Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Holy Spirit in Acts

Recently I did a word study on the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. I found it fascinating on the different ways in which the Holy Spirit was actually given to believers in the early church as well as the order of events following belief in Christ. Let's look at each of them briefly.

As you can see, there is not a consistent method mentioned throughout Acts as to how believers received the Holy Spirit. In addition, there is not a consistent order for what happened after believing in Christ regarding such things as water baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, laying of the apostles hands, etc. Most of the early church, primarily comprised of Jews, received the Holy Spirit after the apostles laid their hands of them and were baptized after believing in Christ and yet before actually receiving the Holy Spirit. However, in the first recorded prominent Gentiles conversion (Cornelius and his family in Acts 10:43-45), we find that they received the Holy Spirit after hearing and believing the gospel message of Jesus Christ, not by the laying on of the apostles hands. As such, they were baptized after believing in Christ and after having already received the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as they heard the message and believed it. I believe this is the pattern for Gentile believers receiving the Holy Spirit in the present day. My reasoning is two fold: (1) there are no modern day apostles with the authority to lay their hands upon believers to receive the Holy Spirit like in the days of the early church; and (2) it would be nearly impossible for modern day apostles (if there were any) to visit every single new believer in Christ throughout the world. Paul also suggests that believers receive the Holy Spirit upon faith in Christ, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14) As such, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is given immediately to believers who have listened to the gospel message and believed in Christ for eternal life.

1 comment:

Scott Larrison said...

I received a question regarding the absences of modern day apostles, so I thought I would post this clarification.

When I think of apostles, I think of the 12 apostles of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas and then the replacement by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:7-9).

Apostles were unique in three primary ways: (1) they were eyewitnesses of Jesus and His resurrection; (2) they were specifically selected by the Lord, meaning appointed by Him for the position (Galatians 1:1); and (3) they were given direct authority from God to perform miracles mostly through the laying on of hands. In addition, the 12 apostles were responsible for establishing the foundation of the church with Christ as the cornerstone as well as authoring most of the New Testament Scriptures we use for our basis of truth.

Paul wrote concerning the church, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:19-22) After the church was established and the Scriptures were written, the work of the apostles was finished. They had no successors and that is not suggested in the Bible anywhere. Timothy, Paul's successor, is not called an apostle nor does Paul bestow upon him that title. Because there are no modern day eye witnesses of Jesus, there are no modern day apostles, nor need of this type of ministry today. We have the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible and have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).