TODAY’S READING: Acts 4–6
Three times in the first three chapters of Acts, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and it affected his mouth. The day of Pentecost was his first experience when he was “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues…[and]standing up…[he] raised his voice and said” (Acts 2:4, 14). Then before the Sanhedrin “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said,” and then again Peter and friends “were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (4:8, 31). Over and over again, Acts details the work of the Spirit who fills us with power to witness of Jesus. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, as any work of the Spirit does, glorifies Jesus. When Peter spoke, they realized he had been with Jesus (v. 13). God the Holy Spirit is the executive of missions, and if we are going to reach all nations, we will have to be filled with all of God made available over and over again. Fillings of the Spirit cannot only be demonstrations of God that He will save from among every ethnicity; they are also demonstrations that we need to be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit so that we can authoritatively point to Jesus.
When Peter pointed to Jesus, he unfailingly pointed out the universal scope of Christ’s claim. Peter told the Sanhedrin bluntly, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (v. 12). Gospel enemies understood the global implication, planning how the gospel would spread no further (v. 17), so obviously the scope of saving is all men under the heavens. When threatened and released, Peter and John quoted the psalmist who referenced the raging nations and the kings of the earth (vv. 25–26). The first to give money to church expansion was from Cyprus (vv. 36–37) and the first internal issue was multicultural as Libyan, Egyptian, and Turkish believers elbowed their way not just to the table, but into the very family of God (6:9).
Holy Spirit filling is intended to animate our proclamation to all peoples. Daily in the temple and in every house, the apostles did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as Christ (5:42). The longest recorded sermon in Acts was delivered by the first martyr whose job was to wait on tables so that the apostles could concentrate on prayer and the ministry of the Word (6:2). The Spirit is not confined to verbal proclamation, of course, for Stephen was chosen to serve tables because he was full of the Spirit, yet instructively we know nothing about his service plan. What we do know is that Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs, that they could not resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke, and that he did not cease to speak (v. 8, 10, 13). The biblical point is simple—all men and women are to be filled with the Spirit and to open their mouths and proclaim Jesus. Some from pulpits, some from cash registers, some from soup kitchen counters, some from a pull-up bar, but all are to be filled with the Spirit, speaking the gospel, focused on the nations. As a consequence, the Word of God will spread and disciples multiplied greatly under all heaven (v. 7).