A Walk Through Acts
Remember, we’re taking a walk through Acts to see if the disciples had already received the Spirit, as argued in John 20:22-23, and if not, can we identify where and when they did, and is there explicit evidence to show this?
Acts 1:1-9 - The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. [Emphasis added are mine]
In the introduction of Acts (1:1-9) we see that Jesus was continually teaching His disciples, even during the forty days after His resurrection. Verse 2 states that He, through the Holy Spirit, commanded them to do certain things. This, no doubt, is in reference to the commands He gave them at the end of each of the "four gospels". Verse 4 & 5 emphasize again the command: do not leave Jerusalem until they were baptized in the Spirit -- receiving the promise of the Father (Luke 24:4).
Then He is asked if He would restore the kingdom to Israel at this time? Still the disciples thought He was setting up an earthly kingdom. Jesus said, it is not for you to know the time, but wait and receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you and become my witnesses. First, power must come by the baptism in the Spirit and then they would become witnesses to all the world carrying out His commands that were recorded in the end of the gospels. This is popularly known as "the great commission" for the body of Christ. These nine verses tie in the four gospels and continue without break in Acts.
We see that the disciples did obey and met in the upper loft in Jerusalem continuing in unanimity in prayer and petition, including Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers. In total, they numbered approximately 120. At this point, we can identify them as being believers, but not yet having the Spirit. That is what they were waiting for. Then, you see that Peter comes up with the idea that they need to replace their fallen disciple Judas by casting lots. Now I know they prayed to the Father while doing this, but let us remember this fact: Matthias was chosen by casting lots.
Two points to make: After this point in scripture, never do we ever see the apostles casting lots to make a decision. From Acts to Revelation it is never recorded to be done again. What we do see is the apostles, the elders, and the Church gathering together to pray and the Holy Spirit commanding by word and witness agreement. The second point is that you never hear of Matthias again in all of scripture.
Let's pause here and remind ourselves of the question we are seeking answer to... Are we to believe that the disciples, at this point and time, had already received the Spirit because of what we read in John 20:22,23?
In verse 10 & 11 of Acts chapter 1, we see that angels had to interrupt them from staring into the heavens, seemingly because they were already waiting His return. Now, they are casting lots to replace a disciple, whom we never hear from again. If the Holy Spirit is supposed to teach us, guide us and lead us, how come they seem to be unawares and disoriented as to what to do and what is going on? They were simply told to wait for the baptism in the Spirit in Jerusalem. Perhaps, in their flesh, they have gotten ahead of Jesus and chosen someone without hearing Jesus Himself. It doesn’t seem like, up to this point, that the Spirit is in effect in their lives.
Acts 2:1-6 - 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. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. [Emphasis added are mine]
Here we see the precedent set: there is no question they are now baptized in the Spirit, by Jesus, as evidenced by them speaking in tongues. At this point, we can identify them as being believers with the Spirit. They all were filled the Holy Ghost - the Spirit of Jesus - and they start to speak in other tongues as He gives them utterance. Over 12 different dialects (languages) are identified and are noticed by the surrounding melting pot of ethnicity’s in the immediate area. Not only this, but it says they spoke the magnificence of God in a tongue not originally their own. Then they are accused of being drunk, which says to me that not only were they speaking a completely different language, not originally their own, but they also had some outward manifestation or appearance of a person who is drunk. They looked a little "kooky" to the passer-by's.
However, Peter takes this opportunity to stand up and preach the first gospel message of the New Covenant. He explains that what they see here is a prophecy fulfilled of the pouring of the Spirit upon all flesh and quotes Joel. He preaches that Jesus lived, died, was buried and resurrected by God Himself, overcoming death, and that He has been made both Lord and Christ (Deity and the anointed man - fully indwelt by God). Jesus is now exalted and seated at the right hand of God glorified, and now they have received the Spirit, the promise of the Father. This is what they now see and hear.
The message of the gospel is clear. Identify who Jesus is, His life, death, burial, and resurrection and what He has afforded to us by doing so. And when that message pierces the heart of people and they ask, "What shall we do?" the answer could not be laid out any more clearly then what Peter answered. Let us remember that He was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and all those, thereafter, who preached the gospel used these same keys. The keys to the gospel of the kingdom is the death, burial, & resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Peter answered the question stating, 1) repent, 2) be baptized in the name of Jesus to the forgiveness of sins and 3) receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). These 3 keys are the witness in the earth (I John 5:7): the blood, the water, and the Spirit. According to John the apostle, these three are one. Notice it does not say the witnesses (plural) of the earth. It says the witness (singular) in the earth. This means they are seen as one, and therefore, indivisible. Neither is more important than the other. These keys must all be used to unlock the born again experience necessary to see and enter into the kingdom of God. It's like trying to open a combination lock. You need 3 numbers. One will not open it. Neither will two. But the three numbers together will undoubtedly open the lock.
The listeners who trusted and obeyed the apostolic message totaled about 3000. Does it make any sense for those who asked "What do we do?", to not have believed and obeyed Peter's three-fold witness response? We must assume, and it is a safe assumption, that the 3000 repented, were baptized in Jesus name, and received the Spirit exactly as Peter commanded them. So they also spoke in tongues when taking the Spirit. Maybe we assume too much at this point, you say. Let us continue and see if a pattern develops.
After this point in Acts, we see Mark 16:20 fulfilled throughout Acts which says, "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." Remember back in Mark what were those signs. Also, remember that what the apostles did from here on out could not have been done lest they waited in Jerusalem to receive the Spirit. For it is by the Spirit that Jesus co-worked with them confirming the word which they spoke with signs. Those signs being healing, deliverance, speaking in tongues, and prophesying, just to name a few.
In Acts 3:6, we see Peter commands a man, being lame, to rise and walk in the name of Jesus. Then Peter gives his second recorded gospel message. Notice, it is not word for word what he said the first time, but he does preach the same, by the same format: Identify who Jesus was, His life, death, burial, and resurrection and what does man need to do.
Acts 3:12-20 – And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
As you can see, Peter knows that it was not under his own power that this man was healed. It was through faith in the name of Jesus that made him whole, furnished by the Spirit. Then he speaks of repenting (the blood) and being converted to wipe out your sins (alluding to the baptism in water) and seasons of refreshing come from the face of the Lord (baptism in the Spirit). We see in chapter 4:4 that the people that heard and believed the word totaled about five thousand.
The message of the gospel is preached so that men may hear and make the choice to believe or not. We believe by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Then, if you believe, there is a choice to make; a response you must take. Do you obey the gospel or not? Will you be a hearer of the word or a doer of the word? The gospel demands a response! You must become a doer of the word. However, Peter and John were taken away at this point so we see they are not able to complete that follow-through work at this time.
© copyright 2000, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz