I am very excited today because the NLT New Application Study Bible arrived in my mail. I found a great deal on the Amazon Marketplace. In a previous post I pointed out how good the study notes were. So I picked one up for myself. There is a section in the back of the study Bible called "A Christian Worker's Resource." One of the articles is about how to become a Christian. After being severely disappointed with the ESV Outreach New Testament and how it teaches bringing people to Christ, I was curious to see if there was any mention of baptism.
What exactly was the purpose and makeup of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all flesh and what was the same for the pouring out on the servants of God?
In order to prove all things using scriptures, it is useful to look at some of the Old Testament prophesies concerning what was to take place when the Holy Spirit came and what happened each time God poured out his Spirit.
Isaiah said this (44: 3-6), “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; They will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses. One will say, `I am the Lord’s’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; another will write with his hand, `The Lord’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel. Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: `I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’”
Here the Lord says both the Spirit of God and blessings will be poured out, and not poured out on the present Israel, but upon their descendants and offspring that will “spring up… like willows by the watercourses.”
When persons in the Old Testament were whelmed or identified by or with the Spirit of God, it indicated that they were to be or had been set apart for a purpose, a purpose set by God. This is true whether or not they were prophets or kings, leaders or judges. As examples you might read Exodus 31 (particularly 1 — 7); Exodus 35: 30 — 35; Numbers 11: 16 — 25; 24: 2; 27: 18 — 23; Judges 3: 10; 6: 34; 11: 29; 13: 25; 1 Samuel 10: 1 — 10; 11: 5 — 6; 16: 13, 14, etc. etc.
The point is that the duty of the Spirit was to work the specific and identified purpose of God Almighty — in both word and deed. And though always accompanied with a sign, the sign was not itself the purpose of God, but rather the moving of the events and the accomplishing of whatever issue God had identified was the purpose. Each time this type of blessing or movement was performed it was attended with some identifying signature so that the person or persons who were receiving the Holy Spirit could be identified by others or set apart specifically. All of the signs were visible or otherwise outwardly identifiable characteristics.
If you search the scriptures you will find this to be true in every instance.
When judgment was weighed against Israel or any other nation and people, it came preceded with signs and warnings. When carried out it was in identifiable form — it could be seen and noted for just exactly what it was.
When Peter quoted Joel chapter 2 on that Pentecost he identified that the words of the prophet and thus the words of God were being fulfilled that day. This meant that the events were identifiable as the work of God and that the signs to mark the things being done were the miracles and wonders that accompanied the pouring out of the Spirit. So, the Spirit was poured out and as evidence of that — that events were moving to accomplish the will of God Almighty, there were signs and identifiers — markers that the events were the fulfillment of God’s will.
Note this portion of what Peter said.
“Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
It is easy to miss what is stated here, I have missed it all of my adult life. I can also say that no one I know has noticed the actual wording in this verse or its import.
(Brent Kercheville and I had been casually discussing the Holy Spirit in preparation for his class in West Palm Beach, when I noted to him that the wording of verse 33 was not as I had ever supposed or understood, and that I would have to re-think the implications of what I saw. He too was taken back and immediately began to study and discuss this with others. While I do not believe that we have discovered anything new, for this does not read any differently now than it always has, it does signal that I am still a pitiful student of scripture. But we both now believe that we have actually cleared the cobwebs away sufficiently to identify what the text in fact states. We also know that no commentary or lesson we have found notices any of what follows here.)
Question: What is it that Jesus received from the Father when he ascended to the right hand of the throne of God?
Answer: “The promise of the Holy Spirit.”
The blinding glimpse of the obvious is that Jesus first received the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then once received, he initiated the events witnessed on that Pentecost.
Peter states that because the Christ had received the promise of the Holy Spirit that “he has poured out this which you now both see and hear.”
Did Jesus receive the ability to do miracles and wonders once ascended?
Did he receive the gift of salvation once ascended?
Did he receive the Holy Spirit itself when he ascended back to God?
In each case the answer must be a resounding NO! To state otherwise would contradict scripture.
When he ascended he did not receive any of those things. He had possessed the power to do miracles and wonders while he was here and the New Testament testifies of that. He did not receive salvation, for he is “the author and finisher of our salvation” and as God, he did not need to be saved from his sins. He did not receive the Holy Spirit when he ascended back to the throne as he is “in every part God.”
So then what is the promise of the Holy Spirit that he did receive when he ascended and which he poured out that day?
Peter further stated that Joel had not been speaking about King David, “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore Peter was implying that the things that were being witnessed would not be leading up to a restoration of the physical kingdom of either King David or of other kings of Israel.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
I must now take that to mean that Christ had completed his duties upon his ascension and with that he was given the receipt of the promise of the Holy Spirit. He then issued his first proclamation through the pouring out of the promise of the Holy Spirit, for he had been crowned king, given dominion and authority and was at that time seated forever at the right hand of God in glory.
Peter’s conclusion upon the ascension of Jesus and his receiving this promise and then his successive pouring out of the Holy Spirit was (once again) “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know that God has made this Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.”
What then did Jesus receive that he had not previously held and maintained? What was his purpose here on earth? What had he come to initiate, to be given rule and dominion over? He was declared to be both Lord and the Messiah.
At his ascension Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When was all authority over all things granted to him? Why did he command that the apostles should teach everyone to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you?” On what authority was this now done? What event had transpired? He fulfilled his part of the plan of salvation and was upon his ascension declared Lord and Christ.
It might be useful at this point to recall that John and Jesus both had taught the same message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John had said, “…for one who is mightier than I, is coming whose shoe latchet I am unworthy to loosen…” “I baptize with water, but he shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” You might note that Jesus in respect to working signs was certainly superior in every way to John, “who had worked no sign.” So, it is unlikely that here he was referring to the working of signs in this. And a baptism of the Spirit sounds good to everybody, but only a few are unstudied enough to think that a baptism of fire would be a good thing. I for one have no interest in being baptized with fire.
So to what does the baptism of the Holy Spirit refer? And what was the promise of the Spirit that Christ received and that he poured out?
One other scripture may be useful. Hebrews 12 is I think a useful place to spend time in reflection. There the writer states this in the close of the letter.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
It has been noted that if you should diagram the sentence above, removing all the explanatory clauses, this remains — “Therefore… Jesus… sat down…”
“Therefore, Jesus sat down.”
That indicates that things have been concluded, and we might rightfully note in that would be his teaching, his work, his actions amongst humankind in an active and present sense, that all had been therefore concluded and brought to a finished state and position of completion. The product was ready to roll out.
The writer continues by noting (beginning with 18),
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or thrust through with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’
Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
What is it that Christ received and what was the promise of the Holy Spirit? What did he then give to us in the giving of the promise, the pouring out of the promise of the Holy Spirit from the throne of heaven to earth?
As I understand things, he received power, authority and dominion. He received dominion (that means he is a reigning monarch) and therefore he received a kingdom. Then he gave us that promise of the Holy Spirit — the return of the kingdom of God to humankind and the opening of its doors to “all flesh.” That is found in every place you might care to look either in prophesy, or in the words of the apostles and writers of the New Testament.
I will offer an example of this from both the Old and New Testaments and challenge you to study to see if these things are not so and then seek to find and understand other examples.
As part of the kingdoms prophesy in Daniel 7: 13 — 14 this was recorded.
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”
This is from the writings of the apostle Paul.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him, in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1: 3 — 14).
We suggest that the promise and the giving of the Holy Spirit was and is the return of the Kingdom of Heaven, the return of the favor (grace) of God toward mankind.
God had given over the Israelites to their imaginations and machinations. And the prophets of later days clearly noted that God’s favor had departed from them. Jesus heralded the return of the kingdom and thereby God’s favor to the Jews, but they rejected him, and in fulfillment of the prophesies to Abraham then the kingdom was to be opened “as a highway” to “all nations.”
The Kingdom’s coming was accompanied by signs and wonders just as had always been the case in every occurrence where the Spirit of God was given or poured out. Part of the working of signs was given to “all flesh” and part was granted to the servants of God — the greater part. As with all signs, the purpose was to identify that God was moving events and things were happening with the signature of God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts. The highway had been cleared and laid down, was paved and marked with lanes and medians, billboards were set up to mark the entrance, and the lights were now turned on.
“A highway shall be there, and a road and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”