Miracle of the Speakers or Listeners?

I think folks have long and pointlessly debated whether the miracle of many languages in Acts 2 took place in the tongues of the speakers or the ears of the listeners.

My answer to the question is “yes.”

Verse four says: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Tongues, yes.

Verses eight through eleven say: “Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? … We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” Those in verse thirteen don’t seem to hear the wonders of God at all and decide: “They have had too much wine.”

Ears, yes.

Remember, Jesus said the Advocate would come to “convict (or prove) the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16). He didn’t limit the Spirit’s work to the speaker’s tongue or the listener’s ear. Those who say the Spirit can’t convict from within are limiting the implications of Acts 10, Galatians 5, Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 John 4 in a way that scripture doesn’t.

I worry that there’s a little bit of preacher arrogance behind the “tongues-only” position.

I’m not a preacher, but I write. If you ask me what is the most important thing I’ve ever written, I can tell you. (By the way, it’s this.) But if you ask a dozen people who’ve read what I’ve written, you’d probably get a dozen different answers — unless you go the answer “He hasn’t written anything important” more  than once. Which is a distinct possibility.

Same thing with preachers and what they preach. Some messages reach and touch and resonate deeply with some people in an audience that don’t connect with others at all. Sometimes even the speaker/writer will think a message is a total loss and a waste of time and effort … only to discover from a note or a comment that someone ini its audience was profoundly challenged or moved.

Other times, the originator of the message will look back on it and wonder … doubting if such deep truth (unrecognized as such at the time) could possibly have its ultimate origins in one’s own three pounds of sweetbread.

You see, the thing about the languages is almost irrelevant.

People heard truth in the words they heard in Acts 2. Some recognized it as such. Others refused to. For them, the miracle in their ears never happened because they were not convicted; they were not willing to accept it in faith. (Makes you think of Mark 6:1-6, doesn’t it?)

For me, that answers the “tongues-or-ears” question with an unequivocal “yes.” The Spirit works as He wills (1 Corinthians 12). There are no man-made restrictions on whom He can fall (Acts 2:17-18).

So if you speak or write and seek to do so for the Lord, keep on praying for inspiration.

And if you seek to listen to Him, to read and hear Him, do the same.

Because the Father sends His Spirit to those who ask.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:13

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17 thoughts on “Miracle of the Speakers or Listeners?

  1. In Acts 2: 1-4 one must ask, who are the “they”. The “they” are the Apostles. Verse 26 of chapter 1 talks about Mathias being numbered with the 11. Verse 1 of chapter 2 begins with “they” were all with one accord in one place. Now why were “they” in one place? In chapter 1:4 “they” were assebled and Jesus told them to go to Jeusalem and wait for the promise of the father. What was the “promise”? The “promise was “they” were going to recieve power from the Holy Spirit and ‘they” the Apostles would be witnesses in Jerusalem and all of Judea. It was the Apostles who recieved power to speak in what ever language that might be needed to convey the message of Christ. If certain ones were given the ability to understand , while others were not, was God playing favorites? Is God a respector of persons? Scripture says He is not. The false teachings of Calvinism teaches that the Holy Spirit acts directly upon the hearts of men and leads them to conversion. The Bible teaches that men must hear the word of God and then make a decision based upon what they heard. It is then by faith that one reacts to what he has heard. God desires ALL men to be saved, and He has made it possible. In every account of conversion in Acts, the word of God was preached, some gladly recieved the message while others didn’t.

      • I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is going to perform a miracle and cause someone to believe. Men have to decide for themselves, do I believe what I am hearing, if so, they respond by obeying the gospel call. There is no miracle involved, God gave man free will, accept or reject.

      • You’re talking about the Holy Spirit causing someone to believe. I don’t believe in that, either. I’m talking about someone being willing to let the Holy Spirit convict them. Nothing that violates free will. Just a heightened discernment. Faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) and the Spirit enables confession (1 Corinthians 12:3). Not coerces. Not forces. Enables. Inspires.

  2. I believe we are talking about the parable of the sower. The message of Christ sometimes falls by the wayside, sometimes in stony places, sometimes among thorns, sometimes on good ground. The good ground are those who accept what they hear and the message takes root and grows. I don’t believe we had a “heightened” anything. 1 Cor 12:3 is saying, without God telling us that Jesus is Lord, we wouldn’t know that He was. May I quote your least favorite verse? Romans 10:17 “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is the word of God, the revealed message that convicts men’s hearts. Verse 13 of 1 Cor 12 says, ” for by one Spirit we were baptized into one body.” It could also read for by one “message” we were baptized into one body. To me, to suggest that some have an “heightened” discernment that was given by God, still indicates a God playing favorites. Lets remember Matt 7:13,14 wide is the way that leads to destruction and many will enter, narrow is the gate that leads to righteousness and FEW who will find it. The message of God’s saving grace has been revealed to all men, it has once and for all been delivered. Who will enter by the narrow gate? It’s up to them.

    • Jeff, for the nth time, Romans 10:17 is not my least favorite verse.

      I do object strongly when someone inserts the word “only” between “faith” and “comes.”

      Just as I object strongly when someone substitiute’s “message” for “Spirit,” or anything else that deliberately substitutes the work for the Author.

      The word of God does indeed convict. But scripture never says that it is the only thing that convicts.

      You continue to accept the word while rejecting the One who speaks it.

      But you and I have had this conversation many times before, and I have warned you of the peril of doing so. Don’t you see that it is no different from making the mistake of those who say Jesus was a fine philosopher, but not who He said He was, the Son of God?

      You’re saying the Holy Spirit was a fine author, but He doesn’t do what He says He does – dwell within and convict of sin.

    • Let me also reply, Jeff, to your statement “To me, to suggest that some have an “heightened” discernment that was given by God, still indicates a God playing favorites.”

      Let’s say you’re entertaining two children; you offer them both ice cream. One says, “Yes, please!” and you give some to her. The other says, “No, thank you” and you don’t give him any. Have you shown partiality to the one who said “Yes”? Are you playing favorites?

      Didn’t I say above that the Father sends His Spirit to those who ask?

      Am I misquoting Jesus in Luke 11:13 to say that?

      • Romans 10:17 ” Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” I don’t believe I incerted the word only. The Spirit, who was responsible for delivering God’s message to man, is the one who said, Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Now, I accept that as truth from above. Which one of us has added words to the devine text? The Spirit has said, “faith comes by hearing”, then thats how it is. If man doesn’t hear the message, he has nothing to base his faith upon. As for the ice cream, to make it a fair, we would have to say the the one who wanted ice cream, had an “heightened” discernment. If all your saying is, that this one had more knowledge of ice cream, because she had experienced it before I could agree. But, to say what you said above, this little girl with no knowledge of ice cream, recieved something from God to encourage her (heightened discernment) to have ice cream, that I can’t agree with. The one who wanted ice cream, like the one who has heard, have something to base their discision on, “knowledge” One has heard the word of God, the other has heard of ice cream. Do you really think that anyone who has never heard of ice cream, is going to have any faith in the fact that ice cream is really good, until they see for themselves or someone tells them that it is? They won’t be convenced until they have the knowledge to descide for themselves. If I try to give two girls, who have no understanding of what ice cream is, ice cream, and I give more imformation to one (heightened discernment) have I played favorites? YES

      • Jeff, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so dedicated to intentionally misunderstanding what I’m saying. Some sort of congratulations must be in order.

        When you say “The Spirit has said, ‘faith comes by hearing,’ then that’s how it is,” you’re inserting the word “only.” By your phrasing and the words you use, you will not accept the possibility that even BEFORE someone hears the Word (absolutely a VITAL component of faith), he/she can open his/her heart to the Spirit, to conviction of right and wrong, to the reading of / listening to the Word.

        Is Jeremiah exaggerating when he says “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps” (10:23)?

        Are the Proverbs in error when they declare “A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (20:24)

        So is it totally out of order that God would offer discernment through His Spirit to those who ask? Does Jesus in Luke 11:13 say this or not?

        I understand you don’t like the metaphor of the ice cream, and feel the need to change its parameters to suit your preferences. In the original example, the ice cream IS the gift of God, the Spirit, the discernment given through the Spirit. But you cannot accept that possibility, so you change the metaphor, adding “who have no understanding of what ice cream is.” It’s not like I can’t see what you’ve done.

        You’re really good at avoiding uncomfortable questions, reframing them to suit your purposes, building a straw man argument, knocking it to pieces, and missing the point.

        You’re not particularly good at refuting what the scripture says. That’s good. There’s hope for you, brother!

      • I understand Jer 10: 23 to say man can’t direct his own steps and be inline with God’s will, unless and until God instructs him in it. Without His revealing it to us, man would have no idea which way to go. The Spirit incerted the meaning of Rom 10:17. You have added “not only”. The Proverbs are correct. God does direct the steps of man. He does so through instruction and the revealed revelation, remember Heb. 1? In Luke 11:13 if less than perfect men give their children what is best for them, surely God who is much greater, will give his children what they need. Matthew uses “good things” where Luke puts “Holy Spirit” all good gifts come through the Holy Spirit. It is not possible to recieve the “Holy Spirit” himself as a gift. One can only recieve what the Holy Spirit gives. My metaphor for your ice cream example is dead on to what you have been saying, your strawman has fallen, thats why your so upset. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to save, when it is heard and responded to. I accept the fact that some soil is good and receptive to the message of Christ. I also accept the fact that others will not. I reject the idea of the “Spirit” directly and personally working on a persons heart outside of the word of God, that would be favortism on God’s part, scripture tells us God is no respector of persons. Favoritism is nothing more than Calvinism. You may not like the word favoritism so lets use “extra help” or extra assistance” or we could use your words “heightened discernment”, all of which leads to the idea that God’s revealed revelation is not quite enough. Are you saying that men or some men can’t come to understand unless the Spirit gets directly involved?if so, thats Calvinism. I would say, that when a person hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Spirit is working, but the hearer has free will to accept or reject. Rom. 1:19,20 tells us that man has no excuse, God has shown Himself to mankind in what He has created, His devine power is clearly seen……but, man must seek this God and discover His will for him. His will, has once and for all been delivered, we have our instructions, will we accept them or reject them.

  3. Pingback: Was it a Miracle of the Speakers or of the Listeners? « Christianity 201

  4. Point by point: “You have added ‘not only.'” I didn’t have to. Scripture tells us that God gives His Holy Spirit to those who ask, Luke 11:13. Faith is a gift of God, too (Ephesians 2:8).

    “God does direct the steps of man. He does so through instruction and the revealed revelation, remember Heb. 1?” Of course. But His Son is not the only one who reveals. So does His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10), to us, and we must share it.

    “… all good gifts come through the Holy Spirit.” “One can only recieve what the Holy Spirit gives.” Do you mean to say “only through the Holy Spirit”? That means that the Father cannot give? If that’s what you mean, that’s not what Jesus says in Luke 11:13. Or Matthew 7:11.

    “It is not possible to recieve the “Holy Spirit” himself as a gift.” You’ll have to point me to the scripture which says this, brother, because it contradicts every scripture which says God gives His Spirit (Acts 5:32; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 etc.). No one earns the Spirit; it is not merited or purchased. Receiving it can only be described as a gift, from God.

    “… thats why your so upset” You have an active imagination.

    “I reject the idea of the “Spirit” directly and personally working on a persons heart outside of the word of God …” I never said “outside of the word of God.” You’re adding words to what I’ve said.

    “… all of which leads to the idea that God’s revealed revelation is not quite enough.” No, it doesn’t. When we are not sure we understand God’s revealed message, His Word, we can ask for His help. Through His Spirit in us (Romans 8:9-11; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:22 and 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14; James 4:5), he gives us discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14):

    “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

    Brother Jeff, I’m afraid this is why you don’t and will not understand what scripture is saying. You do not want to believe that the Spirit can dwell within you; you reject the idea of His dwelling within; and you reject the gift of discernment He offers.

    Why do you not desire His help? Do you believe yourself perfect in your understanding of all scripture? (I certainly don’t believe I am! And I ask for help ALL THE TIME!)

    “Are you saying that men or some men can’t come to understand unless the Spirit gets directly involved?” No. I’m saying that when the Word is not clear — especially when there is an obstruction in the heart of the reader/hearer — there is a Holy Spirit available for the asking to help convict the heart and remove that obstruction.

    “Rom. 1:19,20 tells us that man has no excuse … ” It certainly does. And the passages I’ve cited above demonstrate that man does have a Helper, a Comforter, a Convictor available for the asking.

  5. In hebrews 1 the inspired word which was delivered by the Spirit says, that in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son. The Sons message has once and for ALL been delivered. We have His word in written form. There is no further need for devine revelation. For the Spirit, to directly and personally instruct you on anything, is going outside the word. It makes the word, which was revealed and delivered miraculously not needed. If the Spirit does what you say, there is no need for teachers and preachers. All one would need to do is, ask the Spirit for help and He will give it. Scripture tells me that I need to study to show myself approved, rightly dividing the word of God that I may not be ashamed. Not even the Apostles recieved the Holy Spirit as a gift. They recieved what the Spirit brought them, and that was power. I do believe that the Spirit dwells within me, thats not the question, the question is how. I believe He does so indirectly through the revealed word. Remember Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 “let the Spirit dwell richly in you and let the word of Christ dwell richly in you. That is the definition of how He does so. Can we pray for understanding? I would say yes, but i don’t believe we will just recieve a better understanding. We will have to STUDY to show ourselves approved. If you were to study about “gifts” (discernment)you would soon learn that they were miraculously given. Paul in Romans 1:11 was eager to see them so that HE an Apostle could impart a “gift” to them. And they were given for a reason. I know that you continue to believe that we live in the age of the miraculous. Until you learn that thats not true, you will never be able to see how the Spirit works today. I seek the Spirits direction often. I open my Bible and study. When i find a passage difficult, I seek others to study with, may even look at a commentary, but it never crossed my mind to one, pray to the Spirit and two expect a miracle answer. When I allow the word of God to dwell in me, the Spirit is dwelling in me. The Spirit is my helper and comforter, but indirectly through the revealed word of God.

    • So … who taught you all these things?

      Do I understand you to believe that Jesus said the Father would give His Spirit to those who ask, but not really; just power and gifts through the Holy Spirit and later just the written scripture, so if you ask Him past a certain point for understanding His answer is always going to be “no”?

      When you say “Not even the Apostles recieved the Holy Spirit as a gift,” do you mean that Jesus was just blowing air when “… he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22)?

      Who taught you that “the word of Christ” in Colossians 3:16 and “the Spirit” in Ephesians 5:18-19 are the same? Were they always the same? When did it change? How do you know? Where is it written in scripture?

      If the Bible alone is all that is needed for someone to study and reach a complete understanding of God’s revealed will, why do so many people go wrong there? Why do so many simply not understand and cannot reach conclusions, right or wrong? They didn’t study enough?

      Who taught you that “For the Spirit, to directly and personally instruct you on anything, is going outside the word”? Would the Spirit ever direct and personally instruct anyone in contradiction to the word that has been revealed for all time? I know I never said that. But I have cited MANY scriptures that say the opposite.

      Did you come up with this all by yourself?

      If not, you should be able to point to scripture and answer where all of this teaching came from.

      Otherwise, one has to assume that it all came from the mind and study and logic of fallible men; that it is not perfect; and that is not the revealed word of God … but simply an attempt to rob it of its power by limiting the way God words when He does not do so as revealed in scripture.

      Once again, as I have asked before, who benefits from God being limited in the way He can work? God or Satan?

      Because of what you believe — what has been taught you about the Spirit being no more than the word, rather than the author of it and the very presence of God in your life — you can’t pray in faith for His guidance to lead you out of this man-made shadowbox.

      You should be very angry with the person who taught you all of this and made it impossible for you to ask for the Spirit’s discernment in faith, and to receive it. You should be furious at the way that person/those persons try to hamstring the Spirit’s work in your life through your faith.

      I’m going to be praying that He will work in your life, directly, dwelling in you.

      But you are right about one thing, and it is inarguable: Man chooses to accept or reject. I can pray all I want to about it, but if you choose to reject Christ’s Holy Spirit, there’s nothing in scripture that indicates He’ll take you over against your will.

      So I think we are at moot point again, brother.

  6. I have been taught by many sound people in the Lord’s church all of my life, and I am very thankful. I understand what I must do. I must seek God and His will for me. I do that by searching and studing what He has left for me, His written word. IT and it alone has the power to save. 2 Tim 3:16,17 tells me that it is enough to make me complete. May I ask, what denomination did you come out of? Because what you teach and believe I was never taught such in the church of Christ. You ask, how can so many depend upon the Bible and the Bible alone to come to an understanding of God’s will and yet so many go wrong there? It’s simple, man has always rejected some or all of God’s will and done as they pleased. May I ask you, when you ask for the Spirits clarification on that difficult passage, and you recieve what you believe is the answer, how do you know it’s from God? it could be from Satan? There is no way to know what influenced you into believing what you now believe. As for Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that both passages are talking about the samething. After all, the Bible is it’s own best commentary. We can pray for wisdom, wisdom to be able to come to a proper understanding of God’s word. I’ll pray that prayer for you kb.

  7. I hope someone will explain to me — in very simple terms and short words, as to a little child — how Jeff can pray in faith for me to receive wisdom, a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:8) … but cannot pray in faith to receive discernment, another spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 2:14).

  8. It’s very simple kb, I can pray to the father, through Jesus Christ that I or you may recieve wisdom, and come to the proper understanding of scripture. God, I believe will grant that request, IF we are willing to put in the time, by studing to show ourselves approved of God, a workman rightly dividing the word of God. God can do that, he doesn’t need to send the Spirit to dwell personally and directly in you. If the word of Christ dwells richly in you, the Spirit is working. You have to do your part, and study is that part. he is not going to “miraculously” give you “discernment”. What is discernment? it’s understanding right. We are to make our call and election sure, how? by studing God’s word. In the first century there was not the time for things to flow naturally. God’s will was being dispensed slowly through the mouths of holy men. This was accomplished by the giving of “gifts”. With the use of “miracles” God through the Spirit gave “gifts” so that the early church could be established. These “gifts” are no longer needed, the church is established and God’s revelation to man is complete. The “spiritual Gift” wisdom in the first century was given miraculously, if we want wisdom today, we must pray for it and do our part and it will take time. Anytime we read about spiritual gifts in scripture, we must always think “miraculous” because a miracle was always involved in it’s reception. If the Christian today recieves “spiritual gifts, we must ask when and how would that accur? Do we recieve them at our baptism? and if so would that not be miraculous? We know thats not true because at that point we were still babes in Christ, needing milk. Those who recieved “gifts” in the first century didn’t need milk, they were miraculously ready for meat, if in fact they needed meat. The answer I get most often is no, the gifts I’m talking about are just talents and abilities that we may be born with. If thats the case, someone needs to explain how these “gifts” are any different than the gifts that those outside of Christ also have? The answer is the Christian today is not “gifted” by God in any special way. God has given everyone abilities and talents we must learn how to use them, will we use them in service to God or will we use them to serve ourselves? And it will take study to know how to. kb, you have got to get passed this idea that “miracles” still accur. Dead men are not raised from the dead, men who have never walked don’t get up on the spot and walk. Men who have never studied God’s word will never know whats in it. They can pray for “discernment until the cows come home and they will not recieve. Seek and ye shall find.

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