In this third study, we will look at why and when the Holy Spirit came into the world.
The Old Testament prophet Joel spoke about His coming, ‘and it shall come to pass … that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh’, Joel 2. 28. John the Baptist also preached that Christ 'shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost [Spirit]’, Luke 3. 16.
Before He ascended to heaven, Christ instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this promise to be fulfilled, Acts 1. 4, 5. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost when the disciples were all together, ‘And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Spirit], and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’, Acts 2. 2-4.
Notice what happened. First, the house was ‘filled’ with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, v. 2. Second, there appeared cloven tongues which sat on each person, v. 3. Third, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and, fourth, spoke with other tongues, v. 4. That was when the Spirit was poured out upon them, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit took place.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 13, Paul explains, ‘For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body … and have been all made to drink into one Spirit’. He is teaching that this was the moment that the church, known as the body of Christ, was born; and that, although he was not there when the baptism took place, it applies to all believers. It was a once-for-all-time event and never needs to be repeated.
So, when we were born again, we also came into the good of that baptism and were added to the church. The church started with 120 disciples, Acts 1. 15, and soon grew by another 3,000, Acts 2. 41. And so it has grown down the centuries, and will continue to grow until the return of Christ when it will be presented to Him, ‘a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing’, Eph. 5. 27.
God used miracles and signs to confirm what His representatives were doing or saying. When the disciples spoke in tongues, these were foreign languages, so that people of different nations could understand the message. When they did this, or performed miracles, it was always in the power of the Holy Spirit. These were temporary signs to establish the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people might know that what was being said was truly from God and believe and be saved.
Christ taught the disciples, ‘when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth … he will shew you things to come’, John 16. 13. Before we had the Bible, the Holy Spirit spoke through prophets to reveal God’s will, an example of this being Agabus, Acts 11. 28. He also guided the apostles as they wrote the Epistles, Paul states, ‘Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost [Spirit] teacheth’, 1 Cor. 2. 13.
The Lord Jesus explained that ‘when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment’, John 16. 8. We considered what this means in our first study.
Next time we will consider the Spirit of God’s relationship with individual believers.