As I mentioned in my last post, the Book of Acts is one of my favorite books in the Bible. It reads like a thriller – endangered lives, miraculous rescues, and displays of unthinkable courage. Of its 10 Key Themes, Acts #1 emphasis is the person of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
It's remarkable how little Christians talk about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the one true God. It's as though He's the uncle they've heard of but never talk about. On the other hand, it's remarkable how much some Christians talk about the Holy Spirit. It's as though He's the uncle who won the lottery, and shows up for their every whim to dazzle, dazzle, dazzle!
Which is to say, I'm not much inclined toward either portrayal. The Holy Spirit is far too important to trivialize through avoidance or through glitz. He is God. He actually lives inside every believer.
If I asked you how many times the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name in the Book of Acts, what would you say? 58? Good guess, because that is correct! I read through the entire book recently and highlighted every single occurrence. It's an overwhelming list of verses. The question for Christians is, "How in the world do we miss Him?"
I won't list all 58 (here's a link if you want to look them up). What I want to mull upon is why we are so unmoved by His ubiquity in the early church and in the book of Acts ... and why we treat Him as AWOL in our own generation.
Recall, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit as a gift to us (Acts 1:4-5 NIV). He said the Holy Spirit would remind us of the things Jesus said, and He'd lead us into all truth (John 14:26, 16:13). The Holy Spirit was Jesus' provision to not leave us orphaned (John 14:16-18) . I would think that with such incredible promises, we'd be apt to at least talk to the Holy Spirit. Diagnostic question: When was the last time you addressed the Holy Spirit directly?
What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
I could write a book on this (others have beaten me to it ... I suggest a simple book like Bill Bright's, The Secret). Instead, let me offer a list of 15 things the Holy Spirit did in Acts, which I think He's still committed to doing in and through the believer today. Here they are, from the book of Acts (NIV).
The Holy Spirit ...
- Empowers to Witness for Christ. (1:8; 6:10)
- Speaks through the Words of Scripture. (1:16; 4:25; 28:25-27)
- Fills Believers. (2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9; 13:52)
- Enables Christians to do Extraordinary Things. (2:4; 19:6)
- Witnesses to Jesus' Resurrection. (5:32)
- "Comes upon" (indwells) Believers. (8:16, 18; 10:44; 11:15; 19:6)
- Speaks directly to Believers, at times. (8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 21:11)
- Moves Believers spatially/geographically.(8:29-30, 39)
- Encourages the Church. (9:31)
- Predicts the Future. (11:28)
- Reasons and Thinks. (15:28)
- Directs and Constrains Believers. (16:6-7)
- Compels and Urges Believers. (20:22)
- Warns Believers. (20:23)
- Chooses Elders/Shepherds of the Church. (20:28)
If that's not enough, the book of Acts also says:
- He is a gift. (1:4, 2:38, 5:32)
- He is God. (5:3-4)
- He is not to be trifled with. (5:1-11)
- He shouldn't be resisted. (7:51)
- He can be received. (8:15,17; 10:47)
That's a lot. Too much to ignore, actually. So, the question becomes, how much or how often do we even think about the Holy Spirit? My guess is, too little, too infrequently.
Finally, I've heard it said that to spot someone filled with the Holy Spirit, don't look for someone always talking about the Holy Spirit ... rather, look for someone always talking about Jesus. For that's why the Holy Spirit came – to glorify Jesus.
[Jesus speaking]: "When the Counselor (Holy Spirit) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me." John 15:26.