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The outpouring of the spirit

Mantle Nance Contributing Columnist

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In the passage before us (Acts 2:1-13), we have Luke’s record of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Pentecost was a festival that took place fifty days after Passover that symbolized the time of harvest. At this crucial juncture in redemptive history, fifty days after the time of Christ’s crucifixion, God poured out His Spirit and began a harvest of new believers that continues to this day.


Let’s note three facets of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.


First, we notice that the disciples offered prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In obedience to Jesus’ command that they ‘wait upon the promise of the Father,’ the disciples persevered in prayer. They prayed earnestly and without ceasing for the filling of God’s Spirit. In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus taught his disciples to persevere in prayer for the Spirit’s empowering, enabling grace.


They were to be shameless in their intercessions for God to do great things through them by the power of his Spirit. They understood the connection between asking and receiving, and so must we. As C. H. Spurgeon puts it, “Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is.”


Secondly, notice the presence of the Holy Spirit. The personal presence of God himself was manifested. Notice the power demonstrated by the Spirit’s presence (verse 2). He came as a mighty, rushing wind. The Spirit is mighty and sovereign. Note the purity of the Spirit (the reference to fire in verse 3).


The Spirit is the refiner of God’s people. He purposes to refine us more and more into the image of Christ. If you are a believer, then you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He is wonderfully purifying you and reshaping you into the image of Jesus.


And note the proclamation that accompanied the Spirit’s outpouring (the tongues as of fire). The Spirit supernaturally enabled the disciples to preach in languages they had not known before. And the Spirit enabled them to proclaim the Gospel in the months and years that followed for the growth of the Church. The same Holy Spirit enables us to share the love of Christ with others as we remain yielded to him.


Finally, notice the program of the Spirit. His program is to shine the light on Christ. Like floodlights illuminating a beautiful edifice, the Holy Spirit seeks to “showcase” Jesus for all to see. As the Holy Spirit fills us, we “get with the program,” and seek to glorify Jesus as well.


Let the words of the beautiful song “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” by Getty and Townend be our heartfelt prayer:


Holy Spirit, living Breath of God,


Breathe new life into my willing soul.


Bring the presence of the risen Lord


To renew my heart and make me whole.


Cause Your Word to come alive in me;


Give me faith for what I cannot see;


Give me passion for Your purity.


Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.


Mantle Nance is the pastor of the Newberry Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (newberryarp.org). He holds a bachelor of arts degree in religion from Furman University and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a Ph.D candidate in theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He lives in Newberry with his wife and two sons.

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