Scriptural Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Verse to Memorize: Acts 2:38
Reference: John 14:16-17, 15:26
Goal: to help readers receive the Holy Spirit, the sign of salvation and the gift of God, and to experience the works of the Spirit always in their lives
God didn’t forget about Adam, the first man, even after he had fallen due to his sin of disobedience and was sent out from the Garden of Eden, and God has continued to guide mankind to live in His will ever since. When the appointed time came, God sent Jesus to us as the propitiation for our sin. This is because God wanted us to restore the relationship with Him as that which exists between the Father and His children, so that He could be with us again. For this to take place, Jesus was crucified for us with the shedding of His blood. By doing so, He reconciled us to God.
The sinless Lord Jesus overcame death, resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. Then, as He had promised, He sent the Holy Spirit, the Helper, into our hearts. This was because although He had opened the way to Heaven, He knew well that it is beyond men’s own capacity for them to reach Heaven by themselves.
The Helper refers to the One who protects and helps believers; He is the Holy Spirit. God demonstrated His love toward us by allowing for Jesus to be handed over and put to death on the cross. In the same manner He confirmed His love once again for us by sending the Spirit to abide in us.
1. The Spirit, the presence in Mark’s upper room
Acts 1 records the command, delivered by the resurrected Lord, which was given to His disciples before His ascension. He told them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Helper the Holy Spirit whom God had promised to give them as written in John 14:26 and 15:26. He also said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The disciples obeyed and prayed in the upper room of Mark’s place without leaving Jerusalem. The place was where Jesus and His disciples had eaten the last supper before His crucifixion. It was also where the resurrected Lord appeared before His disciples. Out of the 500 who had witnessed the Lord’s ascension, 120 people gathered there and prayed earnestly with longing to receive the Spirit whom God had promised to give them. Then, what do you think happened to them?
Acts 2:1-4 reads, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from Heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
The apostles and believers who prayed in the Mark’s upper room received the baptism of the Spirit, which was like a violent rushing wind and a fire coming upon them. They became filled with the Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them utterance. The sound was very loud!
Because it was the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem there were devout Jews who were coming from every nation under Heaven as well as Gentiles who had converted to Judaism who were also visiting Jerusalem. Everyone was amazed and astonished at the descent of the Holy Spirit, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Some of them mocked them saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
Peter immediately took his stand with the eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared to the men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem saying that they were not drunk and this was the result of what God was pouring forth of His Spirit on them just as the Prophet Joel had prophesied in Joel 2:28. He also proclaimed that the prophecy in the Old Testament had already been fulfilled through Jesus Christ.
On the day, as many as three thousand people repented listening to the Peter’s words and they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38-39 reads, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'”
This paved the way for the church in Jerusalem to be established. From then on many other churches began to be founded in all Judea, Samaria, and even Antioch through the apostles. The apostle Paul began his missionary journeys, and many people became Christians and the gospel was spread to every corner of the world.
The Acts of Apostles is the book that records the apostles’ achievements after the decent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Chapters 1 through 12 focus on the apostle Peter and chapters 13 through 28, center on the apostle Paul. They describe the works of the Spirit in detail뾥ow God allowed the gospel to be spread to Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, and the remotest part of the earth and how God arranged for the churches in these places to be established.
2. When you believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?
Apostle Paul was a man of power with citizenship of the Roman Empire. As an orthodox Jew he took a lead in persecuting Christians. One day, he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Then, he thoroughly repented and received the Spirit. Later he even received power and devoted himself to evangelizing Gentiles. Until he was beheaded for the sake of the name of the Lord, he established many churches in Asia and Europe and recorded 14 books of the Bible.
In Acts chapter 19, the apostle Paul went on his third missionary journey. In those days, Ephesus, in Asia Minor, was a place suitable for an outpost for the Asian ministry, so Paul went to Ephesus. He found some disciples there and he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
People in Ephesus had received the baptism of water from John the Baptist, but they didn’t know that there was a Holy Spirit and they did not know why they had to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Today, there are many more people than we thought who did not receive baptism of the Spirit while they received the baptism of water in the name of Jesus Christ.
Once you have attended church for a period of time, at some point most of you elect to receive baptism by water. However you cannot be baptized with the Spirit just because you want to receive it or when you want it. Only when you repent with realizing that you are a sinner and believe from the bottom of your heart that Jesus is the Savior can you receive the grace of forgiveness and also the Spirit as the gift of God.
The timing of receiving the baptism of water and the Spirit could be different from person to person. Some people receive the baptism of water first after listening to the gospel and attending church for a while and then the baptism of the Spirit follows. Others receive the baptism of the Spirit first and then, they receive baptism by water. But the point is whether or not you received the Holy Spirit when you believed.
3. The Holy Spirit, the sign of salvation and the gift of God
When you accept Jesus Christ and become God’s child, your name will be recorded in the Book of Life in Heaven. As the sign showing that you become His child, God sends the Holy Spirit into your heart. Only when you receive the Holy Spirit, that is the sign of salvation, can you become born as a new creature and live according to the will of God.
The Spirit is God’s heart and searches all things, even the depths of God as recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:10. He dwells in our hearts and teaches us the truth much the same way a private tutor teaches. Additionally, the Spirit acts as the source of power that drives us to unceasingly run towards Heaven just like an engine’s power moves a vehicle. Those who are full of the Spirit, figuratively, ‘maintain the best state of the engine.’
Jesus talked about His death and resurrection to His disciples before His crucifixion. Meantime, He taught them about the Helper the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-17 reads, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
God opened the way of salvation through Jesus Christ and promised that He would give us the Helper the Holy Spirit as a gift so that we can reach perfect salvation. The Spirit is helping us not to live in sins but to become righteous by living by the Word of God. He is also helping us cast away our former manners of life full of sin and evil and bear the fruits of the Spirit following the truth. As explained above, only when we accept Jesus Christ and receive the Spirit as the gift of God, can we act in the Light and reach perfect salvation and, finally, enter Heaven.