Acts of the Holy Spirit
©December 20, 2007 Asher Intrater
The early disciples and apostles of Yeshua (Jesus) related to the Holy Spirit in a very personal and direct manner. The Holy Spirit was involved in all their activities and decisions. They saw the Holy Spirit as a partner in their ministry, cooperating with them in a willful and intelligent manner. Here are ten examples:
- Acts 5 - Ananias and Saphira: Their mishandling the money of the offering was described by Peter as "lying to the Holy Spirit" (v. 3) and as "testing the Holy Spirit" (v. 9).
- Acts 5 – Apostles on Trial: After being arrested again, Peter explained to the High Priests that they were witnesses of the resurrection; not only they, but "the Holy Spirit also is witness" (v. 32).
- Acts 7 – Stephen at Martyrdom: Right before being stoned, Stephen rebuked his murderers, saying, "You have always resisted the Holy Spirit" (v. 51).
- Acts 8 – Philip and the Eunuch: The Holy Spirit gave Philip specific instruction to approach the Ethiopian's chariot (v. 29), and when he had finished sharing, the Spirit "caught Philip away" (v. 39) and transported him supernaturally to Ashdod.
- Acts 10 – Peter and Cornelius' Household: Peter had a vision of a sheet descending from heaven with unclean animals. As Peter thought about the vision, the Holy Spirit gave him the interpretation, as well as specifically informing him that the men from Cornelius had arrived and that he was to travel with them to their home (v. 19; also 11:12).
- Acts 13 – Antioch's Missionary Team: At Antioch there were teachers and prophets. The saints fasted and prayed. Then the Holy Spirit gave instructions as to who and how to start the new ministry: "The Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"
- Acts 15 – Jerusalem Council and Decree: After prolonged discussion among the leaders, a decision was made to give Gentiles full standing without having to fulfill Jewish tradition. This decision was reached by cooperation between the leaders and the Holy Spirit. James wrote: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" (v. 28).
- Acts 16 – Macedonian Direction: Saul (Paul) and his team were planning to travel to Asia Minor to preach, but the Holy Spirit stopped them and redirected them westward into Europe. "They were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia… The Spirit did not permit them" (v. 6-7).
- Acts 20 – Warning Paul of Sufferings: As Paul traveled, the Holy Spirit warned him of the difficulties awaiting him in Jerusalem. "The Holy Spirit testifies in every city saying that chains and tribulations await me" (v. 23).
- Acts 20 – Appointing Elders in Ephesus: As Paul's team appointed leaders in the city, they described it as a specific ordination of the Holy Spirit, "among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the congregation" (v. 28).
In all these examples, the Holy Spirit is seen as an independent, self-thinking agent, who determined and directed the actions of the early believers. The Holy Spirit is not pictured as a neutral energy or force, but as a person with feelings and opinions.
While the disciples believed in Yeshua as Lord, their day-to-day, immediate contact and relationship was with the Holy Spirit. Yeshua is in heaven; the Holy Spirit is here with us. Understanding and relating to the Holy Spirit in this way would require a "paradigm shift" for many believers today.
While the Holy Spirit is present everywhere, the interactions described above are of a specific presence at a specific time and place. By comparison, while there is electricity in the atmosphere at all times, when lightning appears, it strikes at a definite time and place. (The omnipresence of the Spirit does not contradict His manifest presence.)
The book of the Acts of the Apostles could also rightly be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. The apostles saw their faith as an active cooperation with another distinct being – the Holy Spirit – who was involved with them, living in them and around them. May it be so with us!
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