Part – I
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49), right after Jesus says this; He is taken up to heaven! These are the very last words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke. That command to His disciples sounds interesting, and great – but what does Jesus mean? Well, Jesus clarifies that in Acts 1:4-8: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…… 8 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.’’
Now the disciples are waiting for the Holy Spirit, which had been promised not only by Jesus but also hundreds in the Old Testament as well!
But they’re not just waiting, in Acts 1:14 – this is what they did, they all joined together constantly in prayer .And then finally, a few days later it happens – the Holy Spirit comes!
Acts 2 tells us how it happened – this is one of my favourite chapters in the whole Bible. Acts 2:1-13; Jews from all over had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost together. Pentecost was a harvest feast that took place every year 50 days after the Passover – so if you remember, Jesus died on the Friday of Passover, and rose again on the Sunday of Passover. He was with His disciples for 40 days after His resurrection, so this event takes place 10 days after Jesus has left the earth
It happens like this – they were all together in a house, when suddenly two things happen: the sound like that of a violent wind, and something that looked like fire, the wind fills the house and the fire separates and rests on them.
Now Luke is very clear that it wasn’t actually wind or fire, but it was supernatural – it sounded like wind and looked like fire, but it was actually something very different, it was of course the coming of the Holy Spirit – the believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they start declaring the wonders of God in different languages – the people who were gathered there for the festival from all around the world start hearing these simple Middle Eastern villagers speaking in their native languages. Interestingly there are two reactions to this – some are amazed and perplexed, and some think they are drunk and make fun.
At that point Peter stands up starting in v. 14, and gives this amazing message that goes for the next 25 verses or so – he says that they aren’t drunk, but this is the moment that God had promised hundreds of years before, that He would pour out His Spirit on His people. He says this is happening now, through Jesus. Look at the response of the people – vv. 37-39. They are cut to the heart, and ask what they need to do – Peter says repent, be baptized, in other words give your life to Jesus. You also will receive the Holy Spirit – Look what the final result is – vv. 40-41 ; 3000 people were saved, and baptized on the same day – what a day! What do we learn here?
Let’s study this awesome and crucial topic of the Holy Spirit by asking and answering four questions:
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
- What does the Holy Spirit do?
- What does a Spirit-filled church look like?
- How do we experience the Holy Spirit today?
In this part, we will deal with the 1st two questions.
- Who is the Holy Spirit? – First thing to understand is that the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of what we call the Trinity – Trinity means that God is One, but He exists as a community of three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- So the Holy Spirit is a person, in the sense that He has a personality
- He isn’t simply some kind of force or power, He has a personality, He rejoices, He can be grieved, He has all the personal qualities of the Father and the Son.
- That’s why we call Him ‘He’, not ‘it’. So this is the Holy Spirit in a nutshell – He is God, a member of the Trinity, just as divine and just as personal as the Father and the Son.
- What does the Holy Spirit do? – The Bible tells us many things that the Holy Spirit does, but a perfect summary of the Holy Spirit’s work is right here in this chapter itself – we don’t need to go anywhere else:
- The Holy Spirit moves (v. 2) – the Holy Spirit came from heaven and filled the house.
- The Holy Spirit rests (v. 3) – this is resting not in the sense that the Holy Spirit relaxes, but that He comes on and in everyone and anyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
If you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit rests on you and in you – can you believe that, a member of the Trinity living inside your body?
In fact someone said something like this– the very reason that Jesus came and died for your sins and forgave your sins so that you could become a clean temple for His Spirit to dwell.
- The Holy Spirit fills (v. 4) – not only does the Spirit rest on us, but He wants to fill us. In other words, He wants to take control of us and lead us in every way.
- The Holy Spirit gifts (v. 4) – here we see the Holy Spirit enabling the believers to speak in different tongues, which we find out later is just one of the gifts that the Spirit gives to people.
In fact in 1 Corinthians 12 we find out that the Holy Spirit has gifted every believer with at least one gift by which to bless the church and expand God’s kingdom.
- The Holy Spirit empowers (v. 14) – Jesus had said that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses for Him, and this is exactly what we see happening here. Peter stands up in front of this crowd of thousands of people, and preaches to them the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ – this is the same Peter who was an uneducated fisherman, who denied even knowing Jesus a few weeks earlier. Now he’s as bold as a lion – this is what the Holy Spirit does in a believer’s life.
- The Holy Spirit convicts (v. 37) – the conviction of the 3000 people who are cut to the heart by Peter’s message is also a result of the Holy Spirit. In fact only the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of a person’s heart, convict them of their sin and their need of a Savior.
- The Holy Spirit saves (v. 41) – the Holy Spirit brings a person to the Lord Jesus Christ, and enables them to come to Jesus and be saved – So we see here a pretty extensive display of the Spirit’s work – He moves, rests, fills, gifts, empowers, convicts, and saves. We find out in the rest of the New Testament that He also comforts, counsels, guides, gives wisdom, gives joy, puts God’s love in our hearts, and much more. It’s impossible to come to Jesus or to live in Jesus or for Jesus without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Basically the work of the Holy Spirit is to apply the work of salvation to our hearts and lives.
“The Father’s main work is to plan and orchestrate salvation, the Son’s main work was to execute and accomplish salvation (by dying on the cross and rising again on the 3rd day), and the Spirit’s main work is to now apply that salvation to our lives today, or in other words to make it real for us, to make it practical for us, to enable us to actually experience God in our everyday lives.”
So the main point is this – we need the Holy Spirit! We need Him desperately. Apart from Him, everything is just head knowledge and theory, it’s just going through the motions, it’s just a set of beliefs, it’s just religion – the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in our hearts, so that we actually feel the love of Jesus in our hearts, so that we actually desire God, so that we are earnest and real and full of zeal, so that we have the mind of Christ to live like Jesus did and make the impact that Jesus did I hope this is what you are longing for– to actually experience God in your life, not just talk about it. This is the work of the Holy Spirit – we need Him!