The Church Acts | The Holy Spirit

The Church Acts | The Holy Spirit
Lee Reams


ACTS 2:1-47 NLT

The Holy Spirit Comes

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem.When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 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!”

Peter Preaches to the Crowd

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.

19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.

20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.

21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’

22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:

‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

26 No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.

27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.

28 You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

29 “Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. 30 But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. 31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. 33 Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. 34 For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand

35 until I humble your enemies,
making them a footstool under your feet.”’

36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

The Believers Form a Community

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

THOUGHT | How do I help the church fulfill the great commission if they won’t allow the Holy Spirit lead them to their purpose on this earth?

THOUGHT | Have you ever wondered why the church seems so detached or irrelevant in our current post-christian culture

Matthew 5:13-16 NLT 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.


In a portrait of the “unchurched” in America, a new study found that most are willing to hear what people have to say about Christianity but a majority also sees the church as a place full of hypocrites.

“A full 72 percent of the people interviewed said they think the church ‘is full of hypocrites,'” said LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer. “At the same time, however, 71 percent of the respondents said they believe Jesus ‘makes a positive difference in a person’s life’ and 78 percent said they would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share what they believed about Christianity.”

LifeWay Research studied 1,402 adults who were unchurched – those who had not attended a religious service at a church, synagogue or mosque in the previous six months – last spring and summer.

Many unchurched adults don’t have a biblical understanding about God and Jesus, according to the survey.

Study results, released this week, showed that while 64 percent of the respondents think “the Christian religion is a relevant and viable religion for today,” 72 percent of unchurched adults said they believe God, a higher or supreme being actually exists. Only 48 percent agree there is only one God as described in the Bible and 61 percent believe the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual being depicted.

“If you went back 100 years in North America, there would have been a consensus that God is the God in the Bible. We can’t assume this any longer,” said Stetzer. “We no longer have a home-field advantage as Christians in this culture.”

LifeWay Research Associate Director Scott McConnell isn’t surprised that the unchurched population doesn’t understand Bible basics.

“If you aren’t going to church, you don’t have an opportunity to be informed about what the Bible teaches or what other faiths teach,” he said. “It’s not surprising then that unchurched people lump world religions all together and consider the gods described in them as being the same.”

Up from 17 percent in 2004, 22 percent of Americans say they never go to church – the highest ever recorded by the General Social Survey.

But the problem is compounded by a widespread notion of religious tolerance that says religious and spiritual truth is a matter of personal opinion, Stetzer said, according to the report.

“We found a real openness to hearing about matters of faith, but the study also clearly documents what I call the Oprah-ization of American Christianity,” he said. “It’s very much a generic ‘big guy in the sky’ view of God and a ‘you believe what you believe, I believe what I believe’ viewpoint on theology. People say, ‘Who am I to judge?’

“We have seen this in the current political campaigns, in regard to Mormonism,” Stetzer added. “Recently a Christian leader was asked whether Mormons are Christians, and he replied that no, Mormons are outside the standard definition of what an orthodox Christian is. The host was shocked somebody would say that. How dare we say someone else is or is not a Christian?”

The American public seems to hold a similar opinion, Stetzer indicated.

“Christians begin with a faith system that teaches who God is, but the people in our culture not only don’t believe that, but often consider us intolerant because we dare to believe it,” he said.

Many unchurched Americans have a negative perception of the church.

“There will always be the stumbling block of the cross. Yet our study shows that many are tripping over the church before they hear the message of the cross,” said Stetzer.

A majority of unchurched Americans (79 percent) think that Christianity today is more about organized religion than about loving God and loving people; 86 percent believe they can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church.

“These outsiders are making a clear comment that churches are not getting through on the two greatest commandments,” to love God and love your neighbor, said McConnell.

What they see the church as is “candles, pews and flowers, rather than people living out their love for God by loving others,” he noted. “Such skepticism can only be overcome by churches and believers who demonstrate the unity and love for which Jesus prayed.”

Other findings showed that 44 percent said Christians “get on my nerves.”

Still, a majority (89 percent) of the unchurched have at least one close friend who is Christian, Stetzer noted. And while turned off by church, 78 percent are willing to listen to someone who wanted to talk about their Christian beliefs. The number rose to 89 percent among adults 18-29 years of age.

Additionally, 78 percent of adults 30 years and older said they would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs, even if they disagreed with the friend.

Only 28 percent of adults 30 years and older said they think Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs.

“We think religion is a topic that is off-limits in polite conversation, but unchurched people say they would enjoy conversations about spiritual matters,” Stetzer noted.

THOUGHT | | What does God say about who the holy spirit is and what his role is in the life of the church?

The Holy Spirit | Question: “Who is the Holy Spirit?”

Answer: There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others understand the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In this verse Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:162615:26).

THOUGHT | What are some ways that you can allow the holy spirit to lead or even change you to fulfill the great commission

HELPER | Our Helper’s Role

What the Father communicated to me that night was the same message that we read in Zechariah 4:6: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” The Holy Spirit’s presence with us is especially important as we engage in the ultimate conversation of prayer with the Father because He is God’s own Spirit. He teaches us the Lord’s will, how to listen to Him, how to discern His truth and how to have an intimate relationship with Him. He also trains and empowers us to fulfill God’s plans for our lives with the “wisdom from above” (see James 3:17; also 1 Cor. 2:9-13, 16).

The Helper is like an ambassador who unswervingly represents the policies of His homeland and also serves the host nation by translating its messages into the appropriate language. The Holy Spirit faithfully conveys to us the Father’s will in a way we understand, and He represents us before God in a manner worthy of His righteous name.

The apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27, NASB).

PROMPTER | Obeying His Promptings

Do not miss this truth: Responding to the Holy Spirit in obedience is key. This part of the conversation is yours—your willing submission to what the Holy Spirit tells you. He teaches you how to listen to the Father, communicating the truth in a way you can receive. According to your spiritual maturity, He shows you how to apply biblical principles to your life. Your part is to obey Him, and as you do, He strengthens you (1 Pet. 5:10).

It is not a mystery how Paul was able to endure such heartache and persecution. The apostle had learned to listen closely to the Holy Spirit and had drawn the encouragement he needed from His constant presence. How did Paul do so? He learned to walk by the Spirit (as he described in Galatians 5:16-25).

THE GREATER PERSPECTIVE | The Ultimate Conversation

This is the way the ultimate conversation becomes real in your life—you obey the initial promptings of the Holy Spirit. And as you do, the voice of God becomes stronger and more prevalent in your life. Eventually, you begin to see spiritual realities that only a person who is in constant communion with the Father can perceive (Ps. 25:14).

Elisha was just such an individual (2 Kings 6:8-19). When the Arameans gathered against Israel and surrounded the city of Dothan, the prophet was unafraid and unmoved. His servant, on the other hand, saw the multitude of soldiers, horses and chariots and was terrified. He cried: “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (v. 15).

Elisha remained calm. “‘Do not fear,’” he replied, “‘for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (vv. 16-17).

While the servant saw that the enemy had encamped around the city, Elisha perceived the greater spiritual reality: that God was fighting the battle for them. Because of this, he remained confident and secure. Likewise, the more you obey the Spirit and the closer you grow to the Father, the stronger your faith and assurance.

You can see this truth demonstrated throughout Scripture:

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4).

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? …Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spiteof this I shall be confident” (Ps. 27:1, 3).

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea” (Ps. 46:1-2).

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).

Charles F. Stanley is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta

THOUGHT | What would the world we live in look like if the church relied on the holy spirit?

The world would experience life purpose

The world would experience real-time guidance in acting or reacting to life’s challenges and opportunities

The world would truly know God as a person and not distant mystical force

NEXT UP | They’ve Just Begun | Character of the first church [2:42-47](OCTOBER 1)


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