shall speak into the air (as a waste of time and effort).
"There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices (or languages) in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian to me. Even so you, because you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying (or teaching) of the church." 1 Corinthians 14:7-12.
The outpouring of the Spirit of God and the ability to speak other languages came in answer to earnest prayer. But mark this fact concerning the disciples. The record in the book of Acts says, "They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." 2:1-4.
They were not assembled to relate tidbits of scandal. They were not seeking to expose every stain they could find on a brother or sister's character. They were not there to fight over differences in doctrine. They felt their spiritual need, and were crying to the Lord for the holy anointing to help them in overcoming their own infirmities, and to fit them for the work of saving others. They prayed with intense earnestness that the love of Christ might be shed abroad in their hearts and they be able to help others get it also. That's why they got the gift.
This is the great need today in every church in the world. For "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17. That which was objectionable in the character is purified from the soul by the love of Jesus. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision (the keeping of ceremonies) avails anything, nor uncircumcision (not keeping ceremonies), but faith which works by love". Galatians 5:6. All selfishness is expelled, all envy, all evil-speaking, is rooted out, and a radical transformation is wrought in the heart. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23.
These precious graces are just the principles of God's law carried out in the life as it is written:-
"The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace". James 3:18.
Speaking in tongues:
Speaking in tongues is a gift of God given to make the international work of spreading the truth easier. It is the gift of using language that the listener understands. Acts 2:1-21.
This is sustained by the words and actions of Jesus. He did everything a normal Christian should do and He spoke in "tongues" also. We call that "speaking in parables" today when we are talking to one of our own language. Matthew 13:1-53.
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