The Power of the Tongue
When many within the body of Christ think about the power of the tongue they think about it in terms of speaking in tongues as a gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Act 2:3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
(Act 2:4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This gift of tongues om the day of Pentecost was given as a sign gift to show the masses that something very special was going on.
Notice in verse 3 that these cloven tongues (like as of fire) “appeared onto them” and “they were filled with the Holy Spirit”. This was a visible sign given to those within the upper room and there is no evidence that it was seen by any other than those present when the Spirit fell upon them.
Why was this sign given to the disciples in the upper room?
(Exo 3:2) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
(Exo 13:21) And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
Throughout our holy scriptures the presence of God is noted with fire (most often associated with “coals of fire”). At Pentecost the cloven tongues of fire was a sign to them (those in the upper room) that God was present with them. The purpose of the diversity of language (the gift of tongues) was to draw people to the apostles. It was not for edification, it was to get the peoples attention! Notice:
(Act 2:6) Now when this was noised abroad (that the disciples were speaking in other tongues), the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
(Act 2:7) And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
(Act 2:8) And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
(Act 2:14) But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Interesting note: notice the phrase used here “full of new wine” (v.13).
When Peter begins to speak to the masses the individual tongues had ceased (at least there is no indication that they continued) while giving his dissertation. Peter continued to speak through the Holy Spirit and all heard his words. Scripture is not clear as to weather they others continued to hear Peters words in their own language or they all heard in Hebrew which was the language of commerce and spoken by most at that time in that place. The point being that through the Holy Spirit all received the words God was speaking.
The results were:
(Act 2:37) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,
(Act 2:41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
(Act 2:42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
(Act 2:44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
(Act 2:45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Moses came down the mountain with the ten commandments on the day of Pentecost and about three thousand men were killed (fell) due to their indiscretion.
(Exo 32:28) And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
On the first Pentecost of the New Covenant some three thousand were saved (Acts 2:41)!
We can see that the results of Peter’s words, as an oracle of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, yielded 3000 saved souls who continued in the faith!
It is clear that three separate things happened at Pentecost.
1. The Holy Spirit appeared to those in the upper room as tongues of fire as a sign of God’s presence.
2. The manifestation of tongues was used as a sign to draw people.
3. Peter serving as an oracle of God, speaking through the power of the Holy Spirit saved 3000 souls.
The saving work was not in the manifestation of tongues nor was it in the sign of God’s presence in the form of tongues of fire. It was done by Peters tongue through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Now this is not in any way intended to diminish the gift of tongues within the body of Christ. That is a whole other topic. My purpose here is to point out that it was not the sign gifts which saved anyone rather the power within the tongue of the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The power of the tongue, that is our speech, can kill or it can give life. Not only when directed towards others but when spoken aloud our words effect our lives as well.
(Jas 3:2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
(Jas 3:3) Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
(Jas 3:4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Scripture tells us that if we can control our tongue we can bring our body into submission to our will (which is brought into line with God’s will through the Holy Spirit) as well. As previously made mention of in the writing Identity Crisis, we were created and made in the image and likeness of God who brought things into being when He spoke. He did so through His Word, Jesus the Christ.
(Joh 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(Joh 1:2) The same was in the beginning with God.
(Joh 1:3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
This same power was made manifest when Peter preached the first Gospel message through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now the tongue is not spiritual, it is rather of the flesh (the body).
(Jas 3:5) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
(Jas 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Notice the phrase used here “the tongue is a little member”. In 1 Corinthians 12 we see the body and its members spoken of in a dichotomy. It speaks both of the human body as well as the body of Christ.
(1Co 12:14) For the body is not one member, but many.
(1Co 12:26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Scripture often refers to “members” in reference to the fleshy body both literally and allegorically: Matt 5:29, Rom 6:13, Rom 6:19, Rom 7:5 , Rom 7:23
Consider these scriptures concerning the tongue:
(Jas 3:9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
(Jas 3:10) Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
(Jas 3:11) Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
(Jas 3:12) Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
This is the tongue of an unyoked man/woman where from both blessings and curses come. With this in mind it also reflects the condition of our spiritual walk with God and our transformation into the image of our Lord. If our words are double minded our walk will be the same. If we don’t control our tongue we will bot bring our flesh (our members) into submission.
Why do so many Christians live this, for lack of a better term, double life? Why are they so double minded?
Because they try to tame the tongue with their own will!
(Jas 3:7) For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
(Jas 3:8) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
The only way to tame the tongue is to allow the Holy Spirit to bring it under control for us.
What is our part in all of this?
(Jas 1:19) Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
How do we do this?
(2Co 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
We are told that we must take our thoughts captive! When we refrain from speaking quickly and take that thought captive, that is to determine weather it is a blessing or a curse, weather it is beneficial or harmful, weather it is a thought from God or a whisper of the enemy, by listening to the Holy Spirit within us, our speech will be as oracles of God and we will speak His words only.
(Mat 10:27) What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.