First, I want to apologize for missing the last two weeks. Two weeks ago the Comcast modem in my apt. complex quit. Last week I typed one paragraph and the keyboard on my laptop quit, so I couldn’t type. I now have an external keyboard to use until I can afford to have the laptop’s keyboard replaced. Hopefully we’ll have no more interruptions.
Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came to mankind, is rooted in the Old Testament. This isn’t surprising because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever . All of the New Testament is founded in the Old. God never changes. And His will and purpose for mankind never changes, although He has changed how He relates to us since the resurrection of Christ. Jesus, whom John calls the Word, has been active in the world since day one: ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And all things were made by Him; and without Him not anything that was made that was made (John 1:1-3). The Word, Christ Jesus, came into the world for the precise purpose of giving sinful humanity the only way back to God: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” ( John 1:14). He is the only way back into the family of God ” I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
Jesus told His disciples that He would send another Comforter after he left that will stay with Christians forever (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7). That Comforter is the Holy Spirit. He arrived on the day of Pentecost seven weeks after Christ’s resurrection. He arrived in cloven tongues as if of fire that sat upon each of the men in the room. And they were all fillled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3,4), and they began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This was the coming of the other Comforter that Jesus spoke of to His disciples.
Luke’s intent in Acts 2 is that the tongues spoken by the men was the languages of those people who observed the proceedings. It was not some unintelligible private language.. Luke recounts the onlookers as saying that every man heard the Christians speak “in his own language” (Acts 2:6)., “and how hear we every man in our own language, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:8). The meaning of the text is that the men spok in their own language, and the onlookers heard them in their own native language, whether that that language was Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, or some other language. This was clearly the work of the Holy Spirit that enabled the onlookers to understand what the men were preaching to them. Understanding the gospel is of prime importance.
God has sent the Holy Spirit to enable His chosen ambassadors -us- to speak with others in His behalf. Moses was not a good speaker, but God gave him the messages to take to Pharaoh, and He sent Moses’s brother Aaron with him to do the speaking (Exodus 3:1-11). And, the words from both the Old Testament and the New Testament translated as tongues actually means language, and is clearly the languages spoken by men in their native lands ( Palm 140:3; Isaiah 66:18; Jeremiah 23:31). Since God is the same for all time, His workings are the same. He instituted a new contract between Him and humans with Christ’s death on the cross in our place. But there is no biblical warrant for the doctrine that Christians need to receive the Holy Spirit after salvation, nor that pastors need to smack people on the head so that they fall over backwards in order to receive the Holy Spirit. That’s only theatrics. If anything, new Christians would see cloven tongues dancing on them when they received to Spirit, and that clearly doesn’t happen. What is clear from the New Testament is that the Holy Spirit is given at the time of conversion.
Moreover, tongues in the New Testament is also languages, as above. Some denominations have instituted a false doctrine of speaking in gobeltygook which is touted as a personal language given by God. They quote such verses as the giving of the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and 28, in which the word tongues clearly means languages. They also cite 1 Corinthians 13:1 which says, “Though I speak with the languages of men and of angles” . Paul was clearly just emphasizing the fact that whatever gift is received from the Holy Spirit it must be administered to others in love. Paul is saying that whatever gift you receive is given to further your following the commands in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19.20) is of prime importance, and that this work must be done in love.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1-40). But faith in spiritual, unseen things while living in a physical world is difficult at best. We have to deal practically with the physical world every day in order to survive. Therefore, stepping forth in faith for spiritual things while in a physical world requires a huge paradigm shift. It means a restructuring of your fundamental core values. That is why Christ said blessed is he who has not seen and yet believes. Some people feel the need to see something miraculous in their lives in order to believe, so they institute doctrines of speaking in gobeltygook and forehead smacking in order to grab on to the spiritual. What they’re grasping on to is thin air. They can’t inherit the wind, to borrow a book title. But they can inherit the kingdom of God through faith in things unseen.
And, here’s the thing: Seeing the spiritual is retroactive. Seeing spiritual results in your life comes after stepping out in faith to fulfill your part of the Great Commission. If you keep you eyes on Christ you can figuratively step out of the boat and walk on water. But take your eyes off Christ and becoming fearful of the depth of the water and the height of the waves, and you’ll sink in an instant.
Lets not be a doubting Thomas. Have faith in the unseen at it will manifest itself to you in greater ways than you could imagine. Everything God does in this world, every thing Christ did, and His giving us the Great Commission is designed to bring all who will do so to the Father. That should be your focus no matter if your worldly job is a police officer, a doctor, street sweeper, airline pilot, butcher, baker or candle stick maker. Step out in loving faith today to follow Christ in the work of the Great Commission, and you’ll see the work of the Spirit manifest as He manifests Himself in your life.