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
If you have ever traveled outside the country, you might be struck with the frustration of overcoming a language barrier. You might have tried using a pocket dictionary to translate a few words, used hand motions to play a convoluted game of charades, or even given up screaming, "Does anyone in the room speak English?" It can be hard to overcome both language and cultural differences when it comes to communication.
What if God miraculously took all those language barriers down? What if He supernaturally gave you the ability to speak and understand Spanish or Swedish or Swahili in an instant? This is exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost. Fifty days after Passover, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they were given the power to speak in other languages. This happened during the Jewish Festival of Weeks, which brought people to Jerusalem from all around the world. The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to boldly share the good news of Jesus with this diverse group of people, using their own native tongues. God didn’t fill them with a strange or unintelligible tongue for their own benefit. Rather, He gave them the ability to speak in other languages so they could go out into the streets and make Jesus Christ known, and the impact was amazing! In response to their preaching, 3,000 men (not including women and children), gave their lives to Jesus Christ that day.
In the book of Acts, we find three other references to the disciples seeing the Holy Spirit enter into different people groups. This happened with the Samaritans, and then on two occasions with the Gentiles. God showed Himself miraculously so the original disciples and members of the church could see with their own eyes that God had a heart to reach the entire world. It is important to note there were many instances when a person who received Christ did not start speaking in different languages. Some examples are found at Acts 4:31, 8:14-17, 8:38, 9:17-18, and 13:8-11. The gift of languages was given so people would put years of prejudice behind them, and accept new believers who were different from them.
God has a heart to reach lost people in this world. He will break down cultural and language barriers to ensure that the message of Jesus Christ goes forward. When we ask for and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give us the strength to share about Jesus. Have you asked God to use you today?
When was a time in your life where you saw the Holy Spirit overcome barriers to advance His Kingdom? I can give you one from two weeks ago. We had a guy in one of our services who felt God leading Him to come forward during our altar call. He didn’t want to go, and for two minutes he sat glued to his seat, in agony, resisting God’s call. Finally, when we shared that there were ten seconds left, his athletic watch buzzed and displayed the words, “It is time to move!” He did move and went forward to trust in Jesus Christ. Only God can write a story like that one. Where have you seen God move in a similar way?
Read Acts 2:1-12 (NLT)
On the day of Pentecost 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, 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.
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! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (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!” They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.