Ready to Receive (Lessons from the house of Cornelius)

Ready to Receive
Robert Wurtz II


Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. (Acts 10:5–8 NKJV)

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God. (Acts 10:30–33 NKJV)



It is hard to imagine it today, but there was a time when Gentiles were not part of what we know as the Church. In fact, with the possible exception of proselytes, the Church was entirely Jewish until Acts 10:44-46. There had been a few Gentiles who believed, but it was Cornelius and his house who were the first to receive the Holy Spirit as He was poured out on the day of Pentecost.

A close examination of our text reveals an important characteristic of this Roman Centurion (Cornelius). Having done well serving the Lord and trusting Him in prayer, an angel appeared to him with an announcement,“Your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.” God had taken notice of what this Gentile had been doing. However, what really sets him apart is his great desire to know what God is saying to he can be swift to obey. We read, So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God. 

Cornelius wanted to hear and obey all that God had to say. This is a common characteristic of those in the book of Acts who went on with God. Moreover, it is a prime characteristic of those who receive the Holy Spirit. Some are said to have “received the word” and others “received the word with gladness.” However, Cornelius went out of his way to find out what God was saying in the first place… sending out people to fetch Peter to his house so he could listen to what God had to say. This is an awesome thing to consider. He wasn’t trying to avoid God and His word; he was doing everything in his power to hear from God. 

I Isaiah 66:1-3 we are told that God makes His abode in people who are of a broken and contrite spirit and that tremble at His word. These are the essential things. Cornelius trembled at God’s word before he even had a chance to hear it! 

And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city. (Acts 10:7–9 NKJV)


Cornelius didn’t take any chances. He sent a devout soldier with the two messengers to fetch Peter so he could bring back the word of God. Cornelius was serious about hearing what Peter had to say. This is the attitude of people who want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He was anxious to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; he only needed an opportunity to do it. 

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. (Acts 10:44 NKJV)

It would be easy to assign this baptism in the Holy Spirit to God’s sovereignty; but a close examination of the context reveals that the house of Cornelius was ready to receive the Holy Spirit. The story demonstrates just how easy it is to receive the Spirit once we are ready to receive. Cornelius lived by every ray of light that God had shined upon him. He longed to know and do God’s will. In fact, his approach to God had come up as a memorial in heaven. 

I’m reminded of a similar event earlier in Acts where we read, And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. (Acts 8:6–7 KJV) This is always the key thing, a willingness to give heed to what God is saying to us. 

It is certain that if we get our hearts right with God in a way Cornelius, and his house had done we would receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There wouldn’t be any fuss. This means we need a desire to receive God’s word. Reading Acts 10 it’s obvious why the house of Cornelius received an Acts chapter 2 experience. They had prepared themselves to receive the Spirit by seeking out and obeying God’s word — so they could obey Him and do His will. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32 KJV) How can we obey God if we’re not willing to search out what He would say to us? Cornelius sent two men with an armed escort to make sure he heard the word of the Lord.  


Receiving the Holy Spirit (Baptism in the Holy Spirit)

Receiving The Holy Spirit (Baptism in the Holy Spirit)
Robert Wurtz II

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:38, 41 KJV)

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14-17)


While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:44–48 NKJV)

There are multitudes of people who attend church faithfully who have never consciously received the Holy Spirit. Most have been told that they received the Holy Spirit when they believed; unlike Paul who asked the Ephesians if they received when they believed. (Acts 19:2) Therefore, they do not seek the Lord for the Spirit. What happens? They realize that something is lacking so they search earnestly for what the lack might be. And because they believe they have already received the Spirit, they never think about their condition rightly. 

Struggling to Be a Christian


Tragically, many well intended believers end up compensating for not having received the Spirit with everything from asceticism to legalism. In some cases liberalism* and mysticism. In other words, these ideologies become an empty substitute for the reality of being Spirit-filled. This entry is written with a view to helping people, who, as I once did, struggle to understand and experience the reality of the Spirit-filled life. 


Regretfully, for fifteen years (age 8-22) I was an “in and out” and “off and on” Christian. I called myself a Christian at times; while others my life was so bad I was ashamed to be around Christians. I still cringe thinking about some of the sins I committed back then. Often I would be what is commonly called “backslidden.” If I saw a preacher coming, I would go the other way. There were extended periods when I tried really hard to do the Christian life. I responded to more altar calls than I care to remember. I must have said the sinners prayer more times than anyone on earth (one of the reasons I have no confidence in it). In time I came to think that this was an acceptable way of living the Christian life. 

There was one thing I need to mention; even though I attended mainly Pentecostal type churches, I had never received the Holy Spirit. In the back of my mind I always wondered if this was my problem. In some ways I was afraid of the Holy Spirit, because I didn’t want to commit blasphemy.   When I was a child people still had the fear of God. People didn’t handle the things of God flippantly. I knew receiving the Holy Spirit would mean I would have to get serious with God. 


It was not until a tragic accident left me temporarily unable to use my left hand that God got my undivided attention and began dealing strongly with me. My career came to a halt and I came face to face with God. Similar to what the Puritans used to call, “preparationism” God led me to prepare myself to receive the Holy Spirit. If God was truly going to come and live inside me — I needed to get right with Him. In time, as I read the bible and God dealt with me, I realized that God wanted to establish His authority in my life. Once I truly submitted my whole life and will to God, I received the Holy Spirit without any fuss. It was as simple as in the book of Acts. 


This entry does not answer all the questions. No entry could do that. Nevertheless, for all its shortcomings I trust it will help someone who is earnestly seeking the Lord to receive the Holy Spirit. If it helps just one person it was worth the time to write it.

Having Begun in the Spirit


Paul asked the Galatians that if a person has “begun in the Spirit” can they be made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3) Obviously, the answer is no. The whole of the Christian life is made possible when we receive the life of God through the Holy Spirit. We may have had many starting points, but we have not “begun” in the New Covenant sense of the word until we “begin in the Spirit.” (Galatians 3:2) The question is, have you and I begun in the Spirit or did we have some other lesser beginning? This question is utterly important because there is no replacement for consciously receiving the Holy Spirit.


The First Experiences


In the first century (before theologians worked for hundreds of years to muddy the waters), becoming a Christian was a very straight-forward process. People genuinely repented of their sins, received Christ, were baptized in water, and received the Holy Spirit. That was the basic package. the result was a “world turned upside down” with the Gospel being preached to the far flung regions of the world. Today most people repeat a prayer and are then told by a well intended “counselor” that they are eternally secure — sealed by the Holy Spirit. Their pastor, mentor, or discipleship leader then works tirelessly to make sure they don’t backslide. 


People generally adjust their theology to fit their experiences. If they struggle with sin, they believe (and teach) that people will always struggle with sin. If they find no fruit in their life, they find a “theological” reason for it. Generally they quote Paul’s pre-regeneration experience from Romans 7:18-19. Nevertheless, if they began in the flesh they will continue in the flesh. It can be no other. However, when a person truly begins in the Spirit… a radical work of God takes place. 


Judea, Samaria, Uttermost Parts of the Earth


I have chosen the three passages at the beginning of this entry to illustrate our topic of receiving the Holy Spirit in regards to the Jews, Samaritans, and the Gentiles. The emphasis in each passage is different, but the result is the same. In fact, the Gentiles received the word with such readiness — that the Holy Spirit fell upon the people while Peter was still speaking! We then observe that water baptism and Spirit baptism can be reversed in terms of their chronological order. What remains in all three cases is the receiving of the word of God as it was preached to them. 

Repent? I Already Did that!

Over the years I have met many people who claim they have sought the Lord to receive the Holy Spirit and have come up empty. Generally I tell them that the key to receiving the Holy Spirit is true, bible-based repentance. This almost always angers the person. They would have me to believe that the problem was on God’s end. However, God is more willing to give us His Holy Spirit than a good parent is willing to feed their children. Many times I have held my peace and watched the person(s) who have not received. Generally time reveals what the problem was. I have had young men say they had “surrendered all” to God only to have them admit later that they were going to strip clubs. That’s right. I have had women pretend they repented and later on they endorse all kinds of questionable behaviors up to and including full-blown homosexuality. They have a hidden attitude that “nobody is going to tell me what to do!” In other words, their rebellion surfaces. It eventually will. It’s only a matter of time. They never fooled me for a second; and they definitely never fooled God. 


Obstacles to Receiving the Holy Spirit


1. A lack of Genuine Repentance


I wish to first draw attention to the fact that in both of our passages the people “received the word.” In fact, the people in Acts 2:38 gladly received the word.” What was this word? Again, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Repentance has to do with coming into full agreement with God when He tells us something in His word. 


If God calls a particular behavior “sin” it is sin. In fact, everyone knows deep down inside whether or not their behavior is sin. God has made us this way. The word of God merely throws extra light on things we already have a basic knowledge of. Repentance means we stop rebelling against what we know is right and wrong — because God is the one we are rebelling against — not anyone or anything else (even if they are a secondary offended party in our behavior.) When we realize that our sin is against God, alone, we are on our way to true repentance. (Psalm 51:4)


2. Unwillingness to Get Alone with God  



In the 21st century multitudes are suffering from a couple of very effective strategies of the enemy that are hindering them from truly receiving the Holy Spirit. Sadly, most have no clue it’s happening. First, Satan employs the “divide and conquer the mind” strategy. This is particularly effective in modern times. Multitudes have their attention divided into so many places, that they cant give their undivided attention to anything or anyone. Do you recall grammar school when your teacher would say, “Now look up here class… give me your undivided attention!” If you were toying around with something else while she/he were talking, you were liable to get called down. Why? Some things require our undivided attention — our complete focus of mind and heart.

What is dividing your attention? Is it a hand-held device? Is it a loyalty to a hobby? Is it a favorite ball team or television program? Is it your career? What is dividing your attention to the point that you cannot get alone with God and give Him your undivided attention. Generally, church is not a good place to get alone with God. Sound blasphemous? Not really. There is too much going on. Sadly, when there is an altar service most musicians are so bent on “being heard” that they distract the people in the altar area from doing any real business with God. Add to that the fact that most altar workers have no idea how to counsel a person who is trying to get through to God and we find church as one of the last places some people will ever get focused on God and His dealings in such a way that they can receive the Holy Spirit.

3. They Refuse to Stop Resisting

You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. (Acts 7:51-54)


In Acts 2 the people were said to have “gladly received the word” and as a consequence were baptized. However, in Acts chapter 7, the people resisted instead of receiving. When a person resists God’s word they are consequently resisting His Holy Spirit. Moreover, they are resisting God’s authority. The Holy Spirit and the word of God agree. The people resisted Stephen’s preaching and they resisted the Holy Spirit. God was trying to establish His authority in their lives, but they closed their eyes and stopped their ears. We have this passage in Isaiah:

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:20)

You will recall that part of Paul’s commission was to “open their eyes” so as to turn the people from darkness to light. Paul preached so that “they may see, and know, and understand, and consider…” This is what Stephen had done. At first Paul (Saul) resisted the message and refused to consider. Nevertheless, in time Paul did see and understand. In fact, when we get to Acts 28 he thoroughly explains the process by another reference to Isaiah:


And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Acts 28:25-27)


 Will you notice, “their eyes they have closed.” This is an obstinate refusal to recognize the truth of what is preached. Their heart had “waxed gross” or in the language of Hebrews, they had an evil heart of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:12) This means that their heart refused to receive what was said and consider it. No matter how much evidence was brought to bear, the people still refused to believe. They needed to be healed of their backsliding and rebellion, but they resisted the one who wanted to come in to them and do the work. One cannot receive the Holy Spirit without agreeing with God’s word and believing on Him. We simply cannot receive and resist at the same time.


4. They Rebel Against God’s Authority


And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. 

(Acts 5:32 NKJV)

Many people want to receive the Holy Spirit, but they don’t want to submit to God’s authority. They fail to understand that Satan and a third of the angels were cast out of Heaven because of their rebellion. God wants His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is possible in the life of a true born again believer. 


However, Acts 5:32 implies that obedience is something that must happen prior to receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. This is the plain sense of the text. The Greek word for obey is pitharchousin and it is in the present active. Notice the word in the middle pitharchousin. The “arche” signifies obeying someone who is in authority. It is the same word used a few verses before when Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29 KJV) How people receive what is preached is out of the minister’s control. It is not our responsibility to force people. We lay out the message and the response is between the hearer and God.

________________

* I mean here “liberal” in the sense of being open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values: they have more liberal views toward marriage and divorce than some people.


Evolutionistic Evangelism

Evolutionistic Evangelism
Robert Wurtz II

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)

It is an awful thing to pronounce a matter finished when it has only begun. To claim that a person is “healed,” when, in fact,  they are not, is to end their pursuit of the remedy. This is the  danger in our text. The people were in a state of perpetual backsliding. Their ongoing iniquity was like a festering leprous sore — designed to kill them. In fact, they were so hardened in their sins that they were unable to blush. They were past feeling. All the while, from the prophet to the priest — they were all given to covetousness. All they could think about was more money and more stuff. They lusted after all kinds of things. From these backslidden hearts issued the words, “Peace, peace!” However, it was a cruel pitiless lie. 


False Prognosis


God told them that they had preached, literally, “shalom, shalom.” In Hebrew, words are doubled-up for emphasis. This is “absolute peace.” Keep in mind that the word shalom means more than an absence of conflict, it denotes well being. This answers to the Hebrew word for wound. In other words, they are being told “it is utterly well” with them when in fact, there is no wellness at all. Their words had only “slightly” healed their festering wound. This word slightly in Hebrew denotes a flippancy towards the seriousness of the problem. 


Modern Application


In modern times, we often have a similar situation as played out in Israel. Because so many who preach the Gospel are given to covetousness, they are unwilling to preach a message that will bring true healing to peoples’ sin-problem. Why? Because repentance does not sell. In fact, it will empty the offering basket in many cases. What happens? They heal the wound “slightly” by preaching messages that do little more than serve as a numbing agent to stop the “pain” (conviction). In place of repentance and faith, their message is more along the lines of (you are) “well, well;” “healed, healed;” or “forgiven, forgiven.” Nothing is said about the deadly wound that is ready to destroy the soul. In fact, people are made to feel good about their condition, when God is trying to bring conviction and Godly sorrow. 


An Inadequate Beginning


God’s unaltering plan is to bring many sons (and daughters) unto glory. (Hebrews 2:10) To accomplish this, people have to be born of God. (John 3:3; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7) This is not a “slight” healing: it is a radical change of the inward man. In fact, the change is so thorough and profound that afterwards Christ is not ashamed to call us brethren. (Hebrews 2:11) This is a new creature in Christ. The old passes away and all becomes new. God gives us a new heart and a new spirit with all new desires. Nevertheless, multitudes are cooming to Christ who were never born again. Ministers led them in a prayer or had them sign a church membership card; but they were never genuinely changed.



Most Christians are hostile to the teachings of Darwinian Evolution; however, the doctrine itself is thoroughly embeded in their thinking process. When most Christians think of Christianity, they think of a person starting out with a simple confession of faith and then slowly evolving into a child of God. In other words, with each passing month or year, they become more like Christ and less like the Devil. This is false. 

True Christianity begins with a crisis event in which a person passes from death unto life — from the power of Satan to the power of God. This crisis event is known theologically as regeneration. The person is ” born ” of the Spirit (See the illustration above). Once they are ” born ” again, they can begin growing in grace. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 3:3 when He said,You must be born again.” This is a transformation by the Holy Spirit that renders a person a child of God. They were of their father the devil — performing his lusts; however, now they are born from above and God is working in them both to will and to do His good pleasure. Anything less than this result and we are back in Jeremiah 8:11 having been “healed slightly.”

Another Tragic Mindset

Sometimes false teachings go together like cause and effect. We get one thing wrong and generally some other error is close by. In addition to our subject “Evolutionistic Evangelism,”  we also have to deal with “Industrial Innovations.” That is, we have many innovations that have come into evangelism since the industrial revolution that place the emphasis on speed and quantity, rather than birth and quality. What is the goal of an assembly line? Speed. Obviously, there is a desire to maintain a standard, but everything is systematic. This is light years from, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NKJV) For over a hundred years society has been conditioned to want to speed things up. Nevertheless, we can’t speed up New Birth.   


Since so few are willing to preach a message that will bring about New Birth; and even fewer are willing to pray patiently with people to see them pass from death to life; we have a deficiency in new births and an abundance of folks that are trying to “evolve” into being a child of God. It is impossible. 

For they have healed the wound of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11)


       

Partakers of the Divine Nature

Partakers of the Divine Nature
Robert Wurtz II

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3, 4)

The late G.W. North once stated that, “It’s not preparation of the message- it’s preparation of the messenger.” When God got ready to begin this great building project known as the Church, He had to prepare His ministers. This preparation began with around three years of intensive training that we find recorded in the Gospels. Here the disciples learned what God is like by living with Him day and night. Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. His teachings, His behavior, His disposition and attitude were all demonstrations of the personality of God. As the writer to the Hebrews tells us, God spoke in various ways to the saints of old by the prophets, but now He is speaking directly by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). This means that Jesus Christ is the ultimate standard of what it means to be righteous, holy, godly, humble, meek, compassionate, merciful, benevolent and all other important qualities. He demonstrated, as His walk of life, how His disciples are to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. He is the living expression of what it means to walk in the Spirit. As the tree of life clothed in flesh and blood, He yielded the fruit of the Spirit in every circumstance. He taught the disciples by example to live by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). 

The Divine Nature 

They heard Him, they watched Him and they received from Him; but they were not yet ready for the great task at hand. Before Jesus ascended into heaven in the book of Acts, the disciples were instructed to wait on the promise of the Father. This promise was the baptism in the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist foretold and Paul the Apostle explained. Paul said in Ephesians that there is “one baptism,” and that baptism is when we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. John the Baptist was clear that Jesus would baptize not in water, but in the Holy Spirit and with fire. This great baptism in the Holy Spirit was initiated on the day of Pentecost after several week of preparation before the Lord. It was in an “upper room” that the Church was born- the Temple of God made without hands. It consisted of the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:20) and the one hundred and twenty “living stones” that were present (1 Peter 2:5). Upon receiving this experience the one hundred and twenty were finally qualified to be witnesses unto Christ (Acts 1:8). 

A tale of five firsts

Every first occurrence in the Bible is worthy of our attention. Acts 2 marks five great “firsts” I wish to look at briefly: the first baptism in the Holy Spirit, the first evangelistic message, the first response to that message, the first counsel given to anxious sinners, and the first addition to the Church. 
The first baptism in the Holy Spirit not only equipped the one hundred and twenty to be the first evangelists, but it radically changed their spiritual condition. They that were in Adam were now in Christ and all the benefits of the cross was made effectual to them. Peter had failed miserably at his first real attempt to be a witness, even swearing with a loud oath. The Peter after Pentecost was nothing like the Peter before Pentecost. He was suddenly enabled, by the Spirit, to be Christ-like. On top of this radical change was a boldness that allowed him to do our second “first,” preach the Gospel. 
Peter prepares for the first major evangelistic message that would set more stones in this Temple project. He begins by explaining to the people some of the things that were going on with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They assumed the people were drunk, but Peter took that misunderstanding as an occasion to expound upon the prophesies related to the events of the last fifty days. He boldly preached Jesus Christ to the people (Acts 2:22f) and then he fearlessly set forth their sins for having crucified the Savior. His message then opened a door of hope showing the people that it was all predestined of God. Christ’s death was for the redemption of fallen humanity. 
The people then showed forth the first response to a post-Pentecost evangelistic message: Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37 NKJV) The Holy Spirit was at work convincing them of the truth that Peter proclaimed. They knew that they were guilty before God. They understood that they needed to do something, so they asked. Notice that Peter did not manipulate the people or put words of repentance in their mouths. It was very simple. He preached, the Holy Spirit convicted, and the people enquired as to what they needed to do. 
Peter is the first person post-Pentecost to counsel anxious sinners. They responded wanting to know what they should do and he responded saying; Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Peter begins his counseling session with the imperative, repent. The word of repentance is the first word of the Gospel. Although some would suggest repentance is not necessary for salvation, even using Paul’s epistles to explain such a need away, we have Paul’s own words to testify to the contrary; I declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance (Acts 26:20). It is a historical fact that Paul preached repentance everywhere he went; and not just repentance in a modern day sense, but repentance in the John the Baptist sense. Secondly, Peter instructed the enquirers to be baptized in water. This is an act of obedience that none need to understand in order to do it. Peter did not explain baptism because the people already understood baptism. Thirdly, Peter told them that they will receive the Holy Spirit. If you will repent and be baptized in water, you will receive the Holy Spirit. We will not explore the details and implications of this, but the basic pattern will be followed throughout the book of Acts. The scripture summarizes the rest of his counseling session saying; And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” (Acts 2:40 NKJV)
Lastly, we have the second response of the people: Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41 NKJV). A staggering three thousand souls (living stones) were added to the Temple. This is God’s estimate. It all began when Peter learned of Christ for three years and later prepared himself to receive the Holy Spirit. The minister was ready, the message was powerful, the people were cut to the heart, they enquired what to do, the minister gave counsel to the anxious, the ones that gladly received the word were baptized (suggesting others did not gladly receive it), and by inference three thousand received the Holy Spirit becoming living stones in the Temple. 
The fruit of this type of evangelism was that they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42 NKJV). These folks were truly born again of the Spirit. They had an appetite for the things of God and a desire to fellowship with believers. They continued also in prayers, evidence that they were living now under His Divine guidance.     

The Fiftieth Day

The Fiftieth Day
Robert Wurtz II


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

Pentecost Sunday is known in Christian circles as the birth of the Church (Ecclesia). Pentecost is the Greek rendering of the Jewish festival known as Shavuot. It is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks”. In one sense it was the celebration of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. It is said that from Passover to the giving of the Law was 7 weeks so that on the Fiftieth Day a celebration was to take place. Shavuot is also connected to the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24, Deut. 16:9-11, Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. For the disciples, they had experienced the reality of what Passover intended to convey in the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. From now on, Christ would be our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). At first the Disciples did not understand what was going on and were in a terrible confusion. But Jesus met with them and explained to them all passages of the Old Testament the things pertaining to Himself. He then concludes with these words:


Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (Luke 24:47-49)

Up to this point the Disciples had not only misunderstood the mission of Christ, but they were in no wise of the right spirit to minister the Gospel. James and John had desired to call fire from Heaven on the Samaritans and Peter had cursed and swore with a loud oath when confronted about Jesus. They were trying, but they just were not there. Human effort simply cannot make a man or a woman into a child of God. It would take regeneration. Not a simple infusion of grace to believe, but a total transformation of the person in which they pass from death unto life and from the power of Satan unto the power of God. We have a truncated pattern here in Luke 24: 

1. repentance and remission of sins must be preached
2. believers must be endued with power from on high

The Holy Spirit in relation to the Temple

It is important to take a moment and explain the significance of the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost. We can use Solomon’s Temple as our Template. Solomon built a Temple for the Lord. Up until the time the Temple was dedicated it knew only a general sense of the presence of the Lord. God manifests Himself where He is welcome, but He is present at all places and at all times. This is a theological proposition we sometimes call omnipresence or immanence. He is in the pubs, gambling dens, sin houses and even hell itself (Psalm 139:8); but He is not there in the way that He wants to be. During construction of the Temple, we could argue that God was made more welcome than He was in Egypt, for example. God has determined the bounds of our habitation that we might feel after Him, for He is not far from any one of us. That is the experience of the careless sinner. However, Israel was a God-fearing nation and people of the covenant. God was certainly more at work in their midst than He was in Egypt. Yet, the Holy Spirit wasn’t any more present at the Temple site than He was down the road until the day when the Temple was dedicated, the altar was filled, and the Fire of God fell. The glory of God filled the House until the priests were not able to stand to minister. In time the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple and it was destroyed. Yet, the artifacts in the Temple remained the possession of Jehovah (YHWH). We know this because of how Belshazzar was judged when he took the sacred dishes into his party (Daniel 5). 

The Holy Spirit in relation to men

When a person is in a careless state, even as the idolators of Athens, God is not far from them (Acts 17:27). The Disciples left their careers and followed Christ coming under His Lordship. In this condition, prior to His death, resurrection and ascension, we have this saying from our Lord, If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17) Here the Holy Spirit is said to be “among” the Disciples and that they “knew” Him; yet He was not yet “in” them as the Holy Spirit had not been given because Christ had not yet been glorified (John 7:39). The glorification of Christ took place in the death, burial and resurrection. So we see a contrast between the careless sinner and the follower of Christ. Yet there is another level still. We read of this hope, reform ye (repent), therefore, and turn back (be converted), for your sins being blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19 YLT comments added). The Disciples had had their Pentecost and now they are preaching the full Gospel.

Temples of the Holy Spirit

As soon as we turn our lives to Christ we are bought with a price, becoming the sole possession of God. Our bodies and our spirits are God’s possession and we are to glorify Him with them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are temples of the Holy Spirit, not because He dwells in us, but because we have been purchased of God with the blood of Christ in order to be made dwelling places of God. When a person turns to Christ in repentance and conversion, they have the promise of the times of refreshing coming by the presence of the Lord. They are the purchase of God. Receiving the Holy Spirit comes as a result of our submission to Him as He deals with us convincing and convicting of sin. We must respond rightly to the Holy Spirit by ceasing to resist Him. One cannot resist and receive at the same time. Many rebellious people have made a profession of Christ and believe they have the Holy Spirit, but we are not known by a simple prayer or a profession, but by the fruit we bare. I am sorry it has to be that way, but this is the clear teaching of scripture. Receiving the Spirit is something that takes place consciously and is not a process that takes place by logical deductions. A person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them when it can be seen that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in their life. 

Baptized into One Body

At Pentecost the Body of Christ was formed through the one great baptism that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. At that moment everyone that the Spirit fell upon was baptized into His Body and became partakers of all that He had accomplished upon the cross. They had lived for 3 years among Christ, dwelling with Christ, but now they are “In Christ” as new creatures. The mean spirit that wanted to call fire from Heaven was dispelled and the Holy Spirit poured out the love of God into their hearts (Romans 5:5). Their propensity to Sin was replaced with God working in them to will and to do His good pleasure. They were dead to Sin and dead and crucified with Christ. Before this great baptism none of them could say that. They were made sons of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is more than a profession and more than self-help. It is a new creature. They were enabled at that moment to function as a body through the gifts that had been given to men after He ascended on high. These gifts are essential to the edification and increase of the Body of Christ. Each person fitly framed and joined together in love. 



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