Bible Study With Jairus – Acts 2
Acts 2 introduces us to some hotly debated topics: tongues, dreams, visions, and the infilling of the Spirit. Even though these topics are controversial among Christians, most Christians do not deny the historical events in this chapter. What Christians cannot agree upon is whether such experiences still occur today.
Let’s dive in and examine some important questions related to the birth of the church in Acts 2.
Why is the Holy Spirit like a tongue of fire?
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form as a dove. Should we conclude that the Holy Spirit only takes the shape of a dove, or are there other forms that the Holy Spirit can take?
When the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in Acts 2, he came in the form of tongues (Acts 2:1-4). In verse 3, God says that “divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one.” Did the Holy Spirit appear in the form of fire, or of tongues? The Bible clearly states that the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of tongues—tongues that seemed to be made of fire. We all know that Acts Chapter 2 details the infilling of the Holy Spirit, so we can conclude that the tongues were the Holy Spirit or the display of the Holy Spirit.
Why the tongue shape? As the book of James mentions, the tongue is very difficult to control. James noted that the tongue is the most troublesome member of our bodies. It can praise God or curse men. Like the small rudder of a ship, the tiny tongue has great power to direct the course of our lives. Like putting a bit into a horse’s mouth to control it, we need to control our tongue (James 3:2-12).
So, what does it mean for the Holy Spirit to come down in the form of tongues? Perhaps the Holy Spirit is asking us to surrender to Him and let him control the most untamable part of the human body, the tongue. As we offer our tongues to him, we can then offer our entire bodies as living sacrifices to God. We can allow the Holy Spirit to speak in and through us, allowing our tongues to pray and speak for the glory of God.
The original intention of speaking in tongues made provision for the entire body, will, and tongue to be surrendered to God, an indication of a spiritual and mature Christian. However, tongues have been used by the evil one to cause arguments within the Christian body, so much so that the mentioning of tongues is viewed as a lack of Christian maturity.
The understanding of the experiences in Acts 2 often differs across different Christian groups. We know that Satan often distorts the most important truths of the Bible. For example, Satan often lies to Christians about their identity in Christ, which is vital to spiritual growth. Similarly, tongues are an important tool of a mature Christian. Therefore, Satan actively attacks and distorts the truth regarding the use of tongues. As a result, some Christians believe that speaking in tongues is a sign of immaturity in the spiritual life.
How do tongues help Christians mature spiritually?
As you mature spiritually, the hardest area to surrender to God is your tongue. The Holy Spirit wants to use your tongue to utter prayers. When you surrender your tongue to God, God will use your tongue to build you up in your faith (Jude 1:20). God will use “groanings too deep for words” to intercede for you (Romans 8:26). He will use your tongue to build you up personally (1 Cor 14:4) and to build up others when the tongues are interpreted. (1 Cor 14:26). When we use tongues appropriately, we benefit the body of Christ in many ways.
However, if we do not live surrendered lives, our tongues are useless. This does not indicate a problem with our tongues. Just like any spiritual issues in the churches, it is often not about the issue itself, but whether individual believers live in the flesh or in the spirit.
Hence, objecting to tongues for the sake of objecting is a fleshly response, just like speaking in tongues for the sake of speaking in tongues. To God, it is most important that we be truly surrendered and obedient to Him, whether or not we speak in tongues.
Tongues: Human languages, angelic languages, prayer languages and prophetic words
What exactly are tongues? Are they human languages or angelic languages? They are both. In this passage, we see that the tongues are human languages. Jews from different regions were bewildered by hearing the disciples speak in their own languages, and the Galileans were startled to hear believers speaking in their native language as well (Acts 2: 7-8).
Paul also mentions the language of angels (1 Cor 13:1). Paul says, “if I spoke in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” This verse is often used to undermine the use of tongues. However, the issue is not whether you speak in tongues, but whether you have demonstrated God’s love. Speaking in tongues without love is just as useless as not speaking in tongues without love.
Tongues are also a language of prayer (1 Cor 14:14). In this verse, Paul says, “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” Paul also mentions that “one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God” (1 Cor 14:2), and “builds up himself” (1 Cor 14:4). Many view the “building up of self” negatively, especially when compared to “building up of the Church.” These believers feel that building yourself is not the priority. But in reality, we need to build ourselves up so that we can build a better church.
Jude 1:20 says that we need to build ourselves up in the most holy faith, and “pray in the Holy Spirit.” Many believers think that Paul’s reference to “praying in the Holy Spirit” is synonymous with “praying in tongues.” Previously, Paul used “pray in a tongue” and “pray in spirit” interchangeably (1 Cor 14:14-15). As we practice praying in tongues, we experience how tongues can build up our inner man. This practice will also increase our faith, and open doors to many gifts of the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, tongues are also a form of prophecy. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 14:26, “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” The tongues mentioned in this passage refer to prophetic messages. When messages spoken in tongues are not translated, others cannot understand the message. For this reason, Paul does not allow for believers to speak in tongues during gatherings. However, if the tongues can be translated, then he permits a few to speak in tongues. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 12:30, “Do all speak with tongues?” This verse is not saying that believers cannot use tongues to pray personally, but rather that not all believers are gifted by God to speak and interpret tongues as a form of prophecy.
Many people lump the different types of tongues together and end up blindly objecting to the use of tongues, without even understanding the mysteries of tongues.
How should we perceive dreams and visions?
In Joel chapter 2, God foretold that in the end times, he would pour out his spirit on all flesh. People would prophesy, dream dreams and see visions. Though many Christians believe we are in the end times, few people actually see visions or have dreams. Those who do have prophetic dreams and visions usually interpret them subjectively. It’s important to gain a clear understanding of the Bible’s teaching on dreams and visions.
The Bible is full of accounts of dreams and visions. Christians understand the dreams and visions differently. When the dreams are difficult to understand, such as Daniel’s dreams and John’s visions in Revelation, these differences of interpretation are even more pronounced. Many believers are even more skeptical about modern Christians’ dreams and visions. Skeptical believers point to past mistakes in the area of dreams and visions—mistakes which have caused harm and hurt to Christians. However, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Does God still speak through dreams and visions today? The answer is a definitive yes. Despite the subjective nature of dreams and visions, and the possibility for misinterpretation, we cannot completely neglect, belittle or deny such experiences. If we do, we will miss out on important opportunities to encounter God and the Holy Spirit in a fresh way.
My personal encounter with dreams and visions
I have personally experienced a series of dreams that provided me with direction when I needed to make decisions. My natural mind interfered with my interpretation of these dreams and visions, but God provided guidance through more dreams and the moving of the Holy Spirit. In the end, I found the right path.
In 2015, after 10 years of infertility, the Holy Spirit guided me to seek help in the Charismatic movement. Through YouTube, I had learned about Randy Clark and his ministry work under Global Awakening. As I participated in a few sessions organized by Global Awakening, I heard about the “Christian Prophetic Certification Program” and “Christian Healing Certification program”. I longed for God’s healing and wanted to hear His voice, so I signed up for the two certification programs. They also organized the “Global School of Supernatural Ministry” that lasted for two years. In addition, Global Awakening shared that they were partnering with the United Theological Seminary to organize a Doctor of Ministry (Dmin) program.
Through his “still small voice,” the Holy Spirit moved me to get this training. In addition, I received some prophetic words which confirmed my internal witness. Realizing that this idea was of God, I began the certification course so I could be equipped to serve him. My plan was to complete the online courses for “Christian Prophetic Certification Program” and “Christian Healing Certification program”, before going full-time to the “Global School of Supernatural Ministry” for two years. After graduation, I would then join the United Theological Seminary to pursue the Dmin program.
In 2015 and 2017, I completed five semesters of the “Christian Prophetic Certification Program” and twelve semesters of the “Christian Healing Certification program” (4 semesters of supernatural healing, 4 semesters of inner healing, 4 semesters of deliverance ministries). At the beginning of the journey, we had not yet received miraculous healing or our miracle baby. However, during this process, I was continually seeking God’s words and healing. We were finally blessed with a miracle baby in 2017.
During my studies, I remember praying unceasingly to God. I told him that if He healed us and gave us a baby, I would be willing to give up my business and translation job to go full-time into the “Global School of Supernatural Ministry” and serve God full time. I prayed unceasingly for God’s healing. My wife also wished that God would give us a child, and she was willing to do whatever was needed, even allowing me to go into full-time ministry.
During the summer break of 2016, even though I had not completed both programs I was in, I wanted to quit my job and sign up for the “Global School of Supernatural Ministry”, while completing the other programs online. However, my wife did not agree. Since we did not yet have a child, my wife was unhappy and would not allow for me to go into full-time ministry to study.
One day, I felt extremely discouraged. During the moment of discouragement, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking: “One day, you will be seated in a classroom to study.” These words brought great comfort. I knew that God would allow me to undertake the theological education I had wished for, and that He would provide us with a child so that my wish to go to seminary could come to pass.
On July 18, 2016, I had a dream which reinforced my belief. In the dream, I took public transportation to the location of the Global Awakening classes. There were two stops. At the first stop, some people got off, but I did not. At the second stop, I got off. The female driver led me to a billboard that listed the names of some songs, such as “Crazily in Love with Jesus.” After that, a picture showed me that I would receive more of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Besides this dream, during one of the online lessons, I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me that when I had more time to serve, God would pour out His Holy Spirit on me. At that time, I saw a person being filled with the Holy Spirit during the laying on of hands. I wondered, “When will I be able to experience this?” The Holy Spirit spoke immediately, “When you are able to give more time.” I believed that God was leading me to quit and give up my translation business and go into full time ministry. However, because I did not yet have a child, all these goals could not be accomplished. I had the feeling that, once God gave us a miracle baby, doors would begin to open. If God gave us a child, I would quit and give up my translation business and go into full time ministry.
Sure enough, our miracle baby was born in February 2017. Besides feeling very happy about the birth of my child, I also believed that God would open doors for me to go into full-time ministry and studies. I planned to stay in Maryland and commute to Pennsylvania daily for school. While the trip took two hours, traffic was smooth and allowed for a daily commute. During the day, my mother-in-law would take care of the child, and I could take care of the child at night.
However, my wife did not agree. I prayed to God in confusion. I had thought I was following God’s will in making these arrangements. In addition, my wife had once promised God that if he gave us a child, she would agree to anything.
Additionally, I believed that the first bus stop where I did not get off in my dream represented the year 2016, and the second stop with an open door was 2017. Sure enough, the miracle baby was born in 2017. It seemed like an answered prayer.
However, my wife objected to the arrangement, questioning whether there was really a need to go to seminary full-time if I could do online courses. Furthermore, she emphasized that the school was setup for high school students. My wife was strongly opposed to my plans. As I prayed to God for guidance, I again had a dream.
In this dream, I was attending school in a classroom, and it seemed like class was over. However, I insisted on studying that particular topic, while the teacher wanted to change topics. I heard the teacher telling me not to be so stubborn. What he meant was for me not to insist on my viewpoint.
I felt like this dream was God telling me that He did not want me to attend Global School of Supernatural Ministry right now. My understanding of the second stop was wrong. A prophet spoke to me at a seminar, sharing that she felt that this was not God’s route for me, since family should be my top priority. She believed that leaving my wife and child to study at a school that was so far away was not a good arrangement.
For this reason, I had to continue with my online courses in the “Christian Prophetic Certification Program” and “Christian Healing Certification program”. Between 2017 and 2019, I also started on preliminary courses for the Dmin program at the United Theological Seminary, officially embarking on the Dmin program in 2019.
I faced many challenges during the DMin studies, and even wanted to give up. One day, I attended a seminar on prophetic teachings. I sat in front of a sister-in-Christ from Nigeria, who suddenly prophesied over me that she felt God wanted me to finish the Dmin program. She believed this program would lay a strong foundation for serving Him, opening many doors in my service to Him.
At the end, the different pieces of evidence showed that God was indeed pointing me to undertake a Dmin study. God showed me that the joint program between Global Awakening and United Theological Seminary was the second stop in my dreams, while the Global School of Supernatural Ministry was the missed first stop. Even though the dream was from God, I had a wrong interpretation of it. The Holy Spirit, through the internal witness, other dreams, prophecy and environmental factors, allowed me to understand God’s guidance.
Due to my misunderstanding of God’s will, I was prepared to give up my translation business in order to go into full-time ministry. However, though many dreams, God led me to continue my translation business. In a dream, one of my earliest business clients spoke to me to continue my translation business, because clients trusted me. After that, I also received a prophecy saying that God wanted me to continue the translation business. It would not only provide for me financially, but also train me in leadership skills so that I would be able to manage bigger areas of service to the Lord in time to come. God’s goal for my business was not making me an entrepreneur, but teaching me basic business skills and organizational management capabilities. This dream and prophecy helped me understand God’s will. As a result, I continued my translation business so that I could continue to develop these skills.
This testimony shows that God speaks in many ways. He speaks through the Holy Spirit’s still small voice and the internal witness. In my case, God’s voice led me to get more education. However, my natural mind was a hindrance. I misinterpreted God’s guidance, thinking that God intended for me to give up everything so he could pour out His Spirit on me. When God answered our prayers for a child, I wanted to honor my side of the promise and give up everything. However, God used visions and prophecies, as well as environmental factors (my wife’s objection), to clarify his guidance. We can see that God uses many ways to speak to us and to help us understand His leading. Dreams and prophecies helped me understand God’s guidance, and even though I misunderstood the dreams at first, God used more dreams, prophecies and environmental factors to help me understand His intentions.
Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
Acts 2:14-21 talks about Joel’s prophecy, placing special emphasis on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, “sons and daughters shall prophesy”, “young men shall see visions” and “old men shall dream dreams” (verse 17). God says, “even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” (vs. 18)
And that’s not all. Verse 21 says, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Revelations 19:10 says, “for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” The essence of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. Paul added that the purpose of prophesy was to “speak to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” Since dreams, visions and prophecies are tools God uses to encourage, console, and build us up, we should not blindly reject them. Instead, we should learn how to use them appropriately.
Recognize the Risen Christ and Peter’s work
In Acts 2:22-47, Peter preaches about the risen Christ. At one time, Peter had failed to recognize the risen Christ. But in this passage, he speaks about the risen Christ and brings thousands of people to salvation. To be able to do the work God has called us to, we need to experience the real and risen Christ. This chapter describes the beginning of Peter’s beginning of apostleship. Later in Acts, Paul appears on the scene. The work of Peter and Paul are two main themes of the book of Acts, which we will discuss in detail in later passages.
To recap, we have learned about the importance of tongues, dreams and visions. A correct understanding of these truths is an important foundation to accurately interpreting the book of Acts. May the Lord open our spiritual eyes so that we don’t blindly object to these spiritual matters. Instead, may we humbly learn about them and use them as tools to bless others and accomplish God’s work.