1The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the 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."
9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
- Acts 1:1-10
Luke is summarizing the last exchange between the Apostles and Jesus after His resurrection and just before His ascension into Heaven.
There were 40 exciting days with Jesus appearing to many disciples teaching and making final preparations before His departure.
He instructed them concerning the kingdom.
He told them not to begin their ministry in Jerusalem until they were baptized with (verse 5) or received power from (verse 8) the Holy Spirit.
During his three years with them, Jesus had given them many precious gifts:
- The words of the Heavenly Father (John 17:7-8) to enlighten them.
- The proof of his divinity in miracles (John 14:11) to reassure them and build faith.
- The sacrifice of His body and blood (Matthew 26:26) to pay the debt for their sins.
- The witness of His resurrection in order to confirm all His promises (Matthew 28:18-20).
* Now as He leaves them He promises them one last gift - the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit - that would give them not only the ability to carry out their mission, but also completely transform them into new people.
Before we can grasp the meaning of this gift for ourselves, we need to first understand what the Jews themselves believed concerning the Holy Spirit.
1. Although it is never expressed as explicitly in the Old Testament as in the New, the Jews understood that God was One but that there was diversity in the Divine Being. For example, Genesis 1:1 begins with a reference to God and the Spirit of God. Genesis 1:26 - reference to God here is in the plural, suggesting this diversity and God's name is in the plural also.
With time and further revelation they understood that the Godhead manifested itself to man in different persons. For example, Psalm 51:11-13 - by the time of David (approximately 1050 B.C.) the Jews grew to understand that the Holy Spirit was God and part of the One God they worshipped, but a separate being.
Isaiah 61:1 - With time they were taught that it was the Holy Spirit that gave power to their prophets and leaders, who did great miracles and after saved them from their enemies and enabled them to prophecy about the Messiah to come.
Joel 2:28 - Still other prophets confirmed both ideas that the Holy Spirit was God and that the Holy Spirit gave power to men, but also declared that when the Messiah would come, it would be with the power of the Holy Spirit.
By the time of Jesus, the Jews anticipated that when the Messiah came the Holy Spirit would be with the people in a mighty way. Not just with the prophets and leaders, but with the entire nation in a dynamic way.
For the Jews of that time, the Savior would bring with him the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit would empower the people to become a great and strong nation as it once was in the glory days of Solomon (free from Roman domination and humiliation that it was experiencing in the first century).
2. John the Baptist: So along comes a prophet, John the Baptist, who is very influential and he points to Jesus and says to the people, "I baptize you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mark 1:8). Suggests to people that time for Messiah according to prophecy is very near, they are even excited.
3. Jesus Christ: Jesus' appearance causes great excitement; John declares that He will bring the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells the people that He is the one sent from God, the one they are expecting. His miracles are further proof that what they were expecting was about to be realized.
The golden age where the Spirit was to empower the entire nation seemed to be at hand - and it was, but not in the way the people thought.
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament
When we read the New Testament and what happened after Jesus returned to heaven, we learn that he did indeed sent the Holy Spirit for two reasons:
- To empower the Apostles and early disciples to de miracles in the establishment of the church in the first century.
- To indwell every believer who obeys the gospel.
We understand that Jesus did this and it fulfills Scripture, and both these things are very different experiences.
The Holy Spirit has always been the person in the Godhead that has worked in creation and in man in accomplishing God's will.
Matthew 12:28 - By the power of the Spirit Jesus performed His miracles.
Jesus promised His Apostles that He would give them also this same power from the Holy Spirit. The same power that worked for the prophets and leaders and also for Jesus, would now be for them. Why?
- Remember accurately all of His teachings (John 14:26) because they had to teach others everything.
- Preach the gospel with power (John 16:7-8).
- Do miracles to confirm their preaching (Mark 16:20, Acts 1:8)
- Speaking in foreign languages (tongues) (Acts 2:4-6), had to preach to all creation.
- Healings (Acts 3:1-10), Peter heals lame in name of Jesus.
- Raise the dead (Acts 20:8-12).
- Bestow on others the ability to do these kinds of miraculous acts (Acts 19:6). They were only 12 men. They bestowed gifts to help spread the church, to preach with power, to confirm the word, etc.
* This kind of power was given by Christ through the Holy Spirit, but only to very few people for a short time and for specific reasons:
- To confirm that the Apostles and early disciples who preached the gospel were indeed telling the truth. If people doubted the messengers who spoke of a resurrected Jesus, they were reassured of their sincerity when they saw the miracles and signs.
- To help the early church establish and organize itself. There was no written record of Jesus' life and teaching in the early part of the first century, and so God provided the young church with people who has special powers to protect and guide it until every member had access to the complete teachings of Christ.
* By the end of the first century, the New Testament was written and was being circulated in various forms. With the death of the Apostles ended the age where the Holy Spirit empowered people with miraculous powers - but that did not mean He left man completely alone, which brings us to the second manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
- I Corinthians 13:8-10
Not everyone was to be miraculously empowered by the Holy Spirit, only those that God had special work to do.
But everyone could receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and this phenomenon was the true fulfillment of the prophecies about him in the Old Testament.
In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter offers this to all those who believe and respond to the gospel in repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). Note that all who did this were promised the Holy Spirit, but none did miracles, only the Apostles and those upon whom they laid hands.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the offer of God to Live within the heart of every believer, the actual presence of God within the individual in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:11 - Paul does not explain the mechanics of how a divine being can inhabit a mortal body, only that it does. Faith is taking God at His word even when we do not "see".
In the end, faith will be rewarded in resurrection.
I Corinthians 3:16 - Paul explains the same event but using different imagery. The body is a temple, the Holy Spirit lives within the body.
Just as the empowering by the Spirit had been given to specific people at a specific time, so did the indwelling of the Holy Spirit been given to specific people at a specific time.
- He was to indwell every single person that believed in Jesus, repented of their sins and was baptized (Acts 2:38). The Holy Spirit was offered to everyone, not just Apostles and a few special disciples, that is how all nations would be blessed, now He would be distributed on all.
- The people who received Him would not demonstrate miraculous powers, but that is not to say that there would be no change in their lives on account of the Spirits's presence. Do not have to perform miracles to know that the Holy Spirit dwells in you. You can know He is there in other ways.
The Holy Spirit within a Christian motivates him to seek and experience the things of Christ. How do I know the Holy Spirit is within me? Here are a few examples:
- Prayer (Romans 8:26): He is our prayer partner. He encourages us to pray with reassurance that our prayers will be heard. He moves us to pray and keeps our prayers before God's throne.
- Righteousness (Romans 8:12-14; Galatians 5:22): Our flesh, human nature has no taste or interest in seeking righteousness for Christ's sake, this is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit leads us into the desire for good, gives us a thirst for God's righteousness, the kingdom's establishment. The Holy Spirit is behind every campaign to evangelize.
- Desire and ability to have intimacy with God (Ephesians 3:14-19): Without the Holy Spirit we can know doctrine but we cannot know God. The Holy Spirit acts as a facilitator between our spirit and the word of God to enable us to have a relationship with a being whose nature and scope our faculties (weakened by sin) have a hard time relating to. Without the Holy Spirit, we could not know God.
- Service in the Kingdom (I Corinthians 12:4-11): In this passage, Paul talks about both the miraculous its available in the first century and the other abilities still experienced in the church today. In the New Testament, we learn that every believer receives the Holy Spirit and that He enables every believer to minister in some way. If one preached, he does so by the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit. If one sings, teaches, cleans, fixes, visits, organizes, gives, he does it through the grace of God and help of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe, however, that the Holy Spirit helps you to be a better teacher or sweeper than someone who is not a Christian. Being expert at something only comes by training and practice, talent. I do believe, however, that the Holy Spirit gives you the strength and faith to sweep and serve and give for something you cannot see, that is His work in so far as the Christian is concerned. People who do not posses the Spirit fix and serve and give for something they can see and touch and taste, a cause, a government, the Holy Spirit helps the believer to continue to do the best he can for something not yet seen.
I know the Holy Spirit is in me because I am spending my life serving a Lord I cannot see, dying for a kingdom I cannot touch.
I have tried to explain to you who is to receive the Holy Spirit and what are some of the things the Holy Spirit does for the person He indwells.
I want to conclude by telling you that the offer of the Holy Spirit is still available today.
God no longer empowers us to do miracles today, we do not need them any longer to confirm the gospel or establish the church - we have His word recorded for us to help us do this work. And the sign that we are truly of God is not the power of miracles but rather the power of love (John 13:35).
But He does offer forgiveness because we are still sinners and need to be forgiven.
And He offers His Holy Spirit to live within us because we all desperately need:
- Help in prayer
- Help in doing what is right
- Help in knowing God
- Help in serving Him
Summary and Exhortation
This week, through the eyewitness records of Jesus' final days, I have tried to share with you His Passion and His Glory.
We have been in the private room and seen Him eat the final meal with the Apostles.
We have heard His final words while He hung on the cross.
We were there to see and hear Him as He appeared to the Apostles and other after His triumphal resurrection.
All of us know that His final command is that all the world is to believe and be baptized, or perish forever.
And finally, tonight we have al received the offer of His final gift - the offer of the Holy Spirit living inside of every single person sitting here tonight who will receive Christ through faith, expressed in repentance and baptism.
The Passion of Christ on the cross was for your sins, the glory of His resurrection can be the glory of you resurrection. Come and receive forgiveness and the Spirit tonight - do not let the opportunity to receive the final gift go by without responding to the call.