The Beauty of Spiritual Language: Unveiling the Mystery of Speaking in Tongues

Jack Hayford
Tongues are God’s Idea!

I would like to underscore one fact above all others about the matter of spiritual language: Jesus is the One who introduced the subject of spiritual language. I think that fact is important – that it very much deserves and needs to sink into the collective mindset of the church.

Some years ago, my sister – who has since gone home to be with the Lord – was talking with her pastor, a dear man who pastored a rather staid evangelical church in Minnesota. He knew of Luanne’s charismatic experience and accepted her with Christian grace. But one day, as they conversed on the topic, the pastor said, “Even if God did give me one of the gifts” – then he grimaced, and continued – “I certainly wouldn’t want it to be tongues!” Without malice, my sister gently asked, “Pastor, did you just hear yourself?” He looked at her, quizzically, and she went on: “You just spoke in a very demeaning way of one of the gifts of God, the Holy Spirit.”

The godly man, suddenly jarred by the recognition of the slap-in-God’s-face flippancy born of a prejudiced past, reflectively and repentantly responded: “My! I suppose that doesn’t sound very good, does it? Lord, forgive me.” His honest acknowledgment was prompted by the reminder that tongues are God’s idea. In fact, no one less than our dear Savior Himself first spoke of tongues; promising this blessing to His disciples: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will… speak with new tongues.” (Mark 16:17)

That’s where tongues–spiritual language–starts in the New Testament. And at its first mention, this miraculous language of prayer and praise is the first sign among the five Jesus mentions in this text. Interestingly enough, it’s also the first of His prophesied signs to actually be fulfilled, being manifested on the very day the church was born (Acts 2:4).

As with the reminder that Jesus is the first to mention speaking with tongues, there is a second remarkably important fact related to their first occurrence. Would you note with me something too easily overlooked? Yet the profound simplicity and crystal clarity of this fact says something about the Father’s view of the spiritual language: The church began speaking with tongues the same day it came into being! That’s a fact worthy of a special place in our heart’s understanding, seeing our heavenly Father, the Living God Himself, was the sole designer and sovereign instigator of Pentecost’s events.

Since this is so, can we not on those grounds alone capture something of heaven’s point of view concerning the relative worth or desirability of tongues? The Father certainly wouldn’t have allowed anything unworthy, unlovely, or unloving to accidentally happen. Speaking with tongues didn’t just crowd in on its own, as though man forced an arbitrary Johnny-come-lately sign upon the church’s birth and into the church’s origins. Neither was this spiritual language an embarrassing surprise to the Almighty! Rather, the supernatural gift of language was given for holy and wholesome purposes, and He allowed it because He created it and He completely endorses it. Perhaps we can all afford to be reminded: Tongues–spiritual language–is God’s idea!

– Jesus prophesied it
-The Father intended it
-The Holy Spirit enabled it
– The Church received it

The spiritual language must be important or it wouldn’t have been given this place at the Church’s inception.

From The Beauty of Spiritual Language:Unveiling the Mystery of Speaking in Tongues © 1996 by Jack Hayford, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. Used by permission. 

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