Let’s re-cap for a moment the story thus far… Jesus spoke to the disciples just before His ascension, ‘wait for the Promise’! Then the promised Holy Spirit came with a remarkable manifestation of joy & power which resulted in a boldness in the disciples that catapulted them onto Jesus’ mandate and mission for their lives.
Peter preaches the first sermon and 3000 people put their faith in Jesus on that first day! The new community formed through the Gospel is a radical one which starts sharing life and possessions and devotes themselves to God in prayer and to one another.
In the days that follow, Peter and John then meet a paralysed man begging at the temple. However, rather than meeting his financial need they decide to give him the very best that they have to give – faith in Jesus! They pray for him and this man crippled for 40yrs is instantly healed in public which creates a crowd and a context for Peter to preach again about who Jesus is and what God did through Jesus on the cross in fulfilment of myriads of Old Testament prophecy.
All the commotion, the big crowds and the multitudes professing faith in Jesus (now about 5000 men so more like 10 000-15 000 women children!) raised the ire of the Jewish religious authorities who subsequently arrest Peter and John.
The next day they are hauled before the council and questioned about under what authority are they acting – Peter full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8) stands up and preaches again proclaiming with razor sharp clarity the Gospel crescendoing with;
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The Jewish council are dumbstruck! They remark at the incredible boldness and clarity of these everyday men, who are unlearned fishermen and yet proclaiming with clarity and boldness regarding the Scriptures. They can’t deny the miracle of the healing of the crippled man standing before their eyes and witnessed by the multitudes. But they want to shut this movement down and so call Peter and John in again and try to intimidate them commanding them to stop speaking about Jesus as if He was Messiah and in authority.
Peter and John boldly refuse to be shut down, and so reply to this command saying effectively; ‘you decide whether we should obey you or obey God! We cannot stop speaking about Jesus and all we have seen and heard!’
The council threatened them again and then had to let them go because the multitude was praising God for this miracle God had done.
It’s so important to hear the assessment of the Jewish council, Peter and John were ordinary men! However they had been ‘with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13) and we know that they were now also filled with the power of the Holy Spirit & full of faith in Jesus. Incredible things are possible if we will walk closely with Jesus in our daily lives, if we will be full of faith in the power of the name of Jesus and if we will be continuously full of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit!
- What’s God saying to YOU through this passage?
- What are you going to PRAY for as a result?
- What do you want to START doing more of?
- Is there anything you feel you need to STOP?
The Holy Spirit has been poured out on those disciples who were waiting and praying as Jesus had commanded them to (Acts 2:1-13), the resultant worship and joy has drawn a crowd of people some of whom are in amazement and some are mocking…
Someone needs to say something! Peter, full of the Holy Spirit stands up and impromptu preaches the first message in the history of the church of Jesus Christ.
He addresses those present, addresses their questions coming from what they have observed (vs15 & 22-24), he draws on OT biblical texts (vs17-21, 25-28 & 34-35) to teach and to convict of sin (vs23) and to motivate them to respond, giving them hope of what God’s response will be (vs38-39).
Many in the crowd are ‘cut to the heart’ (vs37) by listening to Peter’s preaching and as a result they want to respond and so exclaim; “what shall we do then”? (vs37)
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
They asked; “what shall we do?” and Peter’s response is that they should;
- Repent (be contrite & acknowledge your sin before God & then turn from it)
- Receive forgiveness (ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin and then receive His forgiveness)
- Receive the Holy Spirit (having been cleansed of sin, be filled with the Holy Spirit and His new life)
- Be baptised in water (make an outward demonstration of the inward step of faith you’ve made)
And then those who did these 4 things, get added to the local church community. The Gospel saves individuals but joins them to a family of faith! There is no such thing as Christianity outside of local church community.
Questions for application
- Have you responded with faith in Jesus to the good news of the Gospel?
- Have you truly received forgiveness and received the in-filling of the Holy Spirit as a believer?
- Have you been baptised in water yet or do you need to still take that step declaring your faith?
- Have you added yourself, joined a local church community as a committed member? What’s stopping you?
Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until ‘the promise of the Father’ (Acts 1:4-5) and so they did. Devoting themselves to prayer together and then suddenly one day, Luke records that there was an experience that was quite unexpected and without precedent.
A sound, a roar came from heaven and was heard in the room they were in. A supernatural unusual breeze entered the room, followed by a physical manifestation of flames of fire that rested on each one of them. Something was happening and they all knew it. How long did it take for someone or all to recollect Jesus’ words and conclude that surely this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had spoken of and promised just days before.
The resulting impact of this sound, this wind and these supernatural flames was that everyone there was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in supernatural languages as the Holy Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-5).
I love it that we had a medical doctor on the scene to describe in detail what was happening! At this point we don’t know what they were saying, but we know that they were saying it rather loudly. So loudly that the sounds emanating from the room gathered a crowd, devout Jewish people from all over the known world (who were dwelling in Jerusalem). And what did they hear? Babbling, craziness?
No, rather these who gathered to the sound of the disciples speaking in tongues exclaimed;
“…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:11-12)
Not everyone was amazed though, some seemingly didn’t hear praise but simply assumed that these disciples, who has been filled with the Holy Spirit, had in fact just probably had too much wine to drink, that had gone to their heads and mocked them. (vs13)
- The big question is the one the devout men asked; “What does this mean?” What did it mean then, what does this mean now for you and for me?
- This was the moment of the fulfilment of OT promises (Joel 2:28-32)
- Jesus is faithful and trustworthy ( John 7:37-39, John 14-16 & Acts 1:4-5)
- The outpouring or in-filling of the Holy Spirit was tangible/experiential
- It is possible to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ & it’s urged in Scripture (Ephesians 5:18)
- The gift of speaking in tongues was not learnt but a spontaneous initial sign of in-filling by the Spirit
- The content of speaking in tongues (recorded in Acts 2) was worship to God in a multitude of earthly languages
- The impact of the in-filling of the Spirit was joy & merriment that could even be confused with drunkenness
- The impact of the in-filling of the Spirit was unity amongst believers. A united experience of God’s presence and power, a united explosion of worship and a united multi-cultural witness about the glory of God.
Jesus explained at length this anticipated moment, and the ongoing life/help that the Holy Spirit would bring (John 14-16), this life and help is the birthright of every believer in Jesus (Romans 8:9-11).
So, if you have believed in Jesus, this remarkable moment in church history ought not be a mere exception, but a historical account of a move of the Holy Spirit that should provoke you to ask God for His in-filling in your life, in your church.
Lord, would you move again in power, Holy Spirit would you fill your people again with power, provoking extravagant worship and power for mission for the sake of Jesus’ great name and glory!
And if youhave not been filled with the Holy Spirit, or if you feel like you need to be filled again – then simplly pray and ask God the Holy Spirit to fill you now, again and again.
Picture the scene, the disciples (who by now are a core group of 120 men women and children, no more than an average size small church) have had a wild, exhilarating & challenging last three years with Jesus leading them. So much has happened!
Jesus taught and performed countless miracles, engaged with countless people but then dies at the hands of the Romans on the cross but then rises again from the dead as He promised He would! Jesus then re-appears to them at many times and in many ways over a remarkable period of 40days after his death & resurrection and before His ascension into heaven (vs3). Who would have missed out on those meetings?
During this time Jesus kept telling them about his kingdom. Telling them what His kingdom was like, what people who have Him as their king are like, what a community of people with Jesus as their king are like, how Jesus wants them to take His kingdom rule and reign and invade the known world setting people free from the kingdom of darkness and bringing them into His gloriously good kingdom characterised by grace & love, healing and wholeness, joy and peace with God.
At one time Jesus draws them all in and tells them all to;
‘wait for the Promise of the Father…John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’ (vs4-5).
And after some questioning from those gathered which just reveals how little they were getting at the time Jesus carries on with what He was saying;
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (vs8)
Something had been promised by Jesus (see John 14-16) and by the Father (Joel 2:28-32) that was about to happen, to be fulfilled! The disciples were instructed to wait for it. They were not to proceed until they had been totally filled to overflowing with the presence and the activating power of the Holy Spirit.
That in-filling of power from God would activate them as Jesus’ agents in the world, sent by Him to bring His kingdom to all those they met right there in Jerusalem, in the surrounding regions too and ultimately to the very ends of the earth! (vs8)
This book we’re reading in July/August is the eyewitness account of what those 120 did once they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and as they obeyed Jesus command to be His witnesses to the world.
So what relevance does this have for you and for me?
Ask: You have been walking with Jesus, you have put your faith in Jesus like they had. They were told to wait until they had received an out-pouring of Holy Spirit power on their lives that would activate and enable them to be Jesus’ agents in the world! Have you prayed and asked God to fill you with His Holy Spirit so that you too can be activated for God’s mission through you? Pray now, ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit for power to be an agent of Jesus’ today.
Consider: This book is not some nice church history, some nice stories of the early church. This book is not meant to be exceptional but rather an example of what God wants our lives and our church to be like and to do for God in our day. There were just 120 in that room listening to Jesus, no more than most little local churches but consider what God did through them!
Pray: Oh, Lord do it again through us, through me! Fill us, fill me with your Holy Spirit, with Your power and glory and send us, send me out on Your mission to the world.
Jesus is at the Passover Feast and He stands up and cries out;
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
What is Jesus referring to?
We don’t need to speculate because John tell’s us in vs39 that Jesus was speaking about the Spirit those who believed were about to receive once Jesus had been glorified. Jesus was speaking of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which we can read of again being promised in Luke 24:49 and then can read about being poured out in Acts 1-2.
But what is ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’?
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a personal encounter with the person of the Holy Spirit, who then gives us spiritual gifts to equip us to witness effectively, to break with sin and to enable us for life and godliness.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is:
- A promise to be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49)
- A gift (Acts 1:4-5)
- Experiential (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 8:18, Acts 10:44)
- Allowing yourself to be totally immersed in God (meaning of the word – baptised)
- Power from on high for service to God (Luke 24:49 & Acts 1:8)
- Enabling power for life and for godliness (2 Peter 1:3)
- Most often evidenced by the receiving of the gift of tongues (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19)
Jesus told the disciples to wait until they had received power from on high (Luke 24)
Clearly Jesus thought that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was essential because in John 16:5-11 he told the disciples; ‘it is to your advantage that I go…because then the Helper will come” And who doesn’t need help?
Different Groups of people with regard to the baptism in the Spirit
- Those who are longing to be filled (Acts 2) spoke in tongues praising God
- Those who were receptive (Acts 8:14-19). These were Christians who had a second experience unclear what happened but was ‘wow!’ enough for Simon to want to buy it
- Those who are hostile – Saul (Romans 8:1-3, 9:1-2 & then was filled with the Holy Spirit 9:17-18) 2nd experience spoke in tongues as a result of this encounter
- Those who were unlikely (it’s for all), Gentiles (Acts 10-11) spoke in tongues praising God
- Those who were unaware previously but grew in faith by hearing (Acts 19:1-6)spoke in tongues and prophesied
How do I get baptised in the Holy Spirit?
- Believe in Jesus (John 7:38)
- Look to Jesus he is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33)…
- Thirst/desire the baptism of the Spirit (John 7:37)
- Ask God for the baptism of the Spirit (Luke 11:9-13)
- Receive/drink (John 7:37-38 see ESV footnote) have your thirst satisfied by the Holy Spirit
But is baptism in the Holy Spirit a second experience – do we not receive the Spirit at salvation?
Well the answer is, ‘yes and yes’. As PJ Smyth says;
“Just as it is biblically indefensible to underplay the receipt of the Spirit at conversion, so also is it to underplay the on-going receipt of the Spirit after conversion…Importantly, whether or not you claim a major ‘baptism in the Spirit’ experience or not, you must remain in on-going pursuit of the Spirit, because scripture speaks of ‘fillings’ of the Spirit post both conversion, and, depending on your interpretation, post a major ‘baptism of the Spirit’ experience that followed conversion.”
Way too much time has been wasted haggling over when we get filled with the Holy Spirit, what is far more important is that we are continually filled with the Spirit so as to bear fruit as Jesus’ words ring in our ears; “apart from me you can do nothing”.
We need to be continually filled with the Spirit in order to live the Christian life, therefore we believe in and anticipate an infilling of the Spirit at conversion (which can’t happen without the work of the Spirit) and also anticipate subsequent in-fillings of the Spirit that are real and tangible as recorded in the book of Acts.
So, keep being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) so that you might be full of the life of God (John 7:37-38)!
Psalm 84 was written in the era of the old covenant when God’s presence was tied to a place but now in this era of Jesus having come, the temple curtain having been torn and the Holy Spirit having been sent by the risen Christ this is my re-mix version of the Psalm especially in the light of John 1:1-14 & 1 Corinthians 6:19. Original in italics, remix in bold.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
How special & privileged are all people in whom Your Spirit dwells now, God almighty!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;
My soul longs for, yes even despairs when I am not intimate with You Father;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
My heart, my whole being responds to your tangible presence, God who is alive in me.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even sparrows have a place they belong, & swallows a place of safety for bearing young
at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. In Your presence O God almighty
They’re in Your presence continually almighty God, my King and my God
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those who live aware of your presence, they will always be worshipping You!
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
those whose hearts are set on eternity with You now and forever.
6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
Because You’re with them, even in them, even desolate hard times & places can be transformed into times & places full of the life of God & refreshing;
7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
Those who walk with You and with You in them are getting stronger each day until each one appears in glory in Your glorious presence at Your appearing at the end of the age.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
God almighty, Father God, God of covenant promises please hear my prayer now.
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
I speak to myself saying; ‘Behold your defender, God with you’. Father please see me now.
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
Father God, better is one day with You, in your presence, having You within me than thousands elsewhere far from You.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
The allure of the world has no allure for me I am content to know You, to know Your presence to know I am your child, I don’t need fame or fortune when I have You.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.
God You’re the One who gives me life, You’re my protector, You bless me again and again and care about my honour.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
God, You are better than I could have ever imagined, more gracious, loving, generous & kind towards those who have put their faith in You.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
God almighty, blessed is anyone who puts their trust in You!
What are God’s ‘precious and very great promises’ Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:1-4? After all they seem to contain incredible life transforming power as Peter says that “through them you might become partakers of the divine nature”! So, what are the promises that Peter might have had in mind?
Maybe Peter was thinking of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and of Jesus as the promised Messiah that he referenced in his sermon at Pentecost… (Acts 2)
That seems likely as it would also fit the textual context here in 2 Peter 1 as he has just said that God’s ‘divine power’, has given us ‘everything we need for life and godliness’ (NIV). God’s power is not some impersonal force in Scripture, rather Peter is in all likelihood referring to the person of the Holy Spirit whom John also describes as our “Helper” (See John 14-16 in ESV)!
So, with the precious and very great promise of new life through faith in Christ Jesus as Messiah, and with the precious and very great promise of divine enabling power by the Spirit who leads us not into sin but into Christliekness (Galatians 5:16-24) as we keep in step with Him and as we are enabled by His power in us…
…we as people CAN share in God’s excellency, in God’s divine nature and character – it’s possible when we are living out our new life in Christ (Galatians 2:20) enabled by and Helped by the Holy Spirit.
So let’s remember these precious and very great promises of new life in Christ and the empowering and guiding the Holy Spirit our Helper, let’s draw on His help and in so doing become more and more like our Father who is in heaven.
By Gareth Bowley