• March 1, 2024

Tongues and the Gospel

When it comes to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the biggest debate seems to be regarding the speaking of tongues. There are opinions on both sides stating if this gift has ceased or is it still being expressed today. When I find myself in the middle of this debate, I refer people back to the first time the Holy Spirit came upon the church. In Acts 2, during Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down and tongues of fire came upon the early apostles. This is what we read:  2 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.” The question we need to ask is why? Why did the Holy Spirit come down in this way, as tongues of fire resting upon the apostles? The answer is seen in verses 5-6. After the Spirit came, people from every nation who were in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost, heard the apostles speak in their own language. Every person, no matter their background, place of birth, or religion, heard the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way they could understand and respond to. The gospel was being proclaimed all across the city. People were amazed at what they saw and heard. Peter could not resist taking this moment to clearly explain the message of the cross. So he stands up in front of the crowd to explain everything they are seeing and what they are hearing. Over 3,000 then respond to faith in Jesus Christ!  So, when it comes to speaking in tongues, the important thing to understand is that the gospel must be communicated clearly. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost as tongues of fire, not to simply be a miraculous sign showing the power of God. Yes. That was amazing and still amazes us today However, the emphasis is on how the Holy Spirit came in order to magnify the name of Jesus through the proclamation of the gospel. I conclude with what the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians  14:19, “I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Next time you hear someone speak of tongues, or perhaps hear someone do so, ask yourself if Jesus Christ is being magnified? Is the gospel being shared in that place and to those present? Jesus’ death and resurrection is what brings salvation to humankind. This is the gospel message that must be proclaimed in the whole world, in every tongue, so the nations will be saved.