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When Jesus ascended, his disciples stood looking up until men in white appeared and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). They went into Jerusalem to wait for the promised Spirit, for Jesus said they should tarry there.

While 120 men and women were waiting, they prayed and selected two who had been with them from John’s baptism until Jesus ascended. The casting of lots showed God had chosen Matthias to replace Judas.

On Pentecost, the Spirit came. A crowd gathered. Some wanted to know what was happening. Others mocked, saying “These are drunk on new wine.” Peter preached.

In his sermon he said this was what Joel meant in his prophecy for the last days. God would pour out His Spirit. Peter said this came from the risen Jesus, exalted to the right hand of God. There, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father (cf. Acts 1:4). This was what they were seeing and hearing. Peter argued that this showed the same Jesus they crucified had been made Lord and Christ by God.

Why did Peter spend so much of his sermon talking about the Holy Spirit?

Well, it was one of the most important things that happened that day. It was visible evidence to the multitude that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead and had ascended to the Father. Of course, Peter also backed this up with Scripture showing these things should happen, things that let Israel know God had made Jesus LORD and CHRIST, the anointed king. When they wanted to know what they should do since they had crucified their MESSIAH, Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What would the “gift of the Holy Spirit” mean to them?

Think back over the history of the world. Man’s heart had turned from God. It had become hard as flint and desperately wicked. Just before going into Canaan, Moses charged Israel, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deut. 10:16). This was so they would come to love the Lord and serve Him. But they didn’t do it. In fact, they couldn’t circumcise their hearts. A true heart-circumcision would not come until God Himself would circumcise them with a circumcision not made with hands (cf. Col. 2:12).

The Spirit promised at Pentecost pours God’s love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5). This enables us to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength – and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Throughout the New Testament, we are encouraged to avoid works of the flesh, and  walk in the Spirit. Then, the fruit of the Spirit will be seen in us (Galatians 5:16-24).

The work of the Spirit in bringing order out of the chaos of our hearts is not done in an instant, nor is it something that happens without our willing participation. It is an incomplete work until we see Jesus as he is (1 John 3:1-3). But already we are sons of God; the new age has begun, and the transformation of the darkness of the world into the light of God is happening in us. This is where the STORY takes us.

The next part of the STORY tells of one man’s transformation.


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