READ: Zechariah 8, Acts 3-4, 1 John 4
TONGUES OF MEN AND ANGELS
The filling of the Spirit always affects the tongue. First Corinthians 13 does not urge us to silence but to speak from love. Love in fact compels us to speak of Jesus. The most common hate crime committed by Christians is to not speak. Our silence is indicative of lesser love for Jesus, for if we really love Him and experience Him, we are unable to contain or restrain our mouths. When the presence of Jesus is real, the human vessel cannot contain Him, and love for Him and others must spill out–ere we burst. Peter and John explain: “We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). This is the unquestioned pattern in the book of Acts.
Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we would be His witnesses (1:8). The disciples were filled with the Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (2:4). Peter was filled with the Spirit “and said. . . (4:8). The disciples were re-filled with the Holy Spirit and “spoke the word of God with boldness” (v. 31). Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and would not stop speaking (6:13), in fact he saw Jesus “and said. . .” (7:55-56). The Holy Spirit is poured out on Cornelius and his household and they “speak with tongues and magnify God” (10:44-46). In Ephesus, the Holy Spirit comes upon a group of believers and they speak with tongues and prophesy (19:6).
While it is normative to speak in tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit, it is imperative to speak something. In fact, it is impossible not to. The filling of the Holy Spirit always and immediately affects the tongue. Various ways and various times (Heb. 1:1-2), but the mouth is always involved and the mouth always magnifies Jesus. “Holy men of God [‘men spoke from God’ in the NU text] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we speak, and we speak boldly of Jesus. John clarifies that “by this we know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2).
If zealous Pentecostals have obfuscated the issue by overemphasizing tongues, cautious Evangelicals have often excused themselves from the clear proscription of ecstatic speech in Scripture: When men and women are full of the Spirit, they immediately speak out and magnify Jesus. Fullness of the Spirit means that Jesus swells in us to the bursting and overflowing point. When Jesus invades our spirits, we cannot but open our mouths and speak in tongues, prophesy, preach boldly, witness, and exalt the magnificent Son of God. When Jesus invaded earth, angels could not contain the wonder and burst into praise over Bethlehem. The inviolable result of the Spirit’s filling is a bursting heart and a speaking mouth–a mouth that super-exalts Jesus. On this the tongues of men and angels agree.