Tracking the Spirit
TRACKING THE HOLY SPIRIT
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Acts 2:1-8
Text: Acts 2:1-8
Each year at this time, fifty days after Easter, we rehearse the events of the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. It was a powerful event and one which is worthy of remembrance, but it should be more than a memory and more than history. Pentecost ought to be a living reality, an ongoing experience, and a continual empowerment of the church. When the Spirit is no longer filling the church, the church is dead.
If we picture the church as a body, much like the Apostle Paul does in the letter to the Corinthians, then, we should understand the Spirit to be the breath of God in this body. That breath is the life-giving power that enables us to live as the body of Christ. Furthermore, the infilling of the Spirit and out flowing of anointed ministry is the respiration of the body. If there is no Spirit breathing in, and no ministry going out, then this is a dead body.
The Day of Pentecost was an historical event, but Pentecost is more than one day. The Holy Spirit wasn't born on that day. The Holy Spirit, as the third member of the Triune Godhead, is eternal and we can go back through the Bible and trace the steps of the Spirit through time as He makes His way into our church and into our lives to fill us and baptize us in His presence and provide us with His power.
I) THE SPIRIT IN CREATION
A) Creation of Earth
The pages of Scripture open with references to the Spirit of God at work in creation:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. NIV
B) Creation of Man
Likewise, the Holy Spirit was at work in the creation of man. The presence of the Spirit in the life of man was the created order.
Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. NIV
I believe that being created in the image and likeness of God involved creating humanity with the Spirit of God in us. I believe that when God breathed life into the body of Adam, God was breathing His Spirit into humanity. Being filled with and baptized in the Spirit is, in essence, a return to the created order of God. Adam died on the day that he sinned. He experienced a spiritual death as the Spirit that God breathed into Adam, the Spirit that brings eternal life, was removed from Adam. Furthermore, Adam's sin thrust all of humanity in this same unnatural state as living creatures that are dead in trespasses and sins. Before knowing Christ we live with the respiration of our lungs but without the life-giving respiration of the Holy Spirit.
We were created to be vessels of God, created to carry the divine light and to let that light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. I believe there is this longing in every human heart to return to that original design, to be filled with God's Holy Spirit.
II) THE PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT
When we read the Old Testament we see that the Spirit of God moved upon certain men and women at specific times and places for specific purposes. Adam had forfeited the natural order, but God graciously provided His Spirit to anoint and fill leaders to serve as His ambassadors. The Spirit anointed prophets, priests and kings to do the work of the Lord. God also anointed men to work as artisans in building the tabernacle in the wilderness. God anointed judges and raised up deliverers, whom He anointed to accomplish great feats of strength and valor in delivering His people.
God anointed Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and that position was almost more than Moses could handle. Even with the anointing of God upon His life, the burden became so intense that at one point Moses was about to burn out. His father-in-law, Jethro, advised Moses to choose seventy men to help Moses bear the load of leadership. It was good advice, and I think God used Jethro to deliver this message to Moses.
A day was planned for the seventy elders to meet with Moses. Moses was going to pray over these men and the Holy Spirit was going to come upon these men and anoint them as leaders in the camp. As it turned out, two of the men, Eldad and Medad, were stuck in traffic and didn't make it to the service on time. But when the Holy Spirit came upon the other sixty-eight, these two men, who were back at the camp, were also filled with the Spirit. There was an outward, observable, demonstrative evidence of the fact that they were filled, the Bible says that they began to prophesy under the power of the Spirit just like the other sixty-eight did who were with Moses. (Num 11:25-30)
A young man in the camp saw Eldad and Medad prophesying and he ran and told Moses. Joshua was standing by Moses when the news came and Joshua was afraid that Moses' stature or authority was being challenged by this. He said, "Moses, my lord, stop them!"
This is what I want you to hear today. In verse 29, "Moses replied, 'Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!'" NIV
In Judaism Moses was considered the greatest prophet to have ever lived. We don't often think of him as a prophet, but that is the role God called Moses to. He was not a priest or a king, but Moses was anointed as a prophet of Israel. A prophet is not a fortuneteller, but a prophet is a man or a woman who speaks for God under the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
As a prophet of God, Moses expressed a prophetic desire concerning the people of God. He said, "I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them."
III) THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT
A) The Prophetic Promise
When we look through the Old Testament, we continue to see a person here and there filled with the Spirit. During the time of the judges we see men and women anointed-Jephtha, Deborah, Sampson. We see Saul anointed to be king, filled with the Spirit, and begin to prophesy. We see David anointed and moved by the Spirit and so forth. We also see great prophets filled with and speaking through the Spirit.
Men like Elisha and Elijah. Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel upon whom the Spirit of the Lord moved and anointed to become His messengers. About six centuries before the birth of Jesus a prophet by the name of Joel made a paradigm shifting utterance. Speaking through the prophet, God promised a time when the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit would not be limited to a select few, but the Spirit would begin to move upon all flesh. He said in Joel 2:28-29 (and Peter repeats this in Acts 2:16-21):
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. KJV
The promise is that the Holy Spirit would not be reserved for nobility or the priesthood. It would not be reserved for a select few, but the day was coming when anyone and everyone who desired to be restored to the natural order, to the intended order of creation when God breathed into humanity, could be filled. It would even be available to the slaves, male and female. Which is to say, that even those whom society has pushed to the margins, God hasn't forgotten them. Even those that feel as though they are second class citizens, God has an anointing for them. God said, there is coming a day when there will be an outpouring and an infilling that will be available to everyone.
B) The Messiah's Promise
Six hundred years after that prophecy by Joel the Holy Spirit overshadowed a little virgin girl named Mary and she conceived and bare a son and called His name Yoshua, or as we say His name, Jesus. He was the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah of God.
When Jesus came out of the wilderness, after being tempted of Satan for forty days, Jesus went to the synagogue, found the scroll of Isaiah, and began to read these words:
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord KJV
Jesus came to reverse the curse and to begin a restoration process. We know that the complete fulfillment of this reversal will not happen until the Kingdom of God is fully restored-in the eschatological sense of the word. Yet, in the meantime, God has promised to fill His people with His Spirit. The anointing is a spiritual restoration of what Adam forfeited through sin. The second part of that restoration process will be completed when Jesus returns and this corruption puts on incorruption, and this mortal puts on immortality. But until that day when the trumpet sounds and the archangel announces the return of the Lord in the air, we can have spiritual renewal through the new birth and spiritual restoration through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This is the promise of the prophets and the promise of Jesus for all believers. Jesus said the
disciples in John's Gospel 14:16-17
"16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. NIV
Shortly before His ascension Jesus said in Acts
4 "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." NIV
IV) THE PROVISION OF THE SPIRIT
This brings us to our text in Acts chapter 2. Here we see the historical event, the provision of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God breathing life into the body of believers, imparting prophetic power and anointing.
A) Historical Provision in the Church
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV
B) Contemporary Provision for Every Believer
This was not a one-time event. The book of Acts gives us example after example of people being filled with the Spirit accompanied by outward manifestational evidences of the fact of their baptism. This was not the exception, but being filled with, (or as Jesus said, baptized with the Spirit), was the norm, it was anticipated that every believer would desire and seek this wonderful curse reversing, power imparting, anointing in his or he life. In Acts chapter 19, the Apostle Paul discovered some disciples who were not in the Upper Room in Jerusalem and did not experience the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I find it interesting that one of the first questions that Paul asked these men was, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit?" They answered that they hadn't heard the Holy Spirit had come. Hearing that they had been baptized by John, who had pointed the people to Jesus, "Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied" (v. 6, NIV).
Today is Pentecost Sunday, but Pentecost is not a holiday, it is not just another thing to check off the liturgical calendar.
Pentecost is a journey that began at creation when the Spirit moved upon the face of the water and brought order out of chaos.
Pentecost is the Spirit of God breathing into the nostrils of humanity.
Pentecost is the Spirit of God anointing and
appointing men and women through the ages to be His voice calling His people into relationship with Him.
Pentecost is a promise that the Spirit is going to be poured out upon all flesh.
Pentecost is the Spirit overshadowing a young virgin and causing her to conceive the child that was born in the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, at one with Spirit, and who promised the fulfillment of the promise of the Father to provide that same Spirit.
Pentecost was day that became a movement, which is still alive and well. The question for us today is if we are still swimming in the prophetic stream of history. Have we stepped into the water? Are we walking in the Spirit? Have we been filled with the Spirit since we believed?
There is an anointing available for every child of God. You don't have to be a preacher or a teacher, you don't have to have a ministerial credential or an appointed position in the church. All you have to be is born again and hungry for more of God in your life. All you have to do is ask the Heavenly Father, because He knows how to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask.