And suddenly there came from Heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with The Holy Spirit… (Acts 2:2-4b)
Today, in my hearing The Word; so very, very much was imparted…
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on The Spirit of The LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.
And, Jesus caused a Man blind from birth to see with clay he from the ground He spat upon. Therefore this is not a restoration of sight miracle as the Man never had the gift of sight (Jn 9:2). Sight is a gift of creation. This is suggested by the clay (Jn 9:6) which evokes “the dust of the ground” in Genesis 2:7 from which God creates Adam.
The same Spirit is upon us! God Himself said, “I am The LORD; I change not” (Malachi 3:6). The Bible says “He is The Father of lights with Whom there is no change or variation.” (James 1:17). This means God will never be less than He is now, or ever be different from what He has already revealed Himself to be in the past.
In depth, The Word is!
David as king prays to God, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” This indicates that when he is saying this prayer, he does have the Holy Spirit in some way. How did he receive the Spirit in the first place?
We must understand that in the Bible people can “have The Holy Spirit” in two very different ways. On the one hand, we may speak of the EQUIPPING presence of the Holy Spirit. This means that some people have received The Holy Spirit for the purpose of being empowered for service. I.e., God wants a certain person to be able to perform some work or to carry out some responsibility in a way that will help to fulfill some purpose of God here on earth. This is what we sometimes call “spiritual gifts,” or “gifts of The Spirit.” The Spirit comes upon that person in order to equip or empower him or her for service in His Kingdom.
These gifts can involve miraculous powers (e.g., being able to work miracles, to speak in tongues, to speak inspired messages from God—1 Cor. 12:28), or they may involve just an enhancement of natural abilities (such as teaching, leadership, or showing mercy—Romans 12:7-8). Also, The Holy Spirit came upon people for this purpose of empowerment both in Old Testament times and in New Testament times. Many individuals among Old Testament Israel were so empowered, including all the prophets and judges, and including at least some of the kings of Israel. This is where David comes into the picture. When God chose David to replace Saul as king over Israel, the prophet Samuel anointed him with oil, “and The Spirit of The LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13). This is when he received the Holy Spirit.
This empowerment by The Spirit is NOT directly related to salvation. In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit came upon individuals for empowerment for service, but not for salvation. When David received The Holy Spirit at the time he was anointed to be king, this did not affect his salvation status. (He probably was already saved at this point.) Not all saved people had the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times, and even someone who was not saved could have The Spirit in this sense (e.g., the pagan prophet Balaam, Num. 24:2).
Ultimately the effect of The Holy Spirit is to take all that God has given us – our gifts, experiences, passions, and knowledge – and set them to work, bringing glory to Christ in the church and in the world. Apart from The Holy Spirit, our best yields but little; yet with Him, our little yields so much.
And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up The body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Let me encourage you not to forget about the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christian leaders. The Holy Spirit plays an essential role in taking the raw materials of gospel potential and turning them into the sweet fruit of gospel impact. We see this throughout the Scriptures but perhaps nowhere more clearly than in the life of Peter, especially in Acts 2.
Remember the way Peter had been devastated by the events of Jesus’ death: his Master killed, his honor destroyed, his courage and spirit crushed. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter needed Jesus’ special attention and encouragement to imagine leading Christ’s flock (John 21). How could this man and his group of ragged friends ever hope to pursue the global scope of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20)?
Yet by the end of Acts 2, they are well on their way! And the reason is clear: The Holy Spirit had landed. Let’s look at five effects the Holy Spirit had that day on those early Christian leaders, all five of which are still true today.
Five Effects of the Holy Spirit
1. The presence of the Holy Spirit leads to confidence and courage, even in the face of opposition.
After the Holy Spirit fell from heaven upon that early group of 120 disciples, they all began to speak in foreign languages. So striking and loud (apparently) was this event that thousands of gawkers came running. Like now, the church of God lives before the eyes of the world. And then, just as now, there were two reactions: (1) intrigue and interest (vv. 7-12) and (2) mockery and disgust (vv. 13).
Remember Peter and his gang had spent the last weeks huddled in upper rooms, doing anything to keep out of public view. Yet now, Peter veritably leaps up to rebuke the scoffers and explain the situation. More than that, he grabs the opportunity to proclaim a sermon of legendary boldness and clarity, calling his listeners to repent and believe.
The presence of the Holy Spirit will spur leaders to stand up to those who would disparage truth and righteousness and to stand up for the cause of Christ and the gospel.
2. The presence of the Holy Spirit leads to dependence on Scripture.
Did you notice how many Scriptures Peter references in his sermon? He quotes Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, and Psalm 110:1, all in an off-the-cuff sermon! Now, we shouldn’t think of Peter as someone who had never heard the Old Testament Scriptures – the Holy Spirit isn’t allowing him to quote passages he’d never heard. But we do see the Holy Spirit bringing the words of Holy Scripture to mind, as an obedient heart rushes to stand up for Christ.
The Spirit and Scripture always go together: the Spirit of truth breathes out the Word of truth. Want to prepare your potential leaders for ministry? Help them know the Scriptures. Then watch as the Holy Spirit leads them to use it as the centerpiece of their ministry to others.
3. The presence of the Holy Spirit leads to holy forgetfulness.
Let’s be as clear as possible: Peter had plenty of ministry failures in the Gospels. Just pages earlier in our Bibles, he had betrayed Jesus! Yet, Peter didn’t let his past failures control him or stop him from jumping to the front of the crowd to proclaim the gospel with history-changing results. Peter seemed to forget his past failures and looked at the right-now as a new opportunity to be Christ’s witness. That’s the effect of the Holy Spirit on a leader.
Some in our congregations have stepped back when they should have stepped forward, letting an opportunity slip by to suffer for Christ. Some have tried to lead or serve and have messed up royally. Yet the Holy Spirit helps us act in his power, not our own. Suddenly our failures don’t paralyze us, and our spotty track records don’t disqualify us.
As the Holy Spirit works, we’re ready to forget the failures of our past and claim the day for Christ.
4. The presence of the Holy Spirit leads to a focus on Christ and the gospel.
Do you notice how quickly Peter zips to Jesus? People ask him why all these Christians are talking in foreign languages, and within minutes Peter has turned the situation into a clear explanation of the gospel: Jesus is Lord; you have sinned and crucified him; you must cry to him for salvation and forgiveness; and you can do this by repenting and committing to identify yourself with him and with his people.
The skill of turning a conversation to Christ, of turning any interaction into an opportunity to explain the gospel – that’s an effect of the Holy Spirit.
5. The presence of the Holy Spirit leads to fruit in ministry.
It is possible to be skilled in ministry but bear little fruit. We can have knowledge and best practices and even sincere desire, but still act in our own strength. That solitary effort doesn’t lead to anything. Branches that are separate from the vine never produce grapes.
But that’s not what happened to Peter: he preached a sermon and “three thousand souls” turned to Christ in faith (Acts 2:41). That’s the Holy Spirit. As Christian leaders nurturing our devotional lives, deepening our doctrine, and sharpening our ministry skills, let’s look to and depend on the Holy Spirit to leverage all this – and let it bear fruit for Jesus.
Always Depend on the Spirit
Ultimately the effect of The Holy Spirit is to take all that God has given us – our gifts, experiences, passions, and knowledge – and set them to work, bringing glory to Christ in the church and in the world. Apart from Him, our best yields but little; yet with The Holy Spirit, our little yields so much. So train with every skill you have been blessed with; equip yourselves and members of The body of Christ with The truth of The gospel; and always depend on The Spirit.
- Joel prophesied that God would pour out His Spirit upon all people (Joel 2:28).
- Before His death, Jesus told His disciples that He would ask the Father to give us an advocate who will never leave us, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).
- Jesus goes on to tell them it is for their good that He is going away, saying, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, NIV).
- “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
- On the Day of Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit did indeed come and devout men from every nation were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, Peter stood up and said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (see Acts 2:14-17, NKJV).