Acts 8:14-17 “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
“They received the Holy Spirit.” This hard to speak of, hard to define, intangible force that we so often symbolize as a dove, or a peaceful breeze. But the Holy Spirit of God is so much more than something meant to inspire us, give us peace, or help us to have the courage we need to “plug away” at another hard day of following in the footsteps of Jesus.
We know there’s so much more to the Spirit of God (that we believe is with us here and now) than what we often remember or recognize. In fact, because we so often assume the Spirit is “on our side” and walk forward into what we desire – we run the risk of settling for so much less than God intended when He began making His dwelling in our midst.
A humbling quote from AW Tozer says, “I remind you that there are churches so completely out of the hands of God that if the Holy Spirit withdrew from them, they wouldn’t find it out for many months.”
Likewise, recently Francis Chan has written, “..if the Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him. If He doesn’t move, we will not produce genuine fruit – no matter how much effort or money we expend. The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes a purely human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.”
Genesis 1:2 tells us the Holy Spirit isn’t something “new” God is doing, but rather a part of the trinity since the very beginning. “…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
There are mentions of the Spirit of God all over the Old Testament, revealing to us that this aspect of God has been moving before any of this began. It is a force of life completely and wholly “other” than our own. Sometimes when we talk about the Holy Spirit, being “Spirit-filled” or “Pentecost”, we think of small things. Things like the pentecostal church movement. Or things like speaking in tongues. Or other visibly experienced stories we’ve heard of one sort or another.
But we must understand the purpose of the Holy Spirit was not simply contained in a single verse of scripture. Yes, the many-flavored Fruit of the Spirit tastes like Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. But the purpose of the Spirit of God in our midst is not completely in bringing that fruit into being.
Neither is it contained in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Yes, we have the promise that we will be EMPOWERED when the Holy Spirit comes on us. But that is not the complete purpose of the presence of the Spirit of God.
But we’re not the only ones who jump to the wrong conclusions when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Even those who were there in the moment we read about this morning ended up focusing on the wrong part of what God was up to. In Acts 8:18-19 we see that sorcerer named Simon going up to Peter and John, asking to be empowered to lay hands on others in the same way – and even offering them money to give him that ability. Take a moment to let that simmer. He wasn’t even asking to buy the Holy Spirit. His desire was to have the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit in the same way they were doing. Talk about “missing the point”. Peter rebuked him quickly, saying that you cannot buy this gift of God with money.
The Truth is, we must take the entire Word of God if we want an explanation of “the purpose of the Holy Spirit”. Even then, we have only a portion of all the purposes and desires of God. But our passage from Acts chapter 8 definitely reveals some incredible things to us. Come back tomorrow to hear more…