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The Promised Gift of the Holy Spirit

Jesus' promise was that God the Holy Spirit would live inside us, to give us his kingdom within

In Acts 2:38-39 (WEB), the Apostle Peter said:

Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.

What is this promised "gift" of the Holy Spirit?

The first indication comes from the earthly life of Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit had been said to "come upon" or "rest upon" individuals on particular occasions to speak a message or to empower particular service. But he did not remain "on" them — after the deeds for which he was sent were accomplished, he appeared from their human perspective to withdraw from them. However, God told John the Baptist that he would recognize the Lamb of God, the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit, because he would be "the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain." John 1:33. Instead of coming only to do a job, the Spirit would come on Jesus to stay.

Moreover, later in his earthly ministry, Jesus promised that his Father would likewise give the Holy Spirit as a "good gift" to those who ask him, Luke 1:13, and that, at some point in the future, the Spirit, who now lived "with" his disciples, would come to dwell "in" them. John 14:17. When Jesus spoke these words, they were still a future promise: he had to "go away" and "be glorified" before this would happen. John 7:39, 16:7. Yet the disciples were told what they should expect the Spirit to do when he was given. He would be a Comforter, permitting the disciples to "see" Jesus even when he was no longer visibly on earth and to recognize that they were in Jesus and Jesus is in his Father. John 14:16-20. He would teach the disciples all things, guide them into all truth, remind them of Jesus' words and show them the future. John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13. He would glorify the Father by showing them Jesus' things — all things the Father has. John 16:14. And as a result of his work, streams of living water would flow out of their lives. John 7:37-39. The Spirit was sent to expand God's kingdom from the single person of Jesus to include multitudes.

Finally, Acts 2:41 records that about three thousand were baptized and added to the number of believers after Peter's sermon on Pentecost. Presumably, these three thousand people received the gift of the Holy Spirit which Peter promised. What was the effect of that gift on them? They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. (v. 42). They were filled with awe at the miraculous signs done by the apostles. (v. 43). They ceased to regard their possessions as their own, but held them all as available to meet each others' needs. (v. 44-45). They met every day, were thankful and gave praise openly. (v.46-47). They enjoyed favor with the people around them, and more were being saved every day. (v. 47). Rivers of living water truly did pour out of them into the streets. In this passage, the focus is not on tongues, or even on miraculous signs, but on the way these believers allowed the Spirit they had been given to control their lives. The important thing was the way they lived.

NEXT PAGE: Early Pentecostals, Spirit Baptism, Racism and the Wesleyan Second Blessing

Ian Johnson & Jonathan Brickman
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© 2003, 2010 Ian Johnson & Jonathan Brickman

Further explanations

Baptism With and Being Filled By the Holy Spirit

Baptism in the Holy Spirit compared with sealing or indwelling by him

The promised gift of the Holy Spirit

Other pages on this site

God is King, a discussion of God's will to build His kingdom to include multitudes of people who gladly recognize His rule.

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