THE HOLY SPIRIT – Talk 1 – Dave Newmarch
Bible reading: Acts 1:1-8; 2:1-4
Last night Georgina and myself watched a movie called 93 days. It was about the ebola virus spreading to Nigeria and how they dealt with it. Probably not the kind of movie to be watching during this coronavirus time but I was struck again by just how infectious this virus was AND DEADLY. One doctor who had had no physical contact with the infected patient still contracted the virus. This virus was infectious. This morning I’ve called our talk, the coming of the holy spirit. It’s a pretty weak title. I think I should have called my talk “the infection of the Spirit of God” because as we’re going to find out when the Holy Spirit came it infected people to such a degree that they were never the same again. But this wasn’t a deadly infection. This was an infection that brought life!
This week we’re starting a new 5 week series on the holy Spirit. We’ve been talking about walking in the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit the last few weeks. In Galatians 5, particularly, Paul tells us to “live by the Spirit”, and to be “led by the Spirit”. And then he tells us what the fruit of the Spirit are, that is, someone who is led by the Spirit and living by the Spirit will produce fruit like, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control. And then the last 2 weeks as we’ve read chapter 6 we’ve looked at how our actions must be guided by the Spirit – restoring our brother and sister gently; carrying each other’s burdens, sowing to please the Spirit, doing good to all people – all of this flowing out of keeping in step with the Spirit. So who is the Holy Spirit? We know he is God, he is one of the three persons of God. How is he different to Jesus? How can I know that the Holy Spirit is in my life; that he is leading me and filling me so that I can keep in step with him. Over the next 5 weeks we are going to look at 5 aspects of the Holy Spirit. This week we will look at the coming of the Holy Spirit and a quick look at the Spirit’s work and presence in the Old Testament. Next week we will look at Jesus
- The Spirit and Jesus – John 14:15-18, 25-27; 16:7-15
- The Holy Spirit in Romans 8 – Di
- The fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5 – Ash Davies
- A spiritual life – John of the Cross – George
So, today, our focus will be on the passages read by Alex in Acts 1 & 2. And then we will look at the Old
Testament before drawing a few applications.
But I want to start by looking at what Jesus said in preparation for the Spirit coming
- What Jesus said in preparation for the Spirit coming:
John 3: 4-8 – the Spirit gives the new birth. It’s the Spirit that brings the new life. It’s as if he breathes new life into us;in the same way that God breathed breath into Adam when he was first created so the Spirit breathes new life into us. We are born of the Spirit.
John 16: 7-15 – Jesus says that he needs to go in order for the Spirit to come. The Spirit will reveal the truth about sin, righteousness and judgement. He will guide us into truth. Jesus had many more things he wanted to teach them, now it is the Spirit who will teach them and us. He will glorify Jesus; and it is from Jesus that he receives what it is to pass on to us. So it’s kind of like Jesus still being with us. We talk about Jesus living in me – technically I think it is the Spirit living in us; but the Spirit is passing on the things that Jesus is passing on to the Spirit. So I think it is fine to talk about Jesus living in us and at the same time say the Spirit lives in me. Story of Muslims following Isa the Messiah – the Spirit revealing himself??
Acts 1: 1-8 – interesting phrase, “after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen”. We’ll be talking more about this next week. But the implication, here, is that Jesus is working with the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit, to teach his disciples.
Jesus tells them to wait for the gift, which was to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Notice how all three persons of God are involved here – he says this is the gift that the Father promised, the gift is going to be the Spirit being given, and it is Jesus who is conveying this understanding to the disciples.
And Jesus’ last words, “when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will receive power and you will be my witnesseseverywhere.” So the giving of the Spirit is going to be seen by others around, they will receive some sort of power. They will be infected with the Holy Spirit but it will release life-giving power from God. This power seems to be directly connected to them being witnesses to other people – witnesses about Jesus.
- The Spirit comes
Acts 2:1-13 – Here we get the actual description of how this Spirit that Jesus had said would come did come. There is the blowing of a violent wind; tongues of fire; the 120 gathered there are filled with the HS; they are speaking in other tongues “as the Spirit enabled them”; other people hear the followers speaking in foreign languages – amazed & perplexed.
17-21 – This was the prophecy from Joel – in the last days God will pour out his Spirit on all peoples; show wonders; everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
And then Peter finishes off his sermon in v.38-39 – the people have said to him, “What should we do in response to what you have said?” So Peter tells 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 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
When people repented they were saved and they received the Holy Spirit.
- What were the first Christians expecting – the OT background So I wonder, what were these first Christians expecting as they received the Holy Spirit. I want us to look very briefly at the OT. Was the Holy Spirit there in the OT? If so, what did the Spirit do?
In the Old Testament “ruah” the Heb. word for “wind” means the Spirit and is used in OT. 97 times. In the OT we see the Spirit of God coming down on people in a special anointing filling them with power for various functions. For example, the spirit anoints national leaders ( such as the judges eg of the Spirit coming on Samson and his great power) kings ( Saul received the Spirit, but then later the Spirit left him) and prophets. We see the prophets speaking God’s word via the Spirit’s communication; performing great feats of power and miracles via the Spirit’s enabling. We see conviction of sin (eg Ps 51) and judgement (eg prophets). We see people’s creative skills enhanced (in the building of the Tabernacle). These things are consistent with the way the Holy Spirit continues to operate in the NT. This same strengthening, enabling function of the Spirit is consistently there throughout the Bible.
In one sense, though, there is a different experience of the Holy Spirit between the believers of the OT and those after Pentecost that we read about in Acts 2. Certainly in Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekial 36:26,27 we see prophecies that point to a time when God’s spirit would be “written on the hearts” of the people in a way which was different to the past. The prophecies all point to a time when the Servant Messiah would come and it would be he who would initiate the new covenant. Somehow things would be different. In addition, Joel’s prophecy that we read in Peter’s speech at Pentecost in Acts 2, indicated that God’s spirit would be poured out on “all people”. Something different is going to happen.
The key person in all of this was Jesus and John 7:39 indicates this. This verse tells us that “the Spirit had not yet been given” and those who believed in him were going to receive it when he was glorified. We need to link this back with John 1:33 and see that Jesus was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit. He, as the perfect one, the one who walked obediently and performed the perfect sacrifice, the one who was to be glorified at the right hand of the Father was to be the one to dispense, or give out, the Holy Spirit. And because of what he’d done, we who are regenerated and born again and are “in Christ” receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from Christ the dispenser of the Holy Spirit.
We have, therefore, a new understanding of the Holy Spirit because of the work of Christ for us and in us through his Spirit. Hebrews 11:3 makes it clear that the OT believers were “living by faith” but only “saw things at a distance”. We have the tremendous privilege of having the deeper understanding of the fullness of all Christ has done for us and the Spirit continues to reveal to us the great work of Christ in our lives. In addition, we are now involved in God’s mission, through his Spirit’s enabling, to all peoples and all nations. God’s Spirit, life in Christ, is available to all people not just the Jews.
So when the followers of Jesus gathered in that room and receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised, it was a strange experience but not all that different to other times in the history of God’s work among the Jews. In the OT those filled with the Spirit prophesied, praised God, spoke words given them by God. Similar things happened on this first Pentecost day. But the difference was that the Spirit was here to stay.
These first Christians spoke in other languages on that first day, don’t know whether they did the same in the days to come, we’re not told. But it is unmistakable that when the Holy Spirit came on them they were different people. They did receive a power to change. A power to be witnesses to what had happened in their lives. Which speaks to us in our day doesn’t it? Walking in the spirit in Galatians; crucified with Christ in Galatians; showing fruits of the Spirit – the Spirit changes us, not necessarily in the spectacular ways that accompanied those early Christians in Acts 2. But they received the Holy Spirit and the Spirit came on them in power and gave them words to be witnesses about the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So as we finish today I have 2 applications.
Application: 1. Have you received the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit living in you? How do you know? If you have repented of your sins; turned around to follow Jesus, then you have the Holy Spirit in you.
Maybe you have been coming to church all your life but maybe you’ve never actually said to God I’m sorry for my sins, for the way I have wanted to control my life. I want to turn around and follow you. Please forgive me because of what you did on the cross. And fill me with your Holy Spirit to help me know how you want me to live and to give me the strength to follow you. If that’s you, I want to pray a prayer right now. Will you close your eyes and pray this with me – everyone can pray with me.
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for my sins, for the way I have wanted to control my life. I want to turn around and follow you. Please forgive me because of what you did on the cross. And fill me with your Holy Spirit to help me know how you want me to live and to give me the strength to follow you. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen
If you prayed that prayer tell someone else; if you would like to talk to me or someone else on the leadership Team about how to keep growing to know Jesus please contact us after this.
2. Walk in the Spirit – continue to walk in the Spirit. Remember the three-legged race I mentioned last week. And remember that you are a witnesses of Jesus if you have the Spirit in you. The Spirit wants to glorify Jesus and one way of doing this is through the witness of us. So be ready when the Spirit prompts you to talk to someone, to act in a way that draws attention to Jesus. As people filled with the Spirit we are to glorify Jesus, we are to infect others with the life-giving message of Jesus; not in an offensive or obnoxious way but in a way that draws attention to the beauty of Jesus – I know that seems pretty heavy, but it’s true. We are the fragrance or the smell of Jesus in this world. In a world that’s scared about the air droplets that we might be breathing we are the ones who, in the Spirit’s power are the fragrance of Jesus.
Over the next 6 weeks we are going to be reading a devotional book called Life in the Spirit. Each week there will be 5 short readings. Here’s an example. The idea is to spend 10-15 mins each day reading this and thinking through the bible verses and then some reflection question thoughts and questions that have been written and talking to God about it.
If you are not a big reader there will be an abridged version of this with one verse, a few sentences of things to think about and a question or two, like this. So you choose what you feel you can manage.
Someone said to me this week, “Why don’t you record it, so people can just listen?” If that would help, you’re not much of a reader I can do that. It takes about 3-4mins to record each day. I can then send it to people’s phones as a text message. You will need to tell me though if this would be helpful for you. My phone number is on the bulletin.
Share what you learn with others and in home groups. I’m hoping that this will be a blessing to us and help us as a church to keep growing and walking in step with the Spirit.