What a Start ?
Acts 1:1-5 “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
How we start is always important, as it will determine the end. To have a good start in a 100 m sprint is extremely important. To start a company with grand opening is always seen as something that is really important. How The Bible starts is also very important. The Bible begins with the words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is extremely important, to set the tone that this book is all about God. God is introduced right from the beginning that He is a creator. He created the heaven and the earth because of love. Now, The Acts of the Apostle starts with these words that we read from Acts 1:1-5.
The writer, Luke, begins with all of what Jesus did and taught until He was translated to heaven and that through The Holy Ghost, He had given commandments unto His apostles. In verse four, we found one of the important commandment is that they should not depart from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father which, “Ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
From the very beginning of this book, it’s very clear that the purpose of this second book of Luke is to point His reader to The Holy Ghost. That is why one Christian writer says that this book should be entitled The Acts of The Holy Spirit not The Acts of The Apostles. How Luke started this book is very obvious that he wanted his reader to become acquainted with The Holy Ghost, to experience the most important promise of Jesus, the baptism of The Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to be baptized by The Holy Spirit? Before we answer this important question, In Matthew 3:11, The Bible says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” These are the words of John The Baptist. Matthew 3:1,2 says, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” His message from the very beginning is very clear, “repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The repentance is shown clearly through baptism of water and Holy Spirit that is symbolized by fire. Both water and fire in the Bible symbolize cleansing or purification. Literally, when we take a bath everyday we are refreshed. We showered in the morning, we are refreshed by the cool or warm water and it’s good to our body, to improve our blood circulation. That’s why we feel good after taking a bath. Are we feeling dry spiritually? Maybe, this is what we just need, the baptism of The Holy Spirit.
Yes, we still read our Bible every day faithfully. Yes, we still pray and even come to church on time every week. Yes, we still even come to midweek prayer meeting where many don’t. Yes, we are still very active doing many church programs and even personally reaching out to someone. Yet, we feel dry inside our heart. There’s something missing. We might look good outside, but we feel empty and dry inside. We don’t know exactly what is going on with ourselves. We try to ignore this uneasy feeling but we can’t. To ease our conscience, we just move on with our life convincing ourselves that we are doing alright. What we need is The baptism of The Holy Spirit, to refresh and energize us every day.
This is exactly the experience of Nicodemus. He looked alright outwardly as a faithful Pharisee, but when he heard Jesus preaching, He knew there’s something missing from his spiritual life, that’s why we went to see Jesus. Jesus told him, you need to be born again (that is, to be baptized again or to start all over again). John 3:5 says, “Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The word of Jesus is very serious – that we can’t enter the kingdom of God if we don’t experience repentance and refreshment everyday. We need to go out from that dry and empty formalism of spiritual rite. What we need is the baptism of The Holy Spirit.
Ellen White puts it nicely, “If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death.” She continues with the solution, “Since this is the means by which we are to receive power, why do we not hunger and thirst for the gift of the Spirit? Why do we not talk of it, pray for it, and preach concerning it? The Lord is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who serve Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. For the daily baptism of the Spirit every worker should offer his petition to God.”(The Acts Of The Apostles, p.50,51).
May our prayer today be “Lord, please baptize me with The Holy Spirit that I would repent and have an intimate and meaningful relationship with you. That I would be refreshed from dry and hollow formalism of spirituality. That I would fall in love with You everyday.” When we fall in love with someone, we always miss that someone, we can’t wait to see that person, we can’t wait to talk to him or her, we never run out words to tell him or her what we feel. Our prayer life will be different, our worship experience will be changed, everything about spirituality will be meaningful and wonderful. That’s the new birth experience, that’s the baptism of The Holy Spirit, that’s what we need everyday.