“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4).

By Jennifer Rae Vliet

I came to know more about Jesus Christ in an underground charismatic group in the basement of our Catholic Church in New Jersey; I was only 10. One night at CCD, my sister grabbed my hand with excitement and pulled me through a dark hall to a creaky wood staircase I never would have known existed if it weren’t for her. Imagine the look on my face when we got to the bottom of the steps and I saw our traditional priest, Father McCarthy, with his hands high in the air and his eyes closed, leading it.  There was music being piped in, but I noticed I was not hearing a normal Catholic hymn from upstairs but yet the voice of a very young Amy Grant singing. The room was lit by candles with an altar of sorts across the room where people were gathering in hopes to be “receiving the gifts of the spirit”. This was when I first heard about this alleged gift of speaking in tongues. I did not approach that area and just observed from a distance. I did walk through the process of declaring Jesus as my personal savior as a result of this experience to then eventually respond to God’s nudging to walk away from the Catholic Church at age 17. 

This all set me forth on an interesting journey of deepening my understanding of what this personal relationship with Jesus was all about. 

My family moved to California when I was 17 and I found myself preferring and attending a non-denominational church. It was common for us church goers to visit other churches in groups every once in a while; there was quite a smorgasbord to choose from in So Cal and there still is to this day.  I remember going to a Calvary Chapel in Orange County where during the service, the pastor grabbed the microphone and asked, “Does anyone have a word?”…the room was silent and then all of the sudden a woman started speaking in a nonsensical burble off to my right.

Immediately after she stopped, a man across the room to my left proclaimed that God was telling all of us through her that we need to surrender all of our cares to Him and that someone in the room was suffering from some rash. A mom spoke out from the back of the room declaring that her son who was sitting next to her, did in fact, have a rash. 

I had never seen anything like this. The keyboardist struck one sustaining chord and announced it was time for us all to thank God by, “singing in the spirit”. All of these voices of repetitive unknown words surrounded me; I cannot say it was comfortable at all, but I wanted to be a ‘good’ Christian and remained a tad bit open. After service was over, someone who apparently was standing near me during the sermon noticed I didn’t have this “gift” and approached me about it. She said that this gift could also be mine if I too would just practice at home by just opening my mouth choosing a few syllables to repeat and encouraged me to, “just let the Holy Spirit flow through”. I left feeling somewhat confused and unsure of what God had in store for me on the topic. 

I can tell you that all it took was a reluctant Jennifer and just one uncomfortable try at home and in that split second it was like God impressed upon my heart to stop this nonsense as it was just that. It felt wrong for a reason…it was based on a false teaching; something I would come to learn to be a common attribute of the mainstream churches of the day.

My studies have brought me to realize one really important point about people being given the ability (gift) to speak in tongues in the Bible…THAT IT ALONE WAS A MIRACLE orchestrated by our amazing God! Of course, as you clearly see, that was an important fact that was lost on me in the presentation of speaking in tongues in my youth. I was taught it was something to be learned and practiced and exercised until the Holy Spirit gets you all into the swing of things so you can then finally be ready to join the babbling masses who gathered on Sunday. Nothing miracle-y about that.

These experiences brought me to some very important scripture in recent years so let’s take a look at a special moment recorded in history and understand this miracle. My heart is to share what God says and to not partake in some verbal gymnastics to make it truth. I will reiterate and relate in between some verses in bold:

Acts 2 (New Living Translation)

The Holy Spirit Comes

 On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[b] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

In Acts 2:5-6 In Greek, the word for tongue/language is ‘glossa’. Its meaning is “a known language”. Notice how they were not babbling their own made-up language. The devout Jews came a runnin’…having heard THEIR OWN languages… 

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!

I reiterate what the Word of God says, their “own native languages” (vs 2:8), not something that was nonsensical. 

 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

People had come from all over to hear about the faith of the people of Abraham. This was a time of sharing the prophetic Good News!

Then Peter stepped forward and told everyone to listen up! 17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on my servants—men and women alike—
    and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below—
    blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
    and the moon will turn blood red
    before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
    will be saved.’[c]

22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[d] by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 

Could you imagine being there to experience all of that? Being a disciple and suddenly you are speaking a language you have never learned, a real language, for others to understand? Could it happen today? YES, miracles of all kinds do, compliments of Our Creator. Are all the churches and groups that partake in gibberish type made up languages really understanding what was going on in the Bible in this account? Not sure. So many believers are truly sincere in how they love God, but I have heard it said that sincerity is not truth. We have got to stop being the lemmings of the enemy and ask the Lord to open our eyes.

So where has this simple (yet significant) study landed me?

I believe that speaking in tongues is a divine gift of the speaking of a KNOWN language, and a known REAL foreign language at that. I believe it is a tool of evangelism for the unbeliever or those chosen to hear of a different tongue to further the gospel as shown in Acts 2 based on all of those who came with an ear to hear from all over. The enemy likes to play on believers’ emotions, and I can remember how emotional everyone would get babbling on in the name of Jesus. Speaking in Tongues is NOT a made-up language spoken by someone who has the “gift” of the power of God as I can tell.

We are being taught of ANOTHER JESUS as the Bible warns and we need to be very careful of this as the real Jesus wants to be truly known. I believe it is when we know who He really is, we then can know our TRUE IDENTITY. With that comes a deep understanding of how great a purpose our lives have here on earth because of Him and we are clearer on what awaits us in the Heaven He is preparing for us!

On a humorous note, I did find something comedic that passed by me on Instagram that tickled my funny bone about all of this recently so I will leave it right here. Daily laughter is an important thing in life as I see it. (The guy even made a perfume named Shamala Hamala which was the repetitive syllable combo he came up with trying to speak in tongues in his youth). Have a beautiful Sabbath tomorrow. Signing off.

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