“ for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5 NKJV
Few topics are of more interest to Bible believers than spiritual gifts: what are they, why do/did they exist, how do you get them, how do I know my gift(s), what gifts are in effect today? This great interest is met with a corresponding diversity of opinion as to what the Bible teaches on this topic. Unfortunately, religious games and personal wishes seem to hold more sway on this matter than does sound biblical interpretation. Thus, some churches believe you must have certain gifts as proof you are a Christian, some say only certain gifts exist today, others are not sure what to believe so they come up with a strange brew of beliefs. Christian churches, organizations, and publications offer a confusing mix of beliefs, so it is hard for a person to know what to believe. Adult Studies 18-22 are designed to explore the Word and present a clear explanation of spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.
As you read the following studies with an open mind, may the Lord enable the Word to speak to your heart in a special way. Some of what is said will seem out of line, rather weird, or just plain wrong. Yet, as you meditate on these studies, you will most likely come to see the presentation is biblically based. Grace 4 You has no ties to organizations or teachings that require us to promote a certain doctrine on this topic; we are free to be open and honest. In fact, what you will learn is very much in accord with what you observe in real life. You may be surprised at the conclusion, but upon further reflection, you will realize the teachings truly reflect what occurs in Christian life.
Discuss: How important do you think spiritual gifts are today?
God performed miracles, showed wonders, and presented special signs throughout the Bible. However, our topic is not so much about God performing such acts, obviously He can and has, but about human beings being empowered by God to display such powers. We will start our study on the Day of Pentecost, since that is when humans were especially empowered by God to act as His intermediaries to perform miracles and special signs. The events of that period often fill our minds with wonder.
Pentecost was a yearly festival for the children of Israel after leaving Egypt; it occurred 50 days (pente means five) after the Passover. The specific Pentecost we will consider occurred 50 days after Christ’s resurrection (which was on the Passover). On the day of Pentecost1, all believers were given spiritual gifts in a remarkable manner. The events of Pentecost were prophesied by Christ after His resurrection, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘You have heard from Me: for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now … But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’ “ (Acts 1:4-8).
Jesus Christ instructed the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for God to fulfill His promise to them. Jesus explained to the believers that the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and then they would become witnesses for Him to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. The Promise of the Father was that they would receive special power from the Holy Spirit and thus become witnesses of Him to the ends of the earth. The Promise of the Father concerning Pentecost can be summarized in this way:
- God would pour out His Spirit, ” ‘And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God’ “ (Ezek. 39:29).
- The Spirit would be poured out on all believers, male and female, bond and free (the term “all flesh,” as we will see later, means all Jewish believers)
- As a result of the Spirit being poured out, the recipients would have special miraculous power and be witnesses to the entire world.
What a wonderful promise, how incredibly God was working. These humble disciples would become the very means by which the truth of Jesus Christ would be taken to the rest of the world. They were simple men and women, with little education, now they realized how they could do this overwhelming job. They could do it because God was going to give them special powers, through His Spirit. After all the centuries of struggle, after all the disappointment and suffering, after all the patient endurance and waiting, finally there was an end in sight. The consummation of the ages was at hand, God was about to fulfill His promises to them and bring human history (as we know it) to an end. The long promised kingdom of heaven on earth was in view. With eager hearts, they must have been overwhelmed with excitement as they waited for those 50 days. They must have been filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension, not knowing exactly what this all meant; however, it had to be of great comfort to know the Lord was sending the Holy Spirit to be with them, and to prepare them for His return in power and glory.
1 Unless otherwise noted, references to Pentecost in these studies will refer to the specific Pentecost of Acts 2.
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