Often we feel like we need to defend the church or even ignore the church if we are to lead people to Jesus. Is it possible that the church is the primary reason men and women don’t accept Jesus Christ? However, the church is God’s plan, the only answer. God’s plan throughout history is worked out through the church.
God’s has given grace gifts to the church, in particular gifts of leadership. In the church everyone is on an equal footing, leader or otherwise but the ascended Christ has given some leaders to serve the church. Leadership starts with service and ends with service.
God has given apostles, to outwork foundational values in churches, Prophets to bring God’s word for a particular moment and Evangelists to help bring people into the Kingdom of God.
What is this?
Acts 2 fulfils John the Baptist’s statement concerning Jesus ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’.
At Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the promised Holy Spirit. This changed everything for them. For example, the Spirit transformed Peter from a coward denying Jesus to a man preaching to thousands that they had killed the Son of God.
Peter, along with the other disciples in Acts 2, believed in Christ’s resurrection from the dead and that He was the Son of God long before being filled with the Holy Spirit. So did the Samaritan converts in Acts 8 and Paul in Acts 9. The Ephesian disciples in Acts 19 are probably not yet real believers – but Paul’s question to them is nevertheless revealing.
Throughout Luke’s writings, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is distinct from salvation through believing in Christ – even though the two happen together in Acts 10.
Throughout the book of Acts there seems to be a general theme of an experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is always more than a secret work.
How does this happen?
Often through the laying on of hands, but not always. There are visible manifestations of the infilling of the Holy Spirit – for example the gift of tongues (languages). But there are some Spirit filled men who do not speak in tongues. That said, it would not be wise to despise the gift of languages.
Have you received this?
There are 5 types of people:
- You know you have been Holy Spirit baptised
- You have not and want to be
- You are not sure
- You have not and you think you have
- You don’t know Jesus yet
Ask Jesus and He will give the Holy Spirit to you.
Freedom for Bondage?
In the Bible, freedom is understood as freedom to worship (and thereby serve) God. The Exodus (the rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt) is a story picture of this. Paul is using Exodus language here to link themes of freedom and true worship. The irony is that the Exodus generation, having been liberated, received the law, which Paul sees as a bondage to the Jew.
Freedom for Freedom
In this respect the difference between the Exodus generation and believers in Jesus could not be more striking. Unlike those who knew God only through Torah (the law) we are set free for freedom (Galatians 3).
Paul paints the difference in striking terms – life and death… when it comes to finding a way to live and worship – choose the way of the Spirit – not the law.
And this is only possible if you are born of the Holy Spirit.
- The law condemns the old heart
- The Spirit gives a new heart
- The law gives instructions
- The Spirit gives companionship
- The law puts nails in the coffin
- The Spirit sows seeds of life
- The law veils our eyes
- The Spirit opens our eyes
- The law makes you a slave
- The Spirit makes you a son
- The law promotes to compliance or hardness
- The Spirit promotes love and joyful obedience
Working It Out
The application of this is 2 pronged: reckon on it… have high expectations of new covenant life – and don’t trade them in…
Sow to the Holy Spirit – time, edification, fellowship with God.
God’s desire for the sons of Adam: glad worship and obedience from a liberated heart