The Holy Spirit In The Acts Of The Apostles And The Relationship To The Pentecostal Experience Today (2)
Acts Key Verse: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8)
The Early Church:
Acts emphasize the primary task of the early Church. The tasks are in two parts, Home and Foreign Missions:
- The Preparatory Events are:
- The Divine Commission (1: 4-8)
- The ascending Lord (1:10, 11)
- The descending Spirit (2: 1- 4)
- The workers’ equipment (2:4)
- The Ministries include:
- Peter’s powerful Sermon at Pentecost (2: 14-42), Peter’s second sermon (3: 12-26), and Peter’s address to the Sanhedrin (4: 5-12)
- Stephen & Philip as Deacons; Stephen became the Church’s first martyr (5: 1- 8:3). Church’s opposition and persecution served as catalysts for the Church’s spread because wherever they fled, the Holy Spirit empowered the believers to preach the gospel.
- Philip and Peter (8: 5-25)
- Philip ministry (8: 26- 40)
3 The Facts as stated in Acts:
(a) The Church Growth
- On the day of Pentecost (2:4), those that gladly received Peter’s word were baptized, and three thousand were added to them the same day.
- Daily Additions. As disciples praised God, they had favor with people, and the Holy Spirit added to their numbers – 2:47. After Pentecost, the number of men alone was about five thousand (4:4). Also, multitudes, both men and women, became believers and were added to the Church, giving rise to steady growth (5:14). Obedience to the Faith became evident among the Priests as the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem (6:7)
(b) Infilling of and with the Holy Spirit (4:31)
(c) Unity and Benevolence of the Church (4:32-37)
(d) Spiritual Power 5:12-16
(e) Obedience to the Holy Spirit
(f) Use of Jesus Christ’s Name to perform Miracles
(g) Signs, Miracles, and Wonder follow those who believe and are filled with the ‘Spirit.’
The power of the Holy Spirit empowered the spread of the Church outside Jerusalem, leading to worldwide Missions.
- Preliminary Events
- Ministry of Philip in Samaria in association with Peter and John (8: 5-25)
- Conversion of Saul, whose name was changed to Paul and later became the great missionary and the leading figure in the Church during this period (9: 1-30)
- Peter’s view was broadened by his vision at Joppa, resulting in his ministry among the Gentiles at Caesarea (10: 1-43)
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles at Caesarea (10: 44-11: 18).
- Barnabas brought Paul from Tarsus to Antioch, and both men established the Church in the place where the disciples were first called Christians (11: 25, 26)
- Parenthesis, Herod’s persecution of the Church at Jerusalem. The death of James and the imprisonment and deliverance of Peter (12: 1-19)
2. Epochal Event:
Under the Holy Spirit’s direction, the sending of Paul and Barnabas as missionaries by the Church at Antioch was made possible with John Mark accompanying them. (13: 1-5).
Influences Of The Holy Spirit In Acts:
- The sin of the sorcerer Simon consisted in his offering money that “on whomsoever, I lay my hand, he may receive the Holy Spirit” (8: 18-20)
- Philip joined himself to the Ethiopian eunuch through the promptings of the Spirit (8: 29)
- Ananias is sent to lay hands on Saul of Tarsus so that he may “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (9:17).
- Churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria are declared to have rest and be “walking in fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit” (9: 31).
- At the admission of Cornelius by the fact of the descent of the Holy Spirit, “and as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them.” (11: 15)
- Barnabas, when sent from Jerusalem to preach at Antioch, is described as a man “full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (11: 24)
- It is by the Holy Spirit that Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are selected for missionary work among the Gentiles. “The Holy Spirit said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them” (13: 2). They are said to have departed for this work “Sent forth by the Holy Spirit” (3:4)
- The infilling of the Holy Spirit in Paul enabled him to rebuke Elymas the Sorcerer. (3:9).
- The decision of the Council at Jerusalem was declared to be by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (15: 28)
- The missionary journey of Paul and Silas was under the control of the Spirit, for they were “forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia (16:6)
- When Paul laid his hands on these disciples at Ephesus who had been baptized with the baptism of John, “the Holy Spirit came on them” (19:6)
- Paul is said to have gone up to Jerusalem “bound in the Spirit” 20: 22
- Paul was foretold about the bonds and imprisonment he would meet in Jerusalem by the Spirit. 20:23
- The Holy Spirit appointed the elders of Ephesus to oversee the Church of God. 20:28
- Agabus through the Spirit prophesied the arrest of Paul by the Jews – 21:11
- By the Holy Spirit, Paul applies the words of Isaiah, the prophet, to the Jews in Rome. 28:25
In all the above, we see the Apostolic Church starting and growing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church could not have made any impact. Pentecostal churches today need the guidance of the same Spirit of God to fulfill their mission. Only the Holy Spirit can enhance our lives and Church’s true Spirituality. Acts forged a new sense of identity for the Disciples when they realized they were no longer Jews but were part of the new Community of the Spirit, which was prophesized in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Some Of The Miraculous Healings In Acts:
- Healing of the lame man – 3: 1-10. This man had been disabled from birth and depended on others to take him to and from the temple daily. He had made his living all of his life through begging and kindly asked Peter and John for a small gift as they passed him. Peter and John told him they had no silver or gold to give him but had compassion and heartbreak for the unfortunate man being filled with the Holy Spirit. The lame man was healed “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
- The Apostles were doing many signs and wonders, healing the sick 5: 15-16. Luke says a strange practice developed from supernatural energy 5: 15 “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.”
- The healing of Aeneas and Tabitha by Peter when filled with the Holy Spirit – 9: 32-35. Supernatural healing and rising from the dead: Aeneas was a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years, and Peter healed him. Tabitha (Aramic) or Dorcas (Greek) was sick and died. However, before she was buried, her friends sent for Peter, and he went. In Acts 9:41, Peter said,” Tabitha, gumi,” “Dorcas arise!” She opened her eyes and sat up; Peter assisted her as she arose and publicly presented her to her friends and relatives.
- The healing of Publius’ father and others – 28: 9-10. Publius was the chief official of the Island of Malta, annexed to Sicily at the time. He invited Paul, Luke, and others to his home for a feast. His father was sick with ‘fever and dysentery’ and was healed by Paul. When this happened, the rest of the sick on the island came to be cured.
Pentecostal means going back to the day of Pentecost in the Spirit of Pentecost. The 20th Century witnessed the phenomenal growth of what is known as the Classical Pentecostal Movement. Traditional Church Leaders and Theologians had an adverse reaction toward Pentecostal in the first half of this Century. Many judged Pentecostals to be emotionally disturbed, mentally limited, and inherently sociologically deprived and concluded that the pneumatic unction claimed by the Pentecostals was not genuine. Many have not abandoned these views, yet the ecclesiastical landscape has been sufficiently rearranged that many traditions have re-evaluated their opposition to the movement. It is due in no small part to the metamorphosis of the movement itself and the fact that it has figured in spreading its influence too much on worldwide Christianity.