LIFE IN THE SPIRIT: Acts—Week 9 (Provision)

Acts 19

We are in a study of the book of Acts, focusing on the Person of the Holy Spirit—a co-equal Member of the Godhead with the Father and the Son—and how He empowered, inspired, led, and molded ordinary men and women into a movement that turned the world upside down, and how He continues to do so today.  This week we will look at the Holy Spirit’s provision.

Throughout our study of the book of Acts, the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit has been evident.  From that first moment when we read of the Holy Spirit descending upon the disciples of Jesus at Pentecost, there have been no shortage of miraculous events: speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, and more.  Time and again, we have seen how the Holy Spirit empowered believers to perform signs and wonders.  Sometimes these gifts were so awe-inspiring that Paul and his companions were thought to be Greek gods.  At other times these same gifts were seen as so disruptive to the social status quo that a fearful populace drove Paul and the others from their midst.   Because of its importance, the discussion of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to the Church is not limited to Acts: Paul and the other apostles spend quite a bit of time in their letters to believers emphasizing the importance of and correcting misunderstandings about the gifts provided by the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12; 1 Cor. 14:1-5; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Rom. 12:4-8; and Eph. 4:11-6).  

We could spend more time than we have available in this blog discussing the various gifts of the Spirit.  Indeed, we could easily do a whole 10-week series exploring the diversity of the gifts and how they all work together and barely scratch the surface of what has been written on them.  We could also spend time exploring the various controversies about the gifts and the differing points of view on how the gifts should be expressed in the modern church context.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with such discussions, I’m afraid that if we’re not careful, we may be missing the whole point.  I’m afraid that we may get too caught up in how the Holy Spirit has empowered us and forget about the why.

I believe that Jesus set the proper context for our understanding of the giftings of the Holy Spirit back in Acts 1:8. Jesus promised that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit came, but He spent no time explaining what that power would look like.  Why is that?  I believe it is because the expression of the power was not the ultimate point.  Jesus was focused on the purpose.  The Holy Spirit was to provide us with power for the purpose of reaching a world separated from God with the life-giving message of the gospel.  All those various gifts we see in Scripture were meant to encourage and equip believers in accomplishing the mission of carrying the gospel “to the ends of the earth.”  When we look at the account of Acts 19 of all that was accomplished through Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, it is easy to focus on verse 11 as the key evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit.  However, I think the key evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit is actually found in verse 10.  In that verse we read that everyone in the province of Asia (roughly modern-day Turkey), heard the gospel.  In two years’ time, there was not a man, woman, or child in that whole Roman province who had not heard of Jesus.  That’s true power and provision!

As we approach the end of our study of the Book of Acts, my prayer is that we will recapture the focus of Acts 1:8.  I pray that in the near future it could be said of Jacksonville that all have heard the word of the Lord.



In lieu of questions this week, I would ask your group to spend time in prayer over our community and discuss how each member of the group has been empowered to fulfill the mission of Acts 1:8.