The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

Ultimile Instructiuni ale Domnului Isus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

Reclame

Did Marx get his idea for socialism from the Gospels?

Does Acts 2-5 command socialism?

Having been born and raised in a communist country, with first hand knowledge of the impact of socialism, I found this article very interesting and on target. It is an article posted on the Gospel Coalition website, in which Art Lindsley discusses the claim made on a Washington Post blog, by writer Gregory Paul that ‘Marx likely got the general idea for socialism from the Gospels’.

„A truly strange thing has happened to American Christianity,” Gregory Paul writes for The Washington Post’s „On Faith” blog. He claims that Christians who defend the free market are in a profound contradiction because Acts 2-5 is „outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx—who likely got the general idea from the Gospels.”

Acts 4:32-35, referring to the early congregation, says,

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. . . . There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Though these passages may sound like socialism to the average reader, such a superficial reading may miss what a closer examination of the text reveals. There are three major reasons why Acts 2-5 does not teach socialism. 

Lindsley quotes Craig Blomberg from his study  Neither Poverty nor Riches, in which Blomberg comments on  Acts 4:34b-35 and states:

The periodic selling of property confirms our interpretation of Acts 2:44 above. This was not a one-time divesture of all one’s possessions. The theme „according to need,” reappears, too. Interestingly, what does not appear in this paragraph is any statement of complete equality among believers.

Lindsley also points out that –

John Stott affirms Blomberg’s conclusions on property in the early church, also underscoring Luke’s use of the imperfect tense:

Neither Jesus nor his apostles forbade private property to all Christians. . . It is important to note that even in Jerusalem the sharing of property and possessions was voluntary . . . It is also noteworthy that the tense of both verbs in verse 45 is imperfect, which indicates that the selling and giving were occasional, in response to particular needs, not once and for all.

Finally, Lindsley gives 2 reasons why, even if  all believers sold all their possessions and redistributed them among the community, this still would not prove socialism is biblical.

  1. The act in Acts was totally voluntary — Socialism implies coercion by the state…
  2. The narrative was not a universal command. — To prove Acts 2-5 commands socialism, you would have to show that this historical precedent is a mandatory prescription for all later Christians.

Click here to read the entire article at the Gospel Coalition website.

THE DAY OF PENTECOST Acts chapter 2

Read Part 1 here

by Dr. George O Wood

THE DAY OF PENTECOST Acts 2
Dr. George O. Wood

Last week we sort of strolled through Acts 1, which is a period in the Book of Acts which deals with the theme from resurrection to Pentecost. It involves a period of some fifty days following the resurrection of the Lord, and His appearance for forty days to the disciples, where He again teaches the principle themes that had occupied Him in His earthly ministry. Then, following His ascension into heaven, there was a period of ten days in which the church was waiting in prayer. When we come to the second chapter of Acts, we come to a chapter which we may simply title, ―The Day of Pentecost.‖ If you are keeping notes on this, I‘m not trying to be the most organized and clear in this message as with last Sunday night, I don‘t have four points or seven points or whatever, as I normally do in a teaching series. I‘m simply trying to look with you at the text. But at the same time, I‘d like to keep before you a context so you don‘t get lost in this Bible study. Therefore, if you‘re doing some headings, the first chapter is simply titled ―Resurrection to Pentecost‖ and this second chapter can be titled ―The Day of Pentecost.

I‘m going to spend quite a bit of time just on the first phrase. I‘m not sure just how far we‘ll get. My goal is to get all the way through forty verses, but I‘m also realizing that, while I can talk endlessly, you cannot listen endlessly and there must be a balance to all things. Someone has said that lecturing is the transmission of what is in the teacher‘s notebook to what is in the student‘s notebook without it going through the head of either. Maybe that‘s a good reason why, in this series, I‘m laying aside my notes so that I can share with you, not out of cognitive levels alone, but out of heart levels and kind of lay aside those trappings of nicety and organization in order to get at more gut and fundamental things. And two, I didn‘t want to use notes so in case we do get carried away with a phrase, I won‘t feel like I‘ve got to be bound, that I have to get all the way through.

The text says, ―When the day of Pentecost came. That‘s a very flat reading, actually. A more literal rendering of the Greek text and you know I‘m loath to use that reference ―the Greek text,‖ because it immediately puts all of you who don‘t have the ability to work with the Greek text at a disadvantage. And it allows me to be the custodian of the sacred knowledge. Don‘t you hate ministers who settle arguments by saying, ―But it really says in the Greek…‖? It‘s really us doing a one-upmanship on the laity and it‘s grossly unfair, and I try to stay away from it. One reason is that I don‘t know the Greek that well so it is not to my interest to be able to pass myself off as a Greek scholar. However, when I am in trouble, I will use the Greek in order to win the argument—you should know that in advance. That is one of the tactics we have in the ministry for sustaining our position.

But this is a rather flat interpretation. The literal rendering of the Greek here would say something like this, ―And in the filling up of the day of Pentecost.‖ That‘s a rather intriguing phrase. What could that possibly mean? Is Pentecost empty? What is it that is filling it up? And how does that relate to the word? How does the concept of filling up relate to the word ―Pentecost‖ itself?
The word ―Pentecost‖ has come widely into vogue in this century, especially since 1901. It was actually the first day of this century―January 1, 1901―that a group of believers were meeting at a place called Stone‘s Folly in Topeka, Kansas, a Bible School. There was a small group of believers who were attempting to see if there was anything deficient in their Christian experience or the Christian experience of their church, which was taught in Scripture but was presently deficient. They came to a conclusion on the basis of their study, especially of Acts, that the one element that was deficient of their own church experience and personal experience was that what is described in the Book of Acts as the ―baptism in the Holy Spirit‖ with speaking in other tongues was a phenomena that they had not observed or seen. Yet they became persuaded by studying the Book of Acts that this was an experience that was a pattern in the Early Church. And they simply opened themselves up to receive again that same blessing of the Spirit in the present that He gave in the apostolic era, if it so pleased the Holy Spirit.

It was as a result of a number of days of fasting and praying that, in accordance with their request, the Holy Spirit came upon that small group meeting in this unfinished mansion called Stone‘s Folly; and the Pentecostal movement in this century began. It is now estimated that this movement embraces hundreds of millions of people worldwide under the general title ―Pentecostal.‖ And, of course, the newer phrase begun in the 60s for this movement, which emphasized the baptism in the Spirit, with speaking in languages not learned or speaking in other tongues, the more modern name has been the charismatic renewal. Both the words ―charismatic‖ and ―Pentecostal‖ are biblical words. ―Charismatic‖ comes from the Greek word charismata or charisma meaning in the singular ―charisma,‖ ―spiritual gift.‖ It‘s always used as a reference, not to a gift given by man to man, but a gift given by God to man. Or a gift from the greater to the lesser. It is, therefore, a free gift, a beneficent gift, charisma. And the plural is charismata, from which we derive ―charismatic.‖

There‘s no real mystery about Pentecost.

The older word that has been in use is the word ―Pentecostal.‖ It also has a very rich history and, in fact, it has a rich biblical history. That‘s what I want to key in on for just a moment, because it is that word, ―Pentecost,‖ that was in the process of being filled up on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. There‘s no real mystery about Pentecost. I would like to say to you that the word has some splendid hidden spiritual meaning and that when I decipher it, I‘ll send you away with goose bumps, saying, as you smack your head on the pew, ―Why didn‘t I ever see that before in the meaning of that word in Scripture?‖ But it simply is a word which means fifty. It‘s from the Greek pente, which you‘ll immediately recognize as the word for five. ―Pentecost‖ meaning fifty. In the Hebrew usage, it was a festival of the Hebrew year which, to the Greek speaking Jews, acquired the name Pentecost.

The actual word for the festival in the Hebrew language is Shavuot which is still the custom in Israel today―the Feast of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks as it is called. It is called the ―Feast of Weeks,‖ because there are seven weeks plus a day―hence the name ―fifty. Seven weeks plus a day, from the Feast of Firstfruits until the Feast of Pentecost. That means that if I‘m going to define Pentecost, I need to define the Feast of Firstfruits. That‘s what I want to do for a few moments.

If you read Scripture closely, the Scripture itself is its own best interpreter. Scripture tells us what Pentecost is. But in order to understand Pentecost, we must get more than a lexical definition of the word. You can‘t simply go to a Bible dictionary or to an English dictionary and look up ―Pentecost and think that simply by looking at the dictionary definition we have grasped what the concept is. The concept is revealed from within the context in which the whole meaning of Pentecost is laid out.

Leviticus 23 that tells us the contextual meaning of what Pentecost is

I want to take you to one of the esoteric books of Scripture which I know you spend a lot of time reading and pouring over the details in this book. It‘s the marvelous Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Bible. It is Leviticus 23 that tells us the contextual meaning of what Pentecost is. Where I‘m ultimately going, you‘ll see when I get done. One of the things I‘m going to try to answer in this discussion of Pentecost is whether or not what happened on the Day of Pentecost was a one-time event, meant for those people back then alone, or if it is meant to have continuing significance for us today, and for the whole church all over the world today. I‘m suggesting to you that the answer to that question is bound up intricately in the meaning, the very meaning of the word ―Pentecost, and that the Scriptures themselves give us, through prophetic typecasting what that word is meant to represent.

7 feasts of the Jewish calendar

photo credit – www.endtimepilgrim.org/7feasts.htm Visit website for detailed explanation of the 7 feasts

Leviticus 23 sketches out the seven feasts of the Jewish year; ―God‘s calendar of time‖ is a good way to identify this chapter. It was meant to be a calendar whereby God‘s people would have seven moments, through every twelve-month period of time, to stop and reflect on their special relationship with God. One of the Jewish writers, in commenting on God‘s calendar of time says that the Jewish people were not great in being remembered for building great monuments or sanctuaries, but God chose to mark His presence among them by covenant and by calendars of time. Time comes to us inexorably, and those seven feasts that were celebrated through the year, whether one wanted them to come or not, they came. Because time does come inexorably and God chose every year to have seven aspects of His relationship to His people marked in truth by the content of those festivals.

To briefly run them by you, because Pentecost fits as the middle of those seven festivals, it is the fourth festival, it belongs to the set of the first three. Here are the festivals.

The first festival is the Festival of Passover. The fourteenth day of the first month. It is a very significant time in Hebrew. Hebrew uses double sets of sevens and threes and things like that. But just the double set of seven, the fourteenth day of the first month, God‘s people find their identity through His act of deliverance. That‘s what the Passover was all about, the shedding of the blood of the Passover lamb―the death angel going through and passing by so that the firstborn of the family did not die. It signified God‘s great deliverance out of Egypt. The Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

The Feast of Passover was then immediately made to be concurrent with a feast called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began the night of Passover and, unlike Passover, which lasted just one night (the fourteenth day), the Feast of Unleavened Bread ran from the fourteenth day and runs today still in Israel from the fourteenth day to the twenty-first day of the month. It is meant to commemorate the fact that God‘s people are to purge their houses and homes of leaven, leaven being a type or figure of contaminating influence. So, still today, an Israeli home, a Jewish home here in America, as an observant Jew, you will have the ritual search for leaven in the house and the removal of leaven as an event.

The third feast that interposed itself was called the Feast of Firstfruits. It occurred the seventh day or the twenty-first day of the first month. The seventh day after Passover. It was primarily an agricultural feast, which said it is time for the barley crop to begin to be harvested. The wheat is standing in the field. It‘s ready to be harvested. But before any of it can be harvested and eaten by the people who have sown the seed and tended the fields, there must be a gathering of the firstfruit of that harvest. The first standing shocks of grain must be identified. Those standing shocks of grain must be cut down and brought as an act of celebrative worship in Solomon‘s or David‘s time to the temple. And in Jesus‘ day, again to the temple where, in a special wave offering, that sheaf of grain was, as you will, waved before God. In fact, it was the law within the Old Testament that no one could eat of the spring crop until the very first of the crop had been offered to God. When the crop had been offered to God, then the rest of the people could partake in the entire remaining crop that was to be harvested; signifying a great biblical truth: that the first things always belong to God. In the Old Testament, it was the first child that belonged to God, the first of the income belonged to God, the first of the crop belonged to God, the firstfruits. In fact, when you read the Book of Joshua you discover that the first Feast of Firstfruits that Israel kept in its new entry into Canaan, on that day, the manna stopped. God‘s provision under the old system ceased as they began to reap the product that was in the new land.

That is then followed by the fourth feast, the last feast of spring, the Feast of Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. Seven weeks and a day afterwards, which marked the completion of the spring harvest. Firstfruits marked the beginning, Pentecost marked the completion of the spring harvest and all was gathered in. At this time, instead of a raw sheath of grain being waved to God, the people were instructed along with the animal sacrifices that were to be brought, they were instructed to bring loaves of bread that had yeast or leaven in them. That‘s the only offering I think you can find in the Old Testament where leaven or yeast is required in the offering normally, since leaven is a type of sin and evil that must be purged out. But in this particular case, leaven was in the bread. It was offered as an offering, as a kind of wave offering to God, a presentation of labor to God. That was the end of the spring feast.

The New Testament fulfills those Old Testament feasts

We talk about how the New Testament fulfills those Old Testament feasts, they were like an empty container—a pitcher or a can or a great big receptacle of some kind—without New Testament truth being poured into them. Some of you have poured concrete. I‘m not into construction, but I‘ve seen them do it. You lay out the forms then you pour in the concrete. Then, when the concrete is poured and set, you can take out the forms. But the forms are necessary in order to guide the content of what is being poured into the form. That‘s the same way with these old feasts within our Christian observance. Once the truth is poured into the form, the form represented something. Then, Christians no longer kept a calendar year where the first month of every year, the fourteenth day, they had Passover, etc. We keep these feasts, not as observance once a year, but we keep them perpetually in our hearts as an ever-present observance. But the New Testament truth that fills up the Old Testament form is what is at stake here.

(1) The Passover – Of course, when we look at the spring feast, these four feasts I‘ve enumerated are kept within a New Testament perspective. The first: Passover. In 1 Corinthians, ―Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.‖ The fulfillment of the Feast of Passover within a Christian sense was that Christ‘s blood on a cross was sufficiently applied to the door posts of our life so that the death angel passes over and our life is hid with God in Christ, so that there can never again be an alienation of our life from God. And we are kept by God, protected by Him because He is the type. He is the one who fulfills the type that the Passover lamb represented. Then, when we have communion, or whenever we remember Christ‘s sacrifice, we are keeping that feast in our hearts. Christ was offered up for us. So the Feast of Passover was fulfilled in Christ and we perpetually observe that feast whenever we remember Christ‘s sacrifice for us.

(2) In regards to Feast of Unleavened Bread, Paul tells the Corinthians, ―Purge out the leaven.‖ By this, he is talking about the responsibility we as Christians have to actively seek the rooting out and eradication of sin in our life; malice and evil and immorality and impure thoughts and impure language and the like. That it is part and parcel of the Christian life to get serious about the removal of leaven from our life; that the keeping of the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs, whenever and if we consciously set out to seek God‘s holiness in our life. Seeking for our life to be better conformed to the personality and character of God. That‘s keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

(3) The third spring feast is the Feast of Firstfruits. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 15, ―Christ, the first fruit, was raised from the dead.‖ There‘s a precise fulfillment of that feast in Christ‘s life because He rises again from the dead on the literal day of the Feast of Firstfruits. [Did I say Feast of First Fruits was seven days after Passover? I‘ll take that back. It was not. It was the first day after Unleavened Bread, which would make it the second day after Passover. Then Unleavened Bread continued through the week.] Christ rose from the dead on that day, the day of Firstfruits.

Get the picture for just a moment. Think of two locals in Jerusalem. One local is out in a barley field. It is early in the morning. The sun has not yet come up. In accordance with the custom, the high priest is going out with his top henchmen and has gathered in a field where some shocks of grain have been pre-marked and pre-roped. They have come out there so that, the minute the sun rises on that day, they may cut down that sheaf of grain and ceremoniously carry it back to the temple to wave it as a firstfruit to God, signifying that now the first of the crop is being harvested for springtime. The moment they are putting the sickle into the crop in another part of town, in a tomb where a stone had been rolled against it which was being guarded by soldiers, Jesus Christ comes out of the grave, marking the fact that He is the first from among the dead to rise. Just as the agricultural Feast of Firstfruits signified that it was ok for the rest of the harvest to be gathered, so Christ‘s rising from the dead is a guarantee to us that Christ—who is the Firstfruit— being the lead, will allow all who follow after Him to also be incorporated in the act which He does. That is, His resurrection is not singular and alone and only for Himself. It embraces all of us. He‘s the first. But once He has risen from the dead, then the door is open for all of us to likewise go through resurrection. None of us can have resurrection life until He‘s been resurrected. Just like no one could eat the grain until the Firstfruit was offered. But when the firstfruit has risen from the dead, then the rest of us begin to have the opportunity to participate in the resurrection life.

So whenever we celebrate Christ‘s resurrection, we are keeping the Feast of the Firstfruit.
That brings us, then, to the Feast of Pentecost and what‘s being filled up. Pentecost was at the end of the harvest, the completion of the harvest. It was all in. It was the product that was now being presented to God, the baked loaf with leaven, an excellent type of the fact that, all during the age of the Christian church, there was going to be a harvest. And that harvest is represented by a loaf of bread which is a combination of flesh and spirit. We have yeast in us, the leaven of unrighteousness. But it‘s not the raw product but the product that is being formed from the harvest that is presented to God. Pentecost is a harvest festival, a spring harvest festival.

Pentecost – an era in which the church is at work in the harvest

I would submit to you, if we really want to understand the meaning of Pentecost it must be related to the whole understanding of the fact that God, in this world, is gathering for Himself a harvest of people; and that harvest of people is to continue until the day of Pentecost is over. I would submit to you that just as the concept of the day of Passover, the day of Firstfruits, the day of Unleavened Bread is a perpetual observance, so Pentecost is not just a twenty-four-hour period of time. It is meant to describe a whole era in which the church is at work in the harvest and the harvest, the product of Christ‘s finished work, is being gathered to present to God. The Day of Pentecost. After the Day of Pentecost, there is a whole period of four months where there are no festivals.

Then in the seventh month, the last three festivals come, which have not yet been fulfilled within Christian prophecy

Then in the seventh month, the last three festivals come, one right after the other―the Feast of Trumpets, which is a summoning of the people to festival and joy, and then after the Feast of Trumpets is Yom Kippur, which is the heaviest day, the Day of Atonement. It occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month. After that, comes Sukkoth or the Feast of Booths, in which God‘s people tabernacle for a week out in lean-to shelters or tents or canopies.

Those last three feasts of Leviticus 23 have not yet been fulfilled within Christian prophecy.

  • The Feast of Trumpets, representing the return of the Lord.
  • Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, representing Zechariah 14, the fact that there‘s going to be a time of cleansing and the household of Israel, when it sees Him whom they have pierced.
  • And finally, the Tabernacles, when we tabernacle with God. Revelation. And He tabernacles with us.

So all we have, at this present moment, for Christian fulfillment are the first feasts of spring. It is still the springtime within Christian experience and the Christian life. Beginning with Passover, extending through Pentecost.

Pentecost – an outpouring of a power of harvest 

Here is where we are in the world today. God did not send the Day of Pentecost so that Christians would feel good. He wants us to feel good. He wants us to have elevation and motivation in our life. But He is concerned that there be a product, an end result to the effort that His Son came into the world to gain. Unless there is a fulfilling of Pentecost, a power of the harvest poured out on the Day of Pentecost, His small band of people will never be effective in in-gathering the harvest to present to God.
So whenever we talk about Pentecost, we must not only talk about blessing, we must talk about duty. Because God never intended His people to simply be charismatic. That is, simply to be a people who have a spiritual blessing and an elevated spiritual experience. We need the elevated spiritual experience. But that comes because we have a duty to do. If we try to do the duty of harvest or evangelism or outreach and have no electrical charge from the Spirit of God, then we‘re just not going to be able to do it, because it‘s too heavy. If, on the other hand, we have all delight and no duty, then we‘re going to wind up as kind of a spiritual bless-me club and not get God‘s purposes done in the world.

Pentecost joins these elements of God blessing His people and saying to His people, ―This is the day of the harvest, the Day of Pentecost is being filled up. God is saying, ―I intended Pentecost to be more than just an agricultural feast. I intended it to celebrate the harvest of mankind into the kingdom of God.

The Day of Pentecost being filled up and, therefore, right from the start, I‘ve come to the assumption that this is not something that was just for then. Because the day has never closed. There‘s never yet been a sunset on the day and the Day of Pentecost will not be over until the Feast of Trumpets, until the trumpet sounds and the Lord returns.

When the day of Pentecost came

―When the day of Pentecost came [when it ―filled up‖], they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them‖ (Acts 2:1-4, NIV).

One of the things we have to do when we open the Book of Acts is immediately look at what might be called ―unique moments which are non-repeatable in the life of the church‖ and the experience of believers, and normative experiences, which are meant to be repeated. On the Day of Pentecost, we find both kinds of events present. We find unique events that are never repeated in the experience of the church, as witnessed by the Scripture. And, on the other hand, we find normative events that not only occurred then but continue to occur now.

Let me look at the unique events with you. The unique event is, for example, that they were all gathered together in one place. I submit to you that that will never happen again until we meet at Jesus‘ feet. After the Day of Pentecost, the church could never again gather in one room. So that was a unique event. I was a little bit of a mystic. I got this from people who influenced me spiritually. One of the things I like to do in my own worship experience is to take a moment and close my eyes and get back into the biblical picture. I like to do that when I‘m taking communion. I‘m now in the room, and I now become the thirteenth apostle or whatever. I‘m in the room. Kind of in the back row, but I‘m in the room, seeing what‘s going on. I sort of feel that way on the Day of Pentecost. I‘m with those one hundred and twenty. I‘m the one hundred and twenty-first person there. It‘s sort of like putting myself on the scene. Quite frankly, some of the greatest experiences I‘ve had in my life have been in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The funny thing is, I know that God doesn‘t dwell in human places and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. And furthermore, the Upper Room in Jerusalem today is not the Upper Room of the biblical period because it‘s two thousand years after that, even when the building is one thousand years old, which makes it a new building. But still, when I go in that place called the Upper Room, I kind of go crazy.

It had to be a pretty large room to hold one hundred and twenty people. They‘d been camping out there for ten days. They were all there together in one place. I guess one of the things that really shines in my heart is the fact that there‘s going to be, someday, a moment in which God allows us to have an experience of being in a room again where the whole church of all times is gathered in one place. It‘s going to be a vast hall. But it‘s going to be intimate and personal, nevertheless.

I have a lot more people who are already in that room than I did twenty years ago. I‘m sure all of us do as well. It‘s a great day, we‘re looking forward to. But that‘s unique. Never again will the church be gathered in one place.
Another thing that is unique, that we do not find repeated in Scripture, is the sound of a mighty rushing wind. You look at the experiences where the Holy Spirit is received in later passages in the Book of Acts and you do not find any reference to a ―mighty rushing wind,‖ which is a sign that here is a unique event. The Holy Spirit was, through the symbol of the sound, saying to the church that there is going to be an invasion of the Spirit. The word for ―wind‖ and ―spirit‖ in the Hebrew and the Greek is the same. They‘re synonyms.

What the Holy Spirit is saying, through this presence of wind, is that He is going to move through His people in an unseen and invisible way and is going to do some powerful pushing of them into the world. It will take the wind of the Holy Spirit to scatter the disciples into the world. Already in the room they‘re picking up the sound of the rushing wind. The very fact that the wind is rushing and violent suggests that God is about to do something very turbulent and powerful, sweeping into their life.

The tongues of fire that are resting on each of their heads, which first appear then, break up and distributes over them, are not as one biblical commentator says, that they had seen a sudden beaming of the sun rays that were streaming into the windows which de-miraculacizes this event. It is, instead, a sign that the Holy Spirit, when He comes, is a purifying instrument. So fire comes.
Then there comes this other element. That all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them―Acts 2:4. As we look at that particular verse of Scripture, we ask ourselves, is that also unique, like the fire and the wind and the fact that they‘re gathered in one room? Or was that meant to be a normative and ongoing experience of the disciples? We‘ll see, in later texts of Acts, that phenomenon occurring again.
I realize that there has been, in the modern day, a lot of comment on whether or not there is a subsequent experience of the Holy Spirit called the ―baptism in the Holy Spirit‖ separate from conversion. That‘s question number one. And question number two: If there is a subsequent experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit different than conversion, must that experience of the Holy Spirit be witnessed to by the presence of other tongues, as it is here in Acts 2:4?

I know that there have got to be people here who are interested in those two questions. I‘ll take just a moment for each.
I. First question: is there an experience called the baptism of the Holy Spirit that is subsequent to the receiving of the Holy Spirit at conversion?

The Gospel witness is clear. John 3:5 says, ―Whoever is born again must be born of water and of the Spirit. You must have a natural birth and a spiritual birth. ―And no one can call Jesus, Christ‘ Paul says to the Corinthians ―except by the Spirit.‖ 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, ―By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.‖ John 20 says that, after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and breathed on them and said to them, ―Receive the Spirit.

Therefore, the conclusion is that, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are not two-thirds indwelt by the Godhead: ―The Father‘s presence is upon us; the Son comes to live within us. But the Holy Spirit hangs out for a while.‖ As a kid growing up in a Pentecostal church, somehow in the preaching this never came across to me quite accurately, because I struggled to get the Holy Ghost, not realizing that at conversion the Holy Spirit indwelled me. John 20:22 says, ―Jesus said to them as He breathed upon them, ̳Receive the Holy Spirit.‘ These same people who in John 20 received the Holy Spirit are in Acts 2:4 being filled with the Spirit.

I would submit to you that the fact that seven weeks earlier they had received the Holy Spirit makes it a subsequent or different experience than the subsequent Acts 2:4, where they are filled with the Spirit, or baptized in the Spirit. The two are distinct events. The same people who received the Spirit seven weeks earlier do not repeat that same conversion experience in Acts 2:4. It is a subsequent experience for them.

What the John 20 experience says is that the Lord is re-enacting creation, when God bent over lifeless Adam and breathed into him the breath of life. Now the risen Christ, the second Adam, is taking His immortal life, given to Him by the benefit of His own resurrected body and breathing symbolically into His disciples, who have Adam‘s nature but not God‘s nature and saying, ―Because of your faith in Me, I now breathe into you eternal life.‖ Any person who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savor, in that act of confession and conversion, receives the Spirit.

I think one of the things we really have to do in biblical understanding is to be careful with our terms and not intermingle them. I recall the first time I ever publicly preached along these lines, I was at my home church of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, which is the headquarters church for the Assemblies of God. I was twenty-four years of age. I‘ve always been the kind of person who walks in where angels fear to tread. So I‘m waxing away on a Sunday night at Central Assembly, talking about the fact that in conversion we receive the Holy Spirit. It‘s not that I receive God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit is waiting to show up down the road. In fact, I used the illustration that when I was a kid growing up in church the term ―Holy Ghost‖ really spooked me. There were two things I had against the term ―Holy Ghost.‖ One was the word ―holy‖ and the other was the word ―ghost.‖ I wasn‘t ―holy‖ and the idea of holy sort of scared me. I was unworthy of whoever this was. And ―ghosts‖ were things that hung around graveyards and haunted houses. I wasn‘t sure I was into that, either. The fact that I could be saved, meant that the Lord loved me. The fact that I kept having to ask for the Holy Ghost meant that, somehow, He really wasn‘t interested in taking possession in my life. I was confused. I went into this whole story and then I said that, at conversion, we receive the Spirit.

I remember after the service, two of the founders of the Assemblies of God were waiting to see me. They founded our magazine, The Pentecostal Evangel. Here was the Pentecostal theologian, and they‘re wanting to see me and I am now going to get my theology corrected. So I went with fear and trembling. He looked up at me. He was much shorter man than I am. He said, ―George, I just wanted to call you over to tell you that I approve of what you said tonight and I just want you to know that that‘s the way we preached it at the beginning and I haven‘t heard it preached like that for a while. I wanted to commend you.‖ I thought, ―Praise God! I’m not a heretic after all!‖

But there is this experience subsequent to conversion. Sometimes, it‘s parallel to conversion, as we will see later in Acts 10, especially the salvation of Cornelius and the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred simultaneously. But here, there was now, not the Spirit being placed in them, which happens at conversion. The Spirit takes up residence in us. But in the ―being filled with the Spirit‖ or ―being baptized into the Spirit‖ (synonymous terms), there is that element of being placed into the life of the Holy Spirit and into the miraculous and powerful dimensions of the Spirit‘s work on earth. It is in keeping with the promise that Jesus makes in Acts 1:8, ―You will receive power when the Spirit comes upon you.‖ The reason why the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given was not so that people could have a feel-good experience or not even so that they could speak in tongues. This experience was given in order that God‘s people might have authority and power to live the Christian life and share their faith with other people. It is related to witnessing, and not to ―bless me,‖ although it feels wonderful it was never meant to be a dead end kind of street.

I hate to use this illustration because we have people who have different political views here. But when a person is sworn in as president of the United States, they have power by virtue of office. Not every president has exercised that power equally well. We had a president a few years ago who was criticized because he somehow didn‘t seem to ever have the clout of the office. He had all the authority, but somehow, Jimmy Carter didn‘t have the magnetism. He was a decent guy and all that and seems like a wonderful Christian brother. But somehow the nation said, ―You‘re not dynamically leading us.‖ Under his leadership, the nation began to sink under a lot of economic problems and overseas problems, till finally the voters threw him out of office. A far different thing happened with Abraham Lincoln, for example. He probably legislatively had less power than Carter, but he had a power that was in his life and personality that guided a divided ship of state and brought unity to a divided federation.

What the Lord is saying is that He recognizes that when He leaves these disciples behind, they can function as people who have authority. He tells them, ―All authority in heaven and earth is given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations‖ (Matthew 28:18-19). That‘s the chart, the plan of advance. But if people aren‘t energized to carry that out, then it‘s simply a weak and ineffectual and insipid body of Christ. It cannot get Christ‘s work done in the world. That work can‘t be done by simply reading a bunch of books on how to do it. I think I‘ve had my whole life as demonstration to commitment to education, but you cannot have a revival by getting the books out and mastering the principles of revival simply intellectually. You cannot get the world evangelized by reading a book on personal evangelism. You can learn all the data and the concepts, but there must be something that goes beyond that. There must come a personal white-hot core of relationship that synchronizes the heart of man to the heart of God and gives an inner dynamic and power to effectively witness. It can come only from God.

When people somehow get hungry enough for God to do that, God does that all over His church. He does it to the most unlikely people, from the human point of view. He‘s got His Davids out there that don‘t look so hot and don‘t have all the impeccable credentials that we think are needed to do the work of God. But He raises up a person and energizes them with the power and capacity, far beyond their natural abilities.

If I understand anything about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, if I grasp it theologically, it‘s that this experience was meant to cause us, in our Christian life, to walk in a co-spiritual power that is beyond our native abilities. We talk a great deal, in contemporary time, about developing our spiritual gifts. I‘ve kind of had a little adverse reaction to that. I think, so many times, spiritual gifts are confused with natural talents and there is a continuum between natural talents and gifts. We see the function of the spiritual gifts as a continuum that is consistent with our natural talents so that, for example, if naturally we are a speaker, we tend to exercise prophetic gifts. If we tend to be a non-verbal a person, we more easily exercise gifts of service and mercy.

But yet, there must be a distinction between the natural and the supernatural for these people, these hundred and twenty people were not qualified world-changers. They were more like qualified world dead-beats in a certain respect. I always take my hat off to those people because to me, the hundred and twenty are the honest, ordinary citizens who are paying taxes, holding a middle income job, working out of a blue collar job, going to Kiwanis club or PTA, and they operate in that milieu. They‘re not in the philosophical centers of major universities, of the power lobbies of economic grandeur. They‘re common, ordinary people who are not expected to radically shape the world. The fact that these hundred and twenty go out and radically reshape the world and in thirty years, turn the world upside down, is not a tribute to their natural ability. They didn‘t have that natural ability. They had a supernatural power that came upon them through the Holy Spirit.

Unless we as individuals and the church collectively get hungry for God to do something that‘s beyond our natural ability, we will sit and rot till Jesus comes. We‘ll not get anything done in our generation if we rely upon our genius or our intelligence, however little of it there is, or our natural ability or whatever. It simply will not happen. God‘s work must be done with God‘s power. God‘s power goes beyond our natural ability. So we have to open ourselves up to the Lord.

That doesn‘t mean opening ourselves up for heretical experiences. Scripture creates the channel in which the Holy Spirit flows. The Holy Spirit, in experience, is not going to jump out of the channel of Scripture. That‘s why I have so many problems with some of the heretical moments of charismatic theology today, because they have gotten so far away from the channel of Scripture they don‘t even know where it is anymore.

The Spirit who caused the Word to be written is the Spirit who is in agreement with His Word. You will never find the Holy Spirit disagreeing with His Word. So they must line up. Experience is subordinated to Scripture. Unfortunately, it has been so true, a just charge laid at the door of charismatic and Pentecostals, time and again, that without knowing the Scripture, they have elevated experience to a condition that is higher than the Scripture. That ought never to be. Scripture must always be front and center. It is the basis of all faith and conduct and experience. I would simply point out that, in giving the disciples a promise that they were to be filled or baptized in the Spirit, Jesus was holding out before them an experience subsequent to conversion or, in some cases, simultaneous to conversion—as we‘ll see of Cornelius—that gave them a power to develop their potential.

We talked this morning in the sermon about the difference between intent and express action. Intent is something we intend to do, but the express action is what actually takes place. The power that is brought into our life by the Holy Spirit takes the unique potential that is ours, both the native human potential and the potential that God sees in us that we do not see, and develops that. That‘s power. Power is not walking around like you‘re holding on to a raw electrical plug and all your hair is standing out on end. Again, that‘s a confusion with Pentecostal charismatic people; thinking that when we go around places we are so powerful that people are knocked down if they come close to us.

Power is what God gives us to actualize this potential in us. Since the Day of Pentecost is filling up, we must hold to the notion that what it is filling is different sized vessels. Peter, for example, appears to have a rather large capacity for the Holy Spirit. We‘ll see, as we move through Acts 2, how in that largeness of his capacity he does more things than other people. He not only preaches powerfully and has great results, more than anybody, but also, through his hands, come incredible miracles. And finally, people are getting healed while his shadow passes over them. That doesn‘t happen to any of the others. He has a great capacity within him. There are other people who have smaller capacities.

Whether our capacity is the size of a cup or a glass or a pitcher or a pail or a great big container, whatever, we cannot say that we are full by simply comparing ourselves to what someone else is doing or is being filled with in the kingdom. We must ask, am I filled? The whole beauty of the word ―filling,‖ we‘ll see it developed as we go through Acts, is that filling is not only a one-time experience brought by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But there are subsequent fillings; because there are subsequent stretchings in our life.

What the Holy Spirit is interested in doing is filling us up when life‘s experiences are stretching us. I know that there is more need of me for the Holy Spirit at the age I‘m at than there was twenty years ago, because life has stretched me in a lot of ways. And there‘s more of me that needs to be filled than there ever before. So filling is an ongoing thing. But it must start somewhere. And it starts in this baptism in the Spirit, which links us to the dynamic power of God that thrusts us beyond our native potential.

II. Must this experience be accompanied by speaking with other tongues?

Is the second question, which, of course, immediately comes to the fore. It might be simply noted in the text here that it says, ―All of them began to speak in other tongues.‖ I realize that one of the things that is frequently said is that, if the baptism of the Holy Spirit is valid, it does not necessarily follow that everyone must speak in tongues. After all, does Paul not say that some have the gift of tongues, some administration, some teaching and the like? And that is often used as a phrase against everyone speaking. Also, it is said from Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, that when we speak in tongues, we are to speak one at a time and there is to be an interpretation. However, the context of 1 Corinthians 12–14 must be separated from the context here. For the context of 1 Corinthians 12–14 has to do with the functioning of the spiritual gifts when the body is meeting as a body and being edified and encouraged and built up. In that particular situation, it is not edifying, when we‘re in the course of a service, for five people to jump up at the same time and start speaking in a language no one knows.

But here is a prayer meeting. All are praying together. One of the things I‘ve discovered by going to Israel is that Pentecostals are really orthodox Israelis. I never knew that. But you go into an orthodox meeting, like for example the Western Wall (it‘s mistakenly called the Wailing Wall), and there‘s a men‘s area. It‘s a synagogue right off to the side, under cover by the Western Wall, you go in there and there are numbers and numbers of men in there and they‘re praying. Some praying in groups and some praying alone. But the sound is the sound of a Pentecostal prayer meeting. All the voices going at one time, and there‘s this beautiful combining and joining of the sounds of prayer. All audibly, but yet individually. They‘re not doing it as a corporate experience of worship. They‘re all just being built up personally, as they pray to God. There‘s this wonderful symphony of the sound of prayer and praise coming out of the room. It‘s not out of order or anything. What a place! It‘s community prayer.
This was happening here in Acts 2. Community prayer. They were praying. They were not praying like Americans pray. Our prayers seem so surface. And we‘re waiting for somebody to begin. Here‘s a different prayer meeting.

And by the way, if I can give some instruction here, when we‘re in worship together, don‘t be reticent to do that. There‘s nothing unbiblical about that. When we‘re all praying together, it doesn‘t mean we all have to be silent at the same time. We can all, as an individual, join our voices and become a corporate symphony of praise and adoration to the Lord. That‘s one of the marks of Pentecostal worship. We can do that. It‘s a biblical pattern. In fact, I even thought that I would pick out passages from about ten psalms and distribute them and say, ―Let‘s all begin to sing these free form at the same time!‖

It was in the course of, I believe, that kind of praying (the Scripture doesn‘t tell us but they were all in prayer) that suddenly they break out in languages that they don‘t know. They go from their Aramaic or Hebrew, which they did know, and they find themselves speaking in the language groupings that are given in Acts―fifteen specific language groups. Specific languages that are being spoken. Suddenly, the whole town has gathered to hear these Galilean people speaking articulately in the languages of the world. They were all speaking. It was not that some were speaking in tongues, some were prophesying, some were doing works of healing, some were doing works of mercy, some were doing works of miracles. But they were all doing it.

Why did the Holy Spirit give them tongues? Why not give them the ability to smile clearly or have a halo on their heads or something like this? Why tongues? I‘ve asked that a million times. I have to come back to the data of Scripture. The Scripture says, whether I understand it or not (so I guess I don‘t have to understand it), and God does choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. So I suppose that that would be really a way to confound thinking people with something like that. But on the other hand, God knows the construction of the inner life and He knows that there is a non-verbal and a verbal side to us. In worshipping Him, basically, all we have is the verbal side. We can‘t reach out and hug God. We can‘t reach out and show a facial gesture to God. We‘re limited to our words. We come to God verbally. Yet, when we‘re in love with someone else, we love them in more than verbal ways. In a marriage relationship, for example, God appointed sexual intercourse to be the most powerful way of communication between a husband and a wife. And that act is a non-verbal act. And it‘s a powerful act of communication and of tenderness and the uniting of both body and heart together in love. God, in His appointed dealings of man with man, realizes that we have a need, not only to say, ―I love you,‖ but to, within a marital context, experience that in the deepest core of our being in a non- verbal way.

I would submit to you that what God knows about us sociologically, He also knows about us psychologically and theologically. And in relating to Him, He knows that the deep core of our personality cries out for Him in nonverbal ways. But since God cannot be hugged, how do we then communicate to Him in a way that is from a center core of our being? I believe that He gave tongues as the divinely appointed answer to that, because, just like nonverbal love between a husband and a wife, where there is no articulated communication, yet the transmission of love is powerful and real; so, when a person speaks to God in a language they have not learned, as the Spirit enables them, they are communicating with God in a non-verbal way, where, for a time, the mental faculty is parked and resting. At a deeper level, at the core of being, that inner core might also be resting and communing with God and that is out of the context of the security and the profundity of that relationship with God in the Holy Spirit; out of that context emerges the power to live the Christian life.

Because that‘s all, our problem in living the Christian life and witnessing to others is lack of confidence. It‘s wondering if we really are acceptable to God. It‘s wondering if God can use anything of these clay jars that have a bunch of water sloshing through the veins, that constitutes us. Can God use that? And what the Holy Spirit is communicating to us, as we begin to communicate with the Lord in this powerful non-verbal way, is that our heart and our deep inner core is being ministered to and loved and responded to by God, and there is something powerful released. There is a catharsis that occurred.

That‘s why Paul is able to say to the Corinthians that when one prays in an unknown tongue, he edifies himself, he builds up himself. Because there is this cathartic effect that is taking place in the life, where there is a release of the soul to God in a way that words could simply never accomplish.

The Scripture doesn‘t go into all this kind of explanation. I‘m just trying to set a context. Why would this happen? ―They all‖―not a single person was exempt――they all.‖ It wasn‘t ―some did this and some did that,‖ but, ―they all.‖ I‘m suggesting that that phrase, ―they all,‖ is meant to be normative in the church rather than a unique event. I‘m also suggesting that the minute we start arguing about it, we‘d probably ruin the preciousness of the truth. But the nature of doctrinal controversy is sometimes that we have to argue from a position in order to let people know that it is a secure position, so they can trust their experience with it. Because, as I said, my experience cannot go where the Scripture doesn‘t go.

But I encourage you, in the core of your being, to reach out to God. I believe that, as we collectively reach out in a prayer meeting to God, we will find the same phenomena taking place. That we will all find ourselves in that kind of context, praising God in languages we do not know. It will not be because the Lord has rendered us unconscious. In fact, it was as the Spirit caused them to utter … and by the way, the phrase ―utter‖ there is precisely a phrase that means ―speak forth boldly.‖ It carries the idea that the words were being spoken by the person, but the generation of those words and the instinct of those words came as a result of what the Spirit was putting within the mind and the voice to say. That it was not speech-babble. That‘s why I have a problem when people say, ―Start babbling and anything you say is tongues.‖ That somehow deprecates and diminishes and cheapens the work that the Holy Spirit is doing here in the Book of Acts, where the Spirit causes it to happen.

Will it always be a real language? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes a language of men, sometimes a language of angels. We honestly don‘t always know. On the Day of Pentecost, those fifteen languages were recognized because there were Jewish people who had lived in all parts of the world. They‘re in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. I would suspect that, if we had a hundred and twenty people who were all speaking in tongues and had people in the room who knew a gob of languages, we would pick up, in any meeting, clearly identifiable languages.

I think one of the most sacred moments in my life was at Yugoslavia, when the little congregation was a handful of people. The pastor‘s husband was a member of the Communist party. This little uneducated Pentecostal woman had gone to start a church in this beautiful little town. There had been some fruit for her labor. In the service, one Sunday evening, a Jesuit priest, highly educated and with a powerful command of the Hebrew language, not only was he able to read the biblical text, but he was able to speak fluently in Hebrew and understand fluently in Hebrew. He himself, in his own personal spiritual experience, was walking away from God. He had an intellectual knowledge of the Bible, but did not have a vibrant personal experience with God.
For whatever reason, when there was a call given that night to come forward for prayer because everybody else moved toward the front, he did as well. As he was sitting by a little peasant woman who was praying, he was startled to hear her speaking in very clear and distinct Hebrew, praying to God in Hebrew. It so overwhelmed him, because he realized intuitively that this woman had never studied Hebrew, could not have studied Hebrew. She was a peasant lady. Here, she was in the most powerful vocabulary that the Hebrew language can muster, giving praise and adoration to God. He came away from that meeting a believer.

You see what tongues is? A speaking of the mighty works of God. What were they doing when they were speaking in tongues? They were telling of the wonders of God in those languages. So that speaking in other tongues is an adoration of God. It is the closest we can get to nonverbal love toward God. It is the closest we can get, if you will, to hugging God. Until we see Him face to face. So the Lord allowed this experience in the Early Church to give it, at its very center, a core, a psychological and emotional and spiritual power to put the heart strong right at the beginning. God‘s people can always do great exploits when their inner core is strong. It‘s when the inner core has grown weak that the exploits die. If we want to see God do exploits in our day, we must come to Him and present the core of life to Him and ask Him to quicken us anew. Closing Prayer

Holy Spirit, fulfiller of Pentecost, the one sent as the promise from the Father to help us to announce the good news of Jesus to the waiting harvest of the world, we bless Thee. We bless Thee, Holy Spirit. We bless Thee, Lord Jesus. We bless Thee, heavenly Father. And this evening, we simply want to make ourselves available, as individuals and as a congregation, to Thee. Lord, we simply pray that, from our own heart, You may witness a hunger for You and an openness to You. That, in our time, we may see Your acts done once more in our generation. Even as in these days in California the earth has shaken, let there be in us a spiritual shaking, a new and profound sensitivity to You. Let the Holy Spirit fall upon us as well.

Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit

This article is excerpted from the book – Living in the Spirit, by George O. Wood (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 2009).

The Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit

“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.” — Acts 2:17, NIV

I have been asked a number of times by national reporters about speaking in tongues. I was talking with a reporter from The New York Times and told him there’s nothing unusual about what Pentecostals are doing today. If you look at the first-century church, all the writers of the New Testament spoke in tongues, and the Early Church spoke in tongues. So Pentecostalism, at its roots, is basically a restorationist movement. We believe that we can cut through 20 centuries of church tradition and get back to the original Church. It doesn’t mean that we do everything like the original Church, but we’re trying to have the same doctrine and experience of the Early Church.

Several decades ago, I visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Looking up to Michelangelo’s great fresco of “The Last Judgment,” I thought to myself, Why is everyone raving about this work of art? It’s very occluded and dark. What had happened is that over the last four centuries, there have been so many candles burning in the Sistine Chapel that the smoke had gradually put a layer of gray over the painting. So when I saw how dark it was, I wasn’t impressed at all.

Now, many years later, it has been restored. All the smudge is gone and the colors are radiant and alive, and it’s as though the painting had just been done yesterday. That’s what Pentecostalism, in its purist form, tries to do. It tries to erase the smudges on the Church for the last 20 centuries and get back to what the early Christians believed and practiced. That is our goal — to get back to biblical, original Christianity.

Three primary views within the Church describe the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One is the view that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and any terminology connected with it in Scripture are meant to be taken as synonymous with conversion — that when we give our life to the Lord we are automatically baptized in the Spirit.

In this view, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 represents the moment the members of the Early Church became Christians. The baptism in the Holy Spirit, therefore, is not meant to be repeated in believers’ lives today in the manner described in Acts 2, 8, 9, 10 and 19, but is to be seen as God’s way of giving the Church a giant cosmic shove into its centuries of existence.

On the opposite extreme are those who treat the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the highest goal of Christian experience — a goal that once reached need not be sought after again. Unfortunately, this is the view I had of the baptism in the Spirit while I was a child and teenager. In a particular church of which I was a part, you couldn’t hold office in the youth group unless you had been baptized in the Spirit. So, Spirit baptism was the highest goal of my life. Consequently, when I received it, I promptly relaxed.

Only years later did I come to fully realize the function of the baptism in the Spirit. This, I believe, is the third view. Spirit baptism is a distinct part of our entrance into the full Christian life, along with salvation and water baptism. These can each occur at different times, but I believe it is God’s purpose to make this a cluster of initiation events into the Christian life.

Those who believe the baptism in the Spirit is part of our initiation into the Christian life are called Pentecostal or charismatic. I favor the term Pentecostal primarily because it seems a more biblical word to describe the experience. Whereas charismatic is not used in the Book of Acts and generally refers to spiritual gifts, the charismata in general.

The focus of the baptism in the Spirit is twofold. It deepens our worship of the Lord through giving us a language of praise that we have not learned — speaking with other tongues. It also gives us power in our Christian witness.
Floods of blessing

It’s interesting that the baptism in the Spirit has three beautiful words to describe what the Spirit does for us. The words are all associated with water. Acts 2:17 says that the Spirit of God is outpoured: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” The idea of the pouring of the Spirit is that we get thoroughly soaked in the Spirit’s presence.

Acts 1:5 tells us that we will be baptized in the Spirit. This means we will be overwhelmed or immersed in the Spirit’s presence. The expression “baptism in the Spirit” can have too narrow a meaning to us; we don’t think of it in a fresh way. I want to ask in my own life, “Have I been overwhelmed by the Spirit? Am I soaked in the Spirit?”

Acts 2:4 uses another word associated with water: filled with the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out upon us, it is the external coming of the Spirit upon us. When we are baptized in the Spirit, it is us in the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, it is the Spirit in us. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all given the Spirit to drink.” John 7:37-39 says we will have the Spirit of God welling up within us, flowing out of us — streams of living water.

Is the term “baptism in the Spirit” scriptural? Yes, it is. It is used by the Lord. Is it meant to characterize our experience today? Yes. What is its purpose? It is to initiate us deeper into the Spirit’s mission and propel us into two areas of the Spirit’s work. First, it is meant to draw us deeper into worship and to God. That is the function of other tongues. Secondly, the Spirit is designed to come upon us to thrust us into the world and the work of the Lord. Worship and work — these are the purposes of the Spirit.

We need the baptism in the Spirit because Jesus himself taught that the work of the Kingdom cannot be done without the baptism in the Spirit. All the things the Lord wants to do in the Church and in the world cannot be done unless we are filled with the Spirit. Many things can be done without His fullness. But the totality of what God wants to do will not be done.

My Pentecostal experience has taught me there is great value in waiting in the Spirit’s presence. The Christian life is not simply intellectual, theological or mind-oriented. It reaches those deeper parts of us that relate to the mystery of the heart in adoration to God. The Spirit reaches into areas of our life where we know what God’s will is but are not doing it. And the Spirit forms the character of Christ in us as we allow Him to do so. The Spirit wants to reach into the complacency of our life, where we would be satisfied to live as we are now living. He wants to come upon us and make us earnest about the work of God, make us want God’s will and purpose to be done in and through us.

God would have His Spirit call us out of a life of spiritual complacency to one of deep surrender. Through the Spirit, we can have the joy of hearing from God like we have never heard from Him before. The Spirit is with us at the crossroads of life, as we make the most critical decisions. We need the Spirit of God in an increasingly deeper measure. He wants to open up avenues of worship and of vision to us. May each of us cry out, “Spirit of God, I need You! I can never do this on my own. I can’t know what Your will is on my own. I need You, Holy Spirit.”

From Resurrection to Pentecost – Acts chapter 1

Dr. George O. Wood:

  • The book of Acts is the acts of God in human history and in the Church.
  • The apostles who are dealt with are Peter, in the first twelve chapters, and Paul, in the last sixteen chapters. There‘s an interfacing of those two apostles in chapter 15
  • The whole book is the Acts of the Holy Spirit

We want to note some things about Acts as we begin. That is, its placement.

I. First of all, in the canon of Scripture.

It is in a very strategic spot. Have you ever considered what it would be like to not have the Book of Acts at all in the New Testament? It would be very confusing, to say the least, to conclude the Gospel of John, which talks about Jesus asking Peter if he loves Him, and once done with John and with the Gospels, then all of a sudden we open to the next page, which is, ―Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, to the church at Rome.‖ If we had nothing between John and the letter to the Romans, we might legitimately ask, ―Who is this person called Paul?‖ and ―How did the gospel get to Rome?‖ and ―Who are these people who are not Jewish?‖ For the Book of Acts chronicles the thirty years, from the ascension of Jesus until about 63 A.D., with the imprisonment of the apostle Paul in Rome. The whole movement of the Book of Acts gives us an understanding of what happened in the growth of the Church in that time. How we have the ministry of a person like Paul, and how the Church not only has expanded geographically but has got from Jerusalem far away to Rome. But also how it has expanded culturally. Moving from an all-Jewish base to a largely Gentile-base. And without this important historical work, the fifth book of the New Testament, the Book of Acts, we would be in the dark about these things. The Book of Acts, therefore, covers the span of approximately thirty years of time.

Who in the Early Church, in that birth date of the Church on the Day of Pentecost, could have envisioned what the next thirty years would hold for the Church? But it held a powerful time of expansion. Who is the author of this book? You will never find him named, of course. As you read through the Gospels, you will never find any of the Gospel authors named. It‘s striking that Matthew does not name himself, Mark does not name himself, Luke does not name himself, and John does not name himself when they write their Gospels. Nor does Luke again name himself when he writes his second volume. I think that is so significant, because if I were writing a Gospel or a history of the Early Church—and remember that this Book of Acts was the only history of the Church written for three centuries, the next history after it was one written by Eusebius, third century A.D.—if I were writing a book of such powerful persuasion, I would probably want my name attached to it. If, for nothing else, the royalties. Then secondly, the recognition.

Why are the Gospel writers then silent? Why is Luke silent about giving his name? I think there are probably two reasons and they are important for instructing us in some matters in the Church world today. One reason is that the story which they tell is not their personal story, it is not their biography, and it is not their property, therefore. It is the story that belongs to the whole Church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is not fitting that they superimpose their name or their degree or their talent over what belongs to the Lord and to His people. So, fittingly, they represent it, not as their singular story, but as that which belongs to all of God‘s people.

Then I think another reason why they do not name themselves is that there is that infusion of humility which the Lord had inbred in them, that there was to be an honoring of the Lord God and a receding of the claim of the human personality for recognition and the like. So they quietly fade into the background so that they might tell his-story, which is the right hyphenation of history, isn‘t it? History should be, from the Christian perspective, ―His-story.‖ God‘s story of activity in our lives and on the planet earth.

We look at the placement of this book in the canon, the authorship behind it, the dating of the book, just briefly. If we relied on internal evidence we‘d be brought to the conclusion that it was written shortly after the events described in chapter 28 come to an end. Why would the Book of Acts end with an imprisonment if that wasn‘t all the history that had happened up to that time? If Luke had been writing in 70 or 80 or 90 A.D., it would be very strange that he would end his history with an imprisonment that happened around 63 A.D., unless he intended to write a third volume. So it‘s probable that he writes somewhat contemporaneously to the events that end the book.

And that‘s an important point to note. One of the debates in biblical scholarship has to do with the dating of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. Those who tend to operate from a liberal persuasion always select late dates, because they want a late date like 70 or 80 or 90 to say that what we have in the New Testament is the gathering of myth and it took time for the Church to collect its stories and all the biblical writers were really editors. They were not real writers. Furthermore, Luke, for example, like the other Gospel writers, does not give us an account of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. If Luke wrote Luke-Acts prior to 70 A.D., then what is written about the Olivet Discourse, on the Lord‘s lips, was really prophecy. But if Luke–Acts and the other Gospels were written after 70 A.D., then their statements about the destruction of Jerusalem and the words of Jesus may be subject to a claim that they put words in Jesus‘ mouth. So it is always interesting to look at the internal evidence itself for what the books are saying about the time of their authorship. It implicitly, seemingly in this book, would lead to the conclusion that it was written somewhat contemporaneously with the events that the book ends with.

One other thing, by way of introduction, should be noted and that is the title of the book. We call it ―The Acts of the Apostles.‖ And that, of course, does not occur in the original text. It is the title given by an editor, an early editor, to sort of differentiate it from all the other books. That‘s a good title. The Acts. There are some people in the body of Christ, some evangelicals, who suggest to us that we cannot derive any doctrinal position if it is formulated in the Book of Acts, because doctrinal positions can only be formulated from clear expository or didactic teaching such as in the Gospels or in letters, doctrinal letters, which we see in the Epistles; therefore, that you cannot make doctrine out of experience that is recorded in Acts.

I want to focus, therefore, on the word ―Acts‖ for just a moment. In that, we learn Christian truth by not only hearing it taught. We learn Christian truth by seeing it demonstrated. Truths is just as valid in its demonstration or its modeling as it is when it is being taught Point A, Point B, Point C and Point D. I have learned more truths about the Christian life personally, and I think you may have too, by watching other people live the Christian life; than maybe I have learned through simply reading a treatise on the Christian life.

I learn more, for example, about humility by watching humble people than by reading the latest book on humility. So don‘t let anyone say to you ―The Book of Acts is an interesting book. But it doesn‘t lead us to any doctrinal formulation.‖ As we get into this book, we will see that the acts of God in human history and in the Church in themselves become patterns from which we derive doctrinal perspectives and understandings of experiences that are valid and necessary for the believer today.

―The Acts of the Apostles‖: That‘s a misnomer, because there aren‘t many apostles that Acts really deals with. We‘re not told anything about what Thomas did, about what Matthew did. We‘re really only told one or two things about what John did. And what did Judas the son of James do? Or Bartholomew or Andrew? Their stories are not told in the Book of Acts. So, in reality, it isn‘t the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles who are dealt with are Peter, in the first twelve chapters, and Paul, in the last sixteen chapters. There‘s an interfacing of those two apostles in chapter 15. It really focuses on two of the apostles. In a certain respect, as someone has suggested, it really isn‘t the Acts of the Apostles anyway. The whole book is the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Maybe that title should be where the stress belongs. That same Holy Spirit is alive in the Church today. Even though the Apostles are gone from us, the Holy Spirit is at work.

Let‘s look at some of the verses.
Verse 1, ―In my former book, Theophilus…‖ That, of course, is Luke‘s reference back to volume one, to the Gospel of Luke itself, which had been dedicated to this person named Theophilus. You can say that so quickly that you might slur it and get ―the awfulest‖ out of that, but it is Theophilus. Theo, the Greek word for ―God‖ and philus coming from ―friend of God‖ or ―lover of God.‖ Some have postulated that this was Luke‘s patron, the one who was the benefactor that provided the financial support necessary for the author to have the two years of research time that he needed in order to write his manuscript. That‘s sheer conjuncture. No one knows for sure.

Others have suggested that Theophilus is a person who is very interested in the Christian faith. He has a Greek name, suggesting that he is non-Jewish and Luke is writing to persuade him, inform him accurately of all these things.
Others have suggested that Theophilus simply is a representative man for all who will be a friend of God whom this book is addressed to.

source of photo – http://visualunit.me/

When you look at the fact that both Luke and Acts are addressed to the same person, you realize that what you‘ve got here is one book in two volumes. Therefore, Luke himself, by sheer weight of words, becomes the one who writes more New Testament Scripture than any other writer. Word for word, Luke outproduces Paul. Take all the words of Paul and add them together and stack them against all the words of Luke, and Luke writes more Scripture than does anyone else in the New Testament.

Luke is not writing by what we might call ―dictation inspiration.‖ That is, he is not sitting at his desk and saying, ―Ok, Lord, what comes next? Would You repeat the last sentence? I didn‘t get that.‖ He says, in the first volume, in the first four verses, that his method of writing was to consult written sources and to interview eyewitnesses, himself not being an eyewitness. And, on the basis of research, he had inquired as to the accuracy of what was reported to him so that he might set it down in an orderly way. So what the Lord is saying about inspiration, through the writing of Luke, is that the process of the making of Scripture is not some hocus-pocus kind of a thing, where there is a voice that materializes in a room and begins mechanically dictating to a writer. But that the Lord, in breathing the Scripture into being, works through the unique individual and human aspects of the writer and, what the Holy Spirit does in promoting or causing that person to write, is to guarantee the accuracy and authenticity and power of what the author is recording. So the Scripture is, in Luke‘s case, both the product of his human inquiry, superimposed over the direct activity of the Holy Spirit causing him to want to write, causing him to select the right things, to report, and causing those things to be reported accurately and also causing them to be written in such a way that they bring spiritual life to people.

How many of you have ever read dull history? Real history that absolutely rocked you to sleep. I would make a case that inspiration not only carries its Scripture definition of being out-breathed by God, but inspiration, by its very necessity must also be inspiring so that what is written here wakes us up, jabs us, gets us spiritually alive. Part of the inspiration that Luke is writing with has that character to it.

So he‘s picking up where he had left off in Luke 24, as he opens. He said, ―In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach till the day He was taken up to heaven‖ (Acts 1:1). Does it strike you that in the phrase ―all that Jesus began to do and teach‖ Luke summarizes his Gospel, volume one—which begins earlier than the other Gospels historically with the annunciation of the angel to Mary and genealogically it goes all the way back to Adam? Matthew only goes to Abraham. Luke tried to push back our border of knowledge about Jesus to as early as he could. He takes us from that annunciation all the way through the ascension in Luke 24. At the beginning of Acts, he summarizes all that epoch of time, saying this is all that Jesus began to do and teach. The inference of that phrase ―Jesus began to do and teach,‖ in relationship to the Gospel, is a statement that Luke is making that Jesus is not through teaching or doing. That‘s the great thing he‘s saying to the Church right off the bat. ―If you think Jesus is history, if you think Jesus is past tense, you‘ve got another thing to consider. Because this same Jesus who has ascended now into heaven is continuing to do and to teach.‖

I immediately am drawn to that aspect. In fact, it‘s the same kind of theme that Mark begins his Gospel with, where he says in an unfinished sentence of verse 1 of chapter 1, ―The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.‖ Inferring that everything he writes is only the initiation, the beginning of what Jesus is doing. Whenever we breathe deeply in the New Testament Spirit, we‘re breathing in the air of a risen living Christ, who is among His people. Not a dead historical figure whose work is over, but a living spiritual reality whose work is just getting started.

I like that. ―Until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. After His suffering, His passion, 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.‖ Jesus‘ public ministry is sandwiched between two epochs of forty days. The first epoch of forty days, He is totally alone and He is in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan. The last forty days after the resurrection, He is again alone, but with His disciples. He is not with the crowds. He is not appearing to unbelievers. He is ratifying His work to those who have trusted in Him.

What do you think Jesus would be doing in those forty days? I would have liked to have known a lot of things in those forty days, had I had a chance to ask Jesus some questions. I would have liked to have known what the nature of the Trinity is like. I would like for that to be clearly explained to me. If any of you could clearly explain it to everyone‘s satisfaction in the world, then you need to write a book.

And I would like to know the relationship between predestination and free-will. I would have asked Jesus that in those forty days, because I‘m getting asked questions like that by my college aged son and his roommate and that has engrossed them ever since their days at Newport Christian High School, the proper relationship between those two things.

I‘d also have liked some kind of description of angelic order and the rankings of the seraphs, cherubims, and angels. What it‘s like to be a common angel. The order and, if you get a chance for promotion and those kinds of things. It would be interesting to know.

I would like to know a little bit about what happens to the spirit when the body dies. I know we go to be with the Lord even while we‘re putting the body in the ground. But how can I have an existence yet waiting for my body to be resurrected? I know that all of that is going to happen, but I‘d like to understand that a little bit better.

I would also like the Lord, maybe, to have shown us some slides of what heaven is like. Surely, He had the capacity to make slides! You don‘t think the laws of photography were unknown to the Lord, do you? He is the Creator of all things. He could have brought down maybe a few pictures, He could have left some of those behind—they could have financed His Church for a long time, by the way. Jesus had all kinds of fundraising methods that He neglected to employ to make sure His Church stayed well and healthy.

But I‘d like to have known that. I would like to know some esoteric secrets—hidden things. The reason I bring this up is that there has always been in Christianity something called Gnosticism. I referred to that a couple weeks ago when I preached on the ―kingdom now theology.‖ Gnosticism was a church heresy beginning at the end of the first century, extending all the way through the early centuries, that is based upon a Greek word: gnosis—knowledge. The gnostics came along and said, ―Here we have the external word, but if you come into our group, we‘re going to give you a hidden interpretation of Scripture. We‘re going to take you into dreams and revelations. You get in our group and you‘re no longer going have the milk for babes. You‘re going to get into the real meat and you‘re going to understand orders and rankings of angels.‖ They had all kinds of marvelous mysteries they were expounding. There is always that subtle danger in the body of Christ that we might want to leave the plain things of Scripture and get into things that are not plain readings of Scripture and get into esoteric ―truth‖ or Gnostic ―truth.‖ We‘re trying to know and identify with and live in mysteries that aren‘t any of our business to know and they can‘t be known because they‘ve never been objectively revealed in the Bible.

It‘s interesting that Jesus, in those forty days, did not take those forty days as a platform for giving the disciples new teaching which they had not been given during the three years of His earthly ministry. What He‘s doing in those forty days is restating the basic premise of His early ministry, His three-year ministry. That basic premise had to do with the kingdom of God. If you look at what Jesus is teaching in the Gospels, the focus of what He is saying is always on the kingdom of God. The parables deal, in massive quantities, especially in the Gospel of Matthew, with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, basically defined by Jesus as both now and it is then. It is now in the heart. It is not seen. It is not political. It is not external. It must be received and grow secretly as seed in the soil and it has different levels of growth and responsiveness. But the kingdom then, when the Lord returns, will be one which is political and external and for all. But for right now, the kingdom is within you. And He was reinforcing that message of the kingdom and those days and illustrating why, as the king, He needed to lay down His life in Jerusalem and die for His people.

So He reinforces and reinterprets what He has done in those three years of His ministry, speaking about the kingdom of God. In addition to a doctrinal theme—the kingdom of God—Jesus is also talking about a person. ―Don‘t leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.‖ Jesus here was saying to the disciples, ―In addition to knowing what I‘ve taught you, I‘m going to give you a gift.‖ The gift is also referred to here as a baptism. A baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately, we get into a doctrinal question. Were the disciples at this point saved? Had they made a statement of saving faith in Jesus? And if they were saved, did they not already have the Holy Spirit? The answer to those questions is, ―Yes, the Gospel witness makes it clear that they had passed from death into life, beginning with the confession at Caesarea Philippi, when Peter said, ̳You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.‘ That is the basis upon which the Christian faith rests.‖

Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ in John 20:22, Jesus breathed into them and said, ―Receive the Spirit.‖ In that act of breathing, Jesus recreated the drama of the Garden of Eden, when He took the lifeless form of mortal man and breathed into him air, life. Jesus now, after the resurrection, says, ―I‘m the new Adam, the second Adam and I have a new life order. Not just biological life, like I gave to Adam, but I now have resurrection life to breathe into you.‖ So He breathed into them and they received the Spirit. The air, the wind, the reviving power of God in the personality of the Spirit.

We draw the conclusion from this that anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and His power and His resurrection from the dead is a receiver of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit indwells every born-again Christian. I say this as a Pentecostal preacher who teaches that there is a subsequent experience with the Holy Spirit beyond conversion—a baptism in the Spirit beyond conversion. Jesus, here in Acts 1:5, is not talking about the conversion experience. They‘ve already had that in John 20, when He‘s breathed upon them and ratified to them the benefits of resurrection life. But He‘s saying now, ―There is yet a subsequent experience in which you, My disciples, who have believed in Me, are going to get saturated with the Spirit.‖ We‘ll look at this more as we come to those passages in the Book of Acts.

Jesus was very concerned that His disciples not try to go out and do things in their own power. If a group of us had been present on that occasion, when Jesus ascended into heaven, we might legitimately say, ―Now that He‘s gone, what are we going to do?‖ We might have a planning committee. And I would suggest we develop a statement of mission. Then we develop a statement of objectives. Then we develop our strategies. Then we prioritize the strategies ad infinitum.‖ We go at this from a method system. We do good process management and get to the conclusion that we have to go to the entire world, so guys, we‘ve got to figure all this out.

I‘m not against appropriate planning and the like, but I am deeply committed to the fact that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world to do a lot of leapfrogging. There are times when I‘m connecting point A, point B, point C and D in my logical and methodical manner, and it‘s the Holy Spirit‘s intention to absolutely leapfrog over BCDEF to get all the way from A to G in one fell swoop. He‘s going for it. There are times we simply have to realize that the Holy Spirit is what He says He is. He is air or wind and He can come in with a great gust and suddenly lift us further than we ever dreamed. We must not always think of spiritual growth as something which is like biological growth—steady and progressive. Spiritual growth is that. We add line to line and precept to precept. But there are also occasions when, seemingly spiritually, we just go from here and all of a sudden we have a powerful encounter with God and we‘re all the way over here. Thirty minutes maybe have gone by, but we‘ve had a tremendous transformation.

Jesus says to His Church, ―You need this Holy Spirit because the mission I‘m giving to you is too big for you to do with your own thinking, no matter how bright you are. You‘ve got to rely on a power that is stronger than your own.‖ The Church has to rely upon the person of God to do the work of God. If it doesn‘t, it‘s stagnant in the water.

So you‘ll receive the Holy Spirit, a promise not just made to them, but I believe a promise we‘ll see as we go through Acts, made to all of us. Don‘t leave Jerusalem. Don‘t get busy doing things until you‘ve got this power and this baptism. So everything‘s wrapped up. Forty days go by. He‘s talked to them about His program, the kingdom of God, and the person, the Holy Spirit. They just have one loose end when it‘s all done. The loose end is this: Jesus, where is the kingdom? They‘re still hung up on this. ―We believe You‘re the king, the Messiah. It‘s going to now be in our hearts. But when are You going to give this kingdom to Israel?‖ They lived in a culture which had differing perspectives of when the kingdom was going to come.

  • Essenes – It‘s interesting that the culture of their day was exactly like the culture of our day. If you look at camps in Christianity today, there‘s no difference in those camps and the camps in Judaism at this time in the writing of the Book of Acts. There were those who were called the Essenes. There were those who, in relation to the kingdom of God, said, ―The world is so messed up, we can‘t do anything about it. We‘re not even going to try. We‘re going to go out into the desert, found our own community, get our own act together and get holy and cleaned up. If we get holy enough and purified enough someday, the teacher of righteousness may come, and if He comes, He‘ll come to us. And to ―you know where‖ with the rest of the world.‖ That group is represented in the Church today by those who quote the verse ―Come out from among them and be ye separate.‖

―Touch not the unclean thing.‖ They‘re in a sense saying, ―We want to live in our own closed quarters. Don‘t make us have contact with anybody. We‘re the holy club. When Jesus comes back to earth, He‘s going to come to our church and our pastor and our denomination, us three and no more, praise God. The kingdom of God is washed up with the world. It‘s all headed for the wastebasket, but we‘re the righteous ones, the Essenes. The kingdom isn‘t coming to those people out there. It‘s waiting for us.‖

  • Zealots – Then there were the zealots who said, ―None of this. God Himself delays the kingdom to see if we‘re serious about it. So let‘s get involved. We‘ve got to show good faith in the Lord. So let‘s get involved in politics and let‘s show the Messiah that we mean business. Let‘s kick out Rome. Let‘s take over the government. Let‘s dominate society. Let‘s have the kingdom here and now. And to do this, if we need to, let‘s use force.‖ They were called the zealots. They said, ―The kingdom can‘t come until the Lord sees we‘re serious about bringing the kingdom. Then, when we get everything ready for Him, we can roll out the red carpet and say, ―Even so, come.‖
  • Sadducees – Then there were the Sadducees, what we would call the liberal wing of the church, who said, ―All this stuff about a kingdom! It ain‘t never gonna come, folks! This is the best of all possible worlds. And everybody‘s got to have a religious system, because people need religion. So since they need religion, let‘s provide the institutions, let‘s make a good living off of religion, but let‘s not take things too seriously, let‘s forget this stuff about miracles and angels and revealed truth and stuff like this. Let‘s just say whatever goes, goes. Let‘s keep the system going and keep the pious few gullible and help use the revenues to found the great enterprises we‘re involved in.‖ Then there were the Pharisees, with whom Jesus mostly identified, who said, ―We must do the best we can in the midst of this wicked, perverse generation. Lets live, not separated from society but let‘s maintain an inner code that‘s different.‖ They extended that to, ―Let‘s also maintain an outer code of dress that separates us.‖

But they were all, in one way or another, looking for the kingdom. So the disciples coming out of that matrix said, ―Lord, what about the kingdom? When is Your kingdom going to come? Are You going to restore Israel now?‖ Jesus didn‘t say to them, ―Don‘t you know yet that the millennium is never going to happen, all of those promises with Israel are all over. They‘re all in the past. I‘ve aggregated them and there‘s a whole new covenant in effect. Jerusalem will never become the world capital and the temple will never be rebuilt and the antichrist is never going to come and the Messiah will never sit on the throne of Jerusalem—all that stuff is relegated to the past. Don‘t you know that yet? I‘m going to have to stay with you guys forty more days and get your theology straightened out!‖

He doesn‘t answer them that way. He just says to them, ―It‘s not for you to know the chronos or the kairos—the times or the seasons.‖ Those are two Greek words—synonyms. Chronos is the word from which we get ―chronology,‖ some of what you‘re doing when you look at your watch. You‘re watching ―chronology‖—time—go by. It‘s not for you to know the length of time or the kairos—the season of time—the appropriate time, the right time, the quality of time. It‘s not for you to know quantity of time or quality of time. But it‘s instead for you to do something else. It‘s time for you to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

  1. Power. I hear, at various times, preachers point out that the basic word underlying ―power‖ here is the word dunamis, from which we derive the word ―dynamite.‖ The only problem with dynamite is that it blows people up. I‘m not sure that what Jesus is promising here is a TNT experience. What He is promising is that He is going to do, in regard to our potential, two things. All of us have potential which we have not tapped. It‘s just native potential, native ability. Power involves the capacity to reach your potential. That‘s one dimension to it.
  2. The second dimension is this: that there is potential in you that you don‘t see, that only God Himself sees. And the power of the Holy Spirit is to cause you to walk in that second level of potential that is even beyond the potential you have as a native human being. I think that‘s fabulous! God‘s not all done making me yet. There are times when I get so frustrated with what I‘m doing, and my lack of ability and my inadequacy, that I need a good shot in the arm like this that says, ―God has not given up on producing potential in my life that is there, both in the natural man and the spiritual man, that is beyond the capacity that I can see personally.‖ He wants to give us that dunamis of the Holy Spirit so that we might be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.

You look at the task of the Early Church. I‘ve made this comparison before, but if you took the then known number of people in the world, you‘d get the magnitude of the task that they faced. There were approximately four million people in Palestine at the time. In Jerusalem and Judea, about four million. About the amount of people that are in Israel today. One hundred and twenty people for the four million. Or one believer for every thirty-three thousand people. Since there are roughly a hundred and ten thousand people in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, that would amount up to about four believers to reach those two towns. There were approximately two hundred and fifty million people in the then Roman world, which means there was one believer for every 1.2 million people. If I were looking at those odds as a statistician, wow!

One of the evidences for Christianity is that the Church is here after twenty centuries. And that the Church of Jesus Christ penetrated the world. And that it grew from a small little group of a hundred and twenty and had a powerful effect. In fact, within thirty years, it was so powerful that it could not be numbered. After a while, even the Book of Acts gave up counting. In fact, after the Day of Pentecost, the Church could never again fit in a single room. You know that we will never again be in a single room until we‘re in that great banquet hall in the kingdom to come. At one time, the Church from all centuries and ethnic groups and backgrounds is going to gather and, all at one time, bring in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. That‘s the next time we‘ll all be in one room. Acts 1 and 2 is the last time the Church was in a single room. It‘s going to explode beyond that. It‘s going to have a ministry.

Let no one look at the size of a challenge and say it can‘t be done. One of the real tendencies we have as Christians, and I think this is especially true for us in Orange County, is that we‘re all seeking close personal relationships, because we live in such an impersonal world and we‘re separated from our extended families, many of us. We often say of the church, ―I sure hope the church doesn‘t grow much because I don‘t like big churches.‖ I know what people mean when they say that. It‘s a pain to be lost in a crowd and not know anybody. But yet, if the church is going to be true to its mission of extending the gospel to every single human being, growth is part and parcel with what God has to do. It means we‘ve got to get ourselves in a growth modality or a growth pattern or growth mentality where, instead of wanting things to stay small so we can be comfortable, we want the kingdom to expand so we can have more responsibility. Do you want to be more comfortable or do you want more responsibility? That will, to a great degree, determine how mature you are as a believer. Immature believers want to be comfortable. They don‘t want to have to do anything. In a comfortable church, you know everybody‘s name. In a growing church, you‘ll never know everybody‘s name—there‘s too much going on. In a comfortable church, everybody has a job and there are plenty of people who don‘t have to do anything. In a church that‘s growing, there‘s always going to be a need for more and more workers to be involved, because we‘re in a responsibility mode of our spiritual life and behavior. Be my witnesses. ―After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes. And a cloud hid him from their sight‖ (Acts 1:9). That‘s better than any blast-off at Cape Canaveral. I‘d like to have seen it.

Here is something that absolutely defies all the laws of physics. Without engines, the Lord blasts off. Then you have to ask the question, where did He go? How did He survive in the ionosphere when He got up to thirty thousand feet? What was going on? Did He have to fly through the planets? How far did He go? Is the dwelling place of God somewhere out there in the universe? The edge of the universe is supposed to be ten billion light years out there. Which means that if you travel 186,282 miles per second for ten billion years, you‘re going to get there. But even when you get there, there may be more out there and you still haven‘t stepped out of time and space. So when it says, ―Jesus ascended into heaven,‖ heaven must not simply be the blue sky. Heaven must be outside the created order and it doesn‘t take ten billion light years to get there. Just like it doesn‘t take ten billion light years for our prayers to reach God. But stepping outside of time and space in a dimension no telescope has yet probed, Jesus goes from earth to heaven! If you‘re not into the miraculous, Christianity is not for you. There‘s just too much happening here. One of the things we know about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the change that was produced in the disciples‘ life is that they were eyewitnesses to all this. They were eyewitnesses to the Resurrection. They were eyewitnesses to the living Christ who presented Himself with infallible proofs. And they were eyewitnesses to His ascension. A common person without that experience would not have believed any of that stuff. But they were credible people who saw it and bore witness to it.

One other note about the ascension I would like to point out. It‘s from observation of having been in the Holy Land a number of times. The Mount of Olives is one of my very favorite places. It was obviously one of Jesus‘ favorite places. He loved to pray at the base of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane. He taught on the Mount of Olives one of His great discourses, the Olivet Discourse, directly facing the Temple Mount. He walked over the Mount of Olives to Bethany, day in and day out, the last week. And He ascended from the Mount of Olives.

Even in Jesus‘ day, the Mount of Olives, like today, is a burial ground. In Judaism, if you want to be buried, it‘s the spot. My first choice would be to be buried on the Mount of Olives. I don‘t know how you‘d get me in there—Muslims on one side and the Jewish people on the other side. I don‘t think there‘s a Christian cemetery there. But there are graves on the Mount of Olives that go back for millenniums. Not just centuries—millenniums! On that spot, the Mount of Olives, which is littered with burial stones—the whole mountainside is covered with burial stones; in that place of death, Jesus becomes the one human being that, instead of going down into the Mount of Olives, goes up from the Mount of Olives.

The point was not lost on the contemporaries of Jesus‘ days, that here is a person who didn‘t go into the ground but He went up from the ground and He took the symbolic spot of all of Judaism for burial to take place, to make it a place of triumph and ascension. It was a masterstroke and plan. Whoever says the Lord doesn‘t plan things out…He‘s a strategist. He‘s going to take the symbols of death and turn them into symbols of life.

And Zachariah says, ―He‘s going to come back to the Mount of Olives.‖ I‘ll be in heaven and won‘t watch TV then. But I‘d like to see the news reports of all the open graves on the Mount of Olives.

―They looked intently up in the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. [Notice they didn‘t have wings or anything like that. They were just wearing white clothes.] ̳Men of Galilee. Why do you stand here looking into the sky? The same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you‘ve seen him go into heaven‘‖ (Acts 1:10-11). There are some saying, in our day—like there were Gnostics in the apostles‘ day saying—that Jesus is not going to have a literal return to earth. His coming is going to be a coming in the transformed lives of His children. It will be a hidden coming. Here‘s the rebuttal to that point of view, saying that the coming of Jesus will be as visible and as evidently physical as His ascension into heaven.

Jesus enters into heaven and the Church then does some things that we read about in verses 12– 26, that give us the character of the Early Church. I want to spend just a few moments here talking about this pre-Pentecostal, powerful Church. That when a church begins to move in these qualities (there are four qualities that are noted here from in verses 12–26) or when an individual Christian begins to move in these qualities, they open themselves up to a tremendous work of the Holy Spirit.

I. The first quality is obedience.

That is always the mark of mature discipleship and of a vital church. What the disciples did after Jesus ascended was—instead of immediately dispersing and beginning to carry the good news— remember that Jesus said, ―Go back to Jerusalem and wait.‖ So even though they didn‘t understand it and even though they had to be bursting with joy to be able to tell that story to other people, they obeyed and went back.

II. The second thing that they did was meet together in unity.

There was the Twelve who are named. They were joined constantly in prayer along with the women. It‘s not just a male group. The last mention we have of Mary in the Bible was of her in a prayer meeting, and she wasn‘t leading the prayer meeting, either, she wasn‘t being prayed to. That should be noted. She was part of the prayer meeting. And Jesus‘ brothers, who previously in the Gospels are mentioned as being alienated from Him and not believing Him—they‘re there. In fact, the number all together is about one hundred and twenty. Acts 2:1 tells us they were all together in one place. There was tremendous unity. They stayed in that place together for ten days.

I‘d like to put before you the idea that unity takes time. One of the problems we have in the contemporary church is we don‘t have time. I find, in the church, that people only take time, that about 70 or 80 percent of the Church of Jesus Christ today takes time to be together with the Body one hour a week in a structured worship setting, and that is it. I am going to make a flat out statement: As long as the church continues in that pattern, it will never ever have revival. It is absolutely impossible to have revival when you only give one hour a week to being together with God‘s people. It‘ll never happen. It‘ll not happen in a billion centuries. It takes a significant amount of being together, and not just being together socially but being together spiritually, praying together, singing together, hearing God‘s Word together, testifying together. It takes that being together to provide a matrix of that warmth and relationship which becomes the fertile soil in which to place a new believer, a converted believer. Instead of putting a new believer into a community of strangers, the church has to be a living web of deep interpersonal human relationships that have been graced by the Spirit of God.

I will share with you as pastor that I do not know how to change the trend the church is in. We are in a humongously busy culture. Everybody is going every single direction they can go. We‘ve got mobility. We‘ve got financial mobility. We‘ve got homes on wheels. We‘ve got income that often allows people to be able to take time to pursue personal pursuits. There‘s nothing wrong with any of these things by themselves. Except, ultimately, they produce a devastating effect on the church, because people do not have time to be the church.

What would happen if as a pastor I asked everybody in the congregation next year, from July 1 to July 10, to plan their ten vacation days and not doing anything off on your own, but go to get a place and go off together and spend ten days singing, praying, eating, fellowshipping and waiting upon God and hearing God‘s Word. We‘re going to take ten solid days as a church. Once you come, you can‘t leave. You have to be there and the whole church has to go. Not a single person can be left out. If we did that for ten days, you could write the history of this church in block letters a mile high, because it would absolutely explode. You can‘t have that kind of a group experience in the presence of the Holy Spirit and not have something significant happen to alter people‘s relationships with God and with one another forever. As long as the church is fooling around with one structured hour a week, it may gain a little bit of ground, but it‘s not going to dynamically penetrate society. I wish that weren‘t true, but I‘m afraid it is. I‘m frustrated as a pastor with the state of the church in that area.

Unity is essential and it takes time. These guys, they weren‘t independently rich. To my understanding, Peter and the boys were middle-class fishermen. They didn‘t have people just independently supporting them. But these people took time to be together. They were at the beginning of a whole new thing God was doing on the earth and it took time. They forged unity. The Holy Spirit forged unity among them. That‘s critical.

III. Another thing which they did that’s so important is that they got into the Word.

They obeyed the Lord. They had unity. And they got into the Word. We know that they got into the Word because of what they did. Peter, as this meeting is progressing, has been troubled because he‘s been reading Psalm 69 and Psalm 109, two psalms Peter understands to talk about the enemy of the Lord. The innocent one described in those two psalms has an enemy. Jesus is the innocent one and He had an enemy—Judas. Those two psalms eloquently speak of the fate of Judas. They contain phrases (those two psalms do) like ―May his place be deserted and let there be no one to dwell in it.‖ And ―May another take his place of leadership.‖ Peter‘s reading along in those psalms and he says, ―Somebody‘s got to be appointed to his position.‖ There‘s a Scripture that says, ―Let another take his place.‖

So they select a person to replace the fallen Judas. I don‘t want to get into the whole thing of the mystery of Judas. I simply want to note that it was as a result of studying the Scripture that the Early Church made the decision to replace him. Some said the Early Church, right at the beginning, before Pentecost, made a mistake, they didn‘t have the Holy Spirit yet and they do something prematurely. God had saved that twelfth place for the apostle Paul. The Early Church got presumptuous and jumped in.

I say humbug! Because here‘s the Church‘s very first decision after the Lord had ascended into heaven and they were going straight to the Scripture for guidance. If you can‘t get guidance from the Scripture, then what can you trust? I refuse to believe, I can‘t see it even as logical, to believe that in the very first decision the Church reaches after Christ has already risen is blundering into mistakes. I just can‘t buy that. They read the Scripture. They absorbed the Scripture and wanted to be guided by it. This is in real contradistinction with people today who would have said, ―No, let‘s not go to Scripture. Let‘s pray and get a revelation. Who‘s got a revelation? Who‘s got the gift of prophecy as to who‘s supposed to replace Judas?‖

No, it wasn‘t that at all. It was, ―Get in the Word and see if it has any direction.‖ Then they did some very common things. They said, ―There‘s got to be some qualifications for replacement. You had to be with Jesus from the baptism of John until now.‖ That was their qualification to be an apostle. It says there were only two that fit the bill. The two were Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias. So what did they do? They prayed and then they cast lots, or drew straws, and the lot fell to Matthias. Is that spiritual? The twelfth apostle is selected by flipping a coin! That‘s what it was, flipping a coin. Again, they were being scriptural. Proverbs 16:33 says, ―The lot is cast into the lap but the decision is from the Lord.‖ The decision is wholly from the Lord. You flip the coin but God determines which side it‘s going to land on. What had they done? They said, ―We‘ve used all the intelligence we knew how to make criteria for leadership. We had two choices. In the natural, we didn‘t know which choice to make, so we simply left the decision to God. And since Proverbs 16:33 gives us persimmon to cast lots, we cast lots and the lot fell to Matthias.‖ They were trying to be true to Scripture.

One parenthetical thing that doesn‘t relate to any of the three points, but just a sideline that to me is kind of interesting: in verse 13, the last of the eleven apostles that is named is Judas, son of James. In Luke 6, which contains another listing of the apostles, Luke also lists him as Judas, son of James. But Matthew and Mark, in listing the apostles, never refer to this man as Judas, son of James. He‘s known by another name— Thaddaeus. Luke is always the historian of accuracy; he always goes back for the precise. What evidently happened in the Early Church was, as time went along, this Judas number two, called Judas son of James, not Judas Iscariot, got tired of people saying to him, ―You sure have a lousy name.‖ Or, ―Are you related to Judas Iscariot?‖ So he said, ―I‘m tired of that name. From now on, just call me Thaddaeus.‖ So he got a different name. That‘s why the listing of names is different.

You‘ll notice, also, that in Matthew‘s Gospel, Judas went out and hanged himself. Luke tells us that Judas bought a field where he fell headlong, his body burst and of all his intestines spilled out. Those two accounts, Matthew and Acts, are not contradictory, for indeed, in the course of a hanging, there could have been the kind of fall that is described in Luke with his intestines breaking and spilling out.

By the way, the field of blood in Jerusalem is at the western end of the Valley of Hinnom, the Valley of Hell. That is suggestive of the fact that, when we get out of God‘s will, we wind up in hell, the trash dump of Jerusalem.

The Early Church was committed to obedience. It was definitely committed to unity. It was committed to the Word.

IV. Then the fourth quality of a growing dynamic Christian or a growing dynamic church is that it was committed to prayer.

They prayed constantly (verse 14). They all joined constantly in prayer. Verse 24 says, ―Then they prayed.‖ There was a specific prayer. I mentioned this about a year and a half ago, before we began our quarterly prayer meetings in the church. I had had a conversation with the person who had been a spiritual confidant of Billy Graham and a great help for Billy in the prayer ministry. He said, ―If you go into an average church and look at their literature or program, you‘ll find that the church almost never gathers together for prayer. It has everything else on the agenda but prayer.‖ He said, ―God has called me to a ministry to make the main things out of the plain things in Scripture. Prayer is the main thing and it‘s the plain thing.‖

The Christian life and the church cannot be built simply by the implementation of good programs, no matter how well conceived and executed the programs are, some of the programs ought to be executed. It‘s prayer that is the life of the Church. Depending and submission on the Lord for His will and His leadership, being open to a fresh sweep of the Spirit. The Church, at the close of Acts 1, has no idea of the explosion that is in store for it. It is on the edge of a great miracle and doesn‘t even know it at that moment.

I would suggest to you that, anytime in your life or any time the church corporately does the same kind of things that are done in chapter 1, that church or that person is again on the edge of a tremendous explosion and powerful moving of the Lord. But somewhere along the line, there has got to be an unreserved commitment to obey the Lord. There has to be a willingness to commit the time to be together in unity, not just union, but unity. Union is when you tie two cats‘ tails together. You have union but you don‘t have unity. The church of Jesus Christ is often like that. We‘ve got people all together in union and our names are on the membership roll or on the contribution record, but there are differences and sharp feelings and animosity and hidden agendas and turfs to protect and all those kinds of things, which speak of union, but not unity. Somehow, the church has got to get past that, with double and triple doses of forgiveness and reconciliation, and say, ―In Christ we will be united.‖ We‘ll ask the Spirit to unite us, to help us take the time to be united past unity, into a real absorption with God‘s Word and achieve that all in prayer. There‘s no telling what God will do when that combination is fulfilled. (HT)

Matt Chandler – Jesus is enough!

And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together. He is head of the body- the church. He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything, He might be

  • preeminent
  • top
  • nothing above Him
  • nothing else to gain
  • nothing else to get

The goal, the end, what it’s all about is Jesus.

I’m gonna try to combat something here as hard as I can. Look at me:

  • following Jesus is not going to make you wealthy. 
  • following Jesus does not guarantee that you’re going to be healthy

The message of Scripture, and the Gospel of Christ is not that in following Him everything goes right, but that He is enough, no matter what happens. That’s the message of the Gospel, not that everything’s gonna be okay.

Every apostle in the Bible dies bad. They don’t just stumble in the street and get run over in a car. They get beheaded, they get crucified upside down. They get boiled in oil. They die poor, and they’re slaughtered. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers struggles with depression his whole life, and then dies. Christianity has been built and then carried through generations on the blood of men. Not on wealth! This is an absurd idea that would make Christ not preeminent- but, what He can give you. That is not Christianity, that is something entirely different.

Jesus is enough! He is enough! We pursue healing, maybe we get it, maybe we don’t. He’s enough if we don’t. Jesus is sufficient. Like in Acts, the apostles, they get arrested. And the court says, „If you don’t quit this preaching stuff, if you don’t quit talking about Jesus, we’re gonna beat you to death. And the response was simple: „Do what you think is right, as for us, we cannot help in speaking about what we have seen and heard. And they beat the mess out of them, and released them. ANd they did what? Rejoiced! I mean, they got beat nearly to death. This was the fruit of the Gospel in their lives. Beatings! And they left rejoicing!

This is not about what Jesus gets you. It’s just about Jesus!

  • preeminent
  • top of the chain
  • nothing else to want
  • nothing else to pursue

HE IS ENOUGH!

DTS Prof. Darrell Bock – What is the one thing preachers cannot afford to omit?

Here’s a short excerpt from this 12 minute video on the New testament books of Luke and Acts from Darrell Bock. Read the entire transcript directly below the video-

We tend to preach the Gospel as if it’s only about the forgiveness of sins. But, in fact, the whole point about having your sins forgiven is to reconnect you to God so that you can live the life He’s designed you to have. So, the gift of the Spirit is the enabler in that. And that was the missing dimension in the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament and the Mosaic Covenant, is that God was working with the law, but, He wasn’t working inside the heart. So, He promised a New Covenant in Jeremiah. He says, „I’m gonna put the law in your heart, I’m gonna bring it inside of you. That’s the Gospel and that is the message of Acts 2. I say, „Preach it!” 

Darrell Bock Preaching from CPX on Vimeo.

Darrell Bock on preaching from Luke and Acts:

I think it is very important to make God and Jesus the main actors in the stories. Sometimes when we preach, we make the focus of the story ‘US’. But, if we do that, we actually lose the interactive dimension of being responsive to God in the process. In everything, Luke-Acts is being by God’s plan, by God’s direction. So, keeping God at the center of the story is really important.

We call the second book Luke wrote ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. But, it really is the acts of God through Jesus Christ. And everything that’s happening is a response to God’s direction. Every key turning point: Paul’s conversion, the entry of Gentiles into the community through Peter’s preaching to Cornelius is directed by God. Even God’s protection of Paul as he goes to Rome. So keep God at the center of the story.

What are some of the key things that we need to feature highly in preaching?

A key theme, which at first doesn’t seem relevant, but actually is is the whole issue of legitimization. Luke-Acts is written to substantiate or legitimate the christian faith. Because, in the Greco Roman world a new religion was problematic. A new religion needed to be time tested in order to have value. So, Luke is actually explaining how the program of God in Jesus Christ- this is something new- it’s part of the promises that go back centuries. It goes back, in fact, millennia to Abraham. And so, this long connection is important. Even the idea of including Jews and Gentiles was an evidence of the reconciliation that God is bringing through salvation is legitimated and substantiated  by the way Luke tells the story. And that’s important because what it shows is the point of the Gospel is this reconciliation that is going on, which is one of the points of salvation. To reclaim the creation and put it back in alignment with itself.

And if you know the history of Jews and Gentiles, what the history was before the time of Christ, the Gentiles tried to wipe out the Jewish faith- there was a lot of hostility. The idea of trying to reconcile those two very hostile groups is actually quite an assignment that Luke is saying, God is taking on.

There is also the very presentation of Jesus in the 2 volumes. I think Luke tells the story of Jesus, primarily from the earth up. We understand that He’s the Messiah in the beginning, that He fits in to the promises that were made to Israel at the start. Certain covenant commitments, we can get our hands around that. But, as we move through the story, we see Him do things that points to an authority that means He’s more than a Messiah. He’s more than a prophet. And so, He does things like- He has authority over the Sabbath. Well, who’s responsible for the Sabbath? God was. It was the picture of His seventh day of resting. It was in the 10 commandments. Yet, Jesus says the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. He forgives sin. Well, who gets to forgive sins, but God alone? He calms the winds and the waves. Who’s able to do that? The Psalms tell us that God is responsible for calming the winds and the waves.

And then, there are other things. He changes the liturgy of Israel. The Exodus story, the passover gets changed into His own story. Well, who gives Him authority to do that? It’s one thing to write liturgy that expands on an event that is already in place. Jesus completely changes, He has the authority to do that. He walks into the temple and cleanses it. Who has the authority to do that and speak for God? And so, then, He finally says, „God’s gonna vindicate Me and give Me a seat with God in heaven.” Who gets to do that?

So, the whole point of Luke’s Gospel is to show how unique Jesus is and Acts shows Him pouring out the gift of salvation that is a sign of the new era of the Holy Spirit onto people, to claim a people for HImself and to enable and empower them to walk with God. That’s the story of Acts. The theme beyond Jesus-earth-up that’s important in Luke-Acts is how the Holy Spirit  and the coming of the Holy Spirit is the coming of a new era that comes through Jesus. And so, that makes Acts a pivot in the two volumes because that’s where the Spirit is poured out and that’s where Peter  and Israel can now know that God has made ‘this Jesus’ Lord and Christ. In other words, He’s made it evident that’s who He is.

What resonates with a modern audience from Luke-Acts?

There are all kinds of ethical dimensions to what Luke is doing in Luke-Acts that’s very important. I like to point out that in the very first chapter, when John the Baptist is introduced, in verses 16 & 17, it says ‘He’s gonna turn Israel to God’. Then, in the next verse it says ‘He’s gonna turn the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the righteous’. Normally, when you think of repentance, you think, „Well, that’s between me and God.” But, Luke is showing, „No, if you repent, there’s a response between you and God that’s gonna impact the way you’re relating to other people.” He reinforces this 2 chapters later in chap. 3:10-14, another unique part of Luke, where he’s discussing John the Baptist. We don’t have this in any of the other gospels.

And the people ask, „What are we supposed to do?’ after John asks them to „make fruit worthy of repentance”. The greek verb in both the statement and in the question is the same. It means to do or to make fruit. Every answer to the 3 different groups that ask the question has to do with how we are relating to other people and not how we’re relating to God. It actually reflects something we see in the Old Testament because the 10 commandments have 2 parts. There’s the part that deals with our relationship with God and there’s the part that deals with our relationship to others. And we’re supposed to see that as a whole. And even the 2 great commandments that Jesus taught go the same way: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus is saying, if there’s a transition in the way we live before God, that’s gonna impact the way we relate to others. So, He talks about how we relate to the poor, what we do with our possessions, how we deal with widows and people in need, so there are all kinds of acts of compassion. All this resonates at a core level in terms of what you can teach and preach in Luke-Acts.

How should you preach from Luke-Acts? 

I think you just present them, they are effective communication of what the message of the church is about. So, the preacher who preaches the sermons in Acts, in particular, and there a few sermons as well that Jesus gives, say, at the synagogue in Nazareth. Just present their content and make clear what it is that the speaker was getting at. I mean the whole idea of Acts 2- that the way we can know that the new era of God has come is by the gift of the Spirit that He gives to us as a result of forgiveness of sins. It makes a point of what the Gospel is.

This Gospel provides a life that is moral, it’s a life of integrity, it’s a life of quality, a life of giving. You’re not just taking. And you receive from God graciously, but because you understand what it is to receive- you give. And so, This is a very important part of the Gospel. Too much of our lives are oriented simply for being takers and taking in and consuming  and disposing. And then, everything else becomes an object that I utilize for my own purposes. Part of what happens in christianity is that you move outside yourself. And in moving outside yourself, you engage other people in a way that is completely different than the way they’re used to being engaged and you actually end up affirming them in the process if you do it well and if you do it with a good moral balance. So, it doesn’t suppress life at all. It actually releases life and it keeps you from destroying life.

Luke’s unique way of writing

I think we see an emphasis in the way Luke writes that is very important. We have hymns that shows how we praise God. We praise God by thanking Him for what He’s done. There’s a wonderful contrast between the hymns of the  material in which Mary praises God for reaching out to a humble girl like her. She was 13 years old or so when she becomes Joseph’s wife and has this child through the Holy Spirit. So, you’ve got that on the one hand. And the you’ve got the contrast with the Pharisee that says, „I thank you God that I’m such a great guy, that  I fast twice a week, and I tithe and I’m not like this sinner who’s over here, next to me praying. There’s a very stark difference in that and there’s a humility in that that Luke talks about that is a part of our worship.

When the centurion says to Jesus, through Jewish emissaries, „You don’t need  to come under my house, in order to heal, I’m not worthy to have You come in my house”. Or, when the sinful woman anoints Jesus, out of love and gratitude for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus has provided, that she couldn’t provide for herself. That humility, that lack of entitlement fills our spirit of worship, causes us to love God cause we appreciate the debt that He’s cancelled for us. In that love and in that devotion, there’s an allegiance that is a reflection of worship. That’s what Luke is getting at, in terms of how we respond to the message of the Gospel. And, certainly, that is something that should be emphasized as you preach through these 2 volumes.

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Paul’s Prophecy

Whether one believes in prophecy or not, most Christians do in fact believe that God can speak to us through His word, through other people, through situations and through events. How can we discern if it is of God or not? We must always filter it through the word of God.

Upon reading Acts 21 it seems like there might be a contradiction in what the Spirit is telling the elders there and what He is telling Pual. At first glance it may seem that the Holy Spirit is prohibiting Paul from going to Jerusalem when in fact the Spirit is warning him of what lies ahead:

From Acts 21 – IVP New Testament Commentaries

As Paul said happened in every city, the Holy Spirit predicts his coming suffering. This time the disciples conclude that the prediction is not just a warning but actually a prohibition. So Luke expresses it: through the Spirit they urged (literally, „were repeatedly saying”) Paul not to go on to Jerusalem (compare 20:23). Since the same Spirit has compelled Paul to go to Jerusalem (19:21; 20:22), we would be confronted with a contradiction if the prediction were actually a prohibition, but such need not be the case (see note). Paul, then, is not disobedient to the Spirit by disregarding the prohibition. As with all the Spirit’s predictive warnings, it is intended simply to stiffen his determination as he once again realistically counts the cost (20:22-24).

Sometimes the counsel of friends, filtered through the grid of their fears and concerns for our safety, can be misguidance. Like Paul, we must determine to „do the right thing” even when outward circumstances and projected outcome do not appear to be stamped with the blessing of God.

As the whole church, including women and children, escorts the party to the port via the beach, they kneel in a solemn prayer of committal reminiscent of the leavetaking at Miletus (20:36-38). The bonds of Christian fellowship forged in this short week are strong, and they cannot but help give strength to the apostle as he continues down the road to certain suffering. We too should never miss an opportunity, by fellowship and prayer, to strengthen the determination of fellow Christians as they face hard tests.Tyre to Caesarea (21:7-14)

Most commentators draw the conclusion that the Holy Spirit revealed only the fact of Paul’s fate, and that the conclusions drawn from this were not those which came from the Spirit, and were not the will of God for Paul.

PAUL (Part 1) on the ROAD to DAMASCUS

(via) Paul’s call to the ministry of the Way is intertwined with Peters efforts to reach out to the Gentiles in the formative years of the Church. Below is an excerpt (from pp 462-465) of the narrative mostly from Acts of Paul’s ministry before he made his first missionary journey (which will follow in a future post).

Now as he was approaching Damascus…suddenly a light from  heaven flashed around him.  Acts 9:3.

(from The Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Copyright 2001 (c) by Neil S. Wilson & Linda K. Taylor.) (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois)

The road from Jerusalem to Damascus owes its fame to an event occurring along it about the year A.D. 34. Acts gives us the most famous account of Paul’s “Damascus Road experience.”    The great persecutor, “still breathing threats and  murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1), is on his way to the city, claiming the high priest’s authority to arrest any disciples of Jesus he should find there. But this journey will take an unexpected turn.
Roads and journeys are important throughout Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel’s central section (Luke 9:51-19:27) describes Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem, during which He prepares His disciples for what is to come. But life-changing experiences also happen on roads out of Jerusalem. It is on  the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus that Cleopas and his companion encounter the risen Lord (Luke 24:13-35). On the road connecting Jerusalem with Gaza, Philip encounters the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). Now it is on another road from Jerusalem that the persecutor Saul of Tarsus will be transformed into Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles. Given the significance of journeying, it is not surprising that the earliest followers of Jesus were known as people who belonged to the Way (Acts 9:2).

Conversion  or  Call?

Paul most likely followed the major thoroughfare through the Jordan valley, before turning to the northeast from Galilee toward Damascus, the snow capped Mt. Hermon to the north. As he drew near to Damascus, the dramatic event occurred.  Although Christians have come to speak of Paul’s conversion, the story told by Acts, and the allusion to it in Paul’s letters, suggest another possibility.
In that it was so life changing, shaking the very foundations of his Pharisaic worldview, it is appropriately called a conversion. Yet this did not mean a transfer from one religion to another. Rather, Paul prefers the language of a prophetic call: he is being commissioned for a particular task. He believes, like Jeremiah and Isaiah before him, that he has been prepared for this new role since before his birth (Galatiians 1:15); see also Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5). His call near Damascus is understood to include a direct charge to preach God’s Son among the Gentiles (Galatians 1:16).

Paul in Damascus

Damascus is located in an oasis in southern Syria, approximately 135 miles (217 km) northeast of Jerusalem. The city was completely rebuild in the Hellenistic period, on a grid system. The one exception to the right-angled layout was the colonnaded “Street called Straight,” which crossed the city from east to west. Its name probably reflects a local joke, for it was not straight but slightly crooked. Here Paul will reside with a fellow Jew named Judas.
When Paul finally arrives in Damascus, a Christian Jew, Ananias, seeks him out. Paul later describes him as “a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living” in Damascus (Acts 22:12). Acts does not state how the Christian  message reached Damascus, though that might be due to missionaries scattered following Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 8:1). Ananias restores Paul’s sight, and brings him by baptism into the messianic community.  He boldly addresses as “brother Saul” one who, only days before, was intent on persecuting people such as him. He is another of the unsung heroes of the early Church, who disappears from Luke’s story as quickly as he entered it.

DAMASCUS. By the Rev. Dr. PHILIP SCHAFF and Miss M. E. ROGERS Gardens and Rivers of Damascus.

Escape from Damascus

Apart from describing his synagogue preaching in Damascus, Acts is silent about what happened next. We do know from Galatians, however, that after his call he spent some time in Arabia before returning to Damascus (Galatians 1:17).  “Arabia” refers to the area to the south, the kingdom of Nabataea. Its capital was the famous rock city of Petra. ( See a short video of this ancient city that still exists today here.) Paul declines to spell out his reason for heading to Arabia/Nabataea and he seems to have made enemies there. Some time after returning to Damascus, he is forced to flee for his life. Under cover of night he is forced down from the city’s wall in a basket (Acts 9:25), and makes his way back to Jerusalem. Although Acts views the Jews of Damascus as the rime movers against him, Paul sees the real threat as “the governor under King Aretas” (2 Corinthians 11:32). The king in question is Aretas IV, king of the Nabataeas from 9 B.C. to 40 A.D. Damascus remained firmly under Roman control  until Tiberius’s death in March 37 A.D. Paul’s reference suggests the city then came under Nabataean control, thus giving an approximate date for his escape.
So Saul returns to Jerusalem a changed man. It is not surprising that the Church there suspected a plot to infiltrate their ranks. Later, Paul relates that he  met Peter (Cephas) and James the Lord’s brother ( Galatians 1:18-20) and the Cypriot Joseph Barnabas emerges out of the shadows to show his worth as a true “son of encouragement” (see Acts 43:6). The stories of Barnabas and Saul will be inextricably linked in the chapters to follow.

Opening to the Gentiles

Bab Kisan Gate where Paul escapes persecution.

Having prepared the ground for Paul’s future work, Luke now returns to the leader of the Jerusalem apostles, Simon Peter. Although Paul is remembered as the great apostle to the Gentiles, Acts shows how his work is already anticipated in Peter’s ministry. Somewhat reluctantly, but in accordance with the divine will, Peter opens a door for the Gentiles; Paul and Barnabas will use this opportunity to great effect, and on a far wider canvas.

Healing on the fringes

Peter continues Christ’s healing ministry here in two further healings (Acts 9:32-43). Yet as important as continuing Jesus’ healing of those “on the margins” is the fact that Peter is also moving to the geographic margins.

Joppa, prophet Jonah boarded ship here to run away

The locations of the two miraculous events,  Lydda and Joppa, are away from Jerusalem on a coastal plain.  Beyond them is the great sea, the Mediterranean. Soon Paul and Barnabas will sail across that sea to bring the good news to Cyprus and Asia Minor.
Lydda, the ancient Lod, was a large town or city located on the road linking Jerusalem  with Joppa about 10 miles (16 km) inland from Joppa. The port town of Joppa (from a Canaanite word meaning “the beautiful”) although inhabited by Jews, was a Greek city, stressing again Peter’s move to the boundaries. Here he resides with Simon the tanner, an occupation despised by many pious Jews.
The story of the healing of Aeneas in Lydda echoes Jesus’ healing of a paralytic at Luke 5:18-26. Although Aeneas is not a Jewish  name, he fact that Peter’s dealings with him are uncontroversial (unlike those with Cornelius) suggests he is a Jew, probably a Christian Jew. Part of Peter’s motive in traveling seems to have been to encourage the disciples living on the edge of Judea. Aeneas’s healing leads to conversions among the (Jewish) population of  Lydda and “the Sharon,” the coastal plain located between the sea and the central hill country.  Peter’s second healing, at Joppa, certainly involves a disciple. When Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek (“gazelle”), is raised from the dead one is reminded of Jesus’ raising of Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:49-56). Acts 8:40 hints that both Lydda and Joppa were evangelized by Philip on his way from Azots to Caesarea.

God fearers converted

Now that Peter is on the Holy Land’s geographic fringes, the stage is set for the next major transition in the spread of the gospel. Cornelius, a Roman centurion of the Italian cohort stationed at Caesarea, will receive the Holy Spirit and be baptized. Archaeological evidence attests a “Second Italian Cohort” in the area later in the century, though none has been found for Cornelius’s time. The Caesarea in question is the Caesarea Maritima (distinguishing it from other cities named after the emperor such as Caesarea Philippi). Formerly Strato’s tower, it had magnificently been rebuilt by Herod the Great. Ruins have survived of a fine artificial harbor, a Roman theater and an aqueduct.
Luke frequently speaks of Roman officials who are favorable toward the Christian  message. Cornelius is described as “a devout man who feared God with all his household” (Acts 10:2). In this he resembles the centurion who built the synagogue in Capernaum (Luke 7:1-10). The first step toward the Gentiles will be to one who is already on the fringes of the synagogue. Although Peter is instrumental here, what validates this dramatic step is divine revelation. Cornelius’ visitation from an angel is followed by a trance-induced vision, in which Peter sees a sheet containing all varieties of creatures. Through this vision, Peter comes to see that God is now over/riding the traditional clean/unclean distinction. As he is to learn, this applies not simply to animals and food, but to the distinction between Jews and Gentiles.
Hence, on returning to Jerusalem later (See Acts 11:1-18), he is prepared to justify the action taken at Caesarea. In Cornelius’s house, Peter’s preaching prompts divine activity, as the Holy Spirit descends even upon the “unclean” Gentiles. The Spirit was the expected gift of the new age, and its possession was a sign of being God’s people. Faced with heaven’s approval of pious Cornelius and his family, Peter cannot refuse them baptism.  Indeed, Luke has him seal this by accepting their hospitality for several days. Nevertheless, the full implications of this are not worked out immediately, either for Peter or for the Church. Later, at Antioch, Paul will challenge Peter over his decision to no longer eat with Gentiles, again treating them as unclean (Galatians 2:11-14).

Another Herod persecutes the Church

Back in Jerusalem, hostility directed toward the Church continues. Now it is associated with King Herod (Acts 12:1-5), who executes James, son of Zebedee, and also takes action against Peter. Herod Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod the Great, born in 10 B.C. and educated in Rome, where he became friends with the future emperors Gaius and Claudius. He inherited his uncle Philip’s tetrarchy in A.D. 38, adding Antipas’s Galilee and Perea two years later. He ruled as King of Judea between 41 and 44 A.D.
Acts portrayal of Agrippa is negative, influenced by the memory of his action against the Way. Though a promoter of Hellenism like his grandfather, at home Agrippa was a pious Jew. Acts has a most dramatic account of his untimely death, in which the crowds acclaim him as a god, and he develops a fatal illness. The tragic demise of a figure of royal power (Acts 12:20-23) contrasts powerfully with the escape from prison of the fisherman he sought to destroy and the inexorable progress of the message he wished to quash.

photo from biblewalks.com – In this aerial photo you can see the western layout of the city, with Herod’s theater on the bottom side, Herod’s palace on the left side, the Hippodrome and the Roman city in the center, and the Crusaders and port on the top side.

Caesarea Maritima („by the Sea”) is located on the shore in the center of Israel,  in the middle between Haifa and Tel-Aviv. It is the site of one of the most important cities in the Roman World, the Roman capital of the province of Judea at the time of Jesus, and a Crusader fortress along the road from Acre to Jerusalem.  The followin – towards the end of Paul’s life also takes place in Caesarea Maritima:

Acts (25: 11-14, 23) – Paul appeals to Caesar

In 58AD the Apostle Paul, accused of causing a riot, was sent to Caesarea to stand trial before the governor. As a Roman citizen he requested to be heard by the Emperor , and so he sailed to Rome from Caesarea harbor. There, he was tried and executed after several years.

25:11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

25:13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

25:14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:

25:15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

25:23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.

26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

The „place of hearing”, where this all happened,  is located near Herod’ palace.

to be continued…

next in this series is Paul’s first missionary journey.

PETER and PAUL 1

PETER and PAUL 2

The Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit By George O. Wood

Rodi:

I have researched for Day of Pentecost articles and material on the web from the point of view of a committed believer of the Pentecostal experience. To my frustration, it was very hard to come across. This may be due to the fact that many churches have not realized the full potential that the internet gives them to share their faith with millions of readers in a format that will last forever. Once printed, an article is archived on the worldwide web, and, unless one goes to great lengths to erase it from the web, it will be read over and over again by millions of people for ages to come. I wish more churches would use the web as an internet tool, especially non English churches.

I am posting this article from the PENTECOSTAL evangel magazine, June 2011 edition; written by the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, George O. Wood. The article is excerpted from the book – Living in the Spirit, by George O. Wood (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 2009).

You can read more of the PENTECOSTAL evangel magazine here.

The Baptism and Fullness of the Spirit

“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.” — Acts 2:17, NIV

I have been asked a number of times by national reporters about speaking in tongues. I was talking with a reporter from The New York Times and told him there’s nothing unusual about what Pentecostals are doing today. If you look at the first-century church, all the writers of the New Testament spoke in tongues, and the Early Church spoke in tongues. So Pentecostalism, at its roots, is basically a restorationist movement. We believe that we can cut through 20 centuries of church tradition and get back to the original Church. It doesn’t mean that we do everything like the original Church, but we’re trying to have the same doctrine and experience of the Early Church.

Several decades ago, I visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Looking up to Michelangelo’s great fresco of “The Last Judgment,” I thought to myself, Why is everyone raving about this work of art? It’s very occluded and dark. What had happened is that over the last four centuries, there have been so many candles burning in the Sistine Chapel that the smoke had gradually put a layer of gray over the painting. So when I saw how dark it was, I wasn’t impressed at all.

Now, many years later, it has been restored. All the smudge is gone and the colors are radiant and alive, and it’s as though the painting had just been done yesterday. That’s what Pentecostalism, in its purist form, tries to do. It tries to erase the smudges on the Church for the last 20 centuries and get back to what the early Christians believed and practiced. That is our goal — to get back to biblical, original Christianity.

Three primary views within the Church describe the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One is the view that the baptism in the Holy Spirit and any terminology connected with it in Scripture are meant to be taken as synonymous with conversion — that when we give our life to the Lord we are automatically baptized in the Spirit.

In this view, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 represents the moment the members of the Early Church became Christians. The baptism in the Holy Spirit, therefore, is not meant to be repeated in believers’ lives today in the manner described in Acts 2, 8, 9, 10 and 19, but is to be seen as God’s way of giving the Church a giant cosmic shove into its centuries of existence.

On the opposite extreme are those who treat the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the highest goal of Christian experience — a goal that once reached need not be sought after again. Unfortunately, this is the view I had of the baptism in the Spirit while I was a child and teenager. In a particular church of which I was a part, you couldn’t hold office in the youth group unless you had been baptized in the Spirit. So, Spirit baptism was the highest goal of my life. Consequently, when I received it, I promptly relaxed.

Only years later did I come to fully realize the function of the baptism in the Spirit. This, I believe, is the third view. Spirit baptism is a distinct part of our entrance into the full Christian life, along with salvation and water baptism. These can each occur at different times, but I believe it is God’s purpose to make this a cluster of initiation events into the Christian life.

Those who believe the baptism in the Spirit is part of our initiation into the Christian life are called Pentecostal or charismatic. I favor the term Pentecostal primarily because it seems a more biblical word to describe the experience. Whereas charismatic is not used in the Book of Acts and generally refers to spiritual gifts, the charismata in general.

The focus of the baptism in the Spirit is twofold. It deepens our worship of the Lord through giving us a language of praise that we have not learned — speaking with other tongues. It also gives us power in our Christian witness.
Floods of blessing

It’s interesting that the baptism in the Spirit has three beautiful words to describe what the Spirit does for us. The words are all associated with water. Acts 2:17 says that the Spirit of God is outpoured: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” The idea of the pouring of the Spirit is that we get thoroughly soaked in the Spirit’s presence.

Acts 1:5 tells us that we will be baptized in the Spirit. This means we will be overwhelmed or immersed in the Spirit’s presence. The expression “baptism in the Spirit” can have too narrow a meaning to us; we don’t think of it in a fresh way. I want to ask in my own life, “Have I been overwhelmed by the Spirit? Am I soaked in the Spirit?”

Acts 2:4 uses another word associated with water: filled with the Spirit. When the Spirit is poured out upon us, it is the external coming of the Spirit upon us. When we are baptized in the Spirit, it is us in the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, it is the Spirit in us. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all given the Spirit to drink.” John 7:37-39 says we will have the Spirit of God welling up within us, flowing out of us — streams of living water.

Is the term “baptism in the Spirit” scriptural? Yes, it is. It is used by the Lord. Is it meant to characterize our experience today? Yes. What is its purpose? It is to initiate us deeper into the Spirit’s mission and propel us into two areas of the Spirit’s work. First, it is meant to draw us deeper into worship and to God. That is the function of other tongues. Secondly, the Spirit is designed to come upon us to thrust us into the world and the work of the Lord. Worship and work — these are the purposes of the Spirit.

We need the baptism in the Spirit because Jesus himself taught that the work of the Kingdom cannot be done without the baptism in the Spirit. All the things the Lord wants to do in the Church and in the world cannot be done unless we are filled with the Spirit. Many things can be done without His fullness. But the totality of what God wants to do will not be done.

My Pentecostal experience has taught me there is great value in waiting in the Spirit’s presence. The Christian life is not simply intellectual, theological or mind-oriented. It reaches those deeper parts of us that relate to the mystery of the heart in adoration to God. The Spirit reaches into areas of our life where we know what God’s will is but are not doing it. And the Spirit forms the character of Christ in us as we allow Him to do so. The Spirit wants to reach into the complacency of our life, where we would be satisfied to live as we are now living. He wants to come upon us and make us earnest about the work of God, make us want God’s will and purpose to be done in and through us.

God would have His Spirit call us out of a life of spiritual complacency to one of deep surrender. Through the Spirit, we can have the joy of hearing from God like we have never heard from Him before. The Spirit is with us at the crossroads of life, as we make the most critical decisions. We need the Spirit of God in an increasingly deeper measure. He wants to open up avenues of worship and of vision to us. May each of us cry out, “Spirit of God, I need You! I can never do this on my own. I can’t know what Your will is on my own. I need You, Holy Spirit.”

Jesus Ascension and the Second Coming (Lovely Lord by Petra)

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The Book of Acts states:

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, „Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

—Acts 1:9-11

Many Christians believe:

  1. The coming of Christ will be instantaneous and worldwide. „For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” —Matthew 24:27
  2. The coming of Christ will be visible to all. „Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” —Matthew 24:30
  3. The coming of Christ will be audible. „And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” —Matthew 24:31
  4. The resurrection of the righteous will occur. „For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” —1 Thessalonians 4:16
  5. In one single event, the saved who are alive at Christ’s coming will be caught up together with the resurrected to meet the Lord in the air.”Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” —1 Thessalonians 4:17  (VIA)

The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

Mark Driscoll Workshop Audio Gospel Coalition 2011 – The Spirit-Filled Missional Ministry of Jesus (and The doctrine of the Holy Spirit)

Click on picture for audio

AUDIO – The Spirit-Filled Missional Ministry of Jesus

by Mark Driscoll (Pastor Mars Hill Seattle and Acts 29 organization founder)
In this session we will examine the work of the Holy Spirit in and around Jesus ministry in Luke’s gospel that includes empowering Jesus ministry of preaching, healing, and casting out demons. In so doing, we will work from the thesis that to be truly spirit filled and missional is to continue the ministry of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit as we see throughout the book of Acts which is Luke’s sequel.

AUDIO – Panel: Training the Next Generation of Pastors and Other Christian Leaders R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson (chair), Ligon Duncan

Albert Mohler, Jr. Mark Driscoll David Helm Don Carson Ligon Duncan

Are We Longing for Repentance? by Leonard Ravenhill (Revival Preacher)

 

color photo of Leonard Ravenhill with his wife...

Image via Wikipedia

If you have never heard of Leonard Ravenhill (1907–1994), he was an English Christian evangelist and author who focused on the subjects of prayer and revival. He is best known for challenging the modern church (through his books and sermons) to compare itself to the early Christian Church as chronicled in the Book of Acts. His most notable book is Why Revival Tarries which has sold over a million copies worldwide.

Leonard Ravenhill, a ‘real’ revival preacher  influenced hundreds of preachers and Christian Leaders from Mainstream Baptists to Methodists to Pentecostals, among them A.W. Tozer, Keith Green,  Ravi Zacharias and others. Read more here…

You can also watch  „A Man of God” video with Leonard Ravenhill here.

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Are We Longing for Repentance by Leonard Raven…, posted with vodpod