I’m not sure why it never occurred to me. As I’ve been preparing lessons to teach Luke’s book of Acts, something recently came to mind.
I was preparing myself for discussion and explanations about the topic of speaking in other languages and speaking in tongues. Which the church has focused on too much, in my opinion. This focus and subsequent differing of interpretation has distracted us from seeing a key principle in Acts 2. I’m of the opinion that what was more important than the miracle of the disciples speaking other languages they didn’t know, was WHAT they were actually saying. Because WHAT they were saying was the message God wanted people there present to hear.
Simply stated in Acts 2:11, what the disciples were saying was a retelling of the mighty deeds of God. This supernatural event, some scholars explain, is the opposite of what God did at the Tower of Babel. In that early event in man’s history God used diverse languages to confound and separate people. At Pentecost, God used diverse languages to unite people.
This uniting was a result of the Holy Spirit as Paul helps us understand in some of his letters, including the forth chapter of Ephesians. Luke here — a traveling and ministry companion of Paul — made a direct parallel between God the Son and God the Spirit. Here’s how Thomas Constable, Th.D., of Dallas Theological Seminary put it:
Luke had introduced the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry with His baptism with the Spirit (Luke 3:21-22). He now paralleled that with the beginning of Jesus’ heavenly ministry with the Spirit baptism of His disciples (Acts 2:1-4). The same Spirit who indwelt and empowered Jesus during His earthly ministry would now indwell and empower His believing disciples.
Empowered to do what?
Actually, many things. But, let me narrow your thinking down a bit. The first act of a group believers at Pentecost now filled with the Holy Spirit was to proclaim God. Acts 2:11 gives us the indication of what they were saying. “… we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
I believe this is a significant model for us to follow as believers. As new Christians, as mature Christians, what I’m suggesting is that our primary message as Spirit-empowered people is the “mighty deeds of God.” First and foremost is His work through Messiah.
What God has done for us as individuals and what God has done in history are both topics that we should be proclaiming. This is aligned with what Luke documented in the first chapter of Acts when Christ gave us His final instructions in verse eight.
How are we to go into all the world and make disciples? We start by proclaiming what God has done. We disciple others by proclaiming what God has done. We counsel others by proclaiming what God has done. We hold fast in our faith by proclaiming what God has done. We travel on our path of sanctification by understanding God’s mighty deeds.
His amazing works and will are what we tell the world, just as those first Spirit-moved disciples did at Pentecost.