The Holy Spirit Pt 2 – Ps Bruce Claridge

Understanding, Encountering and Being Empowered by the Holy Spirit - Encountering

Episode Notes

Throughout our lives, certain significant events change us forever.

Some can be great celebratory events; others can be tragic events, but whatever form they take they change us; we are never the same

After Jesus’ crucifixion resurrection and subsequent Ascension into Heaven, a certain supernatural experience changed a bunch of spiritual cowards into world changers.

The experience changed a person like Peter, from someone who wouldn’t confess to knowing Jesus, to a dynamic world-changing preacher and leader.

Acts 2:37 (NIV)

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

It changed disillusioned and defeated disciples into firebrands for God.

This supernatural experience happened on a special feast day in the Jewish calendar, the feast of Pentecost, when many Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for this celebration of their faith.

It happened when, though feeling confused and even defeated, Jesus’ disciples were obedient to his final instruction to wait in Jerusalem together.

This same experience transformed a nation called Wales some 1900 years later and at around the same time birthed a Pentecostal movement of Churches in Azusa Street, Los Angeles, California that now covers the globe.

This experience then and now involves a person, an equal part of the Trinity with the Father and the Son and He is here right now because we gather in the Name of Jesus.

This is the person of the Holy Spirit, who we learned about last week.

He is our teacher, our guide, our comforter and our counsellor.

He convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgement to come, but we also learned from Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome that was formed when some of these Jews returned from Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem, that if we choose to suppress the truth  that He convicts us of, He will not impose himself on us, but leave us to the consequences of our choices while all the time loving us dearly and still providing the way to a victorious life.

Romans 1:18-25 (NIV) – Suppressed Truth.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

He is of course The Holy Spirit who also empowers us today as he did the first disciples.

How though, did these “spiritual cowards” become world changers who were all prepared to die for their faith? Men upon whose shoulders the Church was to be built.

What experience transformed them?

To answer this let’s read:

John 20:19-23 (NIV)

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 Luke 24:46-53 (NIV)

46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Acts 1:8 (NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2: 1-4 (NIV)

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

These disillusioned, fear-filled disciples huddled together, probably totally confused, now have a ghost like figure appear and tell them “Peace guys, It’s me, Jesus”!

We often read scripture as if the characters are larger than life, power men and women, but they are just human beings like us facing a life of trauma, disillusion, fear of persecution and now, a ghost!!!

A Double Whammy…. no wonder Jesus’ first words are “Peace be with you”.

He even repeats his entry for an unbelieving “Doubting Thomas” a week later in the same house, the same locked doors and doesn’t rebuke Thomas at all for his doubts. That’s good news for any of us who doubt at times!

John 20:26-28 (NIV)

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus breathed resurrection life into His disciples.

John 20:22 (NIV)

22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Their hearts were transformed, they were born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.

But Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for a further experience of this Holy Spirit which he called “Dunamis power”, as the Holy Spirit this time comes upon them.

Acts 1:8 (NIV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

These were his last words to them before he was taken up to heaven

Acts 1:9 (NIV)

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

Two experiences: an infilling of this Holy Spirit and now the promise of this same Spirit coming upon them. They were born again and then empowered by the Holy Spirit to change the world.

What happened next?

The now empowered Peter preaches and 3000+ were saved.

Miracles happen!

Acts 2:43 (NIV)

43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.

Acts 3:1-10 (NIV)

3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Acts 5:12 (NIV)

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.

What does this mean for us today?

It means Church gatherings should never be boring! It should be a sense of awe!

It means we should come together with a high level of expectation! What’s going to happen today. Faith!

It means the Church should be making good headlines daily! Good News about life in Jesus!

It means our priority should be encountering God, not just wanting a good message and a good bunch of likeminded people to do life with. This is always the danger of being in a loving, comfortable Church. We lose our sense of awe and expectation. Our reason to be, our purpose!

As these truths started to penetrate my structured, scientific mind in the early days of understanding these realities, in the late 70’s things started to happen!

I saw transformed lives, friends becoming hungry for God! Cynics became faith filled believers. Inexplicable things started to happen when you prayed for people – some fell over in the power of the Holy Spirit!!!  Conservative family and friends began to speak in tongues and miracles happened. A woman was healed of a tumour.

History tells of Revivals that resulted in regions and even nations being transformed. For example, during the Welsh revival of 1904 pubs closed down. Magistrates had no cases to hear so they wore white gloves to the bench as a sign of this. People wouldn’t leave Church services. Donkeys in the mines of Wales had to be “retrained” after the handlers no longer swore at them, and a sports loving nation turned from attending Rugby Games to attending Revival meetings! The fire of the Holy Spirit went around the world.

Is this for now?……..

Acts 2:38-39 (NIV)

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

It seems so from reading the Bible!

Can I receive this gift today?    Definitely – you are called, I am called.

Are miracles and healings available today? Mark’s Gospel seems to indicate this.

Mark 16:15-18 (NIV)

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

What do I need to do? Come in Faith! Be open to God and trust Him to be true to His Word.

Suggestions for discussion

  1. Have you experienced a supernatural experience? Share with the group if you can.
  2. Do you come to Church with a high level of expectation each Sunday, expecting the Holy Spirit to move?
  3. Is your priority encountering God every time?
  4. Are you open to God and trust Him to be true to His Word?