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Empowered by the Spirit

By Rev Dr Colin Peckham

'And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you ...' (Luke 24:49)

Scientific Dr. Luke made sure, in his meticulously researched treatise, given in accordance with what had been predicted 'in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the Psalms' (Luke 24:44). 'It is written' ... 'that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations' (v 47). It is in God's plan; it has been written, so it will happen. To accomplish this objective Jesus declared that he would send 'the promise' of the Father to his disciples (v 49). This of course refers to the Holy Spirit.

Here then are three vitally important issues; firstly that the commission is grounded in the Scriptures, secondly that the gospel is proclaimed in his Name, and thirdly that it is empowered by His Spirit. It is the promised Spirit which now claims our attention.

The essence of the promise is seen in that it comes from a long way back in history. To faithful Abraham it came in his first great meeting with God: 'In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed' (Gen. 12:3). Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob (Israel) was the father not only of Israel believers, but of all who believe.

How can all families of the earth be blessed? How can this promise be fulfilled in gentile unbelievers?

The light gleams in Isaiah, for he was waiting expectantly 'until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field' (Isaiah 32:15). In Ezekiel we get glimpses of prophetic words as when the 'Spirit will be poured out upon the house of Israel' (Ezek. 39.29). In Joel the light shines stronger, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy' (Joel 2:28). This is the prophesy to which Peter refers on the day of Pentecost, 'This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, (Acts 2:16).

Jesus had said, 'I will send the promise of my father upon you' (Luke 24:49). 'Jesus' said Peter, 'being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear' (Acts 2:33). In the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the promise was fulfilled. The Spirit was poured 'upon all flesh' and 'all families of the earth' can now be blessed. The dim light of prophesy has yielded to the brilliance of fulfilment. The Holy Spirit has come!

We also find the essentiality of the promise. Centuries had passed, and however much they had tried to gain proselytes and extend their message, it had remained merely a national religion. 'All families of the earth' had not been blessed.

To attempt to spread the message of God without the Spirit of God is to fail. Satan has entrenched his position in the lives of those who are in this world and under his sway. He scorns those who attempt to dislodge him in their own power. All who try to do so become the laughing stock of the Devil who holds in utter disdain those who think that they can conquer him without the mighty Spirit of God. Jesus' words still ring true, 'without me ye can do nothing' (John 15:5). 'Power belongeth unto God' (Psalm 62:11).

The endowment of the promise is therefor essential. If we are to be effective soldiers in the King's army, we need to be possessed and controlled by the Spirit, be endued and filled with the Spirit. The fullness of the Spirit was the supreme condition for usefulness in the early church and time has not altered God's pattern.

We must be possessed by a power far greater than human oratory of persuasive personality. The Spirit of God is our strength and glory. It is in the Spirit that exploits are done for the Master. To God's Almighty Spirit Satan must bow.

Without the divine equipment, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we can say so much which is but 'words, words, words'; good words, instructive words, orthodox words but powerless words! It is 'not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord' (Zech. 4:6). It is the Spirit that brings life.

Not only did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians that they 'might be filled with all the fullness of God' (Eph. 3:19), but he also exhorts them to 'be filled with the Spirit' (5:18. The greatest need today is for a cleansed church filled with the Holy spirit. It is the pre-requisite for service and spiritual fruitfulness. Oh, for the enduement of the Spirit of God where He possesses the individual Christian wholly and completely, and through that Christian accomplishes His purposes.

Holy Ghost I now receive thee
I accept thy mighty power
And by faith I claim the promise
In this solemn sacred hour

Should theological and Bible college students be well instructed in the things of God, and not filled and equipped by the Spirit of God, their efforts will be gravely inadequate to meet the demands of the day. We need men and women in the service of God who are full of the Spirit of the Lord.

May God send us such as will seek Him with all their hearts, who will be mightily endued with power from on high, and who will go through the land, as hard as it may be, as flames of fire in the service of the Master.