YM Yang — Paris, France
WHAT KIND OF POWER?
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
“You shall receive power!” But what kind of power was the Bible referring to?
In Christendom, many evangelists that claim to perform wonders define this power as the power to perform signs and miracles, and this view is also generally accepted.
Nowadays we often hear people say, “The Holy Spirit is not as powerful as before,” referring to the diminishing evidence of miracles. But when Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit, He did not associate its power with miracles as most people would understand it.
To understand the power of Holy Sprit, we have to recall the courage and the faithfulness of the apostles who followed Jesus in the three years of His ministry, before they received the Holy Sprit.
What kind of power did they not have? The power to perform signs and wonders, heal the sick, and cast out demons? The power to preach the message of repentance that the kingdom of heaven is near?
No, Jesus allowed the apostles to share in these powers with Him long before the descent of the Holy Spirit and before He was glorified through His death!
So, the power that accompanies the Holy Spirit must be so unique that without the Holy Spirit we would not be empowered to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ to the world.
IT UNDERSTANDS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S WORD
Before the Lord departed from the world, He taught the disciples devotedly, “There are many things I would tell you, but you cannot understand now.”
How can this be? The all-knowing and almighty Lord could not enlighten the twelve apostles in three years? This was not a matter of pedagogy or aptitude.
To understand mystery requires the power of the Holy Spirit from above, not simply claiming that “the Lord had personally taught me” or that “such scholar supports such view.”
The Lord said, “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Paul was a Pharisee who gained repute for his devotion to the Scripture. On the way to Damascus, the Lord called him. Since then, he was shocked that what he had learned before was rubbish.
Writing about this abrupt turn of his understanding of God’s word, Paul quoted the Scriptures:
But it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God… Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Cor 2:9-13)
Moreover, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost fulfilled the words of Prophet Joel, “And also on My menservants and on my maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:29).
They would prophesy, as was evident in Peter, who testified before the rulers of the Jews with great spiritual power though he was unschooled. Even scribes were astonished by the conviction of his statements:
This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven give among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11, 12)
From the experiences of Paul and Peter, we see that the Holy Spirit goes beyond inborn talents and education, and it gives the faithful servants of the Lord the ability to understand the mystery of the truth.
This power was absent in the Old Testament and in the disciples before the Lord was glorified through the His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.
That was why the Lord wanted them to wait. For if they only preached the message of repentance without imparting the truth and the Holy Spirit that renew lives, how were those who heard the message to receive eternal life?
Apollos was an eloquent man and well-versed in the Scriptures.
This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:25)
This shows that Apollos had not heard of the Holy Spirit and knew only the baptism of repentance (Acts 19:1-6). He could call people only to repentance and to return to the Lord, but he could not teach them about the requisite Holy Spirit and the truth for salvation.
That is why Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26).
IT EMPOWERS THE CHURCH
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and they received the power that the Lord had promised them.
Peter, whom the Lord rebuked for having disbelieved Christ’s resurrection, stood up and quoted from the Scriptures after he received the Holy Spirit to expound on how Jesus Christ overcame death and was raised from death.
The people were cut to the heart and asked, “What shall we do?”
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
With such simple words, Peter established the fundamentals of the forgiveness of sins and salvation. If the Holy Spirit had not directly taught him, where would Peter have received such revelation about the importance of baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit?
Similarly, the Greeks desired wisdom and the Jews wanted miracles. But Paul deliberately refused to wow the Greeks with His excellent speech and wisdom nor the Jews with signs and miracles.
Paul’s preaching was only a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. In other words, he did not preach with persuasive words of human wisdom. He spoke in words that the Holy Spirit taught, comparing spiritual things with the spiritual.
However, the Greeks and the Jews who were of the flesh could not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they were foolishness to them (1 Cor 1, 2). If Paul had not had a profound understanding of the Holy Spirit and the truth, he would not have such courage and conviction in the One he has believed.
As the believers of Christ Jesus, we should pursue the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that we may come to a deeper understanding of His truth and live a Christ-like life by the renewing of our spirit and mind.
We need to recognize that the work of the Holy Spirit is the authority given to the true church in the last days to preach the mystery of God’s words and to empower the workers of God. It is this precious Holy Spirit that distinguishes the true church from others.
We must comprehend the fact that preaching the gospel of repentance, casting out demons, and performing wonders can be done in the name of the Lord Jesus alone—even by those who work lawlessness (Matt 7:22). Therefore, such authority does not need to be associated with the Holy Spirit.