Divine Empowerment of Leaders

Divine Empowerment of Leaders, Study of Luke(Page 6)

By Allen Quist 

The Outpouring of God’s Spirit

The time had come; what the Jews intended to end—the power of God in Jesus—was to become the beginning of the church—the power of God in His people (Willimon 22). This was the time; God intended to make the power of His Spirit available to whoever accepted Him as Lord and Messiah. “At Pentecost the power of God, made manifest at the resurrection and ascension of Christ, is bestowed upon the People of God” (Willimon 28). This must be one of the most, unbelievable, inscrutable, perhaps even indescribable events in all of history (Willimon 29). In a short time, God changed the course of history through the Spirit-empowered lives of his followers.

Luke begins Acts 2 with the picture of the believers waiting and praying together with thousands of Jews close enough to hear them. Because of the festival of Pentecost and because of the Roman roads and safe travel conditions, many Hellenistic Jews from all the nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea were in Jerusalem. Given the commotion caused by the Spirit, many of these travelers moved closer, only to become puzzled. What the Jews found was a group of Galileans, known for being “uneducated and ordinary men” (Acts 4:13), speaking in languages the Galileans could not have known (Acts 2:5-6), but languages known by the Jews within hearing distance. The listeners had traveled from all corners of the Roman Empire. They came from Rome on the European mainland (Brisco 176). They came from Parthia, Media, Elam (Elymais), and Mesopotamia, all east of the Euphrates River (known today as Syria, northern Iraq, and far eastern Turkey) (Brisco 176). The listeners came from Judea (probably meaning the original Israel under King David and King Solomon) (Bruce 56). They came from Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, the western part of modern Turkey (Brisco 176). Finally, they came from Egypt and parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene on the North African continent (Brisco 176). God was orchestrating an event, which could send thousands of missionary leaders back to their countries with a new relationship with Him and a new power to share the Gospel to their communities.

Willimon describes how it all began with hearing a sound. Drawing from his resources (Luke 1:1-4) and with the apparent intent to communicate a truth, Luke described the relationship between God and people with the powerful welding of the Holy Spirit into the lives of His people. Luke wrote, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Act 2:1). Then they saw a visible sign, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (Acts 2:3). Finally, with hearing and seeing empowered by the Spirit, their speaking fell under God’s power, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:4). In what must have been a time of great emotion, God added the power, which empowered Jesus Christ, to God’s followers now making up His church (Willimon 30).

Luke then provided a realistic picture of the large audience who had viewed this event with different conclusions—some astonished at what they heard and some ridiculed the disciples, claiming the disciples had been drinking. Using Peter’s material, Luke introduced a new perspective of the Holy Spirit. Luke wrote about Peter who was apparently already standing and who yelled loudly enough to get everyone’s attention so he could speak. This was the same Peter who weeks before—in his timidity of the moment—had sulked off in the darkness after having denied Christ to a Next Pagenon-threatening servant-girl (Luke 22:57b). Willimon comments how in Genesis, “God breathed life into dust and created a human being,” and in Acts 2:1-4, “the Spirit breathed life into a-once cowardly disciple and created a new man who now has the gift of bold speech” (31-32). It is evident God’s Spirit both empowered and led Peter to deal boldly with the attackers.

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