But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
It all began on the day of Pentecost. John the Baptist had foretold of someone coming who would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). Jesus had told his disciples that when He had returned to the Father, He would send “another Helper that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16). Then, just before He ascended into heaven, He instructed them to “wait in Jerusalem” until they were filled with power from on high (Luke 24:49). He told them that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8).
The Early Church was founded and grew by the power of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book of Acts we read where the disciples healed, preached and answered their accusers as they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Peter in Acts 4:8 was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when he answered the rulers of Israel’s accusations after he had healed the lame man.
Peter told Ananias and Sapphira that it was the Holy Spirit they were lying to in Acts 5.
When there was a complaint about the division of daily food between the Hebrews and the Hellenists, the disciples’ answer was to find men “full of the Holy Spirit” to take care of the daily administrative needs of the church (Acts 6).
Stephen was “full of faith and power” when he did great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6:10 tells us that the Jewish rulers could not “resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” When he went to his death he went “full of the Holy Spirit” according to Acts 7:55.
Another lay person, Philip, went to Samaria and preached Christ and performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). Later the spirit directed Philip to leave the revival at Samaria and sent him into the desert to share the Gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch. After baptizing the eunuch, it was the Spirit that conveyed Philip away.
The great leader Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit before he began his great ministry to the Gentiles. We could speak of the Spirit falling upon Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, of the prompting of the Holy Spirit upon a man called Agabus to prophecy of a coming famine that led to the church at Antioch taking up what was probably the first relief offering in the church, about the Holy Spirit speaking to the church at Antioch to set Barnabas and Paul forth as the church’s first missionary team to the Gentiles.
The Bible even claims for itself that it was written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit so our Bible is a book whose writer is the Holy Spirit. Every time we read the Bible, we are reading the word inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Even our last book of the Bible, Revelation, was given to John as he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10).
So, we see that the Early Church was a church in which the Holy Spirit was recognized as an essential part of the Godhead and an essential part of the believer’s life. As the church began to become more accepted, believers began to allow the beliefs, ideas and philosophies of the world penetrate the church. Slowly, over time, the church lost its power with God as it gained power with man.
Still, the church record is full of times and peoples when the church returned to its desire for God’s power. In those times, there are records of the Holy Spirit falling again as it did on the day of Pentecost.
There have been revivals of the Pentecostal experience in our recent history. In the early 1900’s revival came in our southern states and in California giving birth to the Assembly of God and other Pentecostal denominations. Again, in the late 1950’s there was a move of the Spirit in the mainline denominations. This is often referred to as the “Charismatic renewal.”
The word “Pentecostal” – 50 – came from the feast which occurred 50 days after the Passover. It was the Feast of Weeks or the Day of First fruits, a celebration of the first buds of harvest. How appropriate that the Lord was crucified on Passover and the Church was born on Pentecost. Charismatic – from the Greek word charismata is used in 1 Corinthians 12 to describe the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In recent years there has been a great revival of Pentecost in South America. Pentecostal churches are growing so fast in what was formerly predominately Catholic countries that the Pope is sitting up and taking notice of this move of God. We look at the church in America and we think the days of signs and wonders are over. We think “it was only for a particular time or a particular place.” Yet, everywhere in the world except for the USA, Canada and most parts of Europe, the church is growing by leaps and bounds and it is exhibiting the marks of the Early Church. People are being baptized in the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit are operating.
Is it important that the gifts of the Spirit operate in our church today? Should we be concerned if the gifts are not in operation? Whose responsibility is it for the gifts to be in operation?
It is important only if the following things are things we desire in our church.
- For souls to be won to the Lord. We see by what our Lord Jesus said that it takes the power of the Holy Spirit for us to be witnesses. (To Know, To Be, To Tell).
Acts 1:8 – The Holy Spirit is the Person and the Power by which assistance and ability are given for serving, for sharing the life and power of God with others.
- For the church to be strengthened and to grow.
Ephesians 4:12 – The Holy Spirit gives the Church gifts so that we may each find our place of ministry, fill that place and see the church grow (numerical expansion) and edified (internal strengthening).
1 Corinthians 12:7 – Profit – to bring together, to benefit, to be advantageous.
Whose responsibility is it?
- The leaders – Ephesians 4:11-12 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
- The individuals – 1 Corinthians 12:31 – But earnestly desire the best gifts. Desire – to burn with desire, to pursue zealously, to desire intensely.
How do we see the gifts of the Spirit come to the church? It has always come about when there has been a real recognition by God’s people of a need for renewal in their own lives and in the lives of their church and community. When there has been a definite effort on the part of sincere believers to receive this power of the Holy Spirit and to allow the Holy Spirit to have control and move in their lives.
Equipping Ministry Gifts – Ephesians 4:11 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers
Body Ministry Gifts – Romans 12:3-8 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Manifestation Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 – for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
- Word of Wisdom
- Word of Knowledge
- Discerning of Spirits
- Interpretation of Tongues