What the Father Promised

I am going to send you what my Father has promised.

Luke 24:49

Today is Pentecost Sunday. At Pentecost Jesus fulfilled his promise and sent the Holy Spirit to clothe his followers with the power to take the gospel to ends of the earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

Jesus, risen and exalted Lord, poured out the Spirit of God upon the people of the new covenant. The Spirit now provides the ability to fulfill the true meaning of the Torah.

The significance of the Holy Spirit for the missionary task of the early church is revealed in the unfolding story of the spread of the gospel in Acts. This list is from Eckhard Schnabel.

What strikes me about the list is that every item is directly related to the spread of the gospel, the making disciples and the planting of churches. The missionary Spirit of God is wind and fire.

When God’s people settle, the Spirit unsettles them. The Spirit is about the forward advance of the dynamic word, and boldness and endurance in the face of opposition.

  1. When Peter and John were required to justify their preaching before the Sanhedrin, Peter “filled with the Holy Spirit,” explained the message and ministry of the apostles (Acts 4:7-8).
  2. When the Jerusalem church prayed after the release of Peter and John from prison, the believers were all filled wIth the Holy Spirit” so that they “Spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31-32).
  3. When the apostles stood before the Sanhedrin for the second time, they again referred to the Holy Spirit, “whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32). This means that the witness of God’s Spirit becomes visible and audible in the proclamation of the apostles, to which the members of the Jewish council should become obedient as well!
  4. When the ministry of the Jerusalem church needed to be consolidated by the election of further co-workers, the leadership invoked for members who had a good reputation and were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3).
  5. When Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin and defended and explained the message that he proclaimed in the synagogues of Jerusalem, the members of the council “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke” (Acts 6:10). Stephen rebuked them for resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). The events that happen in connection with and through the apostles are the work of the Holy Spirit. Resistance against the community of the followers of Jesus the Messiah is resistance against God’s Spirit. When Stephen was killed, he died “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55).
  6. In Samaria God poured out the Spirit on the new converts through the mediation of Peter and John (Acts 8: 14-17).
  7. The conversion of the first foreigner, an official of the Ethiopian court, was the result of the work of the Spirit, who said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it” (Acts 8:29).
  8. When Saul of Tarsus was converted, Ananias, a Christian from Damascus, assured him that he would regain his sight and that he would be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).
  9. Luke summarizes the success of the missionary work in Judea, Galilee and Samaria by pointing to the Holy Spirit: “Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers” (Acts 9:31).
  10. The conversion of the first Gentile was connected with the work of the Spirit, who said to Peter, “Look, three men are searching for you” (Acts 10:19). When Cornelius and the other listeners heard and accepted Peter’s message, they received the Holy Spirit, which prompted Peter to baptize them without delay”, that is, to accept them into the people of God without circumcising them or stipulating that they keep all the commandments of the Torah (Acts 10:44-48). Back in Jerusalem, Peter explained his actions in Caesarea with the argument that the Gentiles had received “the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ,” which is sufficient reason why they must be admitted as full members into God’s people (Acts 11 :12, 15-17; 15:8).
  11. Barnabas, a well-respected member and coworker in the Jerusalem church who was sent to Antioch, the capital of Syria, to engage in missionary work was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24).
  12. The missionary work on Cyprus and in Galatia by Paul and Barnabas was a result of the initiative of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2, 4).
  13. Paul, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” confronted the magician Elymas (Acts 13:9).
  14. The new followers of Jesus in Pisidian Antiocheia were “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” despite the persecution that they had to endure (Acts 13:52).
  15. The results of the apostolic council are traced back to the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28).
  16. It was God’s Spirit who prevented Paul from preaching the gospel in the provinces of Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7).
  17. The men in Ephesus who had only heard of John’s baptism of repentance received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6).
  18. The Spirit told Paul through Christian prophets that he would be arrested in Jerusalem, an announcement that did not, however, prevent Paul from traveling to Jerusalem (Acts 20:23; 21:4, 11).
  19. The elders of the church in Ephesus were appointed as overseers by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28).