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Three Testimonies:

The Providence of the Holy Spirit

& the Early Believers in Acts

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One could argue that a suitable Title for Acts would be The Acts of the Holy Spirt as the Book of Acts of the Apostles depicts the Holy Spirit as the inspiration behind the preaching, the source of protection the provider, of miracles, healing signs and wonders and the comforter throughout the Book. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as fire, water or wind. Additionally, “In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is the instrument of Baptism, prophecy, and judgement and a source of unity and the instrument of service. Furthermore he is our seal of the inheritance of the kingdom and intercedes on behalf of the saints to serve the Father’s will.”[1]

The Significance of Stephen’s Dying Vision of Jesus

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The significance of Stephen’s vision  (Acts 7: 55-56 )while “being full of the Spirit and see Jesus standing at the throne as the son of man at the right side of the father serves a duality of meaning. First, the vision has Jesus Christ hyper-exalted and at the right side of the God-The Father it shows a position of Authority. Additionally, confirmation to the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected and ascended in both human form and divinity is stated by the usage of the terminology “Son of Man” as Stephen proclaims the vision before the Sanhedrin preceding his execution. It also, in the use of the Son of God confirms that Jesus is God, sent by God as Messiah and in his ascension equal to God. The Standing position serves a duality of purpose to show that God through the Authority of Christ is welcoming Stephen in Heaven. In Addition it serves to illustrate that Jesus Christ is standing to pass judgement on the Sanhedrin and those who persecute the faithful, rejected the teachings of all the prophets on the coming and fulfillment of Salvation through the righteous one. He finally charges them with being guilt of the murder of Christ, and it the future they will continue to persecute the saints (Acts 7:52-53). These saints are the  believers who spread the Gospel thus serving  the advancement of the Great Commission or  Kingdom Fulfillment of Salvation availability to All people as this is  the will of God and thus persecutors are guilty of not living under the Law  and failing to fulfil God’s will for Israel, and denying the Holy Spirit( Acts 7:51-53). Polhill states “In Daniel 7:14 the Son of Man vision is used to illustrate God’s Providence or dominion over All peoples of every nation, and every language.”[2] This supports the role of the Holy Spirit as the Agent of Inspiration, gifting provider of miracles, wonders,  and signs and the Authority of Christ as Ruler of Heaven and Earth and judge and the unstoppable nature of God’s will over any of manmade desires or creations ( Acts: 7: 39- 50) .

Cornelius & the Necessity of the Gospel

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Cornelius and his household are stated by Luke as being God-Fearers and one can easily draw an assumption this applies were familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the disciples. However, a closer look at Acts 10:2 simply states he was God-fearing, prayed regularly, and gave to the needy. In Acts 10:4 God sends an Angel to him because his deeds of prayer and gifts have gained the notice and favor of God. He is told to send for Peter. The next day at noon during prayer, Peter has his vision of the eating of unclean food, as “nothing created by God is unclean. Followed by the Holy Spirit announcing the arrival of the entourage of Cornelius and invited the men in as guest and the next day sets out to meet with Cornelius(Acts 10: 9:23) .” At Cornelius house Peter stresses it against the Law of God for him even associate with a Gentile because he is unclean but God had called him to do so. They  share an exchange of the visions given by the God to them and Peter remarks that He knows that God does not discriminate or show favoritism accepting all who worship him and do what is right.(Acts 10: 34-35) . Peter then begins to preach the Gospel in a unique manner from his other speeches but is interrupted when the entire audience composed of Cornelius and his household, his relative and close friends are baptized by the Spirit and then begin Speaking in tongues. Later he orders them to be baptized in Water in the Name of Christ and brought into the Body of Christ. The question is if Cornelius is God-fearing then why did Peter feel the need to proclaim the Gospel? Polhill explains this in the following manner.” Peter’s unique tailoring of the Gospel is based on Peter’s view that God does not discriminate and thus there is no division of people from a divine perspective. However, God does discriminate on an individual’s actions and attitudes, He accept those who worship, him and live in a manner that is acceptable to his ways. Polhill goes on to state that although one may view this as theology of Saving Grace more accurately it can be seen more in line with the view presented by James the faith and works are inseparable.[3]

The Significance in a Name:  Christians in Antioch

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The term Christian is historically associated with Books of Acts and the Church of Antioch. It only occurs in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The Term was not originally used by the believers themselves but by outsiders to designate members of the faith. The first usage to designate fellow believers can be traced to the second century to Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch; Roman writers to designate followers of Christ more commonly used it. The preferred term was Brother, Believer, or Disciple.[4] In contrast the Judaic Church preferred the term Disciple of the Way, Believer, Brother, or simply Disciple.  What is the significance of the term Christian between the Hellenist Church of Antioch and the Gentile Churches that sprang fourth from this movement? According to Polhill, this reflects the success of the Gentile movement and the distinction of identity.[5] No Longer could the church be seen as an exclusive Jewish sect or movement rather it had distinct identity. More so, it illustrates the view of the Global nature and inclusiveness of salvation and the breaking down of nationalism and cultural barrios. From now on God’s concern is nondiscriminatory except in manners of conduct and behavior that are against God’s own nature.

When the three testimonies on the Providence of the Holy Spirit are combined it illustrates God’s unstoppable nature authority, the inclusiveness of Salvation, the inseparability of faith and works, the Homoousios (of same form & essence), and ultimately the judgement of those who deny Christ and the will of God.

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

Bibliography

Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

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[1] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

 

[2] Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

[3] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

 

[4] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

[5] [5] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

 

 

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