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May 16 – LD 20, Day 3: The Sign of Tongues

Read: Acts 2:5-21

The sign of speaking in foreign languages was also a sign accompanying the pouring out of the Spirit. It was a most powerful sign and spoke of a particular wonderful work of the Holy Spirit.

We must abandon the interpretation given this sign by the Charismatics, for their interpretation is contrary to Scripture and a distortion of the sign itself. It is clear from Acts 2:8 that the 120 disciples spoke in existing languages. Charismatics believe that the sign of tongue-speaking is in languages that have never been spoken.

The scene in Jerusalem on that glorious day was on this manner. The crowd that was brought together by the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, were gathered in the street outside the place where the disciples had met together for worship. The crowd, quite obviously, wondered what was happening. The 120 moved through the crowd explaining this great event.

They could have talked in Aramaic, because all the people gathered in Jerusalem from all parts of the Mediterranean world understood that language. They were Jews and proselytes (Acts 2:9-11). But the 120 were able to speak the language of the country from which these Jews and proselytes came: Parthia, Media, Elam, etc. When one of these 120 met a Parthian, the disciple was able to speak in the Parthian language. When he or she moved on and met someone from Pamphylia, that disciple was able to speak in the language spoken in Pamphylia. So the people were able to say, “How hear we every one in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”

And the one thing of which they spoke was “the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).

That was an amazing sign!

What does it mean?

The Holy Spirit, through this sign, was telling the church and all those who heard the 120 speak that in the dispensation that now was beginning with the outpouring of the Spirit, the church would be gathered no longer from the nation of Israel, but would be gathered from all the nations of the earth. The Holy Spirit of the ascended Christ would gather a truly catholic church.

Gentiles were gathered in the Old Testament as well. Consider Rahab, Ruth, the wives of the sons of Jacob, the Gibeonites, etc. But these Gentiles were saved only by being brought into the nation of Israel and becoming Jews by the rite of circumcision.

In the new dispensation, that changed. The Gentiles are saved from every nation, but in such a way that they preserve all their national characteristics. A saved Chinese does not have to become a Frenchman to be saved, but he remains Chinese. The church in that way is truly catholic and is composed of an almost infinite number of different individuals.

Only in this way can the riches of God’s grace be fully revealed. As a diamond with its many facets shows the color of light, so does a catholic church show the splendor of God’s grace.

Last modified on 10 May 2015

Additional Info

  • Date: 16-May
Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001


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