The Promise and its Fulfillment
Revelation, 3:17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
This is the purpose of my blog. In a vision I saw the church as dead people who were walking around – yet in spite of their movement, their faces were absolutely lifeless. God has so much in store for His children – yet we are satisfied with a miserly spiritual existence. Do we only know God with a theological acceptance of the intellect? Is He a Living Reality within us Who impassions our soul? As you continue to read this blog, may God open your eyes to see His desire for your affection and fellowship!
Joel, 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
Jeremiah, 31:33 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
The Old Testament prophets were given a revelation that in the future God would pour out His Spirit upon man in a way yet unknown. As John the Baptist began his ministry he carried this word further. Matthew, 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
To the Jews, fire was symbolic of God’s Presence. Moses heard God speak from the bush that burned but was not consumed. The pillar of fire went before the Israelites on their journey. At times the fire of God came down and burned up the sacrifice on the altar. A baptism of fire would mean the Divine Presence descending upon an individual.
Jesus spoke of the Helper being sent from the Father when He would leave them. The Helper, the Holy Ghost, would teach them all things. After the resurrection, they were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise would come and they would be endued with “power from on high”.
As we know, the fulfillment came on Pentecost. The fire of God came down – but manifested itself as never before. The promised baptism was seen as cloven tongues of fire appearing to rest upon the head of each believer. A transformed group of men and women exited the house. The Presence was shown by boldness and eloquence to proclaim the gospel, the ability to communicate in other languages and the power to perform miracles. The Spirit worked in the hearts of the hearers and the number of believers multiplied. Joy and mutual love marked those who joined them.
The Book of Acts is a fast-moving narrative portraying the events in the years of the early church. Every story is charged with the visible manifestation of God’s Presence both in the church and in the lives of individuals. Just so as the church was begun in prayer, so it continued in prayer. The Holy Spirit directed them in a very distinct way both in taking care of issues that arose and in furthering the gospel. Sin within the group of believers was quickly dealt with under the Spirit’s guidance as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira as well as that of Simon the sorcerer. The resulting fear prevented the insincere from joining them.
The Spirit created unity among them. Both the church collectively, and men and women individually, received distinct direction from God as to how to carry on the work. The epistles speak of supernatural gifts of the Spirit being given to individuals within the church to build up the believers. The requirements given for those chosen as the first deacons were this: to be filled with faith and with the Spirit.
Nobody could have imagined these dramatic fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy. The words of those in Thessalonica who persecuted them described well what was happening: “These that have turned the world upside down have come hither also.” When God comes to dwell in the hearts of His people, the world changes.
The ways in which God chose to give His Spirit to believers were varied. The Spirit fell upon some of them when they believed. Several were baptized in the Name of Jesus so that they might receive the Spirit. These had previously only received the baptism of John. Still others were given the Gift when the apostles laid hands on them. A number of those present at Pentecost experienced a second outpouring when they prayed in response to being persecuted. Men endlessly argue about how believers receive the Spirit. We must remember that God is sovereign and He decides as to how He relates to His children. He will not be confined to our “theological boxes”!
There was no question about the Spirit’s reality in the lives of the early believers. Those who received Him frequently spoke in tongues, burst forth in joy and worship or prophesied. To the Gentile believers in Galatia Paul writes in his stern corrective letter: “Gal. 3: 3-5 “This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He that ministers to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Obviously, if the Galatians worked miracles, they displayed similar manifestations as did the first ones who believed. Paul writes: Rom. 8:9 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having the Spirit was synonymous to being a believer.
Was this wonderful experience of God indwelling His children and showing His Presence in so powerful a way only for a limited historical time? Next we will take a look at the church as we have known it today.
David Jantzi Feb. 6 2021