Friday, April 14, 2017

Acts 10:34-45 Holy Spirit Attests to Christ, not Doctrines

KEY TEXT: Acts 10:42‭-‬45 "And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.

KEY THOT: The Holy Spirit is given to assist and empower believers to testify about what Jesus has done at the Cross: that He has been appointed to be "judge of the living and the dead." And everyone who "believes him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (v. 43). It is while Peter was proclaiming the Gospel that the Holy Spirit "fell on all who heard the word" and the Holy Spirit was "poured out" even on the Gentiles (vv.44-45).

First of all, how the Holy Spirit acted on the hearers is variously described in Acts as "fell on", "poured out'', and "received" (v.47). And in Acts 1:5 and 2:4, the same act of the Holy Spirit is also described as "baptized" and "filled" with the Holy Spirit. It's theological hair-splitting when we try to differentiate these various descriptors of the same act of the Holy Spirit. Churches are split over how to describe the work of the Holy Spirit in the name of doctrinal orthodoxy. The words we use to describe this act is less important than the reality itself. What matters is life-tranformation. Perhaps, we can use a theologically-neutral word like ''blessing of the Holy Spirit." Theologians argue over labels; evangelists focus on the reality.

Secondly, note that the Holy Spirit acts in conjunction with the proclamation of the Gospel--the message of Christ crucified. The gospel of the Cross is not just for pre-believers but for new and old believers. It is not just about forgiveness of sins (though that is foundational), but it also includes the message "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." (v.38) and "he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead" (v.42). The Gospel starts with Jesus' healing and deliverance of our present sicknesses until the end of the age when Jesus returns as Judge of the living and the dead. Since Jesus is the coming Judge, it behooves us to live a life worthy of our calling. There is a day of accountability and judgement for believers: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

As long as a church is proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom to insiders and outsiders, it will experience the Holy Spirit power attesting powerfully to Christ.

Father, empower us to be Your witnesses though Your Spirit. Amen.

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