Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Acts

I am back to working on my Holy Spirit paper and feeling panicky. I have 3 weeks to complete it and the more I work on it, the more I feel inadequate to do it. Looking back to my previous post on this topic, it already took a different turn, mainly because the assignment has to discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in Acts.

I am thinking I need to talk about its role being the Spirit of prophecy with Peter appealing to the prophet Joel in Acts 2. The question that arises is: does Acts only has to do with Joel and not the other OT prophets, particularly Ezekiel? How about then its role in salvation and sanctification?

What about baptism and its related issues of conversion-initiation and donum superadditum?

I think I am okay with working out its role as the Spirit of prophecy but I cannot see how baptism can be a role he played in Acts. Does the Spirit has a function to play in baptism? The debate and argument centers on when the filling of the Holy Spirit takes place - during conversion or during baptism. So do I need to include it in my paper as his role?

Picture by Kenn Kiser


  1. OUCH, Pearlie!

    It sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I am not exactly sure what the instructor is looking for. If he/she is wanting you to point out specific instances of when the HS did something to cause a disciple (or even a non-disciple) to act in a way that he/she wouldn't normally act, then I think you will have no trouble finding the passages.

    For instance:
    In Acts 2, Peter stands up and addresses everybody in town about what just happened in that upper room. I question if Peter would have done that if not for the empowerment of the HS. (Nothing we read about him in the gospels would lead me to conclude otherwise.)


    In Acts 16:16, the HS clearly stepped in the way of Paul and his buddies, keeping them from going to Asia.

    However, if your instructor is looking for the more inward workings of the HS, that one, at least to me, is a bit subjective. Smarter people than I have debated that one for years and haven't been able to come down solidly on one side or the other. One of my core beliefs is that the HS enters us at baptism. Another core belief is that the HS is able to direct us to God's will by speaking to our conscience. But those are my core beliefs. Someone else might argue the other side just as convincingly as I would.

    I know this probably isn't helping much. But I thought I would at least give you some quick thoughts. Now...I'm off to do my homework. How are you with Organizational Communications? (heh-heh)

  2. I am not exactly sure what the instructor is looking for.

    The assignment "question" is "simple": Discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in Acts.

    So I suppose it is to generally talk about his function in Acts. The examples you gave are good and relevant in his overarching mission role in Acts.

    I know this probably isn't helping much.
    It's alright. Your commenting is already encouraging me to get on with it. So thanks!

    Organizational Communications?
    I did Organisational Development before -- same thing? :)

  3. Pearlie, I have nothing to add! This is a subject the Spirit has not gifted me any insight to. Just wanted to say hi and encourage you. You have three more weeks - that's plenty of time if you procrastinate as well as I do! I am so impressed that you manage family, a career AND school (not to mention the depth of study required and desired in Theology). You rock!

  4. Missy, thanks for your encouragement! I did more reading yesterday and I think I should be getting there :)

    if you procrastinate as well as I do!
    Haha ... I found my procrastinating partner!

  5. Funny, I hate that I procrastinate - but then I do some of my best, most creative work when "under the gun."

  6. Missy,
    Oh I am so with you on that. I hate it too to be a procrastinator but I give my best work when I do -- but then again I do wonder if I would have done better or worse if I don't! The most memorable procrastinated work I did was when I was in my first year of tertiary education - I passed with flying colours! after rushing through it the night before and on top of it I was being so cool about it. I guess I grew old and began to pick up this habit of being panicky now :) :)

  7. Pearlie, saw your note over at dk's blog. I've been teaching a SS on the Holy Spirit and have some suggestions.

    1. Be sure to pay a lot of attention to Jesus's last words regarding the Spirit before His ascending to heaven (1:4-8).

    2. Look into the feast of the Pentecost (Feast of First Fruits) in Lev. 23:9ff. What are the parallels?

    3. How are the events in Acts fulfillment of John 14:12?

    My time studying the Holy Spirit has been a wonderfully profitable time for me. I pray that you will find the same!

  8. Hey Chip! Great to see you here. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Definitely. I will be using this as the anchor really - as the legitimator of mission.

    2. I don't see it. Can explain?

    3. Good one. I will think about it and how to incorporate it the paper.

    My time studying the Holy Spirit has been a wonderfully profitable time for me
    A really good and needed reminder. I am reminded not to just do it as a paper but an experience with the Lord. How was it profitable for you?

  9. The Pentecost is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, which occurred 50 days after the end of Passover. Pentecost means "50th." Why did the Lord choose this feast day to pour out the Spirit? On the day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were brought into the temple and waved before the Lord, a sacrifice in thankfulness for the full harvest which is to some. The pouring out of the Spirit indicated the firstfruits in a couple of ways:
    - The Spirit Himself is the firstfruits of the Church, her promise of the blessings of salvation and the harvest of good works which were prepared for her to walk in
    - The "about 3000 souls [that] were added that day" are the firstfruits of the full harvest of souls throughout history.

    I saw in your profile that you're a DA Carson fan--me too. If you like him, and you're allowed to use outside sources, you might find the following article interesting:,%20part%201.htm

    I don't agree with all of his interpretations, but it's an interesting and helpful background on the feast.

    As far as profiting personally: I always benefit when I dig deeply into the word and ask the Lord what it means, and what I should teach on it. I chose to teach on the the Holy Spirit because I thought that He is the "neglected person of the Trinity" in non-charismatic circles, and I needed to remind myself (and others) of His role in our salvation and walk. As I studied, I became more aware of His indwelling in me and His constant presence and guidance, and got a new appreciation of all that He does in and for the believer. I think it has made me more prayerful, more aware of my sin and more able to overcome temptation (and aware of the work of the Spirit working in that regard.)

  10. Thanks for your time to help me on this :)

    Pentecost - wow, I actually didn't realise that Pentecost in itself pre-pouring out of the Spirit is a Jewish festival. Having so attached it to the Holy Spirit, I did not see it. Your 2 points are good ones - I need to study more on the significance of the pouring of the Spirit on this day and not any other.

    Oh yes, I am a DA Carson fan and he will be coming here to Malaysia for a conference somewhere in Sept. The last he came was in year 2004, and I attended his Expository Preaching session on Psalms. Wonderful time of learning from one good scholar of God.

    Thanks for the link - will certainly check it out. We are not only allowed to use outside sources but encouraged - so that we read and read and read :) I am reading John Stott and Max Turner for this.

    I thought that He is the "neglected person of the Trinity" in non-charismatic circles, and I needed to remind myself (and others) of His role in our salvation and walk.
    Hmm ... I am not sure if he is really neglected. You may be right, in a way but sometime ago, I read JI Packer's In His Step. You may wanna check it out. I like his exposition of the Holy Spirit, who He is and what He does - mainly to illuminate Christ in our lives who is the only way to the Father. Which to me, covers all 3 persons of the Trinitarian God.

  11. Neglected in the U.S. to a certain extent, I would say. When I started teaching my class, several people told me that they could not recall ever hearing a sermon or lesson specifically on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Not that they were unfamiliar with His work and person, it is just not a topic of teaching as often.

    I think you mean Keep In Step with the Spirit by Packer. I did not read that one, though I read several short theological essays by him that I found online. I was not focused solely on Acts, so I read a lot of general works on the Spirit, just not Packer's. He's a great writer and man of God, though. I was blessed to hear him speak a few years ago in Dallas.

  12. Hi Chip,
    Sorry I got to this so late :) We just got home.

    I think the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not the only one neglected - there are many more others which are not much preached anymore.

    Oh yes, I mean Keep in Step with the Spirit what was I thinking :)

    There are quite some good books and article on the Holy Spirit - the ones I read are Max Turner, John Stott and Gordon D Fee.