In our previous lesson, I brought to you eight benefits of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The last of the eight was that the Baptism would provide power for witnessing and service. I mentioned then that I wanted to have a complete lesson on this topic. Today, we will do that.
Acts 1:8 NKJV
8 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.
To begin, I want to especially speak about the presence of the Holy Spirit in "Pentecostal empowerment." I use those words very carefully. The Spirit is obviously present in believers' lives in different ways whether or not Pentecostal empowerment has occurred in one's life.
You may ask, Why didn't you use the term "charismatic experience"? As most of you know, I like to do word studies and especially the subject of etymology, which is the study of word origins and how they evolved between languages. If you did a word study in the book of Acts, you would find that the Greek word, "Charisma," or any of its derivatives, from which we get our English word Charismatic, is not found in the book of Acts. When I first realized this fact, it was kind of a shocker.
The word "Charisma" and its plural, "Charismata," are found often in Paul's letters to the Romans and Corinthians and a few places elsewhere. And in all cases it is translated as "Gift" or "Gifts". And in most cases, it is referring to Spiritual Gifts given by the Holy Spirit.
Even though the English word, "Gift" is found in the book of Acts 4 times, none of them are derived from the Greek word, "Charisma." That means that when Peter, in Acts 2:38, said for the people to "repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, he uses a different Greek word for "gift." But the word "Pentecost" does occur in the book of Acts, so I thought I would use the older term today to describe the experience of the Baptism in the Spirit.
But that might raise a question in some of your minds. Just what is the difference between the terms Pentecostal and Charismatic? And I am using both terms relative to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PENTECOSTAL AND A CHARISMATIC?
At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Holy Spirit experience exploded around the world, when a person was baptized in the Holy Spirit, they almost always were looked down upon by their denomination. They were ostracized from positions of leadership. As a result, almost all of them left their denominations to begin churches that were Pentecostal.
Many Pentecostal fellowships were birthed during the first two decades of the 20th century. And although there were many different groups, one thing almost all of them held was that tongues was the initial physical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Assemblies of God was birthed in a meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914.
In the 1960s and 70s, another outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred. Harald Bredesen coined the term, Charismatic Renewal, to designate this awakening. Some would point to Dennis Bennett, pastor of an Episcopal church in Van Nuys, CA., and his baptism in the Spirit with speaking in tongues, as the spark of this revival. Later, he pastured St. Luke's Episcopal Church here in Seattle. You will notice by that statement that pastor Bennett remained in the Episcopal Church. He later writes about his experience in his book, "Nine O'clock in the Morning."
The Charismatic Renewal in the 60s and 70s touched almost every denomination in America. This was not only true in Protestant churches, but also in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. But rather than leaving their churches to begin others, many chose to remained in their churches to change existing structures.
It is widely recognized today that Pentecost is not just a denomination but an experience. An experience of God's power which is being received by people in all denominations. The spiritual climate in the church has changed over the last several decades. Even whole denominations which were adamantly opposed to Pentecostalism, have reversed themselves on the questions of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Power for effective witnessing and service is a large part of what Pentecostal empowerment is all about. A careful examination of every passage in which the fullness of the Holy Spirit is mentioned will uncover it as being for the purpose of testimony (witness) and service.
One example is Acts 4:31 NKJV
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Those filled with the Holy Spirit spoke the Word of God with boldness. And two verses later we are told that with great power they gave witness of the Resurrection.
The concept of power holds great interest in the minds of modern men. Whether it's in the business or sporting arena, economics or science, philosophy of theology, the subject of power receives great attention.
Why is this true? A dictionary definition should help answer this question.
o Webster defines power as "the capability of acting or of producing an effect."
o Synonyms offered include "control, authority, command, dominion, sway, energy, strength and might."
Little wonder that the business community is so interested in power. Michael Korda, in his popular business book, Power! How to Get It and Use It, claims that "all life is a game of power." Whether one agrees with Korda or not, one must acknowledge the obvious desire for power exhibited within corporate America. The rash of mergers and takeovers testify to a lasting desire on the part of corporate leaders to expand their base of power.
Not only do we see a longing for power in the business arena, but this desire is also evident in the political arena. Political candidates and their parties spend millions of dollars and run exhausting campaigns attempting to secure their place of influence in government.
When it comes to the power of the Holy Spirit, God says He wants every believer to have it. But before proceeding further to learn how we can obtain this power, let's step back to the days just before Christ ascended back to Heaven.
Before Jesus left this earth to return to His Father, He gave an assignment to his followers. And through them, the assignment has been passed on to us. Do you remember the assignment Jesus gave them?
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Here is Marks record of the assignment.
Mark 16:15-16 NKJV
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Luke 24:47-48 (NKJV) instructs the followers of Christ...
47 ...that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And you are witnesses of these things.
Let me ask you a rhetorical question. Have you ever been asked to do something, where your first thoughts were:
o "I don't know how to do that?"
o "I haven't the slightest idea how to accomplish that?"
Now imagine yourself as one of the eleven disciples. You have just been commanded to teach and preach the gospel to all nations. You are to teach them to observe all the things that Christ had commanded. As this directive begins to sink in, you say to yourself: "How am I suppose to remember all the things He has told us over the last 3˝ years?" As your mind races quickly over many of the statements the Savior had made, it almost causes you to strip a mental gear as you suddenly remember a statement He had made just prior to His crucifixion. He had said: "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). And yet, here Jesus is telling us that He would be leaving them. They are going to be without Him.
As a disciple, you are mulling this over in your mind - "We ARE going to be without Him, and yet, he says we can do nothing without Him." But, wait a minute! Didn't He just a moment ago say: Lo I am with you always, even unto the ends of the age. What's going on here - this doesn't make sense.
All of these unspoken words have raced through your mind in the span of a second or two. And you are about to interrupt Jesus, who has continued to talk to you and your contemporaries but His next statement freezes your words to your tongue. It's almost as if He had been reading your mind, for His next words begin to answer many of your questions.
First He says, "It's to your advantage that I go away" (John 16:7). Then He says:
Luke 24:49 NKJV
49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
Power from God! That's what I need. I've seen that at work in Christ. If only I could be like Jesus. And then it begins to sink in. He must be speaking of the Holy Spirit.
Just prior to His crucifixion, at the same time He had said, "without me you can do nothing," He had said that He had to go away. He was going somewhere to prepare a place for me and all of His followers. How did He put it?
John 14:1-3 NKJV
1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 In My Father's house are many mansions;* if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.*
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
But between His going and His coming back again, He said He would send the Holy Spirit to be a comforter just like himself. Then later, in verse 26, He states:
John 14:26 NKJV
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
So that is how I am going to remember all the things He has told us to tell the world. The Holy Spirit is going to be my Helper. And Jesus also said that when the Holy Spirit comes, we would be endued with power from on high.
NOUNS THAT ACT LIKE A VERB
I did not major in English as a student in college. But it appears to me that when talking about nouns and verbs and adjectives, that there are a few nouns that have the implied character of a verb. Let's see if I can describe such a case. Picture the thing known as "wind." When you think of the wind, one seldom thinks of it being still. Every image of the "wind" seem to have motion, activity, movement, effect. Verbs are "action words," but then, in their own way, so are nouns like "wind."
When thinking of the "Spirit," it also is an "action noun." The Spirit acts, moves, agitates, births, energizes, etc. In fact, the Holy Spirit is often - and rightly - described as "God in action."
But the Spirit is not merely "in action." The Holy Spirit is in action with a mission. He convicts people of their sins, and works to restore the kingdom of God on earth. The Holy Spirit is also in action with a direction. That direction always point to Jesus Christ. The action of the Holy Spirit always is towards Christ.
The Holy Spirit continually engages the body of Christ in the same two aspects just mentioned. We have a mission and a direction. The mission has been given to us by Christ, to "go into all the world and make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19). And then Christ, in Acts 1:8, says we are to be his witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus promises, "You will receive power……and you will be my witnesses." If all we were to do was sit in church and sings some nice songs, we wouldn't need empowering by the Holy Spirit. But God has given us a job to do - as I mentioned a moment ago, we have a mission. We have a world to win! We have territory to take back from the enemy. There are lives to be set free from Satan's bondage. And to do that we need His power.
Our direction is spoken eloquently by the apostle Paul.
Philippians 3:14 NKJV
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Neither our mission or our direction can be accomplished without the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember that in doing the mission that has been given to us by Christ, It is not us using the Spirit - but vise versa. It is the Holy Spirit using us to carry out the mission.
Another thing I need to mention is that the Holy Spirit will not manifest itself precisely the same way in each individual. But while the power that the baptism in the Holy Spirit manifests itself in different ways, there will always be power. Just as surely as a man is baptized in the Holy Spirit, there will be new power - a power not his own, the power of the Highest.
This empowerment by the Holy Spirit is available to any with a personal relationship with their Creator. His word declares, in Psalm 62:11, "Power belongs to God."
One of the greatest events in the New Testament was Pentecost. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit did more to transform the spreading of the Gospel than any other single event. Each member making up the 120 in the Upper Room ended that day as a Pentecostal. Mary the Mother of Jesus, as well as his half-brothers, including James all were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
The church today still needs to be filled with Pentecostal empowerment. The promise of the Holy Spirit that was fulfilled on that day is still promised to us today. We still need to be endued with power from on high.
It is no accident that the greatest missionary thrust in the world since the first century, comes from Pentecostal organizations. Let me reiterate what I mentioned weeks ago. The fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world today are Pentecostals. This also is not accidental. We truly need the power of the Holy Spirit to take the witness of the gospel around the globe.
There are at least four different Greek words that are translated as "POWER" in our English Bibles. But only two of them are used extensively. I only want to introduce them to you today. We will look at them more fully in our next lesson.
Interestingly, these two Greek words are used in Acts 1 in consecutive verses. Let me read it first in the Old King James Version.
Acts 1:7-8 KJV
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Greek word used in verse 7 is "EXOUSIA." We get our English word "exertion" from this word. The reason I used the KJV to begin with is because almost all other translations render is as "AUTHORITY."
In the New King James version, verse 7 reads:
Acts 1:7 NKJV
7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority."
And the NIV renders the seventh verse as:
Acts 1:7 NIV
7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Exousia has more to do with conferred power. This is the kind of power that a judge or ruler has. Take John 19:10-11, which speaks about Pilate during the trial of Jesus.
John 19:10-11 NKJV
10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power [exousia] to crucify You, and power [exousia] to release You?"
11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power [exousia] at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
Now, about the second word that is translated "power." Many of you know the word I am sure.
WHAT IS THE GREEK WORD FOR "POWER" USED IN ACTS 1:8?
Yes, it is "DUNAMIS." It is the word from which we get "dynamite," "dynamo," or "dynamic." It has more to do with "ability" - having the potency or capability to do what is desired. It is more than the conferred authority of exousia, and more to do with innate or resident dunamis - power, because the Holy Spirit lives within you.
We have been given the power because He brings that power with Him. This is the dunamis power that is received by the believer when they are filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And that power is offered to all Christians.