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Then and Now: Don't forget the Holy Spirit
In my message, today I want to look at the Holy Spirit helped the early church and how the Holy Spirit is our helper in this life. The title as you can see on the screen is, “Then and Now: Don’t forget the Holy Spirit”.
Today I thought I would share some of the things about the difference the Holy Spirit made in the early church and how important it is to rely on Him in all we do. I will share three separate passages from Acts chapter 2 and then comment briefly on them to show how things changed after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then I will finish with some things we need to remember as Christians about the role the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. I want to take a then and now approach.
Part A – Then
1. When the Holy Spirit came He helped with outreach
Acts 2:1-8 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
Once the Holy Spirit came the believers spoke in languages that they did not previously know. The text tells us that there were tongues of fire that rested on each of them. It caused such a commotion and people came to see what was going on. Those who did were amazed. Then they realised they could understood what was being said (v7-8). Some made fun of them, but many were converted as a result. This is an amazing miracle that took place at the birth of the church as we know it. It happened when the Holy Spirit came.
2. When the Holy Spirit came Peter and the Apostles had a new boldness
Acts 2:14-24 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
The same Peter who denied Christ three times several weeks before was a changed man. Jesus told Peter he would deny Him, and he did. What was the difference? He had seen a resurrected Jesus and now he was filled with the Holy Spirit. His preaching became powerful and it cut through. His boldness did not allow him to pull any punches. He told them straight what had happened and 3000 plus were added to the church (v41). There was a new boldness and power with Peter and all the other Apostles. The Holy Spirit changed things dramatically.
3. When the Holy Spirit came the believers had a new unity and commitment
Acts 2:41-47 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
After the Holy Spirit came we see a deep sense of awe came over the believers and they met constantly together in homes and the Temple. They became one like never before. Verse 42 says they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, fellowship, sharing the Lord’s supper and prayer. They were unified and devoted to the things of God. The KJV says here they “continued stedfastly” to these things. The Greek word here is devoted is pros-kar-ter-eh’-o. It means to be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent, to adhere closely, to wait on continually. The presence of the Holy Spirit changed how they related to God and to each other. It was amazing. Their devotion to God, the things of God and each other increased dramatically.
Reflections on these passages
As I have been reading these chapters I was reminded at how often the Holy Spirit was present in what they did. In fact, He was the One who provided the power, the inspiration, the awe, the words and the conviction! He was entwined and wrapped up in all they did.
I wonder for us as Christians we forget about the Holy Spirit and the power and help that is available to us and is in us. How often do we try to do things in our own strength and not rely on His promptings, power and enabling?
We need to remember that everything Jesus did was by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was conceived by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit and raised to life by the Spirit.
Now I want to share some passages that can and will help us today. I have titled this section “We need to remember”
Part B – Now
1. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit
We need to remember John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
The Counsellor here refers to the Holy Spirit. The Greek word para-klete refers to the Holy Spirit, and par-ak’-lay-tos An intercessor, consoler: – advocate, comforter.
This age that we live in is the church age and the age of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went back to the Father and sent us His Spirit. Now as the church we rely on the Holy Spirit to do His work. Jesus said He would send another like Him. His work was finished in dying on the cross for our sin in complete and now it is the time for the Holy Spirit. For us as Christians, we need to remember this.
2. The Holy Spirit lives in us
We need to remember verses like Romans 8:11, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
That power is in you! We need to believe it. We need to accept it. We need to live it out. If you can’t quite get your head around this, pray and ask God to help you to understand. God, in the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit resides in you.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” But by choosing the word “temple” to describe the Spirit’s dwelling, He conveys the idea that our bodies are the shrine, or the sacred place, in which the Spirit resides. Your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. He lives in you.
3. The Holy spirit helps us in our weaknesses
We need to remember Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
There are many times in this life when I have felt weak and even defeated. In these times, I call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help me through. Sometimes my prayer is just “Holy Spirit help me, I can’t do this alone”. At other times, I am so weary that I don’t know how to pray. I have found time and time again, the Holy Spirit prompts me on how to pray and what to ask for.
4. The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in us
We need to remember Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, He produces fruit. Good things flow from us. If we are not seeing them, we can pray “Lord Your Word says the Holy Spirit produces good fruit, let this be so in my life”.
5. The Holy Spirit give us gifts to build God’s Kingdom
We need to remember 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 that says, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
God has a mission for us and He has provided gifts and abilities to
help us do the work. If we rely on our own strength we will eventually
fail. We may be able to do things by our own strength and abilities for
a while, but in time we will burn out. We need to rely on the power of
God’s Holy Spirit to do His Kingdom work.
Closing – We need to remember
The Holy Spirit empowered the early church. He is here today to empower us too. Let us not neglect the Holy Spirit. Let us not forget the Holy Spirit. As we have seen today it is just so vital if we are to be all we are meant to be in Christ and if we are going to reach this world for Christ.
Let us pray
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