The Book of Acts Study Part 2
The Promise of the Father
Acts Chapter 1
4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The instruction of Jesus to wait for “the promise of the Father” v.4 was the final commandment He gave to the Disciples. What was Jesus telling them to wait for?
- Jesus clearly does not say, wait until you are saved or Born Again, He tells them to wait until they are filled with power. This “clothing with power” by the Holy Spirit was clearly what Jesus was telling them to wait for.
- The Disciples had already been Born Again following Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 Note the parallel here with the creation of Adam, who became a living being when God breathed upon him.
- He tells them that it is a “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” which He parallels to John’s water baptism. V.5 He further describes the result of this Baptism …” you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. In only one Gospel is Jesus introduced as the “Lamb of God” in all four He is described as the “the one who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit” This not reduce the former in its importance but helps us to see the importance of the latter.
- To Baptize means firstly to dip – to be fully immersed. We are baptized in water as an act of obedience, going through the water as Jesus passed through death and into resurrection life. Symbolically we follow Him through death and into life. At the New Birth, we receive the Holy Spirit, and are, through His power birthed into the Body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:13. In the New Birth then we are touched by the Spirit’s creative power – like Adam we become a living being, but of a different order, we are literally a new creation. We are adopted as Sons of God and made a part of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has made us wholly new, we become His Temple. “the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” 1 Cor 3:17 Now He wants to come and fill and take possession of us.
- When Solomon built the first Temple, everything was complete – it was a brand new creation, it had all of the items that God had commanded be placed there – including the Ark of God. However something more had to take place, it needed to be filled with God Himself. “then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” 2 Chron 5:10-14
- Baptism has another meaning, to submerge, to saturate, to infuse. It is this description that helps us to understand the Baptism in the Spirit. When you submerge a tea bag into hot water, it is not just an act of dipping that produces the tea. The water soaks through the bag, saturates the contents, takes possession of them and releases that which is locked inside and we have tea. In the Baptism of the Spirit we receive His fullness. When we invite Him to come in His fullness, He infuses us, saturates us, and takes possession of us as God’s children and releases the fullness of our New Creation lives out to the world. We are filled with His Presence and Power and we are radically changed
- The Holy Spirit is the fire of God, fire consumes that which it touches, Jesus was describing the action of the Holy Spirit in this Baptism, He will take possession and cause us to burn with His Holy Fire.
This Baptism with the Holy Spirit is always linked with power and the boldness to speak or witness.
- In Acts 2:4 one of the results of the Disciples being baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit, is that they became bold in their speech and actions.
- In Acts 4:8 Peter is again filled with the Spirit and speaks out boldly, so much so that those who heard him were amazed.
- In Acts 4:31 the whole group of the Disciples were again filled with the Holy Spirit with the result that they spoke out with boldness
- In Acts 6 we see Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking out with boldness, doing signs and wonders.
- In Acts 9:7 Paul is converted and then filled with the Holy Spirit, again the result is that he began speaking with extraordinary boldness
Jesus had already instructed them that the Holy Spirit would not come in fullness until He had departed John 7:37-39
- John 14:15–18 Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would, in effect replace His immediate presence with them, being “another” (like Him) who would “comfort’ them, being with them forever. John 16:5-7 They would not be left as “orphans”
- The Holy Spirit would “teach them” and cause them to “remember” what Jesus taught. John 14:25–26
The Promise in the Old Testament
As we consider the teaching of Jesus, we begin, like the Disciples to gain more understanding of why Jesus told them to wait. However, there is one more description that Jesus used that will help us to see the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as an entrance into the supernatural realm of God. He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, v4 What is this “Promise of the Father?” We do not have to enter into conjecture here for Peter in his address to the crowd in Acts 2 tells us EXACTLY what the promise of the Father is:
“for these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; 18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. Acts 2:15-18
- This is a direct quote from Joel2:28–32. Peter says THIS IS THAT, or what you see and what you hear is what God promised in Joel. This is a far-reaching statement. The Disciples were visibly physically overcome by the power of the Spirit, they were engaging in supernaturally empowered praise in different languages, they were Prophesying, they were Worshipping. By Peter saying “this is that” he was revealing that the experience of the Church on the day of Pentecost was God’s established norm for His new Church! He is declaring that what Jesus described as the “Promise of the Father” is here and being clearly evidenced. The Church was promised a supernatural dimension by the Father, Peter is saying “here it is”, this is what it looks like. It is very clear that this experience of the Spirit’s power was not just for a few on the first day. God promised this to ALL, it is clearly for all. Peter, finalizes his message by inviting his listeners to repent, be born again and receive this “Promise” for themselves.
The experience of the Disciples
The third hour of the day was the equivalent of 9 am. Jews were commanded not to eat, drink or begin work until they had prayed the morning prayer, the time to do this lasted until the fourth hour or 10 o’clock. The Disciples were being accused of behavior that looked to those around them as “disgraceful”. They appeared to be “drunk”, however, this was evidenced they were visibly overwhelmed, possibly unable to stand (as the Priests in 2 Chron 5) most definitely physically affected by the power of the Spirit. We see some of this in Old Testament experiences of people being touched by the Spirit. Saul, in particular, was so affected by the Spirit’s power that he was totally overwhelmed for many hours. It was commonplace for the Prophets to fall to the ground when confronted by the the presence of God. Daniel reveals that he was affected for several days by such an experience Dan 8:27
Right through Church history in times of revival. Such things have been commonplace.
- Jonathan Edwards, the great Preacher and theologian of the Great Awakening in America (1725–1760), said in his Account of the Revival of Religion in North Hampton in 1740–42: . . . many in their religious affections being raised far beyond what they had ever had before: and there were some instances of persons lying in a sort of trance, remaining perhaps for a whole twenty-four hours motionless, and with their senses locked up; but in the meantime under strong imaginations, as though they went to heaven, and had there a vision of glorious and delightful objects.
- Charles Finney (1792–1875) was one of the most powerful revivalists in Church history. At a country place named Sodom, in the state of New York, Finney gave one address which produced the following result: I had not spoken to them in this strain of direct application, I should think, more than a quarter of an hour, when all at once an awful solemnity seemed to settle down upon them; the congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell. Indeed nearly the whole congregation were either on their knees or prostrate, I should think, in less than two minutes from this first shock that fell upon them. Every one prayed for himself, who was able to speak at all.