Through the grace of God, we are able to have our sins forgiven at the waters of baptism and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Most Christians understand the idea of having our sins forgiven, but how much do we know about the second part of Peter’s declaration?
Through the grace of God, we are able to have our sins forgiven at the waters of baptism and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Most Christians understand the idea of having our sins forgiven, but how much do we know about the second part of Peter’s declaration. We readily accept that we receive the Spirit at baptism because that seems clear, but what or who is the Spirit? Do we know? We understand God’s forgiveness to be a huge gift of God. Do we view the gift of the Spirit to be as significant?
The early Church valued the Spirit of God and the role of the Spirit in the lives of Christians and the Church. Repeatedly in Acts, the Spirit stands out as a central figure in the story of the Church. In Acts 4:8, Peter boldly speaks when filled with the Spirit. The Spirit emboldens all of the disciples in Acts 4:31. Peter confronts Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Spirit in Acts 5. When choosing men to take responsibility for the distribution of food, the apostles looked for men full of the Spirit (Acts 6:3). Philip, under the direction of the Spirit, ran up to the Ethiopian’s chariot (Acts 8:29). In Acts 9, Ananias was sent to Saul to return Saul’s sight and so that Saul could receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 9:31, the Spirit encouraged the Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The Spirit chose Barnabas and Saul to plant churches in Acts 13:2. Paul and his companions were restricted from preaching in Asia by the Spirit (Acts 16:6). The Spirit chose elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:28). By looking at these ten references, one can see the Spirit is evident in Acts. Now consider that the Spirit is mentioned directly over fifty times in the book of Acts. The Spirit was of central importance to the early Church. Why is the Spirit not as significant in the Church today? Is it because the Spirit is not active? Could it be the Spirit is active, but we don’t understand him so we don’t recognize his work? Is the Spirit less significant to us because we don’t have apostles or see miracles? The first Christians to walk on the earth were intimately connected to the Spirit of God. They could see the Spirit work and acknowledged his presence. The Spirit must become as significant to us today.
In order for the Church to become more aware of the Spirit, each disciple needs to increase their understanding of the Spirit of God. Imagine if God gave you a choice. You can have Jesus here with you on earth or the Holy Spirit living in you. Which would you choose? If you weren’t reading an article about the Spirit, you would likely choose Jesus. We want Jesus here to perform miracles, teach us about God, and tell us what to do. Consider what Jesus said in John 16:7. Jesus told his disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus told his followers they would be better off if Jesus left and the Spirit came to be with them. When you understand the role of the Spirit, Jesus’ words begin to make sense. Do you know the role of the Spirit? How would you describe the Spirit? Is the Spirit an “it” or a “he”? What are some general characteristics of the Spirit? Is the Spirit as important as the Father and Son? What role did the Spirit play in the role of men and women in the Old and New Testament? What role does the Spirit play in our lives today? How does the Spirit respond to sin? Does the Spirit do anything more than perform miracles? These are all questions answered in the Bible. We need to take time to study the scriptures to understand the truth about the Spirit of God.
God’s Spirit was of utmost importance throughout the Bible and especially in the lives of the early Christians. How important is the Spirit to you? Dig into the Bible to find the truth about the Spirit. Use a concordance to study the Spirit. Read a book in the Bible specifically looking for the Spirit. You will find a wealth of Spirit scriptures in the gospels and in Acts. Use outside resources such as books and audio sermons but be careful because ideas about the Spirit abound. Make sure that whatever you believe about the Spirit is grounded in the words of God and not the minds of men. Allow the Spirit to become more significant in your life.