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[Lesson 1] A Fiery Beginning

(Acts 1:1-2:47)

A.D. 30

A beginning. Something that comes first. We value firsts—being first in line, having a first edition of a book, going to see a movie on the first day of its release. Acts is also a book of firsts, most notably the birth of a new creation on earth, something that never existed before. No one before that day experienced a permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit uniting believers together across all geographic and social boundaries. This happened on the day we call Pentecost when the Church as the body of Christ was born.

The Holy Spirit is the main character dominating the entire book of Acts. He is actively involved in all the firsts. He authors the first gospel message given through Peter. He is the first gift we receive when we accept that gospel message and trust in Jesus Christ as the only way to have a relationship with God who made us. And, He initiates the first response to that gift—spontaneous praise of God erupting from the hearts of those who now have the Spirit inside. A fiery beginning, indeed! What a thrilling, unforgettable experience!!

Read Acts 1:1-2:47 in one sitting to get the whole picture. As you do, read it freshly—as for the first time (try using different translations). Pray that God would open your heart to the truths He has for you from this text.

Day One Study

Read Acts 1:1-11.              

1. In vv. 1-3, how does the author introduce this book? Refer back to Luke 1:1-4. What confidence do you have that what you will be studying is trustworthy information? See Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24 to learn more about the author.

2. To what convincing proofs were the disciples a witness? See Matthew 28:8-10; Luke 24:13-43; and John 20:24-28: 21:1-14. Also, read 1 Corinthians 15:5-7.

Deeper Discoveries: Read all of Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21 for more information about Jesus’ resurrection appearances to His followers.

3. What were Jesus’ instructions to His disciples (Acts 1:4-5)? See also Luke 24:44-48. What were His promises? See also Luke 3:16 and John 14:15-17; 16:7-15.

Focus on the Meaning: The word translated “baptized” came from the process for “dyeing” cloth. It didn’t matter if the cloth was sprayed, dipped, or immersed. The significance was taking on the identity of the dye. For us, the Spirit does the dyeing—with Jesus. We are dyed with Christ. Water baptism is a picture of what the Spirit does to us. John baptized with water; Jesus baptizes with the Spirit—much more significant and with far greater effects. See Romans 6.

4. What do the angels promise to them and to us?

Deeper Discoveries: Using a concordance, research references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. What was He doing? Who experienced His presence? What was promised about Him? Summarize what you learn.

Read Acts 1:12-26.

5. Who is gathered together during the waiting time? What were they doing on a daily basis?

Historical Insight: The practice of “casting lots” was common in the Old Testament (Proverbs 16:33), but this is the only time the Apostles did this in the New Testament. The name of each candidate was written on a stone that was placed in a vessel and shaken. The first to fall out obtained the office. (Sue Edwards, Acts of the Holy Spirit, p. 6)

6. Share Your Life: Have you ever prayed with others toward a common goal? If so, describe the experience. How do you feel about praying together with your group?

In this first chapter, three key elements of the book of Acts are introduced: 1) the emphasis on the many witnesses to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; 2) the Holy Spirit’s guiding and empowering believers, and 3) the dependent hearts of those same believers as they prayed. Keep these elements in mind as you work through the study.

Day Two Study

Read Acts 2:1-13.

In addition to the Sabbath, God ordained annual feasts which all Jewish men were required to attend (Leviticus 23), grouped together so as to require only 3 pilgrimages. The first one included Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits in early spring. The Feast of Weeks took place in the summer. And the last one, including the feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, took place in the fall (Deuteronomy 16).

At the Feast of Firstfruits, celebrated on the Sunday during the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, each family offered thanks for God’s provision with the first of their barley harvest. Seven weeks later, at the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest, came the Feast of Weeks when another offering was given—a thanksgiving for God’s bounty (Leviticus 23:15-22). This festival later came to be known by its Greek name, Pentecost (pent means 50), because it occurred fifty days after Passover.

Since Jesus’ resurrection occurred on Firstfruits, the resurrection event is considered to be God’s “firstfruits” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23), and the giving of the Spirit to believers at Pentecost marked the beginning of the rest of the “harvest” which will continue until Christ returns (Joel 2:28a, 32a).

7. Discovering the Facts: When the gift of the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as Jesus promised in Acts 1, there were three kinds of supernatural evidence. Describe each.

§         Audible evidence —

§         Visible evidence —

§         Oral evidence —

8. Considering Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8, what message was conveyed to the believers by the wind blowing from heaven?

From the Greek: The word for “spirit,” pneuma, is related to pnoe, the word translated “wind” in Acts 2:2. It also means “breath.” Breath or wind in the Bible is a symbol for the spirit of God as in Ezek 37:9, 14 and John 3:8. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 357)

9. Read the following verses and draw a conclusion about what the tongues of fire symbolize: Genesis 15:17, Exodus 3:1-6; 13:21-22; 19:18, and Luke 3:16.

10. Read Exodus 40:33-38 and I Kings 7:51; 8:10-11. How did God inaugurate a new temple dedicated to Him in the Old Testament? Now read 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19. Relate this information to what is happening in Acts 2:1-4?

11. Consider the scene in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2:5-13. Who was there? What did they hear (see vv. 6 and 11, stick to the text here)? How did they respond?

Historical Insight: “God-fearing Jews” were devout Jews not native to Israel but from all over the Mediterranean world and the Middle East who were now in Jerusalem either as current residents or as visitors for Pentecost. This group included natural born Jews as well as Gentile converts to Judaism (v. 11).

Think About It: Acts 2:6-7 indicates that the phrase “other languages” were languages understandable to the hearers, a diverse group from “every nation under heaven.” At Babel (Gen. 11:1-11), God separated the people by giving them different languages. At Pentecost, He gave them the Holy Spirit, using those languages to bring the scattered together to hear the gospel, uniting the believers all into God’s kingdom and then scattering them back out to their respective nations to spread the one gospel message in their different languages.

12. Share Your Life: Upon receiving and being filled by the Holy Spirit, the new believers broke out in spontaneous praise of God. According to Ephesians 5:18-20, this is an evident work of the Spirit in someone’s life. When was the last time you broke out in spontaneous praise? What was the occasion? What did you do? How did others respond around you?

Day Three Study

Read Acts 2:14-41.              

13. Discovering the Facts: Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:22-32 included five main points that are repeated in sermons throughout Acts though not necessarily in the same order. This was the basic gospel message shared everywhere. See also 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 which was written about 20 years later. What were these points?

§         (1) vv. 22-23a —

§         (2) v. 23b —

§         (3) v. 24 —

§         (4) v. 32 —

§         (5) v. 38 —

Think About It: This same Peter was the one who denied Jesus three times the night before His crucifixion and hid behind locked doors afterwards. The indwelling Holy Spirit made a huge difference in his life, giving him courage and turning this uneducated fisherman into an effective preacher. That same Holy Spirit can make a difference in your life as you trust Him to work.

14. Peter begins his sermon by declaring to the crowd that God fulfilled part of a prophetic promise (Acts 2:17-18, 21, 33, 38-39). What was the promise? How does Peter relate Joel’s prophecy to what just happened?

15. In Acts 2:25-28, 34-35) Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11 and 110:1, Peter establishes as fact another recently fulfilled prophecy. What was it? Why do you think the crowd needed to be convinced of this?

16. According to Peter, where is Jesus now (2:33a)? What has He just done (2:33b)? Therefore, who is Jesus?

17. At the end of his sermon, what was the audience’s response? What did Peter challenge them to do and promise to them if they did that?

Focus on the Meaning: To convict of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit. The term “repent” is from the Greek metaknoia referring to a change of mind, in this case, a radical change of mind about Jesus—from unbelief to faith. Forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit are two gifts given to those who repent and believe. Baptism, as had been taught by John, is an outward expression of inner repentance.

18. Share Your Life: What conclusion have you drawn about Jesus? Share how your heart responded when you really “heard” and took in this message.

Caring for infants and small children can be demanding and exhausting. The same is true for “baby Christians.” On the day of Pentecost, the Church was born, and suddenly the Twelve Apostles became spiritual parents to 3,000 needy infants, many of whom were not residents of Jerusalem and lacked means of long-term support. The apostles’ dependence was now on the Holy Spirit to guide them daily.

Day Four Study

Read Acts 2:42-47.              

19. Discovering the Facts: From verse 42, list the four priorities of the new church.

20. Why do you think each of those four priorities is important to the life of a healthy church? Should these be the priorities of churches today? Why or why not? (Please do not mention particular denominations or churches in the discussion.)

21. Describe the heart attitude of these new believers and how they lived out their new faith. See also Acts 4:32-35. Relate this to the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit as described in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.

Historical Insight: This practice of caring for one another’s needs wasn’t confined to Jerusalem. Read “Care and Prayer” in The Rest of the Story information at the end of this study.

Deeper Discoveries: For a balanced view of the communal sharing described in Acts 2 and 4, see also 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. What do you see when you combine both passages together? Bring in other Scriptures to support your conclusions.

22. Share Your Life: Are you faithful to a church? If so, what is your heart attitude toward the other believers in your church? Are you spending time with them? Are you praying together with them? This week, ask Jesus to give you the same heart attitude toward them as He did the early Church believers.

Fired Up And Ready For Adventure:

Review the scripture passage covered in this lesson for evidences of the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. What will you ask God to do in your life?

Something’s About To Happen – Lesson 1 Lecture

(psst…life as we’ve known it may never be the same!)

Group Share: What’s the closest you’ve been to a fire, and did something good come out of it?

[Watch the “Pentecost Film” at http://www.mark-berry.co.uk/pentecostfilm.mov.]

{Editor's note-- This was a free 90 second film at this location. It is no longer availabler there and is now a for-pay download at this site: http://proost.co.uk/pentecost}

That video pictured what we are studying this week—the fire of the Spirit displayed at Pentecost with spectacular results. And, your fire stories were truly amazing. And so is what happened last Thursday to those passengers on the jet that landed in the Hudson River. Wow! What really caught my attention was what happened after the captain announced, “Brace for impact because we’re going down.” Some folks screamed; some tucked their heads between their knees. Several asked God to forgive them for their sins. An engaged couple kissed. And, the guy in the exit row took out the instructions to read so he would do it right. What a variety of responses! Everyone knew something was about to happen, and life as they had known it may never be the same. They just didn’t know what.

Have you ever had those moments when you knew something life-changing was about to happen but you didn’t know what? I had one of those recently.

My husband Ron has been writing a book for 3 years. Last year, he signed a publishing contract and finally delivered his book on December 15. It is supposed to be out for all to read in June. I have no idea what that will mean for us, but I know something’s about to happen in our lives, and it will be an adventure. Life as we have known it may never be the same.

That’s how I feel about this study. There is no way any of us will not be affected as we gain a greater understanding of the Spirit’s work in our lives. He’s going to act on that understanding. Something’s about to happen to all of us. And, life as we know it may never be the same.

Open your Bibles to Romans chapter 6. It’s the next book after Acts. We’ll get there in a little bit.

Something’s About To Happen

In Acts 1, Jesus told His disciples to hang out in Jerusalem for a few more days because something promised was about to happen. Do you think they had any idea of the adventure that lay ahead for them? Jesus said, “you will receive power to be my witnesses in Jerusalem—okay, they were already there. In Judea—that would be a little different because they were from Galilee, way up in the northern part of Israel. But, Jesus had had some ministry success in Judea so that would be okay. In Samaria—what could that mean? Okay, those Samaritans were half-Jews. They needed the full deal now. We’ve been there before. Okay. And to the ends of the earth—what?! The ends of the earth. That sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? Have any of you been to the ends of the earth or thought you had? Jesus was telling them, Somethings about to happen, and life as you have known it will never be the same.

On the day of Pentecost, an unmistakable sound like that of a tornado suddenly came and filled the place where 120 Jesus people were sitting. A little bigger than the size of our group here. They saw flames of fire resting on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign languages as the Spirit enabled them.

Breaking out in spontaneous praise to God under the Spirit’s influence was not new. Neither was hearing praises uttered in foreign languages in Jerusalem. During festivals, praises to God in all kinds of Mediterranean and Asian languages were frequently heard around the Temple. But, not uttered by Galileans who usually spoke only Aramaic. Everyone knew Galileans because they had a certain drawl. Like we can recognize people from Boston or Georgia by their accent. Those foreign Jews hanging around the Temple heard their own native languages spoken by those very same Galileans, and they knew something amazing and unusual was happening…but what?

They soon learned that Spirit Baptism occurred. And life as they had known it would never be the same.

Probably no other doctrine of the Holy Spirit has created more confusion than that of Spirit Baptism. That confusion comes from several sources: 1) a lack of understanding of the Spirit’s work in the believer’s life, 2) the expectation of certain experiences to be associated with it, and 3) misinterpretation of our English translations.

Dear women, I do not claim to understand everything related to the works of the Spirit. But, God’s Word is clear about the truths He wants us to know so we can have confidence in what He gives to us. So, let’s discover that. First, what did baptism mean to the people of that day? In other words, based on previous experience, what were those 120 Jesus people expecting? Then, what did they actually receive?

What Were They Expecting?

The Old Testament Jews had used water for cleansing rituals and initiation into special groups. Whenever Gentiles — anyone who wasn’t a Jew — became converts to Judaism, they were ritually “cleansed” by water being poured over them.

So, when the Greeks translated the Hebrew Old Testament 200 years before Jesus, they chose the word baptizo or baptismos to represent this water ritual. Our English word comes from that. Baptizo came from the process for “dyeing” cloth. It didn’t matter if the cloth was sprayed, dipped, or immersed. The significance was taking on the identity of the dye. Keep that in mind.

Just before Jesus, John the Baptist preached baptism accompanied by something new—repentance. Repentance is a change of mind, in this case for the Jews to agree their sin is bad and decide to change their behavior. Baptism is no longer just an outward ritual but now requires an inner commitment to change one’s life. This prepared the way for Jesus who challenged people to not only think about their sin differently, but to think about Him differently—as the Son of God to whom they would commit their lives.

When Jesus taught about Spirit baptism, he used a different word than what the disciples had known for the water cleansing ritual. Jesus chose baptisma, “immersion.” If you think in terms of the dyeing process and taking on the identity of the dye, Spirit baptism means the transforming power of the Holy Spirit creates a permanent change in the believer. We are dyed with Christ. We are immersed into Jesus Christ. Never to come out again. In Acts 1:5, Jesus was telling His disciples, “What you are about to receive will be nothing like water baptism.” Something’s going to happen. And, life as you know it will never be the same.

But, what would that look like? Their understanding of the work of the Spirit was only what they read in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was very active in Israel—coming upon leaders, prophets, and even craftsmen to enable them to do the work that God had chosen for them to do. This was often accompanied by spontaneous praise of God just flowing from their hearts with joy—one of the evidences of His presence. The Spirit spoke to both men and women for all the people to hear God’s word. But, He never lived with them permanently. That was promised for the future.

Jesus promised His disciples that the Spirit would do many of those same things I just described. But, He would do much more than that. He would live in them forever. And, He would change them from the inside out. Their lives as they knew them would never be the same. And, it would all begin with Spirit Baptism.

What Did They Receive?

There are 11 specific references to Spirit baptism in the New Testament—enough to understand what takes place. We’re going to read a few of those today.

Let me tell you this. Some of our confusion comes from the English translations of the phrase en pneuma. I’m not a Greek scholar; but I can read the works of those who are. Here’s what I discovered: Pneuma is “the Spirit” in every case. That little word en is a preposition and can be translated with, by, in, or of. Translators choose the word that reads best in the context. So, you might read in your Bibles “baptized with the Spirit” in Acts 1:5 and “baptism by the Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Different theologies have been built on those two English phrases as though they are different events, but they are really the exact same phrase in Greek and the exact same event. So, because we all come from different spiritual backgrounds, to avoid confusion, I’m calling it “Spirit Baptism.”

I’m going to give you several facts from the Bible about what Spirit Baptism really is so that you will leave here confident that this has happened to you.

Spirit Baptism Is The Spirit’s Work Of Uniting Us With Christ – Identifying Us With Christ’s Death, Burial And Resurrection.

This is described in Romans 6:

“(v. 3)… do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … (v. 5) For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection.

At Spirit Baptism, we are joined to Christ Jesus, fused together with who He is and what He has done. His death provided us with forgiveness of sins and His resurrection gave us new life. That’s us being born again. We are dyed with Christ. D-Y-E-D. We take on the identity of Jesus so that when God looks on us, He sees Jesus instead. We are in Christ. All those spiritual blessings we have in Christ — chosen, adopted, forgiven, sealed — are wrapped up and delivered to us in the Spirit. A package deal. Every Christian receives this at Spirit Baptism. This is confirmed in Romans 8:9:

Romans 8:9 — “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.”

Every believer has the complete Holy Spirit, or they do not belong to Christ. Being united with Christ in His death and resurrection is essential for every Christian. That comes with Spirit Baptism. Nowhere in the New Testament is any believer commanded or exhorted to be Spirit baptized. It’s God’s gift initiated by God to those who put their faith in Christ. It is not initiated by us. We are the ones born again.

Do you ever get email invitations to join a club or group? Last year I received an email invitation for a free trial membership to the National Home Gardening Club. I didn’t know all the perks I would get. All I did was respond to the email invitation. Come to find out, members receive all this great stuff—seeds, gardening supplies, and tools. What I receive is initiated by the club, not by me.

That’s how Spirit Baptism is. God initiates it to everyone who trusts in Jesus. We are united with Christ and receive the blessings that identify us as Christians at that time.

Spirit Baptism Is The Spirit’s Work Of Making All Believers Permanent Members Of The Body Of Christ.

Flip over to 1 Corinthians 12, the next book after Romans. On the day of Pentecost, all 120 believers were plugged into the brand new Body of Christ—the Church—by Spirit Baptism.

1 Corinthians 12:13 —”… For in one Spirit we were ALL baptized into one body…”

Permanent immersion into the body of Christ. Paul stated clearly that all had been Spirit baptized and placed permanently into the Body of Christ.

Spirit Baptism Occurs Once And For All At The Salvation Of Each Believer.

Remember that in Acts, God was introducing something new, and He didn’t follow a set pattern at first. So it is not wise to selectively choose a passage from Acts and use it as a doctrinal statement on how to receive the Holy Spirit. Especially up to the point when the Gentiles as a group were added to the Church. But, absolutely positively, everyone who believed received Spirit Baptism. The Spirit writing through Paul makes sure we know this. Read this together with me from the screens.

Gal 3:26-27 –”For in Christ Jesus you are ALL sons of God through faith. For ALL of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

There’s that being dyed with Christ again. Eph 4 (vv. 4-5) also says this,

“There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…”

“One baptism” evidently belongs to the same group as “one Lord” and “one faith.” Spirit baptism is a permanent condition and occurs once. Water baptism can be repeated. Spirit Baptism can’t because a person would have to be removed from the Body of Christ in order to be reinstated again by a second baptism. We know that can’t happen because Scripture makes it clear that the Spirit will be with us forever. It’s not like the Old Testament days when He came upon people temporarily for them to do a specific job. Under the new covenant, Jesus assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us and has given us the Holy Spirit as His indwelling presence, forever. Forever doesn’t stop.

Did you notice the repeated use of all in the verses we’ve read? There’s an emphasis in the New Testament on Spirit Baptism as universal and equal for every believer.

What we can learn from all of these verses is this:

Spirit Baptism Is A Change Of State And Is Not Validated By Any Particular Outward Sign.

What do I mean by change of state? Think of baking a cake. Individual ingredients are mixed together for a cake, but once baked those ingredients can never be separated out again. Like that, a person goes from being without God to being with God forever; from being filthy with sin to being cleansed of all sin; from being an enemy of God to becoming the Temple of God Himself. Those flames of fire represented the presence of God as He inaugurated His new temple. No longer would the faithful go to a building inhabited by God. He is now living in Jesus people. That floors me. And, humbles me—God living inside me. By faith I know this is true because the Bible says so.

What Might Trip Up Some Of Us

What might trip up some of us is that we may expect an experience similar to what they had at Pentecost or a few other places in Acts to validate that Spirit Baptism has happened to us. So, we may tend to measure each other’s spirituality by whether or not one has had a particular “experience.” Primarily speaking in languages foreign to our understanding. Tongues. Some of you may have had that experience in your life. That’s great. I’m not saying that experience is not valid or genuine or anything like that. What I am saying is Spirit Baptism is not necessarily evidenced by that particular experience or any other; it is primarily a change of state from being separated from Christ to being united with Him receiving everything we need for life and godliness. Are you with me at all? Hang on and let me explain.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:8 that,

“The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

We’ve already seen that being born again is simultaneous with Spirit Baptism. Jesus said it happens whether or not the believer is conscious of it. He doesn’t promise that our senses will know we are born again at Spirit Baptism.

In Acts, not every new Christian is said to have had the experience of speaking in tongues. And, in less than 30 years, when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, only some are said to have the gift of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 12:10-11). The rest are given other gifts by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does Paul exhort them to be Spirit baptized to receive the tongues gift.

This is very important. Volcanic! The gift of the Spirit is separate from the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus’ gift of His Spirit to every single one of us—ALL EQUALLY—Spirit Baptism—is not the same thing as the spiritual gifts given to individual believers according to the Spirit’s own will and choice—INDIVIDUALLY RECEIVED AND ACCESSED.

Some of you when you believed felt a warmed heart, a feeling of relief or belonging, a sense of tremendous joy. You’ll see joy as one of the first responses of believers in the book of Acts. Some people cannot remember a specific experience. That’s okay. Or, even a specific time. They just know that they looked at things one way before a certain time in their lives and then looked at things differently after that time. And then, we hear about those who have received the outwardly visible gift of speaking in tongues and think, “If only I had that, then I would know that I was Spirit Baptized.”

The point I want to drive home is this: whether or not you sensed anything, God’s Word assures us that Spirit Baptism happened to you the moment you placed your trust in Jesus.

I don’t have the gift of speaking in tongues. I’m open to it or anything else the Spirit would give me. The Spirit has not chosen to give it to me. I think He’s given me the gift of teaching. Jesus got a hold of me in January 1972. Before that, I was not interested in teaching anybody anything. In fact, I was a sports-crazed girl. Obsessed with LSU football. When the Tigers won, I was happy all week. When they lost, I was dumpy. Almost an addiction. When Jesus got a hold of me, I had no outward experience but there was evidence of the Spirit’s work in me. The first thing that changed was my obsession. Football was no longer the focus of my affections. Jesus was. And, His Word. The discoveries I made at first were amazing. I am so grateful that life as I had known it has never been the same. Within only 8 months, I felt compelled to study and teach the Bible to other college students. I feel His pleasure when I teach.

I am reminded of the walk to Emmaus recorded in Luke’s gospel. After the resurrected Jesus left those two men he had been walking with, they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) That’s how I feel sometimes. When I study the Scripture to teach it, I feel that warming. 1994—studied Spirit baptism to teach it then …huge warming, backbone creeping feeling, immense joy… I am not an emotional person. I’m pretty flat. That’s how God has wired me. So, I know that warming, that joy, is the Spirit inside me. It’s nothing coming out of my natural self. I’ve tried to not teach, to back off and do other things. But, I’m always drawn back into studying and teaching. I’m compelled to do it. Most of the time I feel so inadequate and bumbling, but I continue on because my heart’s desire is that women and children would know God’s truth. I don’t present a message up here until the Spirit confirms in me that it’s okay to present it. I’ve been wakened in the middle of the night with a warning that I needed to drop something out of a message to be delivered the next day.

Is that evidence that I have been Spirit baptized? I certainly think so, and so do others who noticed the change of focus in my life. Because God has not chosen to give me the gift of tongues does not mean Spirit Baptism hasn’t happened to me. Or, to any other believer. Okay?

Experiencing Spirit Power

But, then there’s another issue. Many of us have a sincere desire to know and experience the power of God. We may tend to think that those outwardly visible signs are the best evidence of spiritual power. I recently read a great way of looking at this.

“The Holy Spirit is indeed manifest in great explosions of revival and power. But to seek those evidences as the primary work of the Spirit is like looking at fireworks exploding on the Fourth of July as the way to keep America independent. The fireworks are a celebration of what already exists…They have very little to do with the business of winning and maintaining liberty and independence. And, that liberty exists whether or not there are any fireworks.” (Donald K. Smith)

Isn’t that a wonderful way to view the sign gifts? Yes, we want to experience spiritual power like we see in the book of Acts. The whole New Testament confirms that the greatest evidence of the power of God in a person’s life is not in the gifts given. It’s in the miracle of a changed life through the Spirit given.

God is healing my 83-year-old dad of cancer right now. And, I am praising Him for it. But, knowing my own selfish nature, which again showed its true colors this week, I believe it requires more life-long Spirit power to transform a person from being an independent, self-centered person to being a God-dependent, love-motivated person. That’s the greatest miracle. Perhaps even greater than a healed body, because it’s the ultimate healing—a life and heart devoted to God for eternity.

But, those changes require us to recognize that we are weak to do anything of spiritual significance on our own. I love what Jim Cymbala says in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, “God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for His power.”

What do you think about that? Does our weakness make room for His power? If that is true, it is inconceivable that such power should be at work in us without results that would show up in all directions. We should sense it.

Developing A Sensitivity To The Spirit At Work

Maybe we just aren’t paying attention. Our society is built on rationalism—everything has to have a naturalistic explanation. I believe we may have become desensitized to the Spirit inside us, and we tend to take credit ourselves for the work that He actually does.

I write the Discovery Workshops for Elementary Sunday School at our church. These are science activities with a Biblical focus. A couple of years ago, we were studying the Holy Spirit, and as so often happens, what I am personally learning finds its way into each lesson. I looked up verses describing the work of the Spirit in a believer’s life then listed those evidences in my life that could be communicated to children so they would recognize them as well. I discovered we can develop sensitivity to the Spirit at work by asking ourselves some questions based on what the Bible promises:

·         Has someone explained something to you about the Bible, and you understood what he or she was saying? That’s the Spirit inside of you enabling you to understand.

·         Have you ever felt really loved by God? That’s the Spirit inside of you. It doesn’t come naturally.

·         Do you have a desire to please God with your life? That’s the Spirit inside of you. Doesn’t come naturally.

·         Have you ever started loving someone even more after you started praying for him or her? That’s definitely the Spirit. Doesn’t come naturally.

·         Do you like to sing praises to God? Do you feel thankful to God for His goodness to you? That’s the Spirit filling your heart with praise and thanksgiving.

·         Have you ever had a huge problem and didn’t know what to ask God to do about it, but God took care of the problem anyway? That’s the Spirit living inside of you working to take care of your need before you even ask.

All of those are evidences of Spirit power in our lives, and just about every one of you could give a personal example of the Holy Spirit’s power in your life, couldn’t you? You all could add to this list. We just need to develop our sensitivity to His work.

Conclusion

I know I didn’t answer all your questions about Spirit Baptism. But, I want you to know with confidence that if you have trusted in Christ, you received Spirit Baptism at that moment. If you haven’t trusted in Christ yet, you can do so today and receive Spirit Baptism immediately. And, now, based on what you know about the Spirit’s work in your life, I hope you develop a sensitivity to His presence and what He is doing in you. Evidence that yes, He lives inside you, empowering you to live and serve Him. That’s the kind of experience we can all embrace and enjoy. And, with that, you might get a sense that somethings about to happen. And, life as you have known it will never be the same as you embark on the adventure God has for you.

References:

Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, “Baptism of the Spirit”

F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts

Charles Ryrie, The Holy Spirit

Donald K. Smith, The Holy Spirit in Missions, http://bible.org/seriespage/holy-spirit-missions

Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, page 19

Something’s About To Happen: Lecture 1 Handout

(Life as we’ve known it may never be the same!)

What Were They Expecting?

“For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)

What Did They Receive?

1. Spirit Baptism is the Spirit’s work of uniting us with Christ – identifying us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12)

2. Spirit Baptism is the Spirit’s work of making all believers permanent members of the Body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13)             

3. Spirit Baptism occurs once and for all at the salvation of each believer. (Gal 3:26-27; Eph. 4:4-5)

4. Spirit Baptism is a change of state and is not validated by any particular outward sign. (John 3:8)

Experiencing Spirit Power

·         He helps us understand what the Bible teaches. Has someone explained something to you about the Bible, and you understood what they were saying? That’s the Spirit inside of you helping you to understand. John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:13

·         He gives us the words to tell others about Jesus and say that Jesus is God. Have you wanted to tell someone about Jesus but didn’t know what to say, then all of a sudden the words just popped into your head for you to tell that person about Jesus? That’s the Holy Spirit living inside of you prompting you with the right words to say. John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3

·         He gives us assurance that we are Gods children. Have you ever felt really loved by God? That’s the Spirit inside of you letting you know for sure that you are God’s child, and He loves you. Romans 8:16

·         He encourages us to do what pleases God. Do you have a desire to please God with your life? That’s the Holy Spirit inside of you giving you that desire. Romans 12:11; Jer. 33:31,33

·         He helps us to feel joy as we serve Jesus and when we do the right things. Have you ever felt really good when you chose to do the right thing or chose to be helpful? That’s the Holy Spirit inside of you letting you feel God’s pleasure. Romans 14:17-18

·         He encourages us to not want to do what doesnt please God. Have you ever felt something tugging at you inside when you were tempted to do something wrong? That’s the Holy Spirit living inside of you nudging you, reminding you what doesn’t please God so you can choose not to do that. Galatians 5:16

·         He enables us to love others. Have you ever started loving someone even more after you started praying for them? That’s the Holy Spirit living inside of you doing that. Galatians 5:22-23

·         He makes us want to sing praises to God, in our hearts and out loud, and be thankful for Gods goodness. Do you like to sing praises to God? Do you feel thankful to God for His goodness to you? That’s the Spirit living inside of you filling your heart with praise and thanksgiving to God. Ephesians 5:18-20

·         He prays for us when we need help or dont know what to pray for. Have you ever had a huge problem and didn’t know what to ask God to do about it, but God took care of the problem anyway? That’s the Holy Spirit living inside of you working to take care of your need before you even ask. Romans 8:26-27

“The Holy Spirit is indeed manifest in great explosions of revival and power. But to seek those evidences as the primary work of the Spirit is like looking at fireworks exploding on the Fourth of July as the way to keep America independent. The fireworks are a celebration of what already exists…They have very little to do with the business of winning and maintaining liberty and independence. And, that liberty exists whether or not there are any fireworks.” (Donald K. Smith, The Holy Spirit in Missions, http://bible.org/seriespage/holy-spirit-missions)