The Power of the Spirit

THE WORDS OF our Lord to his apostles were: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy [Spirit] is come upon you.” (Acts 1:8) The operation and effect of the Holy Spirit had to some extent been experienced by the apostles before Pentecost. In the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus, in promising the Holy Spirit after his departure, referred to it as a Comforter or helper, even the Spirit of truth, and said, It “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17) The difference between ‘with’ you and ‘in’ you should be noted. The Spirit had dwelt ‘with’ them by reason of their association and fellowship with Jesus. That Spirit dwelling in our Lord without measure radiated to others, and the apostles under its influence were guided into some understanding of Divine truth.

When Peter, in reply to a question from our Lord, stated: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father.” (Matt. 16:16,17) Peter, before Pentecost, was vastly different from the Peter after Pentecost. Before the crucifixion—although he had testified that Jesus was the Christ—in weakness he denied him. The reason was that the power of the Spirit had not come upon him. The apostles were told to wait in Jerusalem until they were “endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) Peter, begotten of the Spirit at Pentecost, was a bold and courageous advocate of the truth he believed; so were all those of the church, similarly begotten.

It is written of the Day of Pentecost that they were all there of “one accord,” of one mind. (Acts 2:1) That was the secret of their power—emptied of self, with a desire to receive Divine blessing and truth, they could be used by God, and the power of God could operate through them. No wonder, with such a oneness of outlook and purpose, martyrs like Stephen, whose face was like an angel’s as the influence of the truth emanated from him, were produced.—Acts 6:15

Paul was a like example of fervency of spirit serving the Lord, sacrificially laying down his life in the preaching of the truth and the service of the brethren; and he states that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (Rom. 12:11; II Tim. 1:7) What was the mainspring of Paul’s devotion to his Lord? It was to let the Holy Spirit have free course in his mind, that its power might be manifested. His words, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” became the guiding principle of his life.—Acts 9:6

If the Spirit is to be a power in our lives, we must realize the foundation of Christian truth, that the redemption, while it is for all, is for us individually; and to each it must be, ‘Christ died for me’. Further, that while we do sin, it does not have a controlling influence over us; for the grace arrangements operate toward the church, as Paul states, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under grace.”—Rom. 6:14

Additionally, the follower of Christ must not dwell upon present successes or failures, nor upon things of the past, but “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” he must “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” looking “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”—Phil. 3:13,14; II Cor. 4:18


Thus, the Christian realizes his present deliverance from the condemnation of sin and death into the Divine family, and that he has become a son of God, having received the Spirit of sonship. (Rom. 8: 15-17) No wonder the writer says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”—I John 3:1

While we have a present deliverance, we look forward to the future deliverance from weakness to power, from corruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality. (I Cor. 15:42-44,52-54) How is this accomplished? It is by walking “after the Spirit,” by not grieving the Spirit, by allowing the Word of God to work in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”—Rom. 8:4; Eph 4:30; Phil. 2:13

Our Lord said that the Spirit would be with us as a comforter and helper, until he receives us unto himself in the dwelling place he has gone to prepare for us. (John 14:2,3) Then God will exert on our account that great and mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and our deliverance will be complete.—Eph. 1:18-20

Can the Holy Spirit be a power to us even as it was to the Early Church? It is well to remember the similarity of our times to theirs. In their day, one age was closing and a new age—the Gospel Age—was opening, and Jerusalem was about to fall in the tribulation then due. Today the Gospel Age is closing and the kingdom age near at hand, and the momentum of the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known is developing. Let us call to mind the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, which applies to the end of both ages. This prophecy found its first fulfillment in the consecrated enthusiasm following Pentecost.—Acts 2:16-21

Today we live in the last days preceding the great climax of the terrible day of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is on the Lord’s people in accordance with Joel’s prophecy, enabling them, as it did the Early Church, to declare with boldness and determination the Day of Vengeance of our God upon all evil systems and institutions; and declare also the kingdom of God with its blessings for all humanity, which is to follow.—Isa. 61:1-4

What was the great power bestowed at Pentecost? Let the writer of the Acts (1:8) tell us in our Lord’s own words: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy [Spirit] is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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