Friday, May 11, 2012

The Holy Spirit, Part 01

… the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. (Romans 5:5)

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

After Jesus had risen from death and before He had ascended to His Father, He instructed His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and wait until they should be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) The Risen Lord then departed from their sight and they, obeying his instruction, went into Jerusalem where they “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:14) What happened next changed them all, and every Christian, forever:
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" (Acts 2:1-2)
 It was the fulfillment of what had been foretold by the Prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-32). The story in Acts, Chapter 2, continues:
Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.'
 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know -- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:

'I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'
"Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
'The Lord said to my Lord,"Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:14-39)    
Notice that St. Peter is preaching not somebody’s philosophy, not abstract ideas nor obscure concepts someone had made up, but solid, concrete experience. His listeners were “cut to the heart” in part because many of them had also witnessed Jesus’ miracles. Given what they had heard for themselves and seen with their own eyes, it was not only perfectly rational to believe in Jesus as divine, but it would have been absurd and even perverse not to, and they knew it. Notice, too, that the Holy Spirit is now being lavished upon “all flesh” including, “your sons and your daughters”, old men and young men, maidservants and menservants – not just upon the Apostles, not just upon the clergy! He is now available to all who will “repent, and…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

Part 02 of this series will discuss the function and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.