Immersed with God the Spirit (Acts 1:1-5) | Jared Betts

The Promise of the Father: Immersed with God the Spirit (Acts 1:1-5) – YouTube

The Promise of the Father

Our text today lays the foundation by which the entire book of Acts rests upon. Luke has already introduced this foundation in the ending of his gospel account with Jesus commissioning the eleven apostles to carry the message of the gospel to all people:

“He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

As Luke says to Theophilus in Acts 1:1-3:

1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”

            It was stated last week that Christianity did not end with an empty tomb, it began with it! The Eternal One who humbled Himself by becoming a Man obedient to the point of death on the cross,[1] where He became a curse for us by becoming our sin,[2] so that He might put it away by the sacrifice of Himself to satisfy His justice,[3] and to save us from His wrath;[4] this One lives, never to die again, so that all who turn from themselves to trust in Him might experience eternal life and forgiveness by His grace, through their faith in Him alone.

As Luke said, He presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs over a period of forty days. Paul gives a short list in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 saying:

“He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

Jesus Christ truly lives and reigns today as He sits exalted at the right hand of God.[5]

Acts is about all that Christ continues to do and to teach. It is an account of the acts of the Living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, building His church with His gospel through His apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of the Father’s purpose. This all begins to unfold here in Acts when Luke tells us that Jesus:

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said“you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Today we will consider the promise of the Father through Christ to His apostles, as well as to us, for Peter says to the crowd after he proclaims the gospel to them, that this:

“Promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”[6]

What is this promise? It is the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe.

To understand this promise we will first consider the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and then we will consider what it means to be baptized with Him.

The Person of God the Spirit

When it comes to understanding the Holy Spirit the first thing every person must realize is that the Holy Spirit is not a feeling, emotion, experience, or a power that one taps into and manipulates. He is neither the chill that runs down your spin, nor the hair that stands up on the back of your neck. He is a Person. It was A.W. Tozer that said:

“Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything… He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person.

            Personhood is not measured by physical features such as flesh and bone. It is determined by several factors:

  1. Cognition and Intellect, which means that a person is one who possess the facility to know and to understand.
  2. Volition and Will, which means that a person is one who possesses the ability to determine or act decisively.
  3. Emotion and Affection, which means that a person is one who has the capacity to experience sentiment.

The Holy Spirit demonstrates all these qualities. He is a cognizant and intellectual Person. According to Isaiah 11:2, He counsels, imparts wisdom, and possesses knowledge:

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Romans 8:27 describes Him as having a “mind”. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 reveals that He searches, knows, and teaches:

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

2 Peter 1:20-21 reveals that He is the One who inspired the Scripture:[7]

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

He is clearly a Person because He can know and understand.

The Holy Spirit is also a Person who demonstrates the ability to act decisively. He directs and guides. This is seen in Acts 13:2 by His choosing Saul and Barnabas for the mission field. Luke records that:

While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

We see His guiding again in Acts 16:6-7 during Paul’s second missionary journey:

“6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”

He is the One who gives spiritual gifts to believers. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says that He distributes them, “to each one individually just as He wills.” When speaking to the elders of the church from Ephesus, Paul reveals that it is the Spirit who provides leaders within the church. He says to them:

28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Yes, the Holy Spirit possesses the ability to act decisively. He is, therefore, a Person.

Finally, The Holy Spirit is a Person who possesses emotion and affection. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 describes Him as having joy. Romans 5:5 and 15:30 refer to Him as loving. In fact, Galatians 5:22 states that the fruit of Him is love. Hebrews 10:29 reveals that He can be insulted, and Ephesians 4:30 tells us that He experiences grief when believers sin. The possession of these emotions reveals to us that He is a Person.

Not only is He a Person, but He is one of the three Persons eternally existing as the One, true and Living God. He is neither the Father, nor is He the Son. He is the Spirit. He is distinct from the other two Persons of the Holy Trinity, yet coequal in every perfection of the divine essence. There are not three gods, but one God who eternally exists in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

His deity is on full display when God kills Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Ananias lied about the offering he laid at the apostles’ feet.[8] Peter says to him in Acts 5:3:

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?”

In the next verse, Peter goes on to identify the Holy Spirit as God, “You have not lied to men but to God.”[9]

            His deity is also seen by the fact that on several occasions the New Testament writers take portions of the Old Testament where it is understood that Yahweh is speaking, and they attribute His words to the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 95:8-11 Yahweh says:

Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, “When your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 “For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. 11 “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”

Consider Hebrews 3:7-11:

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years.10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; 11 As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

In Isaiah 6:8-10 says:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.”

Look at Acts 28:25-27:

25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 27 For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes; Otherwise they might see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”’

One final example, Jeremiah 31:33-34 says:

33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

In Hebrews 10:15-17, the author says:

15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them,” He then says,17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”

            The deity of the Spirit is not only seen in these attributions, but in His possession of incommunicable attributes which only God can possess. The Holy Spirit has the same perfections of God. The most obvious is His being described as Holy, which is exactly what God.[10] Hebrews 9:14 refers to Him as the eternal Spirit, which means He possesses eternality. 1 Peter 4:14 calls Him the Spirit of glory, which means He possesses glory.[11] Genesis 1:1-2 reveals Him to be active in creation by bring everything into being out of nothing, meaning He is omnipotent, or all-powerful. In Psalm 139:7-10, David ascribes omnipresence to Him, which is the quality of being all-present, by saying:

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

Isaiah 40:13 reveals the Spirit to be omniscient, meaning He is all-knowing. In John’s gospel account, Jesus declares the Spirit to be the spirit of Truth.[12] As renowned Puritan theologian, John Owen, said:

“To suppose now that this Holy Ghost is not a divine person is for men to dream whilst they seem to be awake. I suppose by all these testimonies we have fully confirmed what was designed to be proven by them, namely, that the Holy Spirit is not a quality, as some speak, residing in the divine nature; not a mere emanation of virtue and power from God; not the acting of the power of God in and unto our sanctification; but a holy intelligent subsistent or person. And in [Scripture] many instances have been given, whence it is undeniably evident that He is a divine, self-sufficient, self-subsisting person, together with the Father and the Son equally participant of the divine nature.”

The Work of God the Spirit

One must now ask, what is the chief work of this Divine Person? Let us take a moment to consider Jesus’ words on this subject, for Jesus said to His apostles that it was to their advantage that He goes away, so that this Person may come. John 14:16-20:

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you

John 14:26:

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

John 15:26-27:

26 When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

John 16:7-15:

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Jesus calls this Person the Helper, The Spirit of Truth who proceeds from God. He tells them that the Helper will:

  1. Be with them forever (John 14:16).
  2. Teach them all things and bring to remembrance the words of Christ (John 14:26).
  3. Testify about Christ (John 15:26).
  4. Convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11).
  5. Guide them in all truth (John 16:13a).
  6. Speak and disclose only what He hears from Christ (John 16:13b).
  7. Glorify Jesus (16:14)

What this all boils down to is that the Holy Spirit makes much of Christ, and never draws attention to Himself. This is the principal work of this Divine Person. Steven Lawson said:

“The Holy Spirit’s desire is that we be focused on Jesus Christ, not Himself. That is the Spirit’s chief ministry. He is pointing us to Jesus. Bringing Christ more clearly into focus. When the Holy Spirit becomes an end in Himself, then we have misunderstood His ministry.”

Martin Lloyd Jones said:

“The Spirit does not glorify Himself; He glorifies the Son… This is, to me, one of the most amazing and remarkable things about the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seems to hide Himself and to conceal Himself. He is always, as it were, putting the focus on the Son, and that is why I believe, and I believe profoundly, that the best test of all as to whether we have received the Spirit is to ask ourselves, what do we think of, and what do we know about, the Son. Is the Son real to us? That is the work of the Spirit. He is glorified indirectly; He is always pointing us to the Son.”

            The Holy Spirit does a sovereign and regenerating work in the heart of an individual dead in sin whereby He makes them alive in Christ. Jesus said in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He goes on to says in verse 5:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Regeneration is a monergistic act by God, and not a synergistic one. This means that God acts independently of man when bringing a person form death to life. This is clearly seen in Ezekiel 36:25-27:

25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Paul says to the Ephesians:

“You were dead in your trespasses and sins…But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses , made us alive together with Christ.”[13]

Titus 3:4-7 says:

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

            Mankind needs spiritual life, and the only One who can generate such life in the heart of people is God the Spirit through the proclamation of His Word. All whom God regenerates by the Spirit, He then baptizes them with.

Ephesians 1:13-14:

“13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

The Immersion of the Spirit

What then does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? The expectation of such a baptism was spoken of in the beginning of all four gospel accounts. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist says:

11 As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

He says in Mark 1:8:

I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Luke records him saying:

“As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

In John’s gospel he says:

33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’”

Again, the expectation of the baptism of the Spirit appears in the gospel accounts. It will begin to be experienced on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-13 among the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, as well as in Acts 8:14-17 among Samaritan believers, and to the remotest parts of the earth beginning in Caesarea with God-fearing Gentiles in Acts 10:9-48 to former pagans in Acts 19:1-7.

To be baptized means to be immersed in something. John immersed a repentant person in water, which identified them as an Old Testament believer. New Testament believers are to be immersed in water in obedience to Christ, which identifies them with Him and His death, burial, and resurrection. To be baptized by the Holy Spirit is the act where Christ immerses a believer with the Spirit into His body, the church. This is explained in 1 Corinthians 12:13:

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

Ephesians 4:4-6 says:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

            Spirit baptism is inseparably linked with salvation. It is impossible to be a Christian and not be baptized with the Spirit, because it is always associated with regeneration. Romans 8:9 says, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

This flies in the face of predominant teachings among some Pentecostals and Charismatics, which insists that Christians need to seek the baptism of the Spirit, and such an experience will be manifested by signs. This view misunderstands the historical nature of Acts, and the fact that it covers a transitional period between the two testaments. It tragically creates a Christian caste system that divides the church between those who have the Spirit, and those who do not have Him.

What is the book of Acts about? It is an account of the acts of the Living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, building His church with His gospel through His apostles by the power of the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of the Father’s purpose. The Apostles are sent as witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth. What do they see? God calling people to Himself and building His church by baptizing them into His body as they turn from themselves to trust in Christ. As Peter said to the Jews on Pentecost:

39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

Spirit baptism is a gracious gift from God that is sovereignly initiated by Christ, which means it is a permanent, one-time event at salvation. It is not dependent on us, but Him.

The Sealing and Indwelling of the Spirit

Consider what Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches:

13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

This is an amazing truth that emphasizes our eternal security. Not only does Christ baptizes us with the Spirit into His body, but the Father has sealed us with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Father’s earnest payment to us who are in Christ, that He will indeed save us.

We should remember that we in Christ have not only been immersed with the Spirit into His body, and sealed by Him for the day of redemption, but our bodies have been indwelt by Him. It was R.A. Torrey that said:

“The conception of the Holy Spirit as a divine influence or power that we are somehow to get hold of and use, leads to self-exaltation and self-sufficiency. One who so thinks of the Holy Spirit and who at the same time imagines that he has received the Holy Spirit will almost inevitably be full of spiritual pride and strut about as if he belonged to some superior order of Christians. One frequently hears such persons say, “I am a Holy Ghost man,” or “I am a Holy Ghost woman.” But if we once grasp the thought that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person of infinite majesty and glory and holiness and power, who in marvelous condescension has come into our hearts to make us His abode there and take possession of our lives and make use of them, it will put us in the dust and keep us in the dust. I can think of no thought more humbling or more overwhelming than the thought that a Person of divine majesty and glory dwells in my heart and is ready to use even me.”

Paul gives us the application to such a truth in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

Charles Spurgeon said:

“To the believer: Dear brother, honor the Spirit of God as you would honor Jesus Christ if He were present. If Jesus Christ were dwelling in your house you would not ignore Him, you would not go about your business as if He were not there. Do not ignore the presence of the Holy Spirit in your soul. I beseech you, do not live as if you had not heard whether there were any Holy Spirit. To Him pay your constant adorations. Reverence the august guest who has been pleased to make your body His sacred abode. Love Him, obey Him, worship Him.”

[1] Philippians 2:6-8

[2] Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21

[3] Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 9:28

[4] Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10

[5] Hebrews 10:12

[6] Acts 2:39

[7] Acts 1:16; Hebrews 3:7; 10:15; 1 Peter 1:11

[8] Acts 5:1-2

[9] Acts 5:4

[10] Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11; Matthew 1:18; Romans 1:4

[11] Isaiah 42:8; 48:11

[12] John 14:7

[13] Ephesians 2:1,4-5

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