The book of Acts is the transitional section of Scripture between the Old Testament, which actually concludes with the Ascension of Christ, and the beginning of the Christian Church on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:1-4. Written by Luke, who also wrote one of the Four Gospels, its first three verses are most significant:
(1) In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
(2) until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
(3) After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Wow! How would you like to have been among those believers who saw, heard, and touched the resurrected Jesus?! I guess that would be “convincing,” or as the KJV reads, “infallible” proof. Many of the above people, who shortly thereafter became the first Christians, literally gave their lives for the Lord, being martyred for refusing to compromise their faith. And guess what? You and I are asked by God to have the same degree of certainty about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the same level of commitment to live for him—and, if necessary, to die for him.
Of course no one living today has had any firsthand experience with the risen Lord Jesus. Or have they? The answer is a resounding YES, and that is the subject of this brief article. God and the Lord Jesus could do no less for us than they did for those first Christians, and that means there must be “infallible proof ” for you and for me.
How do we know for sure that the Word of God is true? How can we be positive that Jesus really did rise from the dead, and that we can stake our everlasting destiny on that historical occurrence? How can we know that we know that he is who he said he is? These are valid questions that deserve valid answers.
(1) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
(2) Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
(3) They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
(4) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
The pattern God set when the first human beings in history got born again of His spirit is that which He still wants for people: when one makes Jesus his Lord and believes in the resurrection, he is to manifest (evidence) the gift of holy spirit he receives at that moment—by speaking in tongues. A thorough study of Scripture shows that speaking in tongues is the only “infallible proof ” a Christian has that he has been filled with holy spirit and is thereby guaranteed everlasting life in Paradise.
In reality, it is only speaking in tongues that allows each Christian to be, as it were, a firsthand “witness” to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In a court of law, “hearsay” is not admissible as evidence. Only a firsthand seeing or hearing will stand up under cross-examination. But we today do not have the luxury of being with Jesus Christ as his disciples did, nor were we there when they crucified our Lord, nor when he arose from the dead, nor when he appeared to his disciples. How then can we be expected to be enthusiastic “witnesses” for him? Is there any comparable sensory connection we can have with our Lord?
We believe that the answer lies in several sections of Scripture, each of which shows the connection between the gift of holy spirit and the “witness” that spirit can be to us to the end that we walk in the power of the spirit and “witness” God’s heart to the world.
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit [holy spirit] has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Keep that in mind as you read the following verses:
Romans 8:15 and 16 (KJV)
(15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit [spirit] of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
(16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Jesus Christ, “the Spirit,” bears witness with our spirit, and the more confident we are that we are children of God, the more boldly we live as witnesses of the truth. But exactly how does the holy spirit in us “witness” to us? We assert that it is via speaking in tongues, because that is the external proof in the senses realm of the internal reality of the gift of holy spirit. Speaking in tongues is the indisputable proof to you that Jesus rose from the dead and is now living in your heart via the holy spirit that he poured into you.
After Acts 4:31 says that the believers were “filled,” that is, boldly manifesting the holy spirit outwardly (they were already Christians and thus filled inwardly), we read:
Acts 4:33 (NASB)
And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
It is safe to say that the power with which the Apostles witnessed to the resurrection included speaking in tongues themselves and helping others to do likewise. In the next chapter of Acts, after the Apostles had been miraculously freed from prison and gone right back to the Temple courts to preach the Word, they were taken before the Sanhedrin. The high priest chastised them for speaking the Word after the council had forbidden them to do so. Watch what Peter says, and note verse 32 especially.
Acts 5:29-32 (NASB)
(29) But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.
(30) “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.
(31) “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
(32) “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit [holy spirit], whom [which] God has given to those who obey Him.”
When the Apostles said that the holy spirit God had given to those who obey Him was a witness that Jesus was raised from the dead, it is obvious that the clearest witness, which God even calls a sign for unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:22), is speaking in tongues. The more real the witness of the holy spirit within us, the more real is our witness to others.
The last section we will consider has three uses of the word “spirit” and nine uses of the word “witness” in five verses.
1 John 5:6-13 (NASB)
(6) This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.
(7) And it is the Spirit [spirit] who [that] bears witness, because the Spirit [spirit] is the truth.
(8) For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit [spirit] and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
(9) If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His Son.
(10) The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.
(11) And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
(12) He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
(13) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
Verse 6 is saying that Jesus Christ was born into the world as a true human being, coming by way of “water and blood” like everyone else. Verse 7 says that the spirit of God witnesses to the reality of Jesus’ life, and verse 8 is saying the same thing that Romans 8:16 says—the spirit of God bears witness in each Christian. Verse 9 says that the witness of God is that Jesus is who God says he is. Then verse 10 says that whoever believes in Jesus has within himself the “witness” of his resurrection life, and verse 11 says that this inner witness is the testimony that we are saved. Verse 13 reiterates that the previous verses were written so that we who believe in Jesus Christ could know for sure that we have everlasting life.
Just as “doubting Thomas” touched the nail print in Jesus’ hands, and just as the other disciples saw Jesus, heard him, and touched him, so we today have an experiential, “firsthand” sensory knowledge of his resurrection. Every time we manifest his holy spirit by speaking in tongues, we have the indisputable proof that he is risen! The more real that is to us, the more we enthusiastically go and tell others the good news about Jesus Christ.