As Christ was preparing to leave the disciples in the early stages of the church, He gave them this instruction: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 Here we see that Christ promised the disciples that they would be “endued with power from on high”. As we read the second chapter of Acts we see the fulfillment of Christ’s words “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
We see the beginning of the church with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, coupled with the preaching of Peter later in Acts 2. By the end of the day, over 5,000 had made the choice to follow Jesus! So we see the Holy Spirit’s activity in the birth of the church! First, He (Holy Spirit) filled the disciples in accordance with the promise of Luke 24; then He grants POWER to the disciples. Remember, this is the same Peter that a month earlier had denied even knowing Christ! Now, Peter stands boldly on the Day of Pentecost and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen.
Fast forward to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The church had become quite stagnant in it’s existence. Some had even begun to accept an average existence. An existence devoid of God’s power and presence. A church life that was one of passivity and holding on until Jesus returned. It was during this time in the mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, that God once again began to pour out His Spirit on all flesh. In the early 1900’s God continued to bring forth revival, not just in the United States, but Wales experienced a fresh outpouring from June to September of 1905. In 1906, once again revival and Spirit outpouring took center stage in the US. This time, the location was California and a small mission on Azusa Street. Just as we find in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was responsible for the expansion and growth of the Church. This time, missionaries from as far as China would come to “investigate” the latest out pouring. Many carried the gift of the Holy Spirit back to their homes, whether in the US or abroad.
Throughout church history we find instances of the Holy Spirit moving and “giving birth” to new works, more followers of Christ and empowering believers to preach the gospel. Today we find ourselves in the most “spiritual” times ever recorded. However, are we better then ever before? This begs the question, What is the role of the Holy Spirit in today’s church? Is it simply to give followers of Jesus “gifts”? Is it only for a select group? How does it affect the local body? Do we need the Holy Spirit to be effective today? These questions and many more exist around the person of the Holy Spirit. During the month of April we are going to be focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit in today’s church. We invite you to be a part of this exciting study and pray that it will be a blessing to each and every one!