By Kristen Leigh Evensen
The book of Acts has been rocking my world lately.
Reading through it during my morning Scripture study, I have been relishing the goodness and power of God as seen in the early church. From healings, to bold proclamations of the Gospel, to persecutions, to baptisms in Christ, the events in Acts have much to tell us about the character of God and the ways in which He works.
One aspect of His triune personhood, present and active in this book, is the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit’s prevalence in Acts stood out to me so clearly as I read through the diverse accounts of the early apostles. This person of the Trinity clearly was set apart from God and Jesus Christ in role; yet, He was simultaneously intimately involved with the Father’s will and Christ’s advocacy on the behalf of the early church.
I will be the first to admit it: when thinking about this post and praying to God about what I should write, I felt unable to understand the complexities of the Holy Spirit…let alone write about Him! His person and character are so magnificent, holy and divine that I found my mind spinning as I merely pondered Him. In addition to His seeming incomprehensibility, the Spirit also manifests Himself in ways unique to the Father’s will for the individual Christ follower’s life, as is demonstrated in Acts. In other words, the way He works in one person’s life may look different than the way He works in another’s.
But, despite His holiness and vastness, and our inability to fully grasp His ways, we can know certain characteristics about the Holy Spirit, as revealed to us in the Scriptures by God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.
Here are three characteristics of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the lives of the apostles as they proclaimed the Gospel, including some applications for our lives today:
The Holy Spirit LEADS. On many occasions in the books of Acts, the apostles are clearly led by the Holy Spirit to specific people, specific words or specific locations. Consider Philip, guided by the Spirit to speak to an Ethiopian eunuch who happened to be reading Isaiah in his chariot. “And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot”’ (Acts 8:29). As a result of the Spirit’s leading, the eunuch hears the good news, believes in Jesus and is baptized by Philip!
Barnabas and Paul are also distinctively led by the Spirit in Acts 13: “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God…” (v. 4-5). In our lives today, the Spirit purposes to bring God the ultimate glory and, thus, leads us to walk in Christ and bear much good fruit.
In Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council sends an encouraging letter to the congregation at Antioch, reading, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden that these requirements…” (v. 28). The brothers were strengthened by specific guidelines regarding their holiness, indicating that the Holy Spirit leads us in righteousness, for our Christ-like sanctification.
[How might the Holy Spirit be leading you, to glorify God and proclaim Christ?]
The Holy Spirit INDWELLS. Frequently in the book of Acts, we read of the apostles being filled by the Spirit:
Acts 4:31-“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
7:55-“But [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God…”
10:44-“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word…”
13:52-“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
The person who believes the Gospel and trusts Jesus Christ will receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We know this because Jesus promised it in John 14: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever…you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (v. 16-17). In the Holy Spirit, the believer has a constant, faithful companion--a Counselor and Helper who instructs in the truth.
[If you have trusted Jesus, take a moment to thank God for the gift of His Spirit dwelling in you. For those who do not yet know Christ, believe that He humbly paid your debt on the cross and rose to glory to restore you to Himself. What a gift!]
The Holy Spirit GUARANTEES. God’s blessed assurance of salvation is proclaimed throughout Acts. Peter boldly expresses at Pentecost, “…having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (2:33) and later at Caesarea, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we have?” (10:47).
Believing in Christ Jesus seals us with the Holy Spirit, who guarantees our future in glory! “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance…” (Ephesians 1:13). We can hold fast to the truth that God will never leave us or forsake us. We can rest assured that the Spirit is indeed sanctifying us day by day, making us look more like Christ, because we have His guarantee that eternity is our final destination.
[Be confident that, if you have trusted in Jesus, your eternal future is secure and protected. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ! It is finished.]
Father, What a gift from above that You would manifest Yourself through Your Spirit! Thank You for Your word, which guides us in all truth, revealing to us Your very nature. May our minds and hearts be filled with a deeper understanding of how intimately and actively You wish to work through the Spirit, to Your glory!
How has the Spirit worked in your life?