So, then, when we're talking about tongues, we're not talking about the same thing that the charismatic movement of the church is talking about - we're talking about something much simpler, straight from the book of Acts, and a gift that is given to every one of us.
See, the gift of tongues is not reserved for just a certain segment of God's people; it's not a gift for the elite. It's a gift for all of us. And that's the testimony of the Bible not just from Acts, but from the Old Testament, as well.
In Acts, as we saw yesterday, when the Spirit came upon the people, they all began speaking in languages that were foreign to them. The Scriptures don't tell us that some of them began to speak in new tongues, but that all of them began to speak of the miracles of God in languages they had never known before.
In Numbers 11, the Lord takes some of the Spirit that He had given to Moses and puts it onto the 70 men he had chosen to help him in the work of judging Israel. And all 70 of them began to prophesy - to speak the truth of God in a Spirit-led tongue. Interestingly, even the two of them that decided not to come to the ceremony and instead stayed home started to prophesy right where they were. When the Spirit came upon them, they couldn't help themselves. They were given a new tongue to speak God's truth.
There's another passage where Saul (Old Testament Saul, the first king of Israel) goes out to meet the prophets, and they are all prophesying. When he comes into their midst, the Spirit falls on him, too, and he starts prophesying right along with them.
Everywhere the Spirit is, there are persons speaking the truth and the miracles of God in language that used to be foreign to them.
For most of us, that means we're given a theological tongue. That doesn't always mean that we start speaking in systematics or using the lofty language of historical Christianity and the church questions that have always been thrown around in the church for one reason or another. We aren't all going to start talking about transubstantiation or atonement or sanctification; it's not about the kind of word that we're using, but about what it is that we're saying.
We're given the gift of speaking the truth and the miracles of God.
That's it. That's all it is. And it's because this world needs as many persons speaking that truth and those miracles as it can have. It's because there's something about knowing who a person is, knowing their story, knowing where they come from and hearing them speak these things in a tongue that you can understand that's just incredibly powerful.
Think about your story. Think about all of the broken things that you know about this world. Think about all the things that your friends know about your life, all the things they've seen you go through, all the question they've heard you asking. Maybe all the nights they know you've been awake. Maybe all the tears they know you've cried. Now think about what it means for you to be able to speak something beautiful of God even out of that life. Even out of that brokenness. Even out of that story, to be able to speak God's story.
Like the onlookers in Acts, this world looks on and says, "How can this be?" How can it be that we are hearing the truth of God in a way that we understand...and it's coming from you?
By the power of the Spirit, that's how. By the power of the Spirit that's given us all a theological tongue, that we may speak the truth and the miracles of God in a way that this world will hear it, maybe for the very first time.