The Holy Spirit was the promise to Israel in their last days before the great day of the Lord.
Acts 2 “4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. …..this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
The Holy Spirit was given to the Jewish believers and they spoke in foreign languages.This was a great sign that they were living in the last days before AD70 (Israel’s judgment).
Everywhere throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit was given and the clear sign was the speaking in foreign languages.This was the miraculous evidence of salvation in those last days.
Why was the sign of the Holy Spirit the foreign languages?
It is because the Jews always looked for a miraculous sign.
1 Corinthians 1:22 “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,”
Isaiah prophesied that God would give the sign of “foreign languages”.
Isaiah 28 “Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.”
Jesus came to offer REST to the Jews from the horrible burdens of the law….but they would not listen.
Matthew 11 “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When the Israelites saw the sign of foreign languages, some believed but most of them did not believe.
1 Corinthians 14 “22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers;”
This is why Jesus gave the sign of foreign languages when the believer was saved in Acts.
The believers in those days had these 3 clear signs:
Mark 16 “15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.””
The Gifts of the Spirit were powerfully given to the believers who were the 12 Tribes of Israel (both Jew and Gentile).
When Cornelius was saved, he praised God in foreign languages that were understood by Peter and the Jewish disciples.
The believers in those days were given the fruit of the Holy Spirit so that they would fulfill the law by becoming like Jesus.
Galatians 5 “13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other…….22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Romans 13 “8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
They went through great tribulation and persecution to become like Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit with the powerful evidence of miraculous gifts and undeniable fruit of Christ-likeness.
Romans 8 ” Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit……12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live……16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ….. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. …..28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Matthew 24 “9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me…. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”
1 Peter 4 “13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. “
They received the power of the Holy Spirit so that they would suffer and follow Jesus Christ by tribulation.
But what about people before the cross? Were they saved without receiving the Holy Spirit?
YES.- The thief on the cross did not speak in tongues but was saved- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the righteous believers in the old testament did not speak in tongues and were saved by faith.
So what about today?
– Some people say that Christians don’t have the Holy Spirit because we don’t speak in foreign languages and don’t have great miraculous powers. But we know that even the thief on the cross, Abraham, etc did not have the Holy Spirit and were still saved.
It is clear that very few believers speak in authentic foreign languages – this very rarely happens.
We also do not go through tribulation/persecution as much as the 1st century believers and apostles.
We also are not called to fulfill the law to become like Jesus because the Law ended in AD70.
So what does that mean? Are we not saved if we cannot speak in foreign languages?
I believe we do have the Holy Spirit because only those who have the Spirit can confess Jesus as LORD.
1 Corinthians 12 “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”
We as believers do have the Holy Spirit.
– But we do not have as much fruit of the Spirit because we are not required to fulfill the law. We are definitely not as Christ-like as the 1st century believers.
– We do not have as much power in the miraculous gifts because we are not the 12 tribes of Israel under tribulation or requiring those signs for faith. The gifts did not cease but we are definitely not having the same amount of manifestation as the 1st century.
– Those foreign languages were not promised to us. It was only promised to the 12 tribes of Israel before AD70.
– Therefore today the sign of the Holy Spirit is not speaking in foreign languages.
– The sign of the Holy Spirit today is that a person believes in Jesus.
When Jesus returns, we will be raptured/resurrected from the dead to live in the new heaven and earth.