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From Glory To Glory

5. Having Received Power

Picture 8: You shall receive power (Acts 1:8)

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive(Jn. 14:16f.; NKJ)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (Jn. 14:26; NKJ)

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (Jn. 16:13f.; NKJ)

for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirityou shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalemand to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:5-8; NKJ)

In John 14:16, Jesus said: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper ...” (NKJ).The word that was translated here as Helper, is in the original Greek language of the New Testament the word “paraklētos.Other English translations rendered that same word as Comforter, Advocate, Counselor, or Paraclete. And the meaning of that word is that of a person who comes alongside a person in need, esp. as a legal assistant, an advocate to cause favor before a judge. – Now, did you know that the same Greek word, paraklētos,was also used for Jesus (“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1John 2:1; NKJ)? This is significant because it helps us to better understand the meaning of the word another in John 14:16 (that is: another Helper, or another paraklētos). I won't go into all the Greek details here, but the word another used in John 14:16 simply means: “another of the same kind.” – It's like I have a right hand, and I have a left hand. They are not identical, yet of the same kind. Just like the Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are not identical, yet they are of the same kind. And just as I can accomplish much more if I am able to use both of my two hands, likewise much more can be accomplished if I receive not only one “paraklētos” – that is, the Spirit of the Son that we receive at salvation, or in the new birth (Gal. 4:6; 1Jn. 2:1; Jn. 3:1ff.) – but also “another paraklētos(Jn. 14:16; Jn. 1:33) – that is, the Holy Spirit that we receive during the baptism in the Holy Spirit. – It's just like working with two hands instead of only one because, if you let Him(!), the Holy Spirit will help you to walk out the new life that is contained in your new born-again spiritnamely every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3), such as love, joy, peace ... (Gal. 5:22f.), such as power, love, and a sound mind (2Tim 1:7), such as wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1Cor 1:30) , such as good health (1Pet 2:24), such as prosperity (2Cor 8:9) – and not just on the far side of the grave, but already in the here and now.

God offers us the baptism in the Holy Spirit in order to supply us with the necessary power for our new life with Him and for the ministry to our fellow men. However, God doesn’t force it on anybody. But for the believers of the first few centuries, this baptism in the Holy Spirit was an intrinsic feature of the Christian life.

The disciples, who had been walking around with Jesus, were the first ones to receive the new birth (s. explanation in the previous chapter). Then a few weeks later at Pentecost, they were also the first ones to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Jerusalemand then right away, they shared their knowledge of salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the multitudes present in Jerusalem:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. … Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:1-6, 37-41; NKJ)

A little later we learn about how the people in Samaria received the baptism in the Holy Spirit:

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. … But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. … Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:5-17; NKJ)

Finally, God did send Peter also to the nations, to the people in the house of the devout centurion Cornelius in Cäsarea:

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. … The word …you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.’ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.” (Acts 10:34-48; NKJ)

Both the first disciples and the first believers in Samaria had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with a distinct time lag to their new birth. But the people in the house of the centurion Cornelius were filled with faith and born again while Peter was still talking to them. In their case, the baptism in the Holy Spirit followed immediately, without any time lag. A few days later, Peter reported this happening to the apostles in Jerusalem like this:

“ … if then the equal gift God did give to them as also to us, having believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, I – how was I able to withstand God? (Acts 11:17; YLT)

(In this story around the centurion Cornelius, we can also see clearly that water baptism is an outward act of obedience, but not a substitute for personal faith in Jesus which alone can save.)

Yet another incident is reported in Acts 18 and 19:

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. … And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” (Acts 18:24 - 19:7; NKJ)

Here we have disciples who were probably instructed by Apollos about the teachings of John the Baptist, who had prepared the people for the ministry of Jesus (s. Jn. 1:6ff.) – Paul assumes that they had put their faith in Jesus (i.e. that they were born again) but hadn’t received complete instructions yet. He made up on that, baptized them in the name of Jesus and laid hands on them (just like he had on the people in Samaria) that the Holy Spirit would come on them. As evidence, that this really had happened, the disciples spoke in tongues.

To this day, we can observe these various patterns; but all of them have in common that people get born again first, and following this they receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (immediately or with some time lag). I personally do know two people who accepted Jesus as their savior (and thus were born again) and then began to speak in tongues without anybody having laid hands on them or them reaching for this in any way. But as they associated with Christians who rejected praying in tongues for modern-day Christians (for what reason ever), they didn’t use this gift anymore. – So, it is possible that you received the baptism in the Holy Spirit right after you were born again, but if you’ve never ever prayed in tongues (a language totally unknown to you), it is very unlikely that you are plugged into this power source which God is offering to His children for a victorious life here on earth already.

The Significance of Praying in Tongues

Praying in tongues has several functions, but in a nutshell, it is the key how we receive access to God’s wisdom and power and are enabled to cooperate effectively with God’s best plan for our life. A Christian, who rejects praying in tongues or fails to practice it regularly, doesn’t know what he is depriving himself of. Paul himself said: I speak with tongues more than you all (1Cor. 14:18; NKJ).

Paul, to whom deep wisdom was attested by the apostle Peter (2Pet. 3:15f.), wrote to the Christians in Corinth, in order to point out some wrongs to them. Regarding speaking in tongues, he didn’t rebuke the practice itself, but only their way of dealing with it in their Services. In the 1st Letter to the Corinthians, chap. 14, he instructs them in the correct practice during Services. At the same time, he gives us valuable information both about the general functions as well as about the correct private practice of praying in tongues. Here you can learn more about these two points:

Living in the Kingdom of GodNow

In order to explain this point, I would like to render a short episode that I experienced in a public swimming pool: I was doing the crawl at an easy rate, lap after lap – until suddenly a young energetic swimmer showed up in my lane with the obvious intention of bullying me out of this lane. So I began thinking how I should handle this situation. – I could pretend to not notice anything, or I could simply yield and change lanes. As I had just learnt that now I really, really(!) do have the spirit of Christ (Ro. 8:9) on the inside of me (and that this isn’t just a pious phrase), I also wondered what God would have me say to this bully – and immediately I thought toward this person: “God bless you!” and swam to another lane. But at the same time, there was also something in me that wanted to take offense and get mad, and I could already see myself dropping a bomb on this thug from the pool brink. (This was either my old, un-renewed thinking or directly the devil whispering to me. But having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I have the power now to reject such thoughts and maintain my peace.) And so, as I continued swimming in my new lane, thinking about this bizarre contrast on the inside of me, the Sermon on the Mount came to my mind. And suddenly I began to understand that every day anew I do have the opportunity to live in the kingdom of Godin fact, here and now! – At the moment, when I decide to let God live through me, instead of doing things in my own wisdom and ability, I live in the kingdom of God.

Someone had taught me about the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus had been offering to the Jews the physical kingdom of God/heaven during His ministry. Even though the physical kingdom of God will definitely come at some point, Jesus had NOT been offering it at this point of time (kind of wishing and hoping that the Jews would mess up so that He could still go through with His work of salvation)! When someone tells you something like this, don’t believe it! – If you read the four gospel accounts at a stretch, you can clearly see that Jesus had not been talking about the physical but the inner kingdom of God (to which we attain potential access through our new birthJn. 3:3 – and which we can now experience here on earth, or not):

The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk. 17:20f.; NKJ)

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17; NKJ)

But let’s take a look at the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) to find out what Jesus wanted us to know about this subject:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:17-20; NKJ)

Jesus hadn’t come in order to disannul the high standard of God revealed through the Mosaic law, but to fulfill it! We humans, however, cannot fulfill this standard in our own ability. Even in our born-again state do we have the problem of the old “programming“ of our thinking, willing and feeling ... Here on earth, people will make mistakes, again and again! Therefore we shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven if we live in dependence on Jesus. The pharisees and scribes were those who still kept the Mosaic law the best (at least on the surface). And yet Jesus said that we needed a far greater righteousness – namely the righteousness which we would receive by putting our trust in Him –the just shall live by faith (Gal. 3:11; NKJ).

Subsequently to these verses, Jesus shows the people what’s taking place in their hearts on a day-to-day basis and how they really should be living. – He is pointing out evil thoughts and feelings against their fellow men (Mt. 5:21ff), their recklessness regarding the marriage bond and their concupiscence (Mt. 5:27ff.), their dealings with truth (Mt. 5:33ff.), their handling of violence and treatment of their enemies (Mt. 5:38ff.), their religious sham in alms giving, praying, and fasting (Mt. 6:1ff.) and all the things they focus their hearts on, and their useless worries that they constantly entertain (Mt. 6:19ff.). And eventually, Jesus said this:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33; NKJ)

As a reminder – we are talking here about the inner kingdom of God, that’s on the inside of a person, and God’s righteousness we receive by faith in Jesus (by trusting in His substitutionary death and resurrection for me) and from Jesus (at the moment when He gives me of His resurrection spirit, i.e. in the new birth). He had pointed to this righteousness a short time ago already (in Mt. 5:17-20), and now again! Jesus righteousness, which has become my righteousness (2Cor. 5:21), must be my base camp from where I explore the kingdom of God on a daily basis. Then, everything else will be given to me in addition.

Then Jesus gave another warning – against the prideful and arrogant judging of others (Mt. 7:1ff.). And eventually, this famous sentence follows:

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Mt. 7:6; NKJ)

I’ve already heard the most interesting propositions about this verse. However, Jesus didn’t offer here a collection of unrelated sayings of wisdom, but the Sermon on the Mount has a central theme – living in the kingdom of God. We believers do give what is holy to the dogs or cast our pearls before pigs (and thus loose our peace and our focus on Jesus!) at the moment when we do what Jesus had cautioned the people against (starting at Mt. 5:21). But we live in the kingdom of God the moment we focus our (inner) eyes on Jesus (and on His righteousness in us), doing what He told us to do instead of doing our own thing (e.g. loving our enemies by blessing them, doing them good, and praying for them). – And you do want to live in the kingdom of God and His (i.e. Jesus’) righteousness here on earth, because here the blessings of God are to be found (cf. Mt. 5:3-11). You don’t want to live in the earthly hell created by perpetual, useless worries, strife, fighting, mutual hurts and condemnation, etc.

Jesus spoke these words of the Sermon on the Mount to humans who didn’t know anything about spiritual things (about spiritual death or spiritual life) – as yet. Jesus had come to make the spiritual life possible again for human beings. The points He addressed in the Sermon on the Mount were much more profound than the Mosaic law and they exposed the human heart. Jesus said things to these people which they couldn’t really understand at the moment, but only later, when they would have received their new birth (because only through their new birth were they able to attain the righteousness which they were supposed to seek, and could gain potential access to the kingdom of God). So, presupposing the new birth, He pointed out two ways to (future) believers. – These two ways are no longer about heaven or hell (this question was definitely solved by the new birth), but about a divine/supernatural life in the kingdom of God here on earth, or about a worldly/natural life here on earth.Graphically I would like to illustrate the Sermon on the Mount in the following way (assuming that the meaning of the used symbols is well known from previous chapters):

Living by your strength and ability

Where on this chart are you TODAY?

Stations of a child of God

Living by God's strength and ability

The Two Ways

The worldly/natural way

The divine/supernatural way

What happened: I accepted Jesus as my “ticket to heaven,” but since then I’ve continued in my own strength and ability.

What happened: I accepted Jesus as my “All-inclusive Savior” – because the Greek word for “to save” – sozodoesn’t mean only to save with regard to eternity, but also to save from current dangers; to save from a messed up life, to give meaning and quality to our present life; to heal physically; to set free; to save from demonic oppression; to save from physical death

Basic attitude: Jesus fulfilled the law, His righteousness makes me kind of acceptable before God, but it is not sufficient – in order to really experience God’s blessings, I have to add my share, too (such as ready the Bible every day, attending church, tithing, praying, etc.).

Basic attitude: Jesus fulfilled the law for me – His righteousness is sufficient for me to walk in God’s blessings and promises (I do read my Bible, attend church, tithe, pray, etc., because I want to get to know God and spend time with Him, I love Him and want to share His love with others, too). I live every day looking at and trusting in Him.

Dealing with sin: I do my best and resist sin as long and as good as I can, but essentially, things are still the same in my life regarding sin. Sometimes I feel really cheap.

Because my focus is on my sin so much, I also suffer from inner condemnation; and then I get really discouraged. However, if I notice the sins of others, they get a good dose of my “righteous” wrath.

Dealing with sin: Jesus has paid for my guilt already – I am free! I don’t focus any longer on sin, but on God’s love. When I notice that I did sin, I confess it to God, and if necessary I straighten it out before people, too. And that’s it.

Because my focus is on God’s love, I cannot but be lenient and loving with other people, too.

The outcome: I am trying with all my might, but I don’t experience a lot with God. Basically, I still live the same life and still have the same problems as my unsaved neighbors, too.

The outcome: Yes, I still have problems in my life, but also a confidence, joy and peace in my heart which I didn’t have before and which makes everything else easy. As long as I keep my focus on God, nothing can get me down.

How Paul described this way (Ro. 7):

But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead [ergo: if I have traded my sin to Jesus, then I can let go also of the law and come under grace!]. … For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin [if I am born again, this is referring only to the old “programming” of my soul and my body]. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me [in the old “program” of my soul + my body]. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me [in the old “program” of my soul + my body]. I find then a law [i.e. regularly recurring phenomenon], that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man [i.e. my born-again spirit]. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [Therefore, I do now give up my legalism! Jesus has fulfilled the law for me – from now on, I rest in Jesus!] O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?(Ro. 7:6-24)

How Paul described this way (Ro. 8):

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus [the life in His righteousness] has made me free from the law of sin and [the resulting] death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit [i.e. with our focus on Jesus, resting His righteousness]. For those who live according to the flesh [focused on what they can do in their own strength and ability] set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace [peace and joy will be flooding you once you’ve understood that Jesus’ righteousness is SUFFICIENT for you and the blessings of Abraham are yours because Jesus is the fulfillment of the law – Gal. 3]. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God [it makes the work of Jesus to have happened in vain – Gal. 2:21]; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh [i.e. who don’t know the new birth] cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit [i.e. you have the experience of the new birth], if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His [to have the Spirit of Christ is synonymous with the new birth; if moreover the Spirit of God dwells in you, then you are born again anyhow]. And if Christ is in you, the [physical + soulish] body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness [of Christ]. But if the 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. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors -- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh [by our own strength + ability, by our old “program”]. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the [“ misprogramed” physical + soulish] body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’(Ro. 8:1-15)

Problem: If you see yourself mostly on this way, you are still under the law – not necessarily under the Mosaic law, but maybe under the laws of your religious community/ denomination, or under your personally erected laws and rules.

For to be carnally minded is death…” (Ro. 8:6; NKJ)

(The death this verse is talking about, is not the “eternal death,” but the life here on earth resulting from doing things your own way.) Someone said: “The life as a Christian is not only difficult; it is impossible!“ – If you try to live it in your own strength and ability, you will be easy prey for the devil. You couldn’t defeat sin in your own strength before you were born again, and just as little you can do it after your new birth .

... but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Ro. 8:6; NKJ)

If you continue to live your Christian life as you’ve began itbelieving and trusting in Jesus (Col. 2:6f.) – then you will also be able to experience the supernatural life of God here on earth (for which God had created us humans from the very beginning). This was the reason why Jesus came on this earth, took our guilt and punishment on Himself, so that we humans could live here on earth the life that God had planned for us from the beginning. If you begin only in heaven to live this life, then you will have missed something very important!

If you (after your new birth) haven’t renewed your mind yet in the various areas of your life, then you don’t need to be surprised if you don’t get different results from what you got before. If you as a Christian haven’t learnt yet to believe what God believes and has revealed to us in His Word (e.g. regarding our righteousness), but instead you believe what people have taught you, then you won’t see what God has made possible and available for you here in the kingdom of God on earth.



Survey – God's Redemptive Plan

Why Is The Bible Unique?

What The Bible Says About ...

Marcia's Way to God

Recommended Books & Links