HAVE YOU TARRIED IN JERUSALEM?
SPIRIT LESSONS PT. 3
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luk 24:49).
Just before His ascension, Jesus instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit who would equip them with special power. Christ had prepared His disciples for this event many times previous. The “Comforter”, as Jesus referred to the Spirit, would come to teach them all things, “baptize them with fire”, and aid in their ministry efforts (Jn 14:26; Mat 3:11; Luk 12:12). And on the day of Pentecost the much anticipated promise was finally realized. What followed after is recorded for us in Acts 2:
And when the day of Pentecost was 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 all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Act 2:1-4).
The disciples did indeed receive a baptism of POWER. Their lives were transformed and their spiritual efforts produced dramatic results as they blazed through enemy territory like fire brands on a mission, revolutionizing the ancient world.
Yet many forget what preceded this revolutionary change. The disciples were told to sit still and wait. They didn’t know for how long or why. And they certainly couldn’t have predicted the results. Nevertheless, they remained in Jerusalem just as Christ instructed and on the day of Pentecost they were well rewarded.
But what about today? Are we expected to follow the example of Christ's disciples and do some of our own waiting? While some may disagree, we believe that Christians must also wait for the Holy Spirit’s baptism in order to receive complete spiritual empowerment. In fact, the purpose of this writing is to demonstrate why every Christian must patiently wait upon God for the anointing of the Spirit before they can launch a successful Gospel outreach.
When we examine the life of Jesus, we discover that He always led by example. So it shouldn't surprise us that He did not begin His earthly ministry until the moment of His Spiritual anointing when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove (Luk 3:22; Jn 1:32). Only after this did Jesus produce miracles and healings. All four Gospels record this event and place it just before His evangelistic efforts (Mat 3:16; Mar 1:10; Luk 3:22; 4:18; Jn 1:32; Act 10:38).
Clearly, both Jesus and His disciples were required to wait for the Holy Spirit to transform their ministries. They could not realize their full spiritual potential before then. For the disciples, who later became the apostles, this resulted in the salvation of many new souls who were unable to resist the power of their preaching:
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Act 2:41).
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand (Act 4:4).
When considering the evidence, we begin to realize several important points:
1. Jesus and the apostles were unable to conduct their spiritual ministry successfully apart from the baptism of the Holy Spirit
2. The baptism of the Holy Spirit equipped Jesus and His apostles with special power for ministry and evangelism
3. The apostles were required to WAIT in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit's baptism before moving forward with their spiritual endeavours
The above points should teach us an important lesson. If Christ and His apostles could not succeed in their spiritual ministries without the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can't either. Simply put, Christians cannot effectively evangelize until they are Spirit baptised.
So could this be why many of us are faltering and failing in our spiritual efforts? ...Why our ministries are unsuccessful and our churches aren't growing? Perhaps our problem is that we've placed the proverbial cart before the horse. Too many Christians are being sent into the mission field without being properly equipped. The church has become so intent on evangelism and ministry that we've run ahead of God’s program without ever realizing it. But the danger in placing too much emphasis on religious activity (“get busy for Christ”) rather than stressing the need for the Holy Spirit's power, is that we miss out on the spiritual success God wants us to have. And we forget that apart from HIM, we can do NOTHING (Jn 15:5).
Another danger we may fall into is believing that since we were baptised in the Holy Spirit years ago, we no longer require it. This error is especially prevalent in Pentecostal Churches. But the Scriptures demonstrate that the Christian must be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Consider the fact that Jesus was often getting away from the crowds in order to spend time with His Father and to renew His anointing (Mat 14:23; Mar 6:46; Luk 11:1). And so did the apostles, who gathered for prayer often in order to plead with God for more boldness and power in preaching the Gospel. Only after receiving a fresh anointing of the Spirit did they resume their ministry efforts. Notice that they had to be “filled” and refilled with the Holy Spirit more than one time:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel (Act 4:8).
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness (Act 4:29-31).
There is a great need today for Spirit filled revival, especially in the Western world that is now largely secular and indifferent to the Gospel message. But the problem isn’t so much with the unconverted. The problem lies squarely with the Church. Too many Christians are ignorant of their need for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Or, they lack the resolve to patiently wait upon God for His supernatural power before engaging in ministry. My prayer is that we would take this teaching to heart and tarry in our own "Jerusalem" until we are equipped with the Holy Spirit's power.