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October 10, 2018, 8:37 AM

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).

The Acts of the Apostles, as many have observed, would be better entitled The Acts of the Holy Spirit. Behind all the human witnesses and their achievements is the power and guidance of the Spirit. Today’s passage of study, Acts 13:1-12, makes certain aspects of the Spirit’s work very clear.

1. The Holy Spirit sends people to the lost. Barnabas and Saul are “sent on their way by the Holy Spirit” (v. 4). He has “called them” for “the work” of preaching the gospel in other places. The Holy Spirit broods in love over our lost and broken world, eagerly desiring its salvation. That the lost may hear of Jesus and be saved, the Spirt sends workers to share “the teaching about the Lord” (v. 12). But the Holy Spirit does not recruit His workers in a vacuum. Here a great spiritual church, with a praying and fasting staff of ministers, supplies the Spirit’s labor pool. A disciplining ministry provides the instruments for evangelism.

2. The Holy Spirit equips workers with the truth. When they arrived in Salamis, Barnabas and Saul “proclaimed the word of God” (v. 5) At Paphos the proconsul “wanted to hear the word of God” (v. 7). No other weapon is placed in the hands of the Spirit’s helpers except “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). At times the church has forgotten this, and history records tragic cases of forced conversions, where heathens were compelled by threat of torture and death to be baptized in Jesus’ name. What a travesty on His gentle, patient love! When we face the world in its sin, we are armed only with truth. But God’s Word is sufficient for our victory, as the conversion of Sergius Paulus here shows.

3. The Holy Spirit saves people from the devil. When Elymas “tried to turn the proconsul from the faith,” Saul branded him a “child of the devil” (vv. 8-10). When the Holy Spirit is convicting men and women of sin and drawing them to Jesus, you can be sure that the devil will oppose; and he can always find people to work through. But the devil is no match for God! The rebuke and blinding of Elymas was a demonstration of the Spirit’s judgment upon evil; for Saul, “filled with the Spirit,” pronounced this judgment on the renegade. The punishment was suited to the offense. The devil seeks to blind men to “the right ways of the Lord” (v. 10), and here his emissary is physically blinded “for a time.” In contrast, “the proconsul saw” and “believed” (v. 12), becoming the first named convert of Paul’s missionary journeys. The power of the Spirit is evident in judgment, but even more so in mercy. Through the word proclaimed by those sent, the Spirit brings this politician to Christ.

This account presses some important questions upon us. Are we creating an atmosphere, by prayer and fasting, in which the Spirit can be heard calling for people to bear the gospel to others? Are we willing to place ourselves before the Lord as a labor pool from which He can select workers for special assignments? Can the Spirit work through us to defeat the efforts of the devil? Do we really believe that the Word of God is able to bring about the transformation wherever it is proclaimed?

Let’s pray: Lord, send your Holy Spirit to be my guide, and the sanctifier of my body and soul. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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