The disciples were waiting. That is what Jesus told them to do. Something significant was going to happen. Jesus described it this way: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." What it all meant, they were not sure, but it had to do with the Holy Spirit and power.
On the morning of the day of Pentecost, their wait was punctuated by the sound of rushing wind, and tongues of fire. These men, the disciples, were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke languages unknown to them.
The sound brought Jerusalem to life. Activity in the city began to move at a rapid pace as the people hurried to the place where the disciples had gathered. They were curious. What is this strange thing that is happening?
Peter stood and offered the words of the prophet Joel as the explanation—the long awaited gift of God’s Spirit had come. God had a new dwelling place on earth—the hearts of men.
His dwelling place was once in the tabernacle that Moses built. This tabernacle traveled with the people of Israel through the wilderness. Within the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies, which was considered to be God’s earthly dwelling place. Exodus 40:34 says the “glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” God’s presence was seen as a cloud on the tabernacle by day and a fire by night.
David envisioned a more permanent dwelling place for God, a temple built according to the pattern given to Moses. But God prohibited David from building it. That assignment fell to Solomon, his son. When the construction was complete, Solomon dedicated the temple.
2 Chronicles 7 records the scene: “As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.’ ”
Solomon’s temple was destroyed. A new one was built years later and was refurbished by Herod, but God’s glory never filled this new one. God had something else in mind, a temple not built by human hands.
The day of Pentecost a new temple was dedicated, and God’s glory filled it by the giving of the Holy Spirit. The tongues of fire and the sound of rushing wind indicated His presence. Believers in Christ had now become the dwelling place of God.
Jesus’ death on the cross made this reality possible. He cleansed us once and for all so that He could take up residence in our hearts. Paul described it as Christ living in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). This event happens afresh every time a heart responds in faith to the message of Christ, and the fire of God comes to live inside.
Prior to Pentecost, no one, including the disciples, was truly born again. The disciples had been with Christ for over three and a half years. They saw firsthand His miracles and heard His teaching. Yet, Thomas doubted Jesus, Phillip did not believe Him, His family thought He was crazy, Judas betrayed Him and Peter denied Him three times. They had no power to live the Christian life.
However, a few days later, these same men who were in hiding, fearing for their lives, were out proclaiming to the very ones responsible for the death of Jesus that He had been raised from the dead. What changed cowering men into bold proclaimers of the Gospel? The power of the Holy Spirit!
Today, the sad reality is that the majority of Christians live much like the disciples did before Pentecost -- in the energy of the flesh. Most of the callers we talk with on the Basic Gospel broadcast genuinely desire to live righteous, upright lives, but they have absolutely no power to carry it out.
They have shied away from any teaching on the Holy Spirit because they associate it with manifestations and weird behavior they see on Christian television. However, when they understand why the Holy Spirit was given, their lives are never the same.
Here are several of the key truths concerning the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.
Titus 3:4-5 (NIV)
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:16 (NIV)
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
John 16:13-14 (NIV)
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
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.
Jesus Christ is alive, and through the Spirit, He lives in the hearts of His children. His presence in us changes everything.
For more information on this subject, a suggested resource is The New Covenant Study Guide (BNCJ).
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 1 John 4:7, 8. Here, as in so much of his writing, John gives insights about his favorite subject – love. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."First Life, Then Change
Not long ago, a phrase popped into my mind that really grabbed me – “first life, then change.” This is the process God works in us first to make us alive in Christ, and then to transform us into the image of His Son.Spiritual Freedom
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”