Part 3: Work Of The Spirit
Pastor Terry Inman
The book authored by Luke titled “The Acts of the Apostles”, opens with a new Paradigm for Power. Today’s AD preview looks like a firestorm. Its the Holy Spirit’s sudden arrival during a religious festival called Pentecost.
This clip is great but doesn’t quite reflect the whole story. You we see more in tonight’s AD episode on NBC at 9 PM. There is still time to connect with one of our viewing and discussion groups.
The fire infused the first followers of Jesus with passion and the wind drove them to spread the good news throughout the world. This same Holy Spirit is igniting believers today. Over 14% of Americans say they are Spirit empowered and personally speak in tongues weekly of more.
Recently the Assemblies of God celebrated its’ centennial. It was birthed in a renewal of Pentecost. It is now the world's fourth largest Christian community with some 67.5 million adherents. The baptism or empowering of the Holy Spirit continues to be one of our distinctive practices.
Luke, a physician given to detail, tells us the disciples were together in one place when a sound like a turbulent wind filled the whole house with a blaze that appeared to spread into small flames over everyone’s heads.
They all were filled with the Holy Spirit and spontaneously began praising God in several known but previously unlearned languages. Some say they were in the upper-room. Others say they were in the Temple courts.
Wherever it was, the coming of the Holy Spirit was openly visible and audible. Crowds of people including guests visiting from several neighboring nations heard these Spirit inspired expressions.
Luke lists over fifteen nationalities and says they were utterly amazed, asking,
“Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” (Acts 2.7-9 NIV)
Peter, now full of new passion seized the opportunity to preach the gospel and explain the prophetic significance of what was happening.
No matter what it looked like he assured them that these spirit-filled people were not getting drunk at 9 am in the morning.
He then quoted from the prophet Joel.
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. (Acts 2.15-17 NIV)
Joel predicted two expressions of the Spirit--inspired revelation and spirit-enabled communication. People said, “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
I am asking God for greater gifts of revelation and communication so we can more effectively reach our multi-ethnic community for Christ!
This infusion of the Holy Spirit’s power immediately emboldened the Apostles who previously lacked courage and conviction. Peter’s powerful and piercing words provoked an incredible response.
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2.37 NIV)
I love the progression the crowds went from “what does this mean” to “what shall we do?” That’s the power of Spirit inspired proclamation!
Peter gave a mass invitation to follow Jesus Christ. He said,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then he promised this gift to all future generations.
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2.38-39 NIV) There is a
“Repent” means to reconsider your thoughts and actions. Change your mind. He was calling on a crowd that, only few weeks earlier had chanted crucify him; to now demonstrate their belief with a public baptism.
Luke’s adds this.
“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2.40-41NIV)
That was an awesome spontaneous baptism! This is how the church got its explosive start-up. The power of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed masses of people. Cowards were altered and crucifiers were rehabilitated!
If you have been following the AD series on NBC you have probably noticed the many power struggles were going on. Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor and his wife are in a dispute over his complicity in the brutal crucifixion of Jesus. She warned him to stay out it.
Caiaphas the puppet of the former high priest Ananias can’t please his father-in-law or the Governor. He is a weak and confused leader.
The power plays between the religious and civil authorities is magnified even more by Jesus’ resurrection. Every one is trying to manage the political fallout of the crucifixion and resurrection. Insurrectionists wanted to seize the moment to foment rebellion against Roman occupation.
The Jewish leaders didn’t want to forfeit what little power they had. Jesus’ followers could stir up enough controversy to get them all crushed. Pilate was worried that Rome would hear about all the unrest in Judea and remove him from power. It was all a messy power grab.
James and John two of Jesus inner circle of disciples were nicked-named the “Sons of thunder”. They could be hotheaded at times. They may have been sympathetic with subversive party of Jewish zealots. When some Samaritans offended them, they were ready to call fire down from heaven and destroy their adversaries. (Luke 9.54 NIV)
Peter was also a bit impetuous. He defended Jesus by severing a Temple guard’s ear. Then when cornered he denied any association with Jesus.
The atmosphere especially in Jerusalem was very much like it is today. There was political turbulence everywhere. You can understand the question put to Jesus by his disciples after his resurrection.
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1.6 NIV
Luke says “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command:
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1.3-5 NIV)
Jerusalem was a very dangerous place. Why would he want his disciples to go back there? He had been talking about the Kingdom. They thought he was going to conquer the Romans and take the reigns of power.
Luke says, when they met up with Jesus in Jerusalem, they popped the question, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1.6-8 NIV)
According to Luke, Peter who couldn’t stand with Jesus in his trial was now taking a stand with the eleven disciples and raising his voice as a powerful witness to the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 2.14 NIV)
This promised gift is a new Paradigm for Power! It was not political clout. Rome was still in charge and becoming more oppressive by the day. The power hungry Jewish leaders were as threatening as ever.
In the face of formidable opposition, this was the power to be witnesses.
This paradigm of power was and is available to all who repent and follow.
Why do I call it a paradigm? A paradigm is a model, pattern or template.
A paradigm shift is when an old model changes and a new one emerges. Most of us don’t see a paradigm shift until sometime after it happens because our perception is clouded by our present reality.
Let me explain. The Swiss perfected the analog watch. It had a dial with roman numerals and two or three rotating hands. An Asian entrepreneur invented a watch with the time displayed as a series of digits. The Swiss watchmakers rejected it. They said no one would buy it. It’s not a watch. Seiko manufactured the digital watch and nearly put the old paradigm out of business. We can’t see new paradigms because we are too cozy with the old ones.
The Holy Spirit is non-physical and invisible we have trouble seeing and understanding him.
John who calls him “the Spirit of truth” says, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14.17
The scriptures give us some hints about the Spirit’s identity and function by using some common metaphors like breath, wind, water, fire and oil.
Let me summarize the work of the Spirit with the classic elements. Earth Air Water and Fire.
The Holy Spirit was present and active in the creation of the earth. In Gen. 1.2 says,
“The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Man was created from the dust of the earth. But the Spirit of God breathed life into him. (Gen. 2.7 NIV) Jesus breathed on his disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20.22 NIV)
The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for scripture.
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). He continues to breath its life into us.
The Holy Spirit is a supernatural fresh breath of air. He is also like water. He cleanses us, renews us and refreshes us.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3.5 NIV)
We call this regeneration.
We die without water. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John adds, “By this he meant the Spirit.” (John 7.38-39 NIV)
Finally the Holy Spirit is an internal inferno. Fire purifies. He keeps us clean and wholesome. John the Baptist said,
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.(Matt. 3.11 NIV) We call this sanctification.
“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1Cor. 6.19-20 NIV)
He keeps the temple clean.
Fire also gives energy and light. The Holy Spirit lights-up our witness. He fills us with passion and purpose. He reveals God’s truth. He guides us and He glorifies the Lord Jesus. In fact that is his number one job description.
On the Day of Pentecost, when the apostle Peter explained the outburst of the Holy Spirit, he preached about “Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 2:22-41).
Jesus said, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26 NIV) He also helps us testify about Jesus!
The Spirit has not come so we can go away talking about the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit has come to give us a new Paradigm for Power so we can do what He does, glorify Jesus everywhere we go!