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“Speaking another language”, Acts 2:1-21 / May 19th, 2024 / Pentecost Sunday/ Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: Acts 2:1-12
Theme: “Speaking another language”


Intro –  Today we celebrate Pentecost, remembering the miracle of the tongues of fire in Jerusalem. The disciples spoke in different languages to reach various people and nations with the Gospel.

My initial question to you today is: how many languages other than English can you speak? You might say, “I can only speak English, Pastor. That’s it.” However, I am sure we all can speak another language to this day, almost every day: the language that our neighbor understands.


1 – Speaking the nations’ language

First, let’s reflect about that Pentecost in Jerusalem, around year 33AD. Could we guess why that special gift was poured out on the disciples? I would say it may be interpreted as a “Divine push” for the disciples to start doing what Jesus commanded them: to shaer the Gospel to the nations. But it also shows that God is always the One doing the job. We will try our best, but our best is never sufficient. Our sufficiency comes from God, from the Holy Spirit. He goes ahead of us, opening doors for the Gospel.[1] Now, on that specific day, there was a communication issue: different languages were involved, not only Greek or Hebrew/Aramaic, as people from different areas were present. That is when the Holy Spirit comes to bring a miracle that would make communication possible. As a result, thousands heard the Gospel ofd Christ being proclaimed in their own language.

Here we see, at the very outset of the missionary endeavor of the Christian Church, that God gives us two important messages:

-It is God the Holy Spirit who is The Missionary. The apostles, and all Christians by extension, are the instruments of His work.
-When we speak the language that our neighbor understands, the message of the Gospel is communicated to their hearts.


We make a break here to speak specifically about speaking in tongues. It is important to remember that the disciples spoke actual tongues, not new ones, no “tongue of the angels” type of thing. Now, would it still be possible today for a person to start speaking a language they’ve never learned before? Here’s is the summary of our Christian Lutheran take on this topic:

-Yes, it may happen still today since God is Almighty, and He may grant this gift when and if it pleases Him. However, we should mark this well: to Him. Not to me, not to you, not any “specially anointed” pastor or person, not in a specific day and time in my Church. If that happens, it is all His action.

-If that miracle happens somewhere, it will have a clear purpose. St. Paul instructs us: It is better for the Church that you would speak one word that everybody will understand than a thousand unintelligible words. Because it would be meant to build the Church up, and not as a talent show off. What we can never admit is that Baptism with water is not sufficient, meaning that you would become a better, first class Christian only if you are “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” The gift of speaking in tongues would be the main proof of that baptism, and if that hasn’t happen to you yet, you may not be in full appreciation before God. This is not only wrong, but also antibiblical. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is one and the same. There is only one Baptism, One Lord, one faith.

The fact that we don’t have regular “speaking in tongues” in our Services, rather than showing lack of faith proves the opposite. It shows that we place unconditonal faith ih God, that He manifests His Will when and where is pleases Him.

Back from intermission. Back to the Pentecost feast as a whole. It is the feast of the Christian Church where we remember:

* God created a special event to make the Gospel be shared with the heart of thousands of people.
* God still creates special opportunities for us to speak another tongue.

“To speak another language? Which one?”


2 – Speaking another language

I am sure God the Holy Spirit has enabled you to speak more than one language. I would guess that you had at least one opportunity during the past week to do so. Think about it:

  • Someone you had a fight with and you have not reconciled yet. “I’m not taking the first step. He or she might as well do it and…”
  • Someone you really admire but never expressed it to them – which would be of great help for them;
  • Someone you love and have not for a long time said so. “I love you”;
  • Some relationship that could be fostered to grow into an opportunity to share your faith;
  • Someone needing someone to listen to them, to lend a hand or a shoulder;
  • Someone in need that you would understand them, resulting in you also being able to speak the language they can understand.

There are many people around us, sometimes even inside our family, our inner circle in need to hear the Gospel of hope, who need to be encouraged in their faith, who need to be drawn near to Jesus again. Someone in need of someone like you, who by the action and power of the Holy Spirit was given the precious gift of the marvelous, redeeming, freeing, and consoling Word of God. The Word that provides strength, help, happiness, and balance to life. Just like the disciples did. And 3,000 were baptized on that very day. It may be that you won’t lead as many people to Christ, or back to Him. It may be just one. That would cause the Heavens to throw a big party, as Jesus tells us in the parable of the lost sheep. God gave this gift of speaking another person’s language to each Christian – because it is not a matter of speaking only; it is also a matter of looking, smiling, being close, crying with the mourners and being happy with the overjoyed, bringing a hug, showing love – Not only in words but we speak the language our neighbor understands also in deeds.

How can I draw a conclusion like this? One of the passages that underscores this understanding is Matthew 25, when Jesus depicts the Day of Judgment. “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison, and you came to me.” We know we are not saved by works, it is by faith alone. But works follow faith. Works are the way God acts through us to show his Love and mercy to all. In a way then, Jesus said: For I was in such and such a situation, and you came and spoke the language I could understand.

As C.F.W. Walther writes: “We cannot think that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is something that happened to the apostles only. The same thing repeats itself every year. Because we along with the people at all times and in all places can share in the main gift the apostles received: the gift of the Holy Ghost himself”. [2] God the Holy Ghost has lit the fire of faith in our hearts at our Baptism, or at our conversion. He still outpours His gifts so that we can go and share the Gospel of Christ. It is not by chance that in the Holy Supper, we receive Christ’s body and blood literally in our tongue, so that forgiven and strengthened by Him we go and use our tongue to proclaim His Love to many. It may be in a different language other than our mother tongue, even out of our comfort zone tongue. We still are sent by Him to speak another language – the language that our neighbor will understand.

Cc – One more reflection on the topic: we are encouraged to speak another person’s language even when we may not be fluent in their language or when wee don’t see immediate results. In my last year of High School I started to invite one of my classmates to attend our Youth Group. Every week I would invite him, he would say “Sure, I’ll be there”, but then it would end in a no show. Next week I would repeat the invitation, another no show, and so it went on for almost 6 months. The, on a random Sunday he finally showed up to the meeting. And from there he started to attend the Youth group regularly, almost every Sunday evening. Later on he shared with me the reason it took him so long to come to come for a visit: “I thought it was going to be like, you know, a churchy environment, where a pastor speaks from the front and everybody sits down quietly and listens. If I knew it was this cool to be here I would have attended it earlier.” As you can see, I tried to speak his language, but it was not precise enough, from a human standpoint. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit still used it to bring someone closer to His Word.

Pentecost is not about seeking a special the gift to be a ‘better Christian”. We are all made beter in Christ by faith Pentecost is about living our faith in daily life, speaking our neigbours language, trusting that the meaning, the power and the gift of faith is not in us, but in Him, The Holy Spirit of God.


[1] Another aspect to be considered: the feast of Pentecost was a special date to thousands of Jews who would come from different nations to celebrate it in Jerusalem. The city would double its size as it accommodated everybody. All those Jews were a great target for the preaching of the Gospel, since they were very familiar with the promise of the coming Messiah.

[2] WALTHER, CFW. God Grant it. Daily Devotions. p.454.



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