Acts 2:6, 11 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Numbers of people have pointed out that at Pentecost, God reversed what He did at the Tower of Babel. Linguistic barriers were erased, and God used “ignorant fishermen” to proclaim His message to people from many nations. He still does that today in various ways. Just last month I met a Jew who came to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah though hearing the Gospel in Spanish from a local in Central America, when he doesn’t really speak Spanish! The woman sharing with him wasn’t “speaking in tongues,” as it is generally understood, but the man hearing was given supernatural understanding. I would be the last person to say that missionaries don’t need to learn the local language as well as possible, but I am saying that spiritual communication is a work of the Spirit, and will not happen without Him. That’s why Jesus talked repeatedly about “ears to hear,” not just in His earthly ministry but also to John in Revelation. Paul also pointed out that “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Two people can be speaking the same language and have essentially no communication, and people can be speaking different languages and yet the love and truth of God can get through. The major point is not human intellect, but the Spirit of God.
I’ve experienced this from all sides. I speak natural, fluent Japanese, and yet I have had Japanese people not understand a word I was saying because they couldn’t get past my Caucasian face. I have also had sweet fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters from other countries when we hardly shared a word in common. My wife Cathy was once in a prayer meeting with a group of Filipina girls and was quietly praying in tongues, when they got very excited. It turns out she was praying in Tagalog, which was quite a surprise to her! All sorts of things can block or distort communication, from the xenophobia I’ve already mentioned, to pride and preconceptions of all sorts. We all tend to hear what we expect to hear, even when what is actually said might be the opposite of that. I’m dealing with just such a touchy situation right now. The devil indeed comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10) and often he uses words to do that. I am a man of words, but I must not take that for granted, using words without the underlying guidance of the Spirit. In order to resist the devil effectively, I must be fully submitted to God, and that certainly includes every word that comes from my mouth (or my fingers). (James 4:7) I have a tendency to say more than I need to, and that has caused a lot of damage over the years. I need to let the Holy Spirit be in full control of all of my communication of all sorts, for His glory.
Father, thank You for being greater than my weaknesses. I ask You to take all that I have said and done and use it for the good of all involved, destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and setting people free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!