Learning the Tongue of Angels

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things this week. There are a lot of topics that I would like to mention, but most of them are only fragments that have not yet fully developed, or which I’m not really sure how to pursue. In the midst of pondering things in my own life, I have neglected the insights which were so abundant to me the past few weeks.

In my Book of Mormon class last week, we discussed 2 Nephi chapter 32. The 2nd and 3rd verses of this chapter led to a discussion which really impressed me.

Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

What does it mean to “speak with the tongue of angels”? We are told that it means to “speak by the power of the Holy Ghost” and to “speak the words of Christ.”

Learning the tongue of angels is like learning a new language. As with any language, it requires practice, repetition, and study. We learn it through use, and become better acquainted when we surround ourselves with others who are also familiar with it. It may require a new vocabulary, a new sense of respect for others, and a new way of thinking.

I was told when I was learning Spanish, and in the church when young men were preparing for or returning from missions, that you don’t fully understand or know a language until you begin dreaming in that language. When you are asleep, fully vulnerable and immersed in your subconscious, that will show you where you stand in the language you are learning. Being fluent in a language affects not only our mind but our whole soul. I think of this in Gospel terms, and I wonder: how fluent am I in the language of the Spirit? Has it penetrated my soul and caused a change within my heart? When I sleep, do I dream according to things of the Lord and of the Holy Ghost, or does my mind relapse into carnal and worldly perspectives?

It always makes me smile when newly returned missionaries who have served overseas or who spoke a different language on their mission have trouble at times speaking English. Being at BYU, I have met many young men who recently returned from spending two years of their lives speaking a different language. I have also heard on several occasions, as one of them tries to convey a thought, the slight hesitation that proceeds the phrase “I can’t think of how to say it in English…”  I am a lover of this language and of words, but I know from experience that it is an imperfect form of communication. Many things simply cannot be conveyed with their true impact using only the vocabulary provided by this language. Notions of love, gratitude, and conviction are often cheated and understated as a result. This is not so with the tongue of angels.

Speaking with the tongue of angels, or by the power of the Holy Ghost, is so much more effective because it is utilized by more than just the spoken word. The power of the Holy Ghost accompanies those words and penetrates the heart of the listener so it can be understood. Like every other, knowing a given language enables one to understand what is being spoken. As we learn to understand the language of the Spirit, we will be able to discern the things which the Spirit of the Lord is saying to us as it enters our hearts. Learning the tongue of angels gives us the ability to understand the things which the Lord himself would like us to learn.

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