2000-05-13 - Understanding Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual Gifts, Part 2
The Holy Spirit comes upon the Gentiles in the Home of Cornelius
Luke records the supernatural, sovereign descent of the Holy Spirit upon the house of Cornelius, an event that took place four to six years after Pentecost. As on the day of Pentecost, man had nothing to do with bringing about the Holy Spirit's sovereign act.
Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word. And they of the circumcision that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
The preaching service in Cornelius' home was interrupted by the Holy Spirit, Who came upon the newly-converted Gentiles at the moment of their believing. Upon his return to Jerusalem from Cornelius' home in Caesarea, Peter was challenged by the Jewish apostles and brethren for having gone to minister to the Gentiles. Peter was given opportunity to explain his actions to them. In recounting the incident he said, Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. On that occasion the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles was in a manner similar to His coming upon the Jewish apostles on the Day of Pentecost, four to six years earlier. Continuing his testimony Peter said, "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit. If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?'"
Peter's thoughts immediately went back to Pentecost, when they had received the Holy Spirit. This is a clear indication that speaking in tongues was certainly not the normal experience of those who were being saved in the early church. What happened at Pentecost never occurred again until this occasion four to six years later.
The Holy Spirit Comes Upon the Believers in Samaria
Following the stoning of Stephen, a great persecution was launched against the church in Jerusalem. Christians were scattered throughout the neighboring areas, but they went forth teaching salvation through the grace of God. Philip, a deacon and evangelist, was among them. The Lord poured out His blessing as Philip preached in Samaria. Many men and women believed and were baptized. Word of this fruitful experience reached the apostles in Jerusalem.
Peter and John were sent to Samaria to help with the ministry.
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
The human element is introduced into this experience at Samaria; the apostles are seen laying on hands on those who are already born-again believers, following which the Holy Spirit was imparted to them for power and service. Only the twelve apostles and Paul ever imparted the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 chapters 10 and 11 the Holy Spirit is seen coming supernaturally and sovereignly. Here and in Acts 19:1-7 God is seen using the human element, the apostles, to impart the holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
The Holy Spirit Comes Upon Believers in Ephesus
Arriving in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, Paul met a group of twelve men. About thirty years before, these men had been in Jerusalem, while there they attended the ministry of John the Baptist. In questioning them about their salvation, Paul discovered that they were not born again. Paul gave them the message of Jesus Christ and they were saved. After they believed and were baptized, Paul laid hands on them, imparting the Holy Spirit upon them for service.
Acts 19:1-7 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And they were in all about twelve men.
Acts 2 record the sovereign descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Jewish apostles for service. As a result the apostles spoke and were understood in 16 different languages. Acts chapters 10 and 11 records the sovereign descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles in the home of Cornelius. As a result they spook in foreign languages in the same way the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 8 bears record of the impartation of the Holy Spirit for service at Samaria, through Peter and John when they laid hands upon those who were already believers. As a result, they also spoke in tongues (foreign languages). On two occasions the holy Spirit was imparted with human instrumentality; twice, God used the apostles to impart the Spirit. These facts serve as groundwork for an understanding of the subject of spiritual gifts, as presented in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14.
To be continued...
In His Service,