The Spirit’s Power
The Holy Spirit is given to us so that God’s people may bring God’s word to God’s world.
Without the Spirit, the events of the book of Acts—which tells the story of the gospel expanding, with Jesus’ disciples hitting the streets of Jerusalem proclaiming the message of the risen Christ—could not have happened. After all, a few weeks previously, these same disciples had been hiding behind closed doors, a frightened little group mourning their crucified King. What accounts for their sudden transformation?
The answer is found in Jesus’ triumph over the grave and the promise He gave to His disciples—the promise of His Holy Spirit to enable and empower them. This promise was coupled with a command: Jesus’ followers were to go into all the world and preach the good news.
Before the disciples went out with enthusiasm, Jesus sharpened their focus. They had not yet grasped the fact that His concern was not limited to Israel but was for all people everywhere. (And it would take them some time more to fully appreciate this truth: see Acts 10:1 – 11:18.) Jesus therefore commanded His followers to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Following Jesus’ ascension, the Holy Spirit descended upon His followers, just as Jesus had promised—and then the great story of the spread of the church throughout the known world began. That is a story that has not yet finished, and it includes every believer as the gospel continues to be preached all around this world.
If you are in Christ, you possess this very same Spirit, and you are enabled by His power to spread the truth about Jesus throughout the world. The Spirit wasn’t given so that you and I could sit around and tell other Christians about our spiritual experiences. Rather, we are to use our gifts and talents to take the gospel to the nations. For some of us, that means going overseas on mission. For others, it means crossing our street or our city, as part of that same mission.
God calls you to love and serve even those with whom you share no common earthly citizenship. He calls you to cross divides and come alongside those to whom you would naturally be indifferent, or even those who live in enmity towards you. But He does not call you to summon up the love and courage that that requires. No—we must be transformed by a power outside of ourselves, and that is what Jesus promised and what the Spirit provides. So ask God to pour out His Spirit afresh in your life today, that you may proclaim the good news with courage and zeal.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
1In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
4And while staying1 with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with2 the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8But 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.” 9And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
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