Most of us long for miracles. And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs: complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King. But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles. In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament: the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.
If you’ve been following this series, you know that we’re coming closer to the end of the 50 days between Jesus’s fulfillment of the Old Testaments Feast of Firstfruits in His resurrection (Leviticus 23:9-16, 1 Corinthians 15:20 and 23) to His fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-22, Deuteronomy 16:9, Joel 2:21-32, Acts 2:1ff) when God’s Spirit brought an unusual blessing of salvation in large numbers and overflowing praise to God. Yet, in Acts 1:4, we read that the Lord Jesus “ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait…” for the Holy Spirit.
For, even with the three years of time and teaching they had received from Jesus, even with the proofs of His resurrection, even with 40 more days of intimate time and additional miracles among them, they would have no hope of success in their mission without God’s Spirit. Consider some of the works of the Holy Spirits that are absolutely essential for God’s people to live for Him and serve Him.
- The Holy Spirit inspired Scripture to be recorded (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21)
- He convicts people of sin (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
- He brings the new birth (John 3:5-6, 2 Cor 3:6-9, Titus 3:5)
- He teaches God’s people (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)
- He sets us apart and cleanses us to obey God (2 Thess 2:13-14, 1 Peter 1:2)
- He leads God’s people (Matthew 4:1-11, Acts 16:7, Galatians 5:16-18)
- He keeps God’s people from the practice of sinning (1 John 3:9)
- He bears witness to God’s people that they are His (Romans 8:16)
- He guarantees the salvation of God’s people (2 Corinthians 1:22)
- He brings God’s fruit in their lives (Galatians 5:22-23)
Without the Holy Spirit, even Jesus’ actions right in front of the people of His day and His teachings in their ears were seeds of life that fell on hard, dead soil.
You may remember that the risen Lord has already “breathed on (the disciples) and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.'” (John 20:22-23) So what was this second baptism of the Spirit? Although that’s not my primary point of encouragement for you today, I’ll briefly address it because it’s a common question.
You have heard some talk about a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit, in which God’s people (whom He has already saved by the work of His Spirit to open their hearts and give them true love for Him) are given even more of His Spirit. They describe this second blessing as bringing supernatural abilities, such as speaking in tongues, a direct prophecy or Word from the Lord, and other manifestations of the Spirit that set apart the individual as a sort of super believer. These alleged extraordinary works of the Spirit generally also occur primarily in church services.
When we look at the entire context of Acts 1-2, this “baptism of the Spirit” resulted in specific works among God’s people: effectual preaching by the Apostles, and God’s people testifying the praises of God to foreigners in their midst in those foreign languages which God’s people could not previously speak, resulting in many coming to believe and follow the Lord Jesus.
This baptism of the Spirit drew everyone’s attention to Jesus, not primarily to Peter or the other Apostles who would preach later or to the people speaking the praises of God in those foreign languages. These specific works of effectual preaching and specifically to other nations is consistently what we see when Scripture talks about the supernatural outpouring of the Spirit in the days after Jesus ascended back to heaven. Consider the first major spreading of the gospel to Gentiles among Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44-48) and Paul’s first preaching of the full gospel in Ephesus – not simply repenting of our sins but resting in Christ and living for Him by the power of His Spirit. (Acts 19:1-10) This supernatural work of the Spirit is for God’s clear, public praise and bringing the gospel to people who have never heard it before, not a confusing and private conversation with God in a worship service. (1 Corinthians 14)
It’s worth noting, too, that these more overtly miraculous works of the Spirit are seen less and less as time passes in the New Testament. That’s because these supernatural displays of God’s unusual blessing were public validations of His mouthpieces, the prophets and Apostles on whose inspired words revealed the Word of God consistent from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. (Exodus 4:1-9, Daniel 4:1ff, Matthew 24:24, Acts 2:22, 5:12, 14:3, etc.) God’s Word was completed with the writings of the New Testament.
The Holy Spirit is the incredible third person of the Trinity. Although He is fully God, He never calls attention to Himself. He points to God the Father and Jesus the Son. (Luke 3:22, John 15:26, 16:13, Romans 8:15, Acts 2:17ff, Galatians 4:6, etc.) When we think of God’s love, most of us probably think of the Son of God dying on the behalf of sinners. We might even think of God the Father sending His Son to give up His glory temporarily to come this earth to live among us for thirty-plus years. (1 John 4:14). And these are certainly true expressions of God’s love.
Also be encouraged that the Holy Spirit indwells each of God’s people from the moment of their spiritual rebirth, through their daily failings, until He secures our final glory in God’s presence for all eternity.
I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.