Before his arrest, Jesus promised His disciples a filling with the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). After His resurrection, He said, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 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.” (Mark 16:17-18)
Sure enough, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit showed up. Also, the disciples “spoke in tongues”–that is, they were supernaturally given the ability to speak other languages, so that people from every nation could understand them (Acts 2:1-12).
Most charismatic/pentecostal preachers will stop reading Acts 2 at verse 4. Those who dare to read on claim that this is just one form of manifestation of the gift of tongues, and there is another equally legitimate manifestation which involves speaking a “Heavenly Language” which is not understood by human beings. If you attend a pentecostal/charismatic service, you will probably not witness healing, miracles, prophecy or discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:7-11), or exorcism (Mark 16:17). It’s also doubtful you will witness the gift of tongues that was demonstrated at Pentecost. What you probably will witness is numerous people repeating many unintelligible phrases and syllables which have no meaning in any language spoken on Earth. If asked about it afterwards, those who were making the noises will say they were speaking in their “Heavenly Language.”
You won’t find the phrase “Heavenly language” in the Bible. Nor will you find any verse that says speaking in tongues is speaking in a Heavenly Language. But there is an interesting statement Paul makes in the “love chapter”:
If I speak in the tongues[languages] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. –1 Corinthians 13:1.
Later, in chapter 14, verse 2, Paul adds:
For anyone who speaks in a tongue [language] does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
To some, this is ironclad proof that the gift of tongues includes speaking in a “Heavenly Language” unknown to human beings. And these two verses do seem to present a strong case for the “Heavenly Language” camp. So for now, I’m going to assume the gift of tongues includes speaking in a non-human language for the sake of argument.
To be continued…