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Holy Spirit

9th August 2009, mgh

 

4) Case Studies in Acts

The early chapters of the book of Acts explain the function of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles were able to convey the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom through their ability to speak in the languages of the surrounding nations. The authorities were amazed because the disciples were regarded as 'unlearned men'. In Acts 2, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described.

Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
They were all filled with spirit holy, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance....Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:2-4,6)


As mentioned before, the Apostle John said that the Messiah had promised the disciples that the Spirit of Truth would help to bring to their minds the many things that the Messiah had taught them. It is made clear in the following verse that the purpose of the Holy Spirit was to help them and give them courage to speak of the Kingdom and continue the work begun by the Saviour.

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4: 31)

Stephen was described by the disciples as 'a man full of faith and 'of spirit holy' (Acts 6: 5). It is also recorded that Stephen was 'full of faith and power, (and) did great wonders and miracles among the people.' (Acts 6: 8) Some of the Apostles carried out healings and miracles through the Spirit. But this was not 'the Holy Spirit'


The purpose of the Holy Spirit was shown in how these men spoke 'the word of God with boldness', without fear. They had great faith and an unwavering belief in God's promises. The wonders they performed among the people were to reinforce the message of the Gospel that they were bringing to the people and showing God's power.


The working of the Spirit of the Holy

There are not a lot of outstanding cures recorded in the book of Acts. There are two quite significant ones however. Peter and John cured the lame man on the steps of the Temple. (Acts 3: 1-11) The people were amazed and Peter and John were able to use this as an opportunity to preach to the people.

And when Peter saw it , he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
But ye denied the Holy and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (Acts 3: 12-15)

It is recorded that about five thousand of the men who heard the words of Peter and John believed. (Acts 4: 4) The miracle would have been of great joy to the lame man, but its real impact was on the people who saw the miracle and then heard the words of the Apostles. It was a tremendous aid to their preaching and a demonstration of God's power.

Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, but this was a unique miracle for a woman, who was greatly respected for her works and faith. Her revival would have also been a testimony to the people of the Gospel and the hope of resurrection. (Acts 9: 36-41) But what was the result?

And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner. (Acts 9: 42-43)

This was a most significant event and it was “known throughout all Joppa”. Again it was a means of teaching and spreading the Gospel message to many people.


Paul publicly healed many people. At Lystra the healing of a man who had been cripple from birth resulted in such a public stir that due to the opposition to his message he was stoned (Acts 14:19). On the island of Melita Paul healed father of Publius, who was the chief man on the island which would have no doubt had a significant impact on the people of Melita (Acts 28: 7-8).

However, despite the miracles, Paul himself suffered, with the power of the spirit being denied him personally. Paul also referred to Timothy's infirmities. The reason given to Paul in his case was that through infirmities and weakness comes strength. If Paul, the great apostle to the gentiles and a dedicated worker for the furtherance of the Gospel of the Kingdom, suffered, it is obvious that the Spirit to miraculously heal is not always available. This is a most significant message for any servant of Christ/Messiah.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of adversary to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10)

In that time healing was only for the greater work, the witness, of the power of God.


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