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Acts Introduction

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"THE HOLY SPIRIT"

(A Topical Series on Acts)

I.INTRODUCTION

-                          Historically, wherever the Church of Jesus has experienced revival, there has always been an accompanying renewal in their understanding of and dependence on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

-                          While they did not understand it quite as we do today, D.L.Moody, R.A. Torrey, A.B.Simpson and Andrew Murray all experienced and taught the necessity of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to have power to do the work of the kingdom of God.

-                          They believed and taught that this Spirit baptism was an empowering experience, subsequent to the new birth. R.A. Torrey, an associate of D.L.Moody, wrote, "This baptism with the Holy Spirit is not primarily intended to make believers happy but to make them useful." (The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, p.154.)

-                          As a result of the hunger for God in these men, and their influence, many people, from all over the country, were seeking this baptism in the late 1800's.

-                          These men "of revival" set the stage in America, in the early 1900's, for the famous Azusa Street revivals in 1906 where this Baptism in the Holy Spirit was accompanied by speaking in tongues and the other gifts of the Spirit.

-                          This "Azusa Street" phenomenon was not new. The gifts of the Spirit have, since the day of Pentecost, always been in operation amongst some group of believers somewhere in the world (Documented by the doctoral dissertation of Edith Blumhofer, Harvard University).  But since 1906 there has been a growing world-wide resurgence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

II. THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

-                          The person of the Holy Spirit is literally "God at work" in the world.

-                          All through the history of time God has worked in the lives of individuals through the person of the Holy Spirit. (Zechariah 4:6) He is God's method for accomplishing His purposes among men on the earth.

                           " So he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty."

-                          In the Old Testament God filled individuals with His Spirit to fulfill specific tasks in specific times.

*                          For guidance in practical tasks, like Bezalel's building of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:3).

                           ".......and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts--to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship."

*                          For equipping His chosen servants for leadership, like king Saul......Samuel prophecied,

                           "The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." (I Samuel 10:6&7)

*                          Once when Saul got word that the enemy, Ammonites had ridiculed and threatened the people of God, it reads,

                           " When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power......."  And he mustered a mighty army against the Ammonites and routed them in battle. (I Samuel 11:6)

*                          When it was time for Saul to be replaced as king over Israel, it says,

                           "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power." (I Samuel 16:13)

*                          When it comes to explaining how we have received the scriptures that we live by, Peter writes,

                           "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (II Peter 1:21)

-                          We need the Holy Spirit to be effective in living the Christian life.

-                          We need the Holy Spirit power to be effective in fighting the enemy.

-                          We need the Holy Spirit anointing in power to be able to obey the Word of God and the voice of God in our lives.

III. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

-                          "But, Pastor," you say, "I am not a king Saul, or a David. How can I get this kind of Holy Spirit power in my life?"

-                          The difference between the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, where He enabled isolated individuals to do supernatural exploits, and His work in the New Testament, was foretold by several Old Testament prophets.

-                          This baptism in the Holy Spirit that we are going to be studying in the next few Sunday nights, from the book of Acts, is really something that God prophecied in several places in the Old Testament.

-                          That is where the root of the promise start.

-                          Isaiah, prophecied,

                           "This is what the Lord says-- he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." (Isaiah 44:2&3)

-                          Ezekiel prophecied,

                           "I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord." (Ezekiel 39:29)

-                          Then, finally, the promise of the prophet Joel that Peter quoted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost,

                           "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:28)

-                          This is the most significant difference between His work in the Old Testament and the New Testament......being poured out upon "all flesh". With the exception of "tongues" all of the other "manifestations" of the Spirit, like healing, prophecy, faith, knowledge can be found in the Old Testament.....however that you find them in isolated, rare ocassions.

IV. JESUS' PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT IN THE GOSPELS

-                          During His ministry on the earth, Jesus kept promising this "outpouring of the Spirit" that would come as a promised gift from His Father.

                           "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (LUKE 11:13)

                           "'Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:38&39)

                           "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:16&17)

-                          At the time of His ascension, Jesus instructed the 120 disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He "sent forth the promise of the Father"........the "baptism with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4&5) Please note that this promised baptism was given to disciples in Acts 2 who had already "received" the Holy Spirit as a seal of their salvation when Jesus breathed on them in John 20:22.

-                          Following Jesus' ascension then, the disciples received this "outpouring" of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. This experience was what Jesus Himself had called the baptism of the Spirit. (Acts 1:5)

-                          In Acts 2:39 Peter says that this "gift" is for all generations to come. By experience it became the normative experience for all believers in the church in Acts.......which has been born out in church history as still available to "all flesh" in our age.

IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ALL BELIEVERS

-                          Every born again believer is born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5&6; Eph. 1:13) and becomes the residence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; I Cor.3:16; 6:19). The terminology that we use for this work of the Holy Spirit, relative to salvation, is His indwelling.

-                          What happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was NOT the experience of new birth. After Jesus had purchased the free gift of salvation by His death and resurrection He then sealed this work in the lives of His disciples by saying to them "Receive the Holy Spirit" and He breathed on them (John 20:22). This happened before they experienced their Pentecost in Acts 2.

-                          What happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost was the baptising work of the same indwelling Holy Spirit, in addition to new birth. It was a baptism.......an immersion.......a saturation to the point of overflowing in the presence and power of God. That is what the word "baptism" means. (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 11:16,17)

-                          It happened to them just days after Jesus had told them that they would indeed be baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).

-                          Holy Spirit baptism does not mean that the believer somehow receives quantitatively more of the Spirit than  he had before......as if He could be divided up proportionately and given out. It is best described in the terms of a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit;

*                          When a husband and wife leave the marriage altar they will never belong to each other any more than they do at that moment. They have all of each other right then.

*                          Assuming good communication over the next 25 years, however, they will love each other in a far deeper way and with more intensity than that day at the altar. Their relationship becomes more intense with time.

*                          The Holy Spirit is given every believer at new birth. You have all of Him at that point of your spiritual life and He has all of you.

*                          The baptism of the Spirit, in a moment and over a lifetime, deepens, intensifies and heightens that relationship with God like nothing else can do.

V. RECEIVING THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT

-                          The baptism in the Spirit does not depend on atmosphere, tarrying meetings, copying someone elses gibberish syllables or being surrounded by well-meaning cheer leaders.

-                          The Bible says that the basic ingredient for receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is faith.

-                          The focus of the faith must be on Jesus. He is the baptizer. (Eph. 1:3)

-                          There are some conditions, however,  that merit our attention;

*                          New birth is a conditional requirement for the baptism in the Spirit. Your life must be free from sin through faith in Jesus. (Acts 10:44)

*                          Water baptism is neither a condition nor a channel for the baptism in the Spirit. In the book of Acts some received the Spirit baptism before, others after they were baptized in water.

*                          The laying on of hands is not necessary. It appears to be a trigger mechanism for activating faith in some (Acts 8 and 19), but others received without it.

*                          Tarrying for hours or days is not a necessary requirement. The 120 in the upper room were simply prayerfully waiting for God's timetable to coincide with the day of Pentecost.

*                          It is God's will that all believers receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The early church leaders just expected that all would receive the gift of the Spirit. (Acts 19, Galatians 3:2-5)

*                          The Holy Spirit is given to those who are committed to pleasing God through faith and obedience. Obedience precedes the Spirit baptizing experiences of Acts. Cornelius called for Peter, the Ephesians were baptized in water by Paul, the 120 devoted themselves to prayer.

*                          Prayer is the essential ingredient for the atmosphere within which Jesus baptizes His children in the Spirit.

*                          An attitude of expectancy, springing from faith.

*                          Surrender to the plan and timing and sovereignty of God is an important attitude while you are waiting to receive the gift.

*                          Praise is the fuel that keeps the heart on fire for God.

VI.CONCLUSION

-                          We must never forget that the Holy Spirit is a person and that the baptism is not an "experience" that we should be seeking but a deepened "relationship" with God through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

-                          The Holy Spirit is a person.  He is not an inanimate, impersonal force.  He is God.

-                          Let us never deify experience and become guilty of pentecostal idolatry.  We need to be hungry for God.  We need to be hungry for righteousness.  We need to grow in grace and in the Word.  We need to love more.  We need to work more in the harvest field.  We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

-                          The reason for the powerlessness of the contemporary church is that she has denied and ignored the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

-                          We need a renewed hunger, from God, to see all believers receive this empowering gift from God.

-                          This baptism, however, cannot be a source of self-righteousness or pride or elevation above our brethren.  The very fact that we need the baptism is proof of our personal inadequacy and weakness.  The reason we need this baptism is that without His power we are nothing.

-                          The baptism of the Holy Spirit should bring us to our knees and cause us to be servants rather than to puff us up with pride.  Let us ask God for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit on our church, in the life of every believer, so that we can be all that He wants us to be.

JESUS, YOU'RE THE CENTER OF MY JOY

 

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