Jesus gave the Great Commission to the Church and also clear instructions about how He has equipped us to fulfil the Commission.
A Church that is Equipped:
:1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
:2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
:3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
:5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The book of Acts shows the start and development of the church from the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven. It shows how Jesus followers, numbering 120 at the start of the book, fulfilled the Great Commission and took the Gospel message to the known world at the time establishing churches as they went and how, in a relatively short period of time, Christianity grew from hundreds of people into thousands spanning across many countries.
Christians today who would love to know how to have the kind of church growth experienced in the first few centuries of the church!
I believe the book of Acts teaches us the key to this vast spread of Christianity in these early years and we see the key right here in these first five verses of the book of Acts: The Holy Spirit.
Many know that as Christians we are commanded to preach the Gospel to the World through The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). Jesus gave us this instruction too shortly before His ascension into heaven, but there was more to Jesus’ instructions than ‘Go preach…’
Here in the opening verses of the book of Acts we see Jesus clear instructions to His disciples to WAIT before they GO!
Now some have used this to teach a doctrine of ‘tarrying’ (waiting) to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and some people have ‘tarried’ for years. This is not the point Jesus was getting at.
They were waiting for the Holy Spirit to be poured out for the first time, ever since then He has been poured out, so no one has to wait any longer to receive the Holy Spirit, but the principle we see from Jesus here is that He told His disciples:
You are to ‘go’, but don’t go without the Holy Spirit!
Jesus says, ‘Yes you are to go and preach, but you are not to go alone, or in your own strength or power!’ Many get so eager with the instruction ‘Go’ that they just rush out improperly equipped for the task and end up being very unsuccessful.
God is as much interested in people being EQUIPPED to go as He is in them actually going!
:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
2 Timothy 3:16
:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Disciples had a task to do, but they were not yet totally ready. Yes, they had been through about 3 years of ‘one on one’ training with Jesus, but Jesus says, ‘There is one more thing you need if you are going to reach the world with this gospel message…’. He said, ‘You are to wait for the Holy Spirit’
I believe in this we can see Jesus telling them that they would not be able to get this task done without the Holy Spirit, He is an essential part of their success.
Don’t even try to do this job without the Holy Spirit, take the time to get properly equipped and you will be more successful.
Although The Book of Acts is commonly called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’ it should probably more accurately be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the church’ because without the Holy Spirit there would have been no ‘acts’ occurring through the Apostles!
The Apostles never walked in power because they were anyone special in and of themselves, they had power because they had the Holy Spirit and yielded to Him. [pullquote]they had power because they had the Holy Spirit and yielded to Him.[/pullquote]
The Holy Spirit is essential in the life of a Christian. The Word of God shows this.
The Holy Spirit is not a ‘side issue’ nor a ‘non essential subject’. Rather it is vital that every Christian have a thorough understanding of who the Holy Spirit is and how He is to be involved in our lives.
The benefits available to the Christian who understands the Holy Spirit and what He offers our lives are well worth finding out about and walking in!
This was not the first time that the disciples had heard Jesus speak of the Holy Spirit.
Especially in His last few days before going to the cross, Jesus had spent a large amount of time talking to them about the Holy Spirit. Jesus placed a strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and took the time to teach His disciples about who He is and what He will do in our lives.
It is important that we do not neglect to find out why Jesus wanted us to know about the Holy Spirit.
If He was not important, then why did Jesus make such a point of telling them to wait and not go until they got the Holy Spirit?
If they needed the Holy Spirit then, do we today need Him any less? I do not believe so!
In truth, Jesus was telling the disciples to do exactly what He did. When Jesus Himself first started ministry He took the time to receive the Holy Spirit before entering His ministry, and it was this anointing of power that He received that enabled Him to perform miracles and heal the sick. [pullquote]If they needed the Holy Spirit then, do we today need Him any less?[/pullquote]
:21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
:22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
:23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,
Verse 23 starts, ‘Now Jesus began His ministry…’
In other words, He took the time to make sure He received the Holy Spirit before stepping out any further.
:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
If Jesus and the disciples needed the Holy Spirit, can we neglect Him in our lives today?
Not if we want to get the same kinds of results they got!
I believe Jesus and the early church are good examples to follow. They got results. They knew how to get people healed, they had the miraculous flowing through their lives. They knew how to follow God and His leadings in their lives. They knew how to make Spirit Led decisions and to fulfil the plans and purposes of God for their lives.
So any key that they took advantage of is well worth us understanding if we want to follow their examples. The Holy Spirit is shown in the Word of God to be vital in the lives of both Jesus and His disciples.
The effects of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life were immediately evident from the time He received as He entered a supernatural ministry with miracles and healings following.
The same was true for the Apostles who’s lives were completely transformed on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
Miraculous healings began to occur immediately through them as the Holy Spirit’s power manifested.
Peter, quoting Joel, spoke of the outpouring of God’s Spirit, resulting in the supernatural occurring in people’s lives:
:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
:18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
:19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
Even a study of the Old Testament will show how people’s lives were transformed by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
God took ordinary men, anointed them with His Spirit and transformed them into mighty Prophets of God. The Spirit of God would come upon these men and enable them to accomplish things not possible to mere natural man.
Some people believe that God stopped doing miracles after the first couple of centuries of the church.
We as humans love to blame God when things don’t go the way we think they should. I am however convinced that the problem was not on God’s side. It was not God who stopped doing the miracles, rather there was a lack of humans who knew how to yield to and flow with The Holy Spirit to enable Him to do through them what He wants to do.
If people today will learn to yield to the Holy Spirit and tap into the resources that He brings into our lives, we too can begin to experience and walk in the amazing benefits God has made available to us through His Holy Spirit in our lives.
There is a direct Bible connection between the Holy Spirit and the supernatural manifestation of God’s power.
There is a supernatural demonstration of the Holy Spirit and people who learn to yield to the Holy Spirit will begin to experience Him and what He offers.
1 Corinthians 2:4
:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Lets take the time now to study what the Word of God teaches us about this Holy Spirit – who He is and His role in our lives today. However we don’t just want to get ‘information’. Our goal is not primarily about getting knowledge.
You can have information and knowledge yet have no experience of God in your life at all.
Getting knowledge is a good start but if that is all you get, you are missing the point. That knowledge has to become something you walk in, something you apply in your life to a point that it affects and changes you.
Just because someone can quote to you all the technicalities of the Bible does not mean they know God. Knowing Who the Holy Spirit is and all the Bible emblems and symbols for the Holy Spirit will not change you life unless you begin to walk in these truths and apply them.
The Holy Spirit is not just a Being to be studied! He is A Person we are to relate to, commune with and experience.
We can get to know Him. Those who get to know Him and relate to Him are the ones who will begin to experience the benefits He brings into our lives.
2 Corinthians 13:14
:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
This verse is commonly quoted in many churches to end services, but it is not just a nice phrase, or comforting words. There is powerful truth contained in these words that many miss.
The word ‘communion’ is the Greek ‘koinonia’ meaning:
participation, or (social) intercourse, communicate, communion, fellowship, intimacy
(for full definition see Strongs or Thayer’s)
The same word is used in the Bible to speak of fellowship between Christians and our fellowship with Jesus and the Father. See 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3-9
Not only are we to fellowship with The Father and Jesus, but we are to fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
There is communication, intimacy and fellowship that should occur between the believer and the Holy Spirit. There are things the Holy Spirit wants to share and communicate with you, but if you never take the time to get them from Him, you can go without.
So we are not just after information, we are after interaction
This article is not just about getting more knowledge, but rather about taking that knowledge, applying it into your life to a place where you begin to develop fellowship, communion and communication with the Holy Spirit in your daily life.
Then you will begin to experience the many wonderful benefits that He has to offer in your life.
The church world is often so filled with different beliefs on subjects, and the Holy Spirit is no exception. There are those who believe the Holy Spirit is no longer for us today, or that He is only for some Christians. Some believe the Holy Spirit is just a force, an inanimate power, referring to Him as ‘it’.
However as with any Bible subject our primary interest is not ‘what is commonly taught’ or ‘what does everybody think’ or even ‘What do theologians say’. Our number one interest with any subject within Christianity should be: What does the Bible say?
The Bible is our foundation for all doctrine and also the final authority on all subjects. No theologian, preacher, minister or anyone for that matter, has the right to change God’s message; and no matter what anyone teaches, what we should all be interested in as Christians is: Does it line up with the Word of God?
If it does, good; but if it does not, then we are under no obligation to believe or accept it within the church – no matter who said it.
Just because some thing ‘sounds good’ or sounds spiritual does not make it true. What makes it true is that it is in line with THE truth.
People have a way of saying things and making them sound spiritual (even things that are not true), and we as Christians need to have more sense than to just swallow everything.
Check out the Word of God and find out if it is in there.
Following God is not a matter of, ‘this is my opinion and that is your opinion’ but rather a matter of, ‘what is truth’?
Truth is found in the Word of God. The truth about the Holy Spirit, who He is and what He does today is found in the Bible. This is what we are interested in. Our foundation and final authority is the Bible, The Word of God.
There are always those who like to prioritise Bible subjects and even try to minimise the importance of some subjects.
This has been done with the Holy Spirit.
Some people have tried to indicate that we do not really need to emphasise the Holy Spirit, and they criticise those who do. Some have tried to say that Bible truths like the Baptism in the Holy Spirit are not important and that we can quite adequately get by as Christians without this experience.
I do not believe this is so.
You can certainly get saved and go to heaven without having the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but once saved, there is nothing in the Bible to show in any way that you should continue the Christian life WITHOUT receiving the Baptism in the Spirit.
A study of the book of Acts will quickly show that the early church placed a very high importance upon the Holy Spirit and the Baptism in the Spirit, which we will show when we study that topic in other articles on this subject.
Some Christians place little importance in their own lives upon learning about the Holy Spirit, thinking that it is not important that they know about Him. In light of this, let me mention some of the major reasons why this subject is so important, some of which we will go into more depth in other articles:
Why is it important to study the Holy Spirit?
1) The Bible talks about Him
– so anyone who wants to study and understand the Bible needs to take the time to study this subject
2) Jesus Himself placed a priority upon the Holy Spirit
He took time to show His relevance to the life of the believer after Jesus ascended into heaven, including saying that it is to our advantage to have the Holy Spirit with us instead of Jesus physically on the earth with us! (John 16:7)
3) The Apostles and early church emphasised the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives and the life of the church
4) He is God
He is a member of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and as such, any studying of God and our relationship with Him needs to include an understanding of the Holy Spirit
5) The Holy Spirit plays an important role in the life of the Christian, including:
He leads us (Romans 8:14)
He bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God
He dwells with us and within us (John 14:17; Romans 8:11)
We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
He is our Helper (John 14:16)
He guides us into all truth (John 16:13)
He tells us things to come (John 16:13)
He declares to us the things of Jesus (John 16:14-15)
He helps us in prayer (Romans 8:26)
He enables us to know the things freely given to us by God
(1 Corinthians 2:12)
6) Anointing, Power, The Glory of God are all terms that reference the Holy Spirit
To understand these subjects we need to understand the Holy Spirit.
In order to fulfil the Great Commission given to the Church we need to be equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit.
This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.
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