Few things in the spiritual realm can cause as much religious indignation, anger, consternation, rejection and hatred as the tongues question. The reason is that it makes no sense on the human level. Human beings pride themselves on their intellectual capacity. I know uber religious people who will adamantly deny a statement or a series of statements found in their Bible because they “just can’t wrap my mind around that.” Not too long ago I heard those exact words coming through the lips of a woman who was holding Bible studies in her home. My problem, she patiently informed me, was that I just didn’t get the big picture. She grew rather angry when I used the words of her own Bible to prove that her picture had a deadly flaw–it was not from God. Nevertheless, she was right and I was wrong. Case closed. Welcome to my world.
Here is how things tend to go in my world. Some time ago after I had written several articles in the local newspaper I was approached by a group of about two dozen people who identified me as the man God had sent to teach them the Bible. I was the long-awaited answer to their prayers. God then performed a miracle to prove it. Then one member of the group asked me about speaking in tongues. I gave the inquisitor God’s Scriptural answer, which is my bent. I was instantly rejected. But I was not alone. When they rejected (“despised”–KJV) God’s Words they openly announced that they despised both Him and His son, or so said His Son in Luke 10:16. These supposed Truth-hungry souls accused both Father and Son of lying. But they would get away with it because the holy liars had saved Truth-rejecting souls. The moral of this situation is: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SATAN.
Within the “true churches” of professing Christendom, speaking in tongues is only a notch above blaspheming the Holy Spirit. By using the same Bible those churches use to condemn the practice, I will prove that in doing so they are themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Relative to the subject of tongues, let us turn to the Book of Acts and examine the Scriptural passages that offend tongues deniers.
Beginning in chapter two, we find that the Day of Pentecost has arrived, just as it does every spring exactly 50 days after Passover, which came on April 7th this year. See God’s Holy Days. The historian Josephus tells us that Jerusalem normally tripled in population during the Pentecost-Passover season as Jews came from “every nation under heaven” (vs 5) to observe the celebrations. As Jesus had promised His disciples and apostles, the Holy Spirit came on them. It did so on the Day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. while they tarried in an upper room. As a result they began to speak in the various languages spoken by the city’s many visitors, some of whom were proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism). There are several arguments used by deniers which they claim proves that God prohibits speaking in tongues in the church. One such argument contends that the apostles and disciples did not actually speak in unknown languages, instead they spoke in their native Greek. The miracle was that the visitors “heard” the apostles speaking in their various languages. In other words, the miracle was not in the speaking, but in the hearing. Let us allow the Scriptures to address this issue.
Acts 2:1-12 notes that all in the upper room were local Jews (vs 1,4), that “they” were visited by the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire (vs 3), that “they” began to SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES as the Spirit gave THEM utterance. Note that they spoke in tongues BEFORE anyone outside of the room heard them. Note also that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke (“gave them utterance”) the unknown words through their lips. Therefore, deniers are blaspheming (speaking against) the Holy Spirit. Note that the multitude HEARD THEM (LOCAL JEWS) SPEAK in their (the visitors’) LANGUAGE (2:11). In 2:6 is written: “… we (visitors) do hear THEM SPEAK IN OUR TONGUES ….” They were amazed, saying: “Behold, are not ALL THESE WHICH SPEAK (in the visitors’ various tongues) Galileans? And how we hear ALL THESE (GREEK SPEAKERS SPEAKING) IN OUR OWN TONGUE, WHEREIN WE WERE BORN? …. we do hear THEM SPEAK IN OUR TONGUES the wonderful works of God” (2:7,8) …. And they were amazed … saying one to another, ‘What does this mean?'”
At that point some local people began to mock the disciples, saying that they could speak in foreign tongues because they were drunk. Note that the local mockers also heard the apostles and disciples speak in tongues. Peter addressed them, calling them “men of Judea” and “Jerusalem” (2:14). He noted that, “… THESE (tongues speakers) are not drunken as you (local scoffers) suppose….” These verses plainly affirm that those in the upper room were Jews from the surrounding regions of Galilee, Judaea and the city of Jerusalem, that their native tongue was Greek, that the foreign-born visitors knew that the locals did not speak their various languages, which explains why they were amazed when they heard them doing so.
At this point (2:16-18) Peter explained that what was happening. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit had been prophesied by the Prophet Joel (2:28) centuries earlier. As Peter explained, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the beginning stage of the prophesy. He noted that the end stage would take place later. The events of Acts 2:19-21 will come to pass during the Day of the Lord–the final year of the Tribulation period leading up to the return of Jesus Christ.
In 2:22,23 Peter continued to address the local Jews who had heard the saints speaking in unknown tongues and had mocked them. He reminded them that a man named Jesus had performed miracles “among YOU” and “… in the midst of you as you yourselves also know, … Him you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain ….” In verse 36 he reminded them again that they had crucified an innocent Man. Hearing this they came under conviction and asked Peter what they needed to do. He told them to repent of their sins, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit (vss 37-41). Some 3000 of them did so. As the following Scriptures show, they joined together as a church in which they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (gospel), ate and prayed together and shared their possessions. During this time the apostles performed many miracles, signs and wonders “among the (local) people.” “And the Lord added to the local church daily such as should be (later) saved” (vss 42-47).
In chapters three and four Peter reiterates the fact that the apostles and disciples had been speaking in foreign tongues. These tongues speakers were the “You” and “they” and “them” referred to by the visitors who heard “THEM” AS “THEY” SPOKE IN THE VARIOUS LANGUAGES OF THEIR NATIVE LANDS. See: 3:10;12;14,16,17,20, 22,25,26/ 4:1,4,8,10,13,16,21,23,31, 32,34,35. These verses signify that all of the things mentioned in chapters two, three and four took place among the local people to whom the apostles later ministered. These were the people who spoke in tongues and, along with other locals, became the Jerusalem church. They did not speak Greek to the visitors from “every nation under heaven.” They spoke in unknown tongues. Next: Tongues and the Apostle Paul. L.J.