In my early days as a Christian I came across a book by Billy Graham entitled “Angels”. He makes comments like “I believe in angels” and “Are angels real or are they a product of your imagination?” The New International translation of the Bible has 94 references for angels” and 195 for “angel”.
But what about the Holy Spirit? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? I am sure you would recite the Nicene or Apostles Creed and accept this as the Christian Faith. You would say “I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”
Great … but do you believe in the Holy Spirit? No … I am not being silly! It is one thing to believe in the Holy Spirit as part of the Doctrine of God because the Bible teaches it and the Church believes it … but it is another matter to believe in the Holy Spirit as a person, working in the life of the Church (corporate) and the believer (individually). In the passage we have been spending time in we have read:
Ac 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
The Holy Spirit speaks (said) and sent. Luke started off by telling us of Jesus’ words to His first disciples:
Ac 1:8 “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.”
The Holy Spirit also “empowers”. The point I would like to make and also remind you of is this … Without God the Holy Spirit there is no Salvation; no Church; no Missions and no Heaven! No, I am not a heretic. The Father has His role as the Son has His role. The Father sent the Son … the Son implemented the “salvific plan of the Triune God” … and the Holy Spirit applied the merits of this plan to souls chosen before the creation within the history of the world, post Calvary!
Not only does the Spirit empower, speak and send. He is the author of Scripture, God’s infallible, inerrant, inspired, authoritative Word we call the Bible. He is also the one who comes as the “empowered witnesses” speaks the Gospel to lost souls, bringing spiritual understanding, wooing and drawing the soul into the sphere where He birth that soul into the Eternal Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ!
You see, unless those sent to declare the Gospel are empowered with the authority of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit can’t work in the hearing soul, leading them to being born again. This is what I mean by … “Without God the Holy Spirit there is no Salvation; no Church; no Missions and no Heaven!” This is also what I mean when I ask the question … “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” It is vital to grasp this because the Bible Book we call the Acts of the Apostles ought to be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. At this point in the Book we look backwards and see it was the Spirit empowering and building the Church. Now we embark on the next stage of the Church’s Mission … Missions! In some ways Jesus’ mandate has been partially fulfilled:
Ac 1:8 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.”
The regions close to Jerusalem, all Judea, including galilee and Samaria were being evangelized … but now “the ends of the earth” was the Spirit’s focus! Please read:
Ac 13:3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
This is a lengthy passage to read, but it is the first real launch into the Gentile World with the Gospel of God by the Church of God. Who is behind it? The Holy Spirit:
Ac 13:4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit sent Barnabas and Saul. You might remember us talking about a ministry team. Here we see the idea is from the Holy Spirit. Support, encouragement and protection are some of the reasons for a ministry team. Observe that John Mark went with them. The word “helper” in verse 5, could mean attendant though the Greek word is associated with “deacon”. Saul and Barnabas were seen as “elders” (prophets, Saul an apostle) and John Mark a “deacon”. Although it does not say that the Spirit send John Mark, the elders had the freedom to take support with them for diaconal purposes. John Mark was to these two as Joshua was to Moses or Elisha was to Elijah. Once again we are confronted with the need for both elders and deacons to make the ministry team work fluently, touch all basis to ensure proper Gospel Ministry is provided.
Thank You, Holy Spirit, that You direct the development and organization of the Church. Please raise up ministry teams to grow Your Church. Amen.