The Misconception about the Book of Acts
It grieves me to see great men of God mislead their followers about what happened in the Book of Acts. They preached to their followers events that happened in Acts as commandments. This is unfortunate and misleading. They picked certain scripture verses in Jesus teachings to support their arguments without looking at the total sayings of Him.
First of all, we must know that the Book of Acts was a collection of events that occurred in the lives of the Apostles – it was a historical record regarding specific laws, customs and practices. It was not a new book of commandments. Initially, it was believed that Luke wrote the “Gospel of Luke” and the “Book of Acts” as one book with two volumes. Much was not said about Luke in the Bible, except that we knew he was a Doctor, Gentile and Companion of Paul on his trips (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Luke wrote the Book of Acts in literary style of the Greek Translation of the Old Testament, which was known as Septuagint. He wrote in a different style to all other writers (Luke 1:1-4). Luke’s writing did not give the full history of the church during the period of the early church. This is because no detail account was given of some of the churches such as churches in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, with these churches just mentioned briefly (Acts 9:31).
Now, the reason I write this article is because of the misconception about speaking in tongues, which Luke reported in the book of Acts. Today I was reading my daily devotional from one of my favourite authors who asked the question, “Does everyone who has the Holy Ghost speak in tongues?” of which he simply answered “Yes”. He cited Acts 2:4 and Acts 10:45-46 to support his claim. He further went on to quote Mark 16:17, which says, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues”
It’s a shame that all these men of God pick out of Jesus’ speech is “shall speak in new tongues” neglecting the entire message. If we should take the entire speech of Jesus, which says, “In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). Based on the logic of these men of God, taking the entire message of Jesus would mean that for one to know that he/she has received the Holy Ghost, one must first of all do the following.
- Cast out devils
- Speak with new tongues (speaking in tongues)
- Take up snakes
- Drink poison and not hurt or die
- Lay their hands on the sick and not die
Brethren, Jesus gave the disciples these promises in the context of dangers that would face them in the world. The Book of Acts was not all about speaking in tongues. For example, there were many instances of the first and second promises being fulfilled in the lives of the twelve disciples as well as Paul’s (Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:18; 19:12; 28:8).
The second promise was fulfilled in Acts 2:4. And even here, it fits the exact promise of Jesus. The Apostles spoke in other languages that the unbelievers from different part of the world understood and they heard the wondrous works of God spoken. The Apostles did not have any idea about what they were saying. Paul stressed this when he said that tongues are a sign unto unbelievers and not to believers (1 Corinthians 14:22).
In Acts 28:1-6, the third promise was fulfilled in Paul’s life when he was bit by a snake on the island of Malta and was not hurt.
No specific record of the fourth sign was recorded by Luke in Acts. Does that mean that this never happened?
Brethren, Jesus never intended for us to go about drinking poisons, or handling snakes or getting ourselves bit by snakes in order for us to know that we receive the Holy Ghost. In any case, Jesus direction here was in relation to preaching the Word to unbelievers and did not say anything about the Holy Ghost here. He had already spoken about the Holy Ghost by telling them He will lead them into all truth and shall be their companion (John 14:26; 16:13-16).
Let us also not forget that speaking in tongues like any other gifts such as prophecy are gifts that the Holy Ghost gives as He wills. You can’t force the Holy Ghost to make you speak in tongues or prophesy. But you can make yourself ready for him to use.
Let’s not forget that Peter quoted Joel 2:28, which read “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”. Does that mean that you must prophesy before you know you received the Holy Ghost? This is why Paul asked, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor. 12:29-31).
Brethren, God is still the same yesterday, today and forever and as such through His Holy Spirit, people still speak in tongues, prophesy, cast out demons and heal the sick. I believe in prophecy, Word of Wisdom, Word of knowledge, and speaking in tongues among others. But, you don’t need to speak in tongues to know you have received the Holy Ghost. If you speak in tongues, fine, if you don’t fine. Jesus said, by their fruit you shall know them (Matt. 7:16, 20) not by speaking in tongues. And Galatians 5:22-23 talked about the fruit of the Spirit to include, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. The fruit you produce will determine whether you are a Christian and therefore have received the Holy Spirit. Moreover, God is the final Judge so let’s stop the spiritual abuse and focus on winning souls for Christ.
May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit with you. Amen!