Friday, May 1, 2015

How Does the Holy Spirit Work?

We see here that there is a bifurcation between the disciple's accepting the Word of God, and the reception of the Holy Spirit. Normally we say when someone comes to faith, they receive the Holy Spirit, as that seems to be the norm of scripture. But as I have heard said, "the book if Acts is messy in the way God works". Meaning sometimes we like to put parameters around how God should work. We see this with baptism. Sometimes believers within households come to faith and the whole household is baptized. (Lydia and Cornelius). Sometimes adults come to faith and are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was baptized, it was not for his sins, but to fulfill all righteousness. But when he was baptized the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and his formal ministry started at age 30. Some would make this normative for all baptism. They would say, Jesus came to faith as an adult, therefore believer's baptism (which includes the reception of the Holy Spirit) is the right way to go. Some say there is a water baptism and then a Holy Spirit baptism (2 different types of Baptism), as John 3 seems to say.

So what are we to make of all this? I think there are 3 essential aspects of faith in Jesus that we see throughout the New Testament.

1. Faith in Jesus Christ as God only and unique Son, and the only Savior of the world.
2. Holy Baptism is a public sign of one's faith, as they become part of the family of God, as God's son or daughter. I.e. Being born again.
3. The person of the Holy Spirit is a gift given by God to us, who guides us to faith in Christ, and walks alongside of us. The Holy Spirit gives each believer at least one spiritual gift to live a life of faith and contribute to,the body of Christ, until Jesus calls us home.

The bottom line is God has called us to carry out the Great Commission which says, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all I have commanded. And I will be with you until the end of the age."

Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

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