(John 14:15-28: Acts 1:3-5)
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he made several appearances to the disciples within a period of forty days. He gave them the Great Commission to evangelize the whole world by teaching and preaching to the people and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But he asked the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father before embarking on their mission which should start from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and spread to the rest of the world.
The promise of the Father is the Holy Spirit (the Greek name is: Paraclete).
It has been suggested that the: Acts of the Apostles should be called the: Acts of the Holy Spirit. This is because throughout the: Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit is in control of the activities of the apostles and the early Christians. In the: Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit is the Spiritual Father, instructor, teacher, and counsellor that directs the affairs of the early Church.
The Ascension: At the end of the fortieth day, Jesus was ready to ascend to heaven. Therefore, he called the disciples together and reminded them again of the promise of the Holy Spirit. He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father that they had heard from him. He said John the Baptist baptized them with water, but in a few days time they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit:
“John baptized you with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Why Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the apostles: In the Great Commission, Jesus told the disciples to continue with his work by preaching the gospel message to all nations. But he told them to wait in Jerusalem for power from above, that is, the Holy Sprit to help them do the work effectively. To do the work effectively, they needed wisdom to understand the gospel message; and the spiritual courage to preach it and win souls for God. The Holy Spirit is the one that has the power to give them these things. When God baptized Jesus with the Holy Spirit, He (Holy Spirit) gave Jesus the wisdom to understand the gospel (good news) and the spiritual courage to preach it to win souls for God. In Luke 4:18, Jesus said:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the good news …”
Therefore, Jesus made the promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that when He (the Spirit of the Father/Holy Spirit) comes He will give them the same wisdom to understand the gospel and the spiritual courage to preach it. Thus the importance of the promise of the Holy Spirit is that He is crucial to the success of the work of God by giving us wisdom to understand the gospel message and the spiritual courage to preach it to win souls for God. Without Him (the Holy Spirit) no man of God can successfully do the work of God.
The coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13: 14-36)
The Feast of Pentecost was one of the festivals of the Jews. It was an agricultural festival. It was held seven weeks after the feast of the Passover. The purpose was to thank God for a successful agricultural year and to seek His protection and blessing for the new agricultural year. Many Jews came from far and near to celebrate the festival in Jerusalem.
The coming of the Holy Spirit took place on the day of Pentecost. This was ten days after the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. On that day, the apostles were together in the Upper Room where the Last Supper took place. They had been there since Jesus ascended to heaven. They feared to go out because people might accuse them of being followers of Jesus and kill them. They prayed and worshipped together in the Upper Room.
While the apostles were together in the Upper Room, a strange thing happened. First, there was the sound of a great wind that came from heaven into the room. Then, they saw what looked like flames in the shape of tongues resting on each of them. They were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit or power from God and they started speaking in different languages.
The apostles were full of joy and courage now that the Holy Spirit had come on them. They were no longer afraid to go out and be killed. They therefore went out into the streets of Jerusalem to preach the word of God with boldness. There were many people who had come for the feast of Pentecost. Each of them heard the apostles preach in his or her language.
There were Parthians, Medes Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphilia, Egypt and parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene. There were also visitors from Rome, Crete and Arabia. They were all amazed at the wonderful event. However, there were some of them who did not understand what was happening and mocked them by accusing them of being drunk.
The visible and audible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit: In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is defined as wind and breath. This means that wind and breath are two of the visible manifestations of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit manifested itself not only as ‘wind’ but also as ‘tongues of fire’. The result of manifesting as ‘tongues’ was the ‘speaking in tongues’ by the apostles. Therefore, when someone ‘speaks in tongues’ it shows the presence of the Holy Spirit in that person. Thus, one of the visible manifestations of the Holy Spirit is the speaking in tongues.
Another visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the ‘giving of spiritual power’ and ‘courage’ to do what one could not do by his or her will power. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were afraid to go out because they might be identified with Jesus and be arrested and killed. But, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, He gave them spiritual courage to do what they could not do before. They were no longer afraid to be identified with Jesus. They went out boldly to preach in his name.
The significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit: God fulfilled His promise by sending down the Holy Spirit on the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. This shows how reliable, dependable and trustworthy God is in His dealings with human beings. He never fails in His promise. He took away the fear of the apostles and the early Christians and gave them spiritual courage to do what they could not do by their own effort. The Holy Spirit is therefore, the one who gives us spiritual power and courage to do what we cannot do by our will power in order to succeed.
Peter’s first speech and its effects (Acts 2:14-41)
Peter stood among the crowd to refute the charge of drunkenness. This led to his first speech on the Day on Pentecost. Peter said that since the time was around Nine O’clock in the morning, it was too early to get drunk. He said what was happening was the effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy as recorded in the Book of Joel.
The prophet Joel had prophesied that a time would come when God would pour out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh so that their sons and daughters would have the power to prophesy, their young men would have the power to see visions and their old men the power to dream dreams.
Peter said that Jesus was the one who had given them the Holy Spirit. Peter explained further that this was the same Jesus Christ who preached about the kingdom of God; who performed miracles among them and whom they crucified. He said God had raised him from the dead as David had prophesied in Psalm 16:10:
“For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.”
Peter narrated that Jesus had ascended into heaven and was at the right hand of God as Lord and Saviour. From this distinguished position at God’s right hand, Jesus had poured out the Holy Spirit on them as they had seen.
When the people heard this, many of them were ashamed and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles:
“Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter advised them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. That day, about three thousand of them repented for their sins, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and became members of the Church.
The effect of Peter’s speech: Before Peter’s speech, the number of believers was one hundred and twenty. But after Peter’s speech the number rose to about three thousand. Therefore, the effect of Peter’s speech was a rapid increase in the number of believers.
Religious Guidance and Counselling
God wants you to succeed with both your own work and the work of God
Without the help of the Holy Spirit you cannot succeed with your own work and with the work of God. This is proved by the way He helped Jesus succeed with his ministry by giving him wisdom to understand the gospel message and the spiritual courage to preach it. Therefore, God wants all of you to pray to Him through Jesus to use the Holy Spirit to do the same for you to help you succeed with your work and with the work of God.
God wants you to have spiritual courage to succeed
At his baptism, God used the Holy Spirit to give Jesus spiritual courage to succeed with his ministry. On Pentecost Day, Jesus also used the Holy Spirit to give the apostles and the early Christians the same spiritual courage to succeed with the work of God. After the apostles and the early Christians, it is your turn for Jesus to do the same for you. Jesus will give you the Holy Spirit, to give you spiritual courage to succeed. Jesus also baptized the apostles and the early Christians to give them the same spiritual courage to succeed.
Therefore, God wants all of you to ask Jesus to use the Holy Spirit give you the same spiritual courage to succeed. With spiritual courage you can do great things for Christ and your country. You can lead a good Christian life; and help bring others to Jesus Christ.
God wants you to fulfill your promise to others always
Some of you promise your parents and teachers to be obedient, respectful and hardworking but you fail to keep your promise. Some of you also disappoint your parents, teachers, elders and friends by breaking promises made to them. All this shows that it is not easy to fulfill your promises to others always by your own effort. Only Jesus can use the Holy Spirit to help you to do this successfully.
Therefore, God wants all of you to tell Him through Jesus to use the Holy Spirit to help us fulfill our promises to others always.
God wants you to repent and ask for forgiveness whenever you hear the word of God preached
Whenever some of you hear the word of God being preached about God’s Commandments, you feel sorry for not having obeyed them. Therefore, you repent, and ask God for forgiveness. You then pray to Him, through Jesus, to use the Holy Spirit to give you spiritual strength to do what He expects you to do at all times.
But some of you hear the word of God being preached about God’s Commandments, but you fail to feel sorry and repent in spite of knowing that you have not done what God expects you to do. This is not good. You must change now, and pray to Him through Jesus.
God wants all of you to pray to Him through Jesus to help you feel sorry and repent, and ask for forgiveness whenever you hear the word of God being preached about God’s Commandments; and to give you the spiritual strength to do the good He expects you to do always.
Religious and Moral Lessons
- In the: Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit is the Spiritual Father, instructor, teacher, and counsellor who directs the affairs of the Church. You must learn to look upon the Holy Spirit as the Spiritual Father, instructor, teacher and counsellor who directs the affairs of the Church.
- The Holy Spirit helps us succeed with the work of God by giving us the wisdom to understand the gospel message and the spiritual courage to preach it to win souls for God. You must learn to pray to Jesus to use the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom to understand the gospel message, and the spiritual courage to preach it to win souls for Christ.
- The Jews thanked God and sought His protection and blessing during Pentecost, their harvest festival. You must learn to thank God and seek His protection and blessing during your Church Harvest Festival, and on all other days.
- God showed Himself to be reliable, dependable and trustworthy by pouring the Holy Spirit on the apostles as He had promised. You must learn to pray to Jesus to help you be reliable, dependable and trustworthy by fulfilling your promises to God and others.
- The Holy Spirit is the (power) of God, that gives spiritual courage to successfully do God’s work. You must learn to pray to Jesus to use the Holy Spirit to give you spiritual courage to successfully do God’s work and your own work.
- Peter stood among the crowd and refuted the charge of drunkenness made against the apostles. You must learn to pray to God through Jesus to give you spiritual courage to openly refute any wrong charge against you, your church, your school, teachers or elders in the community, like Peter did for the apostles.
- The crowd felt sorry and repented when they heard the word of God. You must learn to feel sorry, repent and ask for forgiveness whenever you hear the word of God being preached concerning the Commandments.
- Peter preached the word of God to the people and many were converted to Christianity. You must learn to preach the word of God for many more people to be converted to Christianity.