Bob Slosser: Receiving the Power to Change
By Bob Slosser
CBN.com -- Roughly 2,000 years ago, after His Resurrection, Jesus told His disciples over a meal, Hey, you guys, don't you dare leave Jerusalem or you will get torn to shreds. I want you to wait for the gift My Father promised, which you heard Me talk about -- you know, the Holy Spirit. You remember I said you would be clothed with power from on high? Remember that? Don't forget; John baptized you with water back there at the Jordan when we met. But in a few days, you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit; then you'll be ready to roll (Acts 1:4-5, my paraphrase).
They remembered that John the Baptist had talked about someone baptizing, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The One coming after me, he'd said, is the One more powerful than I -- the thongs of whose sandals I'm not worthy to untie (Luke 3:16, NIV).
They had assumed that was Jesus, maybe three years before the onset of his public ministry, created a big commotion when He was baptized. Heaven parted and the Spirit descended like a dove upon Him and this huge voice from heaven said, You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased (Luke 3:21-22). Most of them figured then He definitely was the Messiah (John 1:41). Some called Him Son of God (John 1:49); John the Baptist had called Him Lamb of God (John 1:36).
Well, now He was telling them to wait in Jerusalem until He baptized them with the Holy Spirit and empowered them to start changing the world, something He's still doing to His followers today; and changing the world they are -- from the inside out. The surface still looks pretty much the same, but millions and millions of people are being transformed every year and the true church is growing by leaps and bounds. The world still doesn't know it, of course.
And the Lord wants to get you into the fray, the only secure place in these tumultuous times, which is the Body of Christ in action. The Lord, today, wants to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit worked in you to save you, and now He wants to empower you with all the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Are you ready? That's an easy question to answer.
The Apostle Peter, on the Day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago, gave a sermon to thousands of people in Jerusalem, presumably in the Temple area or in some square. And He laid out what you might call the essentials for going to work for Jesus Christ. You should read the sermon in Acts 2:14-41, because I'm only going to hit the highlights in my limited space.
Peter first showed that Jesus was sent by God, who publicly approved Him (v. 22). He also showed that God was in control, when, by His set purpose and foreknowledge, Jesus was handed over to the Jews, who, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross (v.23). Then he plowed into the Resurrection and hammered it out for several verses. We must get the point of this elaborate treatment, because the Resurrection is the issue that drives the world crazy and which the intelligentsia, with the help of the liberal church, tries to take away from us. The Resurrection is important simply because it's true.
Peter preached major point after major point (v. 33ff.): Jesus had been exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He is today, interceding for us. Next, Jesus and the Father had poured out the Holy Spirit as promised, which His listeners were witnessing first hand. Then Peter reveals, in the most powerful verse in Scripture (in my opinion, of course), Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (v. 36). Jesus is sovereign -- the Lord, the King, the Master -- and He is the Messiah, the Anointed One. When I read that, I hear a big bass voice booming, "He is the LORD -- ever so deep and commanding on Lord.
Right there (v. 37ff.), the people were cut to the heart and cried out, What shall we do?
Peter didn't back off. Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, he said, and you will receive the Holy Spirit. The promise (there's that word again) is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call(v.38-39).
If you're reading this column, that means you (if you haven't already been baptized with the Holy Spirit by Jesus). The promise is to all who will come. Don't forget: 3,000 responded that day to Peter (v. 41). Now, baby, that's evangelism!
If you know beyond a doubt that you want to serve the Lord, then I want you right now to tell Jesus and to ask Him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit. If you mean it, He will do it, and then, you too can begin to speak in tongues. He won't put you in a trance or anything. You will use your tongue and vocal chord and begin to praise Him -- only not in English or your native language. Let the Spirit give you a new language. Speak out.
In 1965, a month after my conversion, I struggled for two hours before my spiritual breakthrough came. Only when I calmed down and thought about how much Jesus had already done for me did things break loose. I saw my first vision: Jesus hanging on the cross, His feet inches from me -- that's all I could see. I knew beyond any doubt just how much He had done for me. I broke into a thousand pieces on the floor and sobbed, and shook, and sobbed, and began to mumble strange sounds. I was speaking in tongues! I was speaking in tongues! Me, the big-time editor, the snob, the egotist, the supercilious jerk! I was speaking what sounded to me like gibberish. But, oh, it was so beautiful! I laughed and I shouted and I kept talking as the Holy Spirit gave me utterance. I spoke mysteries to God (1 Corinthians 14:2). I haven't stopped yet.
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