Empowered by the Spirit

MEMORY VERSE: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” —Acts 1:8, RSV

ACTS 2:1-4, 14-21

THE first disciples of Jesus were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which was fifty days after Jesus was raised from the dead. Meanwhile Jesus had appeared to various ones of his followers subsequent to his resurrection, his last appearance being shortly before Pentecost, when they asked the Master, “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” to which he replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”—Acts 1:7

To this Jesus added, “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) It is clear from this that it was the Holy Spirit which was to give Jesus’ disciples the authority and the inspiration to represent him, and to proclaim the glorious kingdom Gospel which centered in him.

What is the Holy Spirit? It is claimed by most denominational churches that the Holy Spirit is the third person in a trinity of gods—the Father being one and the Son the other. This view prevailed among those who translated the King James Version of the Bible, so in many instances they used the word “ghost” instead of Spirit in order to suggest the idea of personality.

Actually, however, the Holy Spirit is not a person at all, but the holy power of God, exercised along whatever lines he deems necessary for the accomplishment of his purposes. After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit Peter testified concerning the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, and added, “Being at the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.”—Acts 2:33

It would be difficult to think of a person being “shed forth,” but it is very appropriate language to describe the coming of the power of God upon the waiting disciples. This took place in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that he would send the Holy Spirit to enlighten and comfort his people, and to guide them in their endeavors to be his witnesses. And in his sermon Peter called attention to the fact that the coming of the Holy Spirit had been prophesied by the Prophet Joel.—Acts 2:17-19

Peter revealed in his Pentecostal sermon that the coming of the Holy Spirit had indeed enlightened him. We recall the difficulty Peter experienced in connection with the death of Jesus. He advised Jesus against surrendering himself to his enemies, and used a sword in an attempt to prevent the Master’s death. It was unthinkable to him that a man who was spending his life doing good should be put to death.

But now he realized that the death of Jesus was not only a part of the divine plan for the redemption and salvation of the human race, but that it had been foretold in the Old Testament. (Acts 2:22-28) The specific promise of Jesus’ resurrection which Peter quotes is Psalm 16:10: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption”—Acts 2:27

The word hell is here translated from the Greek word hades, and signifies the state of death. Jesus poured out his soul unto death in order to provide redemption for the sin-cursed race of Adam. (Isa. 53:12) It is at his second presence that the redeemed world will be restored to life.

When the great demonstration of power occurred at Pentecost the enemies of Jesus and of his disciples accused the latter of being intoxicated. It was in response to this that Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit. And there have been continuous demonstrations of the presence and working of the Holy Spirit ever since. Happy are they who are led by that Spirit in the way of sacrifice, for they are the children of God.


What is the Holy Spirit, and how does it work in the lives of Christians today?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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