Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Come Holy Spirit!

Quite a few of you have asked some important and searching questions about the Holy Spirit following Sunday evening's sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2).
Here's a part of what I said.
Well, maybe not exactly what I said since I didn't have these notes with me at the time!
But this is what I meant to say!.

On the Day of Pentecost, “all” the disciples present were “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4). This is particularly significant given recent claims as to the significance of being filled with the Spirit. It is important to note the interchangeability of terms employed for this phenomenon in the first two chapters of Acts. The Holy Spirit “baptizes” (Acts 1:5), “comes upon” (1:8), is “received” (Acts 2:38), and “fills” (Acts 2:4). To seek to distinguish different experiences by these various expressions, hinting that some may only be achieved after a particular ritual, is a fundamental mistake. To suggest that all who receive the Holy Spirit are not necessarily “baptized in (or with) the Holy Spirit” or even “filled with” the Holy Spirit as has been suggested by some branches of the church in the latter part of the twentieth century especially. To insist that “Holy Spirit baptism” or “filling” is a post-conversion experience in the sense that it is possible to be born-again and not be filled with the Spirit is to overlook the very nature of what true conversion is. Holy Spirit filling or baptism is one of several designations in Scripture to describe the initiatory experience by which the Spirit takes up residence in the believer as Christ’s representative agent. It is, in some ways, another way of expressing what Paul often gives voice to—union with Christ.

Every believer was filled with the Spirit, not just those who had engaged in some special act of consecration. Indeed, the entire emphasis given by Luke suggests that the only thing that can be said the disciples themselves is that they were there! The stress lies on the sovereign God’s initiative rather than on some effort of holiness on the part of the disciples. It was, as Peter’s sermon will make clear, what the prophet Joel had promised: that male and female, young and old, bond and free will experience this together (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-18). What Moses had longed for—that all the Lord’s people would be prophets has come true at last (Numb. 11:29). “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and all…made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).

It could be any other way, of course. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are united together in one plan of redemption and one method of accomplishing it. It is not possible to be in union with Christ and not be in possession of all that is Christ’s. We are rooted in Christ and those roots tap into the fullness of the Spirit that is his. So close is this relationship that Paul can say in one place, “the Lord (Jesus) is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17).

We'll return to this theme again as we traverse Acts.


jazzycat said...

Thanks for this explanation. Is monergistic regeneration from God what this all means in Chapter 2.


Derek Thomas said...

Well, Yes as far as that goes. But Acts 2 is about more than that, too. Stay tuned!