The Holy Spirit continues to work in the here & now just like he did there & then.
In the last post I started to unpack why I believe the Holy Spirit continues to empower & edify God’s people to spread the fame of Jesus for the glory of God the Father just like he did in the 1st century.
I started with the example of Jesus and now we’ll consider the teaching of Jesus.
Jesus gives us more than an example of how we need the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence for the life and mission of discipleship—Jesus imparts clear, direct and timeless teaching that we need the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence for the life & mission of discipleship.
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would be given to his disciples when they asked.
Luke 11:13 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus is teaching that the Holy Spirit is a good gift that the Father is eager to give and his disciples should be full of faith to ask and full of expectation to receive him.
Just like the Father gave the Holy Spirit’s power to Jesus, Jesus says that when his disciples pray to the Father he will give the good gift of the Holy Spirit to them.
Why do they need the Spirit to be given?
This teaching on prayer and the gift of the Holy Spirit comes right after Jesus sent 72 unnamed disciples, two by two, to proclaim the gospel, heal the sick and deliver the spiritually oppressed.
The disciples needed the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence to do the life & mission of discipleship.
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would lead & empower his disciples for life and mission.
Luke 12:12 “…for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
When Jesus’ disciples are being harassed for representing him the Holy Spirit is going to help them know how to respond.
Jesus goes on to teach that the only way his disciples will be able to do the mission he sends them to accomplish is by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 24:46-49 “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus taught all his disciples, not just the 12 apostles, that the good gift of the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence was available to them just like it was available to him. The Holy Spirit would supernaturally enable them to do the mission of advancing the gospel in word and deed—deeds of ordinary mercy as well as deeds of a miraculous nature.
Is there any indication from Jesus how long the Holy Spirit would empower his disciples in these ways?
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would help by his empowering presence until Jesus returns.
In John 14-17 we find a section of Jesus’ teaching that is referred to as The Final Discourse. It’s called this because this is where Jesus gives his last concentrated time of teaching before his betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus is getting his disciples ready for his departure.
Jesus says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3
In other words, Jesus is saying, “I’m leaving but I’ll be returning.” His leaving would be a point in time—the day he ascended into the heavens. His return will also be a point in time—the day he comes back to judge the living and the dead and make all things new. The leaving part has already taken place but the returning part has not. We are still awaiting the glorious appearing and return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What’s significant about this in relation to the present discussion is that Jesus wants his disciples to be sure that even though he is leaving, he will not be leaving them alone as they await his return. In between the times of his leaving and returning he is going to ask the Father to send them another Helper to be with them while they wait.
He says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you as orphans.” John 14:16-18
In this promise and all the statements about the work of the Holy Spirit that follow, Jesus assures his disciples that the Holy Spirit is going to empower them for the life and mission of discipleship. What’s implied is that this will continue to be the case for the full duration of time between his leaving & returning.
Jesus makes it clear in The Final Discourse that the Holy Spirit is present to empower and edify all his disciples in the ways outlined by Jesus’ example & teaching for the entire time period between his leaving and his returning.
Jesus gives no indication that the Holy Spirit would operate with certain enabling capacities or certain gifts for only a certain period of time in between his leaving and returning. Rather, Jesus quite clearly indicates that the Holy Spirit would be their Helper for the full duration of the time between his leaving & returning with absolutely no qualifiers.
Right now, as we wait for the return of Jesus, the Holy Spirit continues to empower God’s people for life and mission just as Jesus indicated through his example and teaching.
This would be the first reason you should believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the here & now just as he did there and then.
Next up, the example and teaching of the 1st century church.
Part 2 of 5