Lesson 1 -- fourth quarter 2005
September 4, 2005
Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?
How do you know?
The manner of the Spirit's coming was unique to that occasion.
Acts 2:2-4 report an event whose details and manner are not repeated in the Biblical record. This marked the dawning of the age of the Holy Spirit, when God's own Spirit began to dwell among men in the hearts of His people. Perhaps that explains why God didn't repeat certain signs every time His Spirit entered an individual. That possible explanation is only conjecture on our part. We have no way of knowing the actual explanation because God chose not to record it in His Word.
The Spirit equipped them for the task at hand.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be witnesses unto Him, beginning in Jerusalem "and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Interestingly enough, "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). This gave the disciples the opportunity to immediately plant the seed of the Gospel among all nations without even leaving Jerusalem. God made matters easier yet, if you will, by empowering the disciples with a gift that allowed each listener to hear the Gospel in his own tongue (Acts 2:6,8,11). God always gifts and empowers His people for whatever assignment He gives them at a particular time.
The message of the church is Jesus.
Jesus is the life of the church; He ought also to be her focus, purpose, and message. That was true of the early church -- "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42; see also 8:35; 11:20; 17:3,18; 28:31; 2 Corinthians 1:19; 4:5; Colossians 1:27,28). It should be no less true of His church today. How are we doing?
What is the gift of the Holy Ghost that Peter talked about?
In Acts 2:38 the Spirit moved him to declare, "Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Those who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus receive a gift: the Holy Spirit of God Himself. Otherwise, we would be incapable of living the life of Son according to the will of Father. Furthermore, that gift seals us and assures us as the children of God (2 Corinthians 1:22; Romans 8:16). And not only that, this gift is God's down payment to us (2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13,14).
Does God give the same sign to everyone who is filled with His Spirit?
No, not according to the evidence presented in the Scriptures. The New Testament presents a few cases of people speaking in tongues upon receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:45-46; 19:6). The New Testament mentions initial Holy Spirit infilling eight other times. Here you have them with a summary of the immediate results:
|Luke 4:1||left river for tempting in wilderness|
|Acts 9:17||sight restored|
|Acts 19:6||tongues and prophecy|
I have a hard time distinguishing lemon trees from orange trees. But I have a sure-fire way of eventually identifying such trees. I wait till the trees bear fruit. Then I know a lemon tree from an orange tree!
Similarly, those who have the Spirit bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). I have no other way of knowing if I or anyone else has received the Holy Spirit. But I need no other way. This method of discernment works amply well. Remember, the Master Himself declared, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16).
Note these Scriptures for further evidences of God's Spirit at work:
|Ezekiel 36:27||causes obedience|
|Mark 13:11||guides speech|
|John 14:26||teaches and reminds of all things|
|Romans 5:5||sheds God's love abroad in our hearts|
|Romans 8:26||helps infirmities and makes intercession|
|Romans 15:13||causes to abound in hope|
|Galatians 5:22-23||produces godly attitudes and desires|
|Hebrews 10:15||witnesses to the person|