Friday, June 29, 2012

The Holy Spirit in the Upper Room

I hope through breaking down the 9 gifts of the Spirit or the nine ways the spirit manifest Himself you are able to understand that these gifts are how God proves to people that He is present. Otherwise we are only believing blindly that God exists and that we are saved. However, when these gifts manifest, we are now believing in something tangible. Remember Hebrews 2:4 states God bears witness of himself both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are how God bears witness of Himself.

Understanding this concept can give us a better understanding of why the 120 people in the upper room  spoke in tongues in Acts Chapter 2. God was revealing Himself to the people for the first time through the Holy Spirit and wanted it to be clear to them that the Holy Spirit was now present. Remember we said in the previous blog post about the gift of tongues that tongues is arguably the hardest gift of the Holy Spirit for Christians (especially Christians struggling in faith) to dispute within themselves. This is why Jude says in Jude 1:20 that we build up our most holy faith when we pray in tongues.

Acts 2 Explained:
In Acts Chapter 1 verses 4 through 8 Jesus tells those who followed Him not to leave Jerusalem until after the Holy Spirit came upon them. He then tells them after the Holy Spirit does come upon them they will receive power and that they will be able to bear witness of Him not only in Jerusalem, but in Judea, Samaria and all the earth. With the knowledge we have of the gifts of the Spirit, that their role is to bear witness of God (because it is how God manifests Himself through people), we understand that the Holy Spirit was not just going to come upon them without manifesting one of the nine gifts.

If the Holy Spirit came without manifesting Himself how would the disciples have really known that He was there. It's not like nowadays where we have a New Testament that tells us the Holy Spirit comes upon every one who follows Jesus Christ. This was the first time the Holy Spirit came after the departure of Jesus so the gift of tongues was manifested as a means of the Holy Spirit bearing witness of Himself so the people would know He was now inside of them.

However, in Acts 2, speaking in tongues didn't only allow the Holy Spirit to bear witness of His presence to the 120 that were there in the upper room. As prophesied by Jesus, it bore witness of God to those in Jerusalem as well! The scripture states that the people in the region (Jerusalem) were shocked because some of the men and women who were speaking in tongues were supernaturally speaking in foreign languages that the unbelievers could understand. knowing that it takes months, sometimes years to learn a language and the followers of Jesus were speaking another language instantly by the Holy Spirit, it made them believe that God was present. Human beings, on their own, could not do such a thing.

Is the Gift of Tongues the Only Gift the Spirit Uses To Manifest Himself When People Are Saved?
The gifts of tongues isn't the only gift that manifests when people receive Jesus and consequently receive the Holy Spirit. For example in Acts 19, there were a group of twelve people who were saved who had never even heard of the Holy Spirit (now we know this still happens in our time!) and Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit began to manifest Himself and bear witness of His presence through two of the gifts of the Spirit. Acts 19:6 says:  And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Here, we see the gift of prophesy as well as the gift of tongues operating in order for the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence to those twelve people who did not even know He existed much less that he was dwelling inside of them. (Refer back to the "Stirring up the Spirit" blog post to understand that the Holy Spirit can be present in people without being manifested.)

Another instance where a gift of the Spirit, besides tongues, is manifested in people who are saved is in Mark 2 when a paralytic goes to Jesus for healing. Jesus says to him "your sins are forgiven" meaning the man received Jesus and became a "Christian". Then the gift of healing manifests in the man's life and Jesus tells Him to pick up His bed and walk. Here the gift of the Spirit, healing manifested as a means of God bearing witness of Himself. Jesus even explains, anyone who can believe that God is able to manifest Himself and heal is also able to believe that God can manifest Himself and save.

It does not always happen that the Holy Spirit manifests one of His gifts through a person who is saved. Like the group of twelve in Acts 19, the manifestation of a gift can come afterwards. Or like the man in Mark 2, it can come instantly. However, the fact that it can come at any time shows that the Holy Spirit is always there on the inside as Jesus promised in John 14.

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