The Facts from Acts

Girolamo Muziano, The Pentecost, 16th century

Girolamo Muziano, The Pentecost, 16th century

This Sunday is Pentecost when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit. Here are the facts from Acts on the Holy Spirit:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father poured out by the Son on all of God’s people—sons and daughters, young men, old men—providing power to bear witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth (1:8; 2:17-18).
  2. The Spirit comes to inspire speech (tongues, prophecy, preaching, public defense) that bears witness to Jesus (2:4; 5:32; 6:10; 19:6).
  3. Repentance and baptism in response to the gospel result in forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:38; 5:32; 8:15-17; 9:17).
  4. The Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets of the Old Testament now inspires the bold proclamation of the gospel by Peter, Stephen, Philip, Paul and ordinary believers (4:8, 25, 31; 28:25). 
  5. To resist the work of the Holy Spirit can lead to God’s judgment, even for believers (5:3, 9; 7:51; 8:19; 13:9).
  6. The Spirit is available to fill Christian leaders and provide them with wisdom (6:3; 10; 11:24). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen was able to answer his accusers with wisdom and face death with grace and courage (6:10; 7:55). The Spirit led Philip to the desert where he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch and then took Philip to his next assignment (8:29; 39).
  7. God sent Ananias to Saul (Paul) to lay hands on him and pray that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit (9:17).
  8. The Holy Spirit strengthened the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria and it increased in numbers (9:31).
  9. The Spirit led Peter to the house of Cornelius and fell upon the Gentiles as he preached confirming the Jewish believers, the genuine nature of their conversion and readiness for baptism even though they had not been circumcised (10:19, 44-47; 11:12, 15-16; 15:8). The Holy Spirit guided the deliberations of the church regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles (15:8; 28).
  10. Jesus carried out his ministry under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit (10:38).
  11. Barnabas was filled with the Holy Spirit in this ministry of evangelism and church strengthening in Antioch (11:24).
  12. The Spirit inspired the prophet Agabus to predict a coming famine (11:28).
  13. The Holy Spirit called, set apart and sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey together (13:1-4).
  14. Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit confronted the magician Elymas (13:9).
  15. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit (13:52).
  16. The Holy Spirit prevented Paul extending his mission into Asia Minor (16:6-7) and later compelled him to go to Jerusalem where he would face prison and hardship (20:22-23; 21:4, 11).
  17. The Holy Spirit was ultimately responsible for the appointment of local church leaders (20:28)

It's just possible that at the end of Acts 28 the Holy Spirit ascended to be with the Father, leaving us to continue the mission alone. In which case it's all up to us. We've failed and God doesn't have another plan. Let's spend the rest of history making excuses and blaming others.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today. In which case, anything is possible.