Acts 1:4-5 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus wanted His disciples to be equipped and empowered. He didn’t want them trying to build His kingdom on their own, because He knew they couldn’t do it. The best they could have come up with would have been their own kingdoms, and that never ends well. At this point they were thinking a lot about the kingdom of Israel, as the very next verse tells us. After all, Jesus had just conquered death, so what was more natural than for Him to now conquer Rome? Just like the people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, they still had a distorted image of what God’s kingdom was all about. This is a very relevant issue at this very moment, because many earnest Christians are very involved in the political situation in the US. It isn’t at all that God doesn’t care about such things, or that it isn’t appropriate for Christians to be involved, but we’ve got to remember that human governments are never to be equated with God’s kingdom. We are to be focused on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, (Matthew 6:33) seeking for that to be manifested on earth just as Jesus taught us to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13) but not confusing that with human politics. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is indeed about power, as verse 8 so famously says, but it is even more about giving God full control of everything, and most specifically, ourselves. In my opinion that’s the reason the gift of tongues is so prevalent after the baptism in the Holy Spirit: it requires relinquishing control over our speech, which is one of the most intimately personal things about us. In that gift, we control whether we speak, but we have no control over what we speak. Actually, prophecy should be the same way, but since it is in a language known to the speaker, human control is all too prone to slip in. The Bible has a lot to say about “prophesying” human imaginations! We tend to desire God’s power to be operative in our lives, but we fail to be fully submissive to Him ourselves, and that blocks the flow. We must remember that it is His kingdom that is to come, not our own, though we are citizens of that kingdom.
This is totally applicable to me. I was slow to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit because I wanted to receive it on my terms. When I let go, it happened! That said, I didn’t initially receive the gift of tongues, precisely because that had been one of the conditions that I had set! Rather, with no emotional impact on me whatsoever, God enabled me to share Christ with a total stranger, and I realized that He had been true to His Word and had made me to be a witness. At this point I earnestly desire that the Holy Spirit be poured out on this congregation, but I can’t make that happen. However, it is the Father’s promise, and I can be cooperative. Most of all, I need to be careful to yield full control of myself to God, so that I won’t quench the Spirit in however He wants to use me.
Father, as I drove around to bless the churches this morning it was very exciting to see that at least two pastors are preaching on this chapter this morning, with one sermon title being “Christ’s Witnesses,” from verse 8, and one being “The Father’s Promise,” from this verse. Neither of those churches has been “Charismatic” to this point! I pray that You would indeed pour Your Spirit out on every congregation, every believer in this city, that we may together rise up, a mighty army, for the salvation of this nation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!