HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, July 3, 2022
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puVAu5J61YI
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Help Has Come!”
Texts – Acts 2 + Various
Doing life with Jesus is no small feat…it is not possible simply through sheer willpower or self-determination to go through life as a successful follower of Jesus. It requires the help of God. But when Jesus first told of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would provide this much needed help, the early disciples were grieved because all they heard was that Jesus would soon be leaving them. He assured them that this was a good thing, “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you” (John 16:5-7). The Holy Spirit was going to be a far better gift to Jesus’ followers, than Jesus could be if he remained.
But how is that possible? Because even after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus remains the God-man and is limited by a heavenly body, while the Holy Spirit has no such limitations. He can be with each believer at all times, and as a member of the Trinity, the One God, allows us to experience the whole of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit residing inside us as his temple.
So, Jesus instructed the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the time came for the Holy Spirit to come upon them all…and when he did, it was as momentous an occasion as had been promised!
Acts 2:1-18 – “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. 13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy…”
Imagine being one of the believers that day. You have met together with the Apostles, Jesus’ family--Mary his mother, as well as his brothers and sisters—and other disciples numbering roughly 120 to worship. All of a sudden you hear a noise like a wind gust more powerful than any you have ever heard before and then little ‘tongues of flame’ appear over each person’s head and you realize you yourself also have one of these flames. But when you speak, words come out of your mouth that you’ve never before spoken. You find yourself, with all the others, praising God for his incredible gift of the Holy Spirit and realize you are all speaking different languages. How is this possible? It’s a miracle! And even if you wanted to, you can’t stop. This miracle is too awesome not to share!
The sound causes people to come running to investigate…kind of like if you heard a loud explosion. And what they find is nothing short of amazing. Everyone, no matter the language they speak, is hearing the news of Jesus told to them by this group of freshly Holy Spirit baptized believers. Of course, there are skeptics who claim Jesus’ disciples are just drunk…evidently the noise has stopped and the ‘tongues of fire’ are no longer visible. But Peter is quick to engage the crowd and tell them that what they are witnessing is the fulfillment of the Prophet Joel’s words, “God’s Spirit has been poured out!” By the end of Peter's sermon, 3000 additional people put their faith in Jesus that very day.
Today, we do not experience that loud rushing sound of wind or the appearance of flames of fire over the heads of people who experience the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Not that God couldn't, it's just that I've never heard of it happening again. It appears to have been limited to the initial event of the coming of the Spirit. So, what is the evidence that Jesus’ followers have of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives? What is his role in our lives today? I hope you’ve come prepared to do a bit of digging!
“THE HOLY SPIRIT’S HELP”
Advocate who teaches and reminds us of Jesus’ teaching – “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26).
Convicts of sin, of righteousness and coming judgement – “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment” (John 16:7-8).
Indwells believers – “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16)?
A source of revelation and wisdom – “But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
A source of power for witness – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Guide to truth, including what is to come - “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13-14).
Gives gifts for the building up of the Church – “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
He has marked us as God’s own – “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago” (Ephesians 1:13).
Helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us – “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:26-27).
Gives us new life – “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:10-11).
Transforms our character into Christ-likeness – “16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses…22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things” (Galatians 5:16-23)!
Through the years, the topic of the Holy Spirit has been debated. I myself know a minister who was unceremoniously fired after preaching on the supernatural gifts of the Spirit: I have been taught that the gifts of the Spirit (meaning tongues, prophesy and healing) are not for our current 'church age' (coming from a dispensational understanding of theology); I have also been taught that there is a special experience known as the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' that is also available for more fully committed believers.
Today, I want to conclude with a discussion on the topic of the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ and what Jesus meant by these words.
“BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 1:5 – [Jesus himself said,] “John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
While some denominations have succumbed to the temptation to effectively silence the Holy Spirit, others of a more charismatic inclination, such as the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada have created a distinctive doctrine concerning the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit.’ (This is not meant as a denunciation of the PAOC position, but due to its influence in Christian theology, it is good for us to take on the character of the Bereans who Paul applauded for their diligence in study.)
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT – The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience in which believers yield control of themselves to the Holy Spirit. Through this the believer comes to know Christ in a more intimate way and receives power to witness and grow spiritually. Believers should earnestly seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. The initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth. (PAOC, 2014)
Jesus told his followers that they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but according to this statement of faith, unless you have been given the ability to speak in other languages through a miraculous gifting of the Holy Spirit, known by some as the gift of ‘tongues,’ you do not possess the fullest indwelling of the Holy Spirit available to the believer. Yes, you may have experienced his presence at new spiritual birth, but there is a deeper level available to those who pursue it…a second infilling known as ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit.’ In essence you receive more Holy Spirit at ‘baptism’ than is available to new believers when the Holy Spirit first takes up residence in their lives. It might help to think of yourself as a cup of water…God mixes in a spoonful of Holy Spirit mix when you believe, but another scoop is available for the more mature.
Let me be very clear, that this statement is not in agreement with the theological teaching of the EMCC. And having personally attended a Pentecostal church in the past, I came to the conclusion that, while their belief is sincere, it is 1) off base, 2) falls into the same trap that Paul had to provide a corrective for in his first letter to the Corinthians and 3) places what we think we know of God in a neat and tidy ‘box’ by which we attempt to assert control over the Spirit…a foolish and even hazardous pursuit! But worst, 4) creates a hierarchy in the body of Christ…those who have the Holy Spirit at new birth only and those who have experienced the subsequent baptism as a more completely surrendered believer.
In reacting to this teaching, some believers have in essence denied the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, I think that a much better approach is to turn to the stories from the early church...and where better than the book of Acts and the New Testament letters to the churches?
There are four instances in which Luke records believers being ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit’ in his letter to Theophilus which we know as the book of Acts. While there are similarities in the accounts, they are not identical and cannot provide a step-by-step explanation of how believers become ‘baptized’ in the Holy Spirit today.
There is the account we read earlier from Acts 2. A mighty wind accompanied by flames of fire are experienced by Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem who are then given the ability to speak in other languages. The second happens in Samaria.
Acts 8 tells how the Christians began to face persecution in Jerusalem and they scattered. Philip went to Samaria where he preached the Good News about Jesus and baptized the believers in the name of Jesus. The leaders of the Jerusalem church got word of the faith that was growing in Samaria and sent Peter and John to investigate. When they arrived, they learned that the believers had not yet received the Holy Spirit. So, through the laying on of their hands, these Samaritan believers received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, though there is no specific mention of any further details such as speaking in other languages.
The third recording of the Holy Spirit’s giving evidence to his indwelling is found in Acts 10. Cornelius, a Roman centurion who believed in God, is given a vision in which he is directed to call for Peter who has a message from God for him. While in the process of speaking, Peter witnesses these Gentiles receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit just as the believers in Jerusalem had, after which they are baptized in the name of Jesus. Here the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at the time of belief and is accompanied by speaking in other languages, but prior to baptism in the name of Jesus.
The final story comes from Acts 19. Apollos had been teaching convincingly about Jesus and had been baptizing converts with John’s baptism of repentance. Apollos is later given greater instruction by Priscilla and Aquila, when they are witnesses to some of the gaps in his theology.
Paul finds twelve men in Ephesus, where Apollos had previously been, who are believers but they had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. When he explained more fully about the need to be baptized in the name of Jesus they agreed, and afterward, he prayed for them and they too received the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages and prophesied.
What can we learn from these four accounts? Jewish, Samaritan and gentile believers all receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some through the laying on of hands, others while simply responding to the truth they hear; some experience spiritual baptism after water baptism, though some experience the reverse order; some are given the Spirit’s ability to speak in other languages, though mention of ‘tongues’ is not made at all in one of the accounts.
While it is good and right for us to attempt to find ways to explain our beliefs to others, whenever we try to create statements about our faith in God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we run the risk of being overly simplistic, or creating structures within which we deem God works and find ourselves putting God in a box of our own design…not his.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we find him having to correct some wrong ideas about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit’s gifting and specifically the prominence that the gift of speaking in tongues was being given in the Corinthian church, similarly to some charismatic churches today.
Paul spoke in tongues and valued the Holy Spirit’s gifting to be able to do so. But he makes it clear that he held the gift of prophecy in higher estimation. He personally benefited when he spoke in tongues, but when he spoke God’s words to others through prophecy the whole Church benefitted, which is why he thought it was the better gift (1 Corinthians 14).
In leading up to making his argument, Paul wrote,
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have….29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11,29-30)
I think it’s safe to say that Paul did not hold to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience of God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. He makes it clear what his view is concerning the idea that all of Jesus’ followers are to speak in tongues. We won’t. We will have the gifts the Holy Spirit deems are needed.
I believe that…
· the baptism of the Holy Spirit is rightly understood to be our spiritual immersion with the Spirit of God, just as water baptism is our physical immersion into the death and resurrection of Christ.
· it is a mystery that cannot be easily explained, but I do think we can know it as the process of our identification as God’s chosen people.
· it is therefore the experience of all believers and not a secondary experience we must all seek to attain.
· the baptism of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by all the gifts of the Spirit given to believers and not simply the gift of speaking in an unknown language.
· it is proven in the transformative work that is done in the life of Jesus’ followers and is not for the purpose of dividing God’s children into lesser and favoured categories as we are sometimes tempted to do.
We receive the Holy Spirit fully through spiritual baptism when we believe; what becomes greater is not his presence in our lives but our ability to surrender to his authority and to cooperate with his work to make us more into the image of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
· Jesus saw the gift of the Holy Spirit as indispensable for his followers in being able to live as his disciples
· The Holy Spirit helps believers, but remains unknown to those who haven’t chosen to live for Jesus
· We are all baptized by the Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus and experience his increasing power, gifting and fruit in our lives as we learn to more fully surrender to God’s ownership over our lives each and everyday
References and for further study / inspiration…
Christianity.com – “Ten Roles of the Holy Spirit in the Life of Christians” by Penny Noyes – https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holy-spirit/10-roles-of-the-holy-spirit-in-christian-life.html
PAOC – “Statement of Essential and Fundamental Truths, 2014” - https://paoc.org/docs/default-source/fellowship-services-documents/statement-of-fundamental-and-essential-truths.pdf
Sunday, July 10, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Living with Jesus’ Return as Our Focus” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!