The Holy Spirit in the Acts of The Apostles and The Relationship to Pentecostal Experience Today (1)
The Spirit in Acts is called the “Spirit of Prophecy.” Nearly all references to the Spirit in Acts are related to the prototypical gifts of the Spirit of prophecy: Charismatic Revelation (as in visions, dreams, words, or a mixture of these), Charismatic Wisdom (at times evoking joy), instantly inspired speech of different kinds and acts of Power (8:39; 10:38). According to scholars like Schweizer, Stronstad, Menzies, and Penney, the Spirit in Acts is ‘donum Superadditum’ (Second blessing) given to the community (Church) after their experience of Salvation. Luke promised a broader soteriological and ecclesiological view of the Spirit of Prophecy (2:38-39):
- The Baptist’s promise (1:5; 11:16) refers to the restoration/cleansing of the messianic people of God.
- Salvation is not merely ‘Justification’ but participation with the Israel of fulfillment in the presence of the kingdom of God and its transformative Power resulting from the ‘forgiveness of sins.
- Pentecost is portrayed as the fulfillment of Sinai (Acts 2).
This broader view of Luke is upheld in the Pentecostal today with new paradigms in the role of the Holy Spirit and new but strange beliefs and methodology exhibited by the Pentecostal leaders and followers of today, unlike the Apostles in the book of Acts. Some Pentecostal Churches are faithful to Jesus Christ, but others are set up for personal reasons. The Engine that drives the Church matters a lot. The Holy Spirit was the driving force in the Acts, but today’s Pentecostals have other driven forces like Tradition, Personality, Finances, Programs, Buildings, Events, Seekers, Pride, etc. I will be surveying the two Institutions, the Church at Pentecost in Acts and the Pentecostal movement today, and relating the activity or inactivity of the Holy Spirit.
Acts written between A.D. 63 and 70 provide an eyewitness account of the Flame and Fire that gave birth to the Church and spread the early Church. Justin Martyr calls Acts’ reminiscences’ of Luke the physician, the only Gentile writer of New Testament (N.T.) The Main Theme in Acts is the history of the development of the early Church from the Ascension of Christ to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and the opening of his ministry. Students and Scholars of N.T. know Acts as the formal beginning of dispensing the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts can be looked at in two parts :
- The period of Home Missions with Jerusalem as the center and
- The period of Foreign Missions opening with Jerusalem as the center of operations, which soon transferred to Antioch in Syria.
The departing Jesus Christ announced the grand campaign of worldwide missions through human agency under the Power of the Holy Spirit (1:8). Acts is the connecting link between Christ’s life and the life of the Church, between the Gospels and the Letters. It is, therefore, evident that the Church did not start or grow by its Power. The disciples were empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, the promised Counselor and Guide that Jesus sent. Luke’s view is that the Holy Spirit controlled the history of the early Church and manifested in the supernatural elements that influenced the growth and purpose of the Church, which today metamorphosed into Pentecostals. Acts of Apostles, the story is told about transformed lives and the difference these lives made in the world by the work of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, there are three significant themes:
- The fullness of the Holy Spirit (2:1-13)
- The evangelism of the early Church (2:14-41)
- The community life of the early Christians (2: 42-47)
The Holy Spirit was the main thing that held the early Church together. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person in the Trinity concept. It is stated in the Creed of Saint Athanasius, “The Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal .” The Holy Spirit is uncreated, incomprehensible, eternal and God like the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, neither made, created nor begotten, but proceeding.” He was in the world and spoke by the prophets before the Word became flesh and was Himself the agent in that creative act. Through Him, the atonement was consummated. He is the life-giving presence within the Universal Church; the Divine agent in its Sacramental and authoritative acts, communicating Himself as a presence and Power to the individual Christian; mediating to him forgiveness and new birth; nourishing, increasing, and purifying his whole personality; knitting him into the fellowship of Saints; and finally through the resurrection of the body, bringing him to the fullness of eternal life. By the Power of the Holy Spirit, we can see that the disciples who abandoned Jesus at Gethsemane were transformed from a pathetic group wallowing in self-doubt, self-pity, and fear into irrepressible dynamos and fearless preachers; (Acts 2).
John Stott described the events surrounding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Four ways:
- It was the final aspect of the saving ministry of Jesus before His second coming; born of the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit, and filled with the Spirit is a part of the Salvation process. Without these things, Salvation would be incomplete.
- It gave the apostles the equipment they needed for their responsibilities. The supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit made the special commission possible.
- Pentecost was the inauguration of a new era or dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
- Pentecost was the first major ‘Revival.’
Role Of The Holy Spirit:
Robert Menzies relates the Spirit in Luke & Acts to the Jewish expectation of the “Spirit of Prophecy,”; whose activity is seen typically in speech or knowledge and gifts such as prophecy, invasive praise inspired by the Spirit, in defense and proclamation of the gospel. The symbol of the Holy Spirit is Wind. The Word for ‘Spirit’ in Hebrew, Ruach, and Greek, pneuma means wind or breath. The violent wind is consistent with God, for God has also revealed himself in Old Testament by violent wind and fire. Wind, as we know, is a potent force; this indicates that the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be a potent force in the world. Acts told us of “Tongues of Fire that separated and came to rest on each of them (disciples)”
God demonstrated the presence of the Holy Spirit through the signs the disciples would have easily interpreted. God in the Jewish culture was recognized figuratively as fire. In Acts 2: 4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” So the first evidence of the Holy Spirit that others can see is speaking in other tongues. People heard them speaking in their languages. It is pertinent to state here that there are two types of Tongues:
- Tongues that you can hear them speak and understand and
- Tongues that are not discernable like those spoken in Ephesus.
The Pentecost experience is the reverse of what happened in the Tower of Babel. Speaking in Tongues has been highly uplifted in today’s Pentecostals. It looks that is the only way they measure infilling of the Spirit, but I like to sound a note of warning here that ‘To speak in Tongues alone is not enough to measure spiritual barometer’;. However, the early Apostles speaking in tongues confirmed theirs in filling and fullness of the Holy Spirit.
The Role (work) of the Holy Spirit as manifested in Acts includes:
- The Dynamics of the Apostles and Disciples
- Power to witness
- Nature of their fellowship
- Intensity of their prayer life
- The out-and-out Zeal to declare the Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ
- The process of Calling
- The Process of Healing
- The process of Empowering
- The process of sending people Forth to love and obey Jesus Christ
- Holistic-Community Spirituality.
- Conviction of sin
In all the above manifestations, Acts is a distant mirror for Today’s Pentecostals. Acts serve as a forerunner to what is experienced today. On Pentecost day, the Apostles were all filled with the Holy Spirit (2:4). Peter prophetically stated that the Holy Spirit declared the fate of Judas beforehand by the mouth of David (1:16).
Peter declared that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel; “I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh” (2:7). Peter also declares that Jesus has “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (2:33). The dynamics of the earliest Church were seen in the apostles’ boldness to speak the Word of God through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s manifestation was also seen in the instant death of Ananias and his wife Sapphira when they lied to the Holy Spirit. (5:3; 5:9). Peter declares that the Holy Spirit is a witness that Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (5:32). Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, witnessed Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (7:55).
One thought on “The Holy Spirit in the Acts of The Apostles and The Relationship to Pentecostal Experience Today (1)”
Thanks ma. The Holy Spirit is real and has come to empower the believers to live and witness for Christ,