In Acts 2:4, we read of the initial outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This experience astonished the Jews visiting Jerusalem for the annual Jewish festival, the Feast of Pentecost. Each of them heard the believers “speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6). The believers were speaking in tongues—in languages they had not previously spoken. Some of the visitors understood their words; they heard “them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).
The Birth of the Apostolic Church
This new experience was the birth of the apostolic church, the one we identify with today. In a vision, God called the apostle Peter to Cornelius and those in his household, all non-Jews. Cornelius, a centurion from the Italian band, received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Being a Gentile, this caused confusion within the Jewish community as they questioned if a Gentile could experience what they themselves had experienced on the Day of Pentecost.This experience crossed language and cultural barriers. Though people differ greatly, the infilling of God’s Spirit does not. Click To Tweet
The testimony was given to allow these Gentiles to be baptized, for “they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). Due to this shared supernatural experience, the Jews conceded that the Gentiles did indeed receive the same Spirit that fell on them on the Day of Pentecost. Speaking with tongues was what identified those who became a part of the early church. Though it happened first in Jerusalem, it would not be confined to one country. This experience crossed language and cultural barriers. Though people differ greatly, the infilling of God’s Spirit does not.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch people receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues in fourteen different nations. In many of those cases, the people had never been taught about this experience and had never heard anyone else speak in tongues.
In every country I have visited throughout Europe, Africa, and North America, people spoke with other tongues when they received the Holy Ghost.
Yet when they received the Holy Ghost, I knew they received it for I heard them speak with tongues regardless of the cultural or language barriers.
Speaking in Tongues around the World
I recall an instance in Malawi where I was part of a service focused on people receiving the Holy Ghost. One lady came forward to receive this gift. I stood in front of her awaiting the word of faith to be spoken over the people. I could not communicate with her as she only spoke Chichewa—the official language of Malawi. As she lifted her hands, I placed my hand on her head and she began to speak in perfect Spanish, praising and magnifying God. I turned to a minister standing near me, asking him if he heard what I had heard. He listened in amazement as this lady worshiped and praised God in a language she had not learned and never spoken.
In every country I have visited throughout Europe, Africa, and North America, people spoke with other tongues when they received the Holy Ghost. The biblical sign of speaking in tongues that “follows them that believe” (Mark 16:17) proves to be the same today in every geographic location and language across cultures as it happened on the Day of Pentecost.
A New Language
In Mark’s Gospel, speaking with a new language is one of the signs that follow believers. His statement makes it clear that this is a normal part in every believer’s life. When praying, we are not limited to our earthly language, but we are instructed to build up ourselves on our most holy faith, “praying in the Holy Ghost” (Jude 20). The apostle Paul, who alluded to speaking with tongues “more than ye all” (I Corinthians 14:18), wrote about weaknesses, referring to “human weaknesses and limitation, not sickness” (Apostolic Study Bible).
He instructed believers how to pray when words fall short, when we “know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). In this situation, we should allow the Spirit to make “intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Allowing the Spirit to make intercession overcomes the weakness Paul described. We must learn to yield to the Spirit of God in our daily prayer life, praying in the Holy Ghost, which is praying in tongues. This allows us to pray for the needs around the world that only the Holy Ghost knows exist. As stated, speaking in tongues is the evidence that we have received the Spirit of God.
Every believer that received the Holy Ghost in the Bible spoke with tongues.
As we mature in Christ, it changes our prayer life. We can pray with our own limited knowledge or we can allow His Spirit to pray through us with His infinite wisdom and understanding.
Every believer that received the Holy Ghost in the Bible spoke with tongues. If we are to follow the example of the New Testament apostolic church, then we must have the same experience they had. Today, speaking with tongues is an important part of our apostolic identity worldwide. I am thankful the apostle Peter reached out to the Gentiles, to Cornelius and his household. As a result, this experience was passed to all Gentiles and, unequivocally, it is for us today.
Nathan Harrod serves as pastor of the Pentecostals of Barcelona, Spain, where he and his family have served as missionaries since 2004. He serves as president of the UPC of Spain. To learn more about his endeavors, subscribe to The Missions Table podcast.
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Holy Spirit by Dr. Daniel Segraves. For Apostolic believers, the gift of the Holy Spirit defines who we are. From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation, the Holy Spirit is evident in shaping our lives.
A version of this content originally appeared in Pentecostal Life.