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Let’s start by reading Acts 19:1-7, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”  The book of Acts is an amazing book.  It is a book of transition as we see the church begin in chapter 2; Saul, who would later become Paul the Apostle is saved in chapter 9; and then the Gospel goes out to the Gentiles in chapter 10.  It is profitable to notice that on the day that the church began, it was 100% Jewish.  There are so many changes in this wonderful book!

For a very brief period, there were actually Old Testament saints and New Testament saints on the earth at the same time.  There were many faithful Jewish people who lived according to the law, but had never heard about the Lord Jesus while He was on the earth.  In this passage before us, we have an example of that.  These twelve men had been taught by John the Baptist.  His ministry was to announce the coming Messiah.  Obviously, these men were faithful to what they had learned from John, but did not realize that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah.  Perhaps they learned from John before the Lord Jesus was baptized.  The Apostle Paul asked these men if they received the Holy Ghost when they got saved.  They knew nothing about the Holy Spirit and told Paul they only knew what John had taught them.  Because of their faithfulness to the truth they knew, these men immediately accepted the truth of who the Lord Jesus was.  When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them.  This was evidenced by them speaking with tongues and prophesying.

The miracle of speaking in tongues was very prominent in the early church.  It began to be abused and people were doing this as a way of getting attention.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:5, “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.”  Here, he was pointing out that to prophesy, or tell forth God’s Word, was much more profitable than speaking with tongues.  He went on to say in 1 Corinthians 14:19, “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”  He would rather speak just five words that could be understood than 10,000 words in a language that could not be understood.

Is the gift of tongues still in effect today?  I would never doubt that the Lord can do whatever He wants to do, but I do challenge you to examine the teaching of speaking in tongues in the scriptures and then compare it with what many people are doing today.  You will find that what people call speaking in tongues today just does not go along with what the Bible teaches.  The phrase ‘unknown tongue’ is used five times in 1 Corinthians 14.  If you have a KJV Bible, you will notice that the word ‘unknown’ is written in italics.  That means that the word was added by the translators to try to make the meaning more clear.  So, the word ‘unknown’ is not in the original manuscripts.  The word ‘tongue’ simply means language.  It does not refer to some unknown language that no one had ever heard.  It refers to a person speaking a language that he had not learned.  Again, I encourage you to study this for yourself.

The real way to discern if you are filled with the Spirit is not in speaking with tongues.  The evidence, or fruit, of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  A person that is filled with the Holy Spirit will evidence these characteristics in his life.  (119.2)