What language does God speak? Have you ever wondered?
In recent months, God has allowed me to preach to various congregations from different ethnic backgrounds. As part of the morning worship, I’ve listened and tried to sing some of the songs of worship–well actually I just sang in my heart–I haven’t been able to figure out the words!
In Acts 2:5-13 as the Spirit of God was poured out on the 120 Christ followers who had been waiting for the Father’s gift, He gave them the ability to speak in other languages. What a contrast to the confusion that resulted at the Tower of Babel when God confused the one language of the earth into many!
The sound of the mighty rushing wind caught the attention of the Jewish worshipers who had gathered for the Feast of Pentecost. As they assembled with the 120, they were filled with bewilderment. Instead of Hebrew or Aramaic, they were hearing their ‘heart language’ – their mother tongue.
Missionaries have long challenged the church that people need to hear the gospel in their first language. Some who have capacity to learn other languages may receive instruction in those ‘tongues’ but typically people have greater understanding in their mother tongue.
What was the testimony of this crowd gathered from every nation under heaven? “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Now that’s the work of the Spirit of God, isn’t it? God-centred instruction in a variety of languages. The work of ‘bearing witness’ to Jesus (Acts 1:8) was happening. Though the entire book of Acts gradually depicts the progression of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth, chapter 2 foreshadows world-wide gospel impact.
What are some of the lessons we might learn from this text?
- Let’s gather in unity and pray for the empowerment of the Spirit to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
- Let’s ask God for Spirit-given ability to communicate the gospel in as many languages as possible. Some of us are gifted with language ability. We should offer ourselves to God to serve Him and speak for Him wherever He directs our steps.
- Let’s declare the wonders of God. Preaching and teaching should be the declaration of what God has done for us, not what we’ve attempted for Him. Our response to Him needs to be included (application) but it flows out of grasping what He has done for us.
- Let’s keep our eyes open to see evidence of God at work. Perhaps His work in us and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit will result in bewilderment, amazement, perplexity, (v.6,12) unless the hardened hearts of our observes lead them to mockery (v.13)
By the way, would you pray for 2 Heritage SERVE teams who are ministering these weeks in Brazil and Japan? May God enable them to live and speak the gospel with the power the Spirit supplies.