The change in him was dumbfounding.
Only 50 days before he was an insecure man who rarely thought before he spoke. He was braggadocios but had no boldness to back it up. And now we see a completely different man. A man who speaks with profound wisdom, boldness and deep assurance; who is stands strong in the face of persecution and who followed the Lord’s call despite being misunderstood by his peers.
What could have caused such a dramatic change to occur so quickly?
The night before Jesus’ death, Peter had denied he even knew Jesus – not only that, he denied it so vehemently that he even used a few indecent words to drive the point home!
And yet, less than 2 months later we see him preach a sermon before a crowd of people who were mocking them.
The very first event that occurs after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension is foundational to the formation and success of the early church; and is essential to today’s church, if we want to be effective in carrying out Jesus’ instructions to make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ final instructions to them, before ascending into heaven, were for them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the power from on high (Luke 24:49)
In Acts 1 we read what that power is: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. And only one chapter later – only 50 days after they had sat at the table with Jesus for the last supper – they are gathered together waiting for that power from on high to fill them.
I wonder if they tried to imagine what that would look like. I wonder if they asked themselves if they’d recognize when they were “filled” with that power. Surely they could never have imagined the event they experienced. A sound of a wind, flames of what looked like fire on each of them and then speaking in other languages.
While it may not be popular to speak about the Holy Spirit and about the baptism of the Holy Spirit – one glance at scripture and the early church proves very different results than we see today.
After Peter’s sermon 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom. In one day.
There wasn’t a concert to attract the unsaved.
There wasn’t a celebrity to draw a crowd.
There wasn’t a special program or attraction that would “bring in the world”.
There was only the power of the Holy Spirit that attracted people and changed their hearts while Peter preached.
We may use all kinds of entertainment to draw crowds; invite our friends to Christian concerts or show them Christian films – but without the power of the Holy Spirit to speak through us and change their lives all of our efforts are in vain.
And yet, unsaved people may walk through the doors of our church, where we have no special programs, our worship team may be “off”, our pastor may preach a dry sermon and yet their hearts are deeply moved and radically changed.
The answer to winning the lost and seeing lives radically changed isn’t in programs, great music, an interesting sermon, self-awareness, or inspirational books – we wont see greater results by being more polished or professional. The answer is in the power of the Holy Spirit who takes over our lives and infuses us with a power greater than we could imagine or dream.
Beyond the grave is a promise for us that “…if the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)