Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What Does this Mean? -- Acts 2:1-13

In Acts 2:12 a question is asked, "What does this mean?" It was asked in response to hearing the disciples speaking in languages that they previously would not have known, all the while giving praise to God.

The question has plagued the church throughout its history. How are we to respond to this powerful expression of the Holy Spirit? This discussion has pit brother against brother, church against church. That which was given in order that the church would be united in its ability to accomplish that which it was commanded to has often caused some of its greatest divisions. This bothers me greatly. Does it bother you?

Without "giving away" too much of my own thoughts up front I pose the question: "What does this mean, this giving of the Holy Spirit?" Why is the second chapter of Acts recorded for us? Is it simply history, or is it something more?

How do you see it.

More later...


Anonymous said...

Oh boy...what a can of worms!! I believe this passage of scripture has been misinterpreted for centuries. I have witnessed believers come to verbal "blows" on this subject. I believe the supreme gift of the spirit is LOVE but some believers think that only when you speak in tongues do you have evidence of the spirit's "filling". Love seems to fly out the window and spiritual pride seems to dominate these arguments. Churches have split over the subject and great divisive walls have been built. I have been in services where this "gift" was publically demonstrated and interpreted...I couldn't make heads or tails out of what I heard and saw. I was NOT edified but I was confused and uncomfortable. I believe Paul called this "gift" one of the "lesser" gifts. I personally believe that a gift of the spirit is freely bestowed...not sought, begged for or "conjured" up. I have on many occasions throughout my Christian walk asked the Lord for ALL He had in store for me and I have never spoken in an unknown language that I have not studied and practiced speaking. BUT I DO have friends who have this gift and use it privately in their devotions and say they are edified by it. I have no quarrel with this....for I believe the Bible teaches not to forbid the speaking in tongues. God in His infinite wisdom used this sign in Acts to minister to ALL who were present from various countries and tongues. The PROBLEM comes when one group of believers belittle their " non-speaking" brothers and sisters..classifying them as 2nd class "spiritual citizens" for not exhibiting this PROOF of having been baptized by the spirit.This becomes such a major issue that it hinders Christian fellowship.I believe this grieves the heart of God.Good luck,Randy! Prayerfully,Ruthie

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Ruth, this one thing has, too often, become a point of division, and a means by many to separate those that are "less holy" than others. It works both ways. It's unfortunate, and so far from what was intended. I think Peter explains some of the mystery in his following sermon from the balcony. But there's also this part that is interesting: Jesus told His disciples to go out into the world (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth [read: Felton/Ben Lomond]) and bring the good news. These guys were, for the most part, FISHERMEN. They knew how to throw a mean net, but they probably flunked Latin 101. They could probably engage in a bargaining pitch in Greek, but Cyrenian? Lybian? Most likely not. Up to the last verse of chapter one of Acts, these people, these discliples were given a command THAT THEY COULD NOT ACCOMPLISH. If they went out immediately from the pasture where Jesus went up, to the hinterlands of civilization, without the Holy Spirit, they would have crashed and burned. They were completely ill-equipped. There was no way they could fulfill the command that was given to them. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian faith would have died right then and there. Jesus gave them the command, and the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to execute that command. Speaking in tongues was a means by which to go about doing the commands of Christ. Not to create confusion, or division between brothers and sisters in Christ, but to give us the power to do that which Jesus has told us to do! Yes speaking in tongues is an aspect of the Spirit, and if it is kept within the parameters that Paul lays out in 1 Cor 12-14, then great. But not at the expense of disorder, which detracts from the commands of Christ. It is a petty thing to use this gift (the least of gifts according to Paul) as a point of determination between Christians. The presence of the Holy Spirit is to give us, the ill-equipped, the incapable, the chance and the capability to follow through our marching orders. Those are just a few of my thoughts on that! God bless you, Randy. Handle the Word with joy!!


Anonymous said...

It means the Holy Ghost is given to those who believe. It is a bigger picture to some who teach that the age of Spiritual Movement is past, and to those who teach there is nothing but Spirituality. That is where the argument forms. When Christians focus on one area of life all else is out of balance. I was falsely taught very early in my Christian life that if I didn't speak "In Tongues" I was lost. After much agonizing in prayer and some Godly counsel, God lead me to the view I hold today. There is a very real Holy Spirit who works in our lives today. The Church will not stop this argument until the trumpet sounds. Knowledge without wisdom is a seedbed for pride. Even if you are right you should pray for God to change me, never destroy me with your knowledge. David