October 29, 2023

The Promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33)

Preacher: Bryce Morgan Series: Our Bible Reading Plan (2023-2024) Topic: One Lord: So Great a Salvation, Holy Spirit Scripture: Acts 2:33


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Children's Lesson (click here)

I. Starting with a Summary

Take a moment and think about the following statement, both in theory and in practice:

When we step out in faith in light of the finished work of Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that the power of God will be seen and heard in our lives.

Do you believe that? Have you found that to be true in your own life? I would argue that if you are a disciple of Jesus, the truth of that statement should be both precious and central to how you follow him. This morning, my hope is to show you how that statement flows directly from our main text in Acts 2:33. Turn there if you haven't already, Acts chapter 2, verse 33.


II. The Passage: “He Has Poured Out” (2:33)

Before digging into that verse, let's make sure we understand what's happening in the surrounding context. Acts 2 records events from the Jewish festival of Pentecost, referred to as the “Feast of Weeks” in the Old Testament (OT)(Ex. 34:22; Num. 28:26; Deut. 16:10). We'll talk a little more about the timing of this in just a few minutes, but at this point, it's enough to know that the Apostle Peter is the one speaking here. He's addressing a group of local Jews, as well as (and this is especially important) pilgrim Jews from around the Roman world. They have just witnessed (and maybe are still hearing) a group of ordinary Jews from northern Israel (i.e., the other apostles and other disciples) speaking in a variety of foreign languages... languages spoken in the far-flung places from which these pilgrims have traveled for the festival. In his address to the crowd, Peter is connecting this astonishing event with both OT prophecy and the ministry of Jesus. Look at what he tells them in verse 33...

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Now, think with me about the different parts of this verse. First, Peter references the exaltation of Jesus to “the right hand of God”. Second, Peter confirms that Jesus has received the promise of the Spirit. Third, Jesus himself is described as pouring out that Spirit upon his followers, as is evident from the supernatural ability of these men to speak languages unknown to them.

But before we go any further, please don't miss the trinitarian nature of this verse. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (this triune—three-in-one—God), each divine person is present in this verse (and throughout this passage), and all are described as powerfully linked and powerfully at work for the good of needy sinners. Now, with that trinitarian focus in mind, going back to the three parts of v. 33, let's make sure we unpack those part in light of the context. So, as I mentioned...

The first thing emphasized here is the exaltation of Jesus. Starting in verse 22, Peter has been reminding his readers of what many of them already know: that Jesus of Nazareth did “mighty works”, that he was arrested, broadly rejected by the Jewish leadership and the Jews in Jerusalem, that he was subsequently crucified by the Romans, and that now, as some were claiming, he had been raised up from the dead.

But Peter is not going over these details as an uninterested observer. In verse 32, he identifies himself and the other Spirit-empowered, foreign language speakers, as witnesses of that very resurrection. Additionally, he supports this bold claim of a risen Messiah by appealing to OT texts like Psalm 16. The author of that psalm, King David, was dead and buried. But his descendant, Jesus, had fulfilled that Scripture by rising from the dead. He was the “Holy One” who did not “see corruption”! Finally, the symphony of strange languages, and the resurrection of Jesus, were not the only miracles that Peter's listeners should consider. As most of them had heard, and undoubtedly, some had witnessed during his ministry, Jesus was (v. 22) “a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him”.

But if were to continue past verse 33, we would continue to read about the exaltation of Jesus. That's how important this idea was. Jesus did not simply rise from the dead. He also rose up to the right hand of God in fulfillment of another psalm, Psalm 110. And Peter sums this up in verse 36 with a monumental declaration: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now, why is all that so important in a message entitled, “The Promise of the Holy Spirit”? Because there is no giving of God's Spirit without the giving of God's Son. The Holy Spirit would not be poured out on Pentecost, unless Jesus had first poured out his life on Good Friday. You see, unless the temple that is you is purified and sanctified by the blood Christ, it cannot be a temple of the Holy Spirit, as verses like 1 Corinthians 6:19 and Ephesians 2:22 describe.

The second thing emphasized in verse 33 is the promise of the Father. What had God the Father promised? Both (*) Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 make this perfectly clear: he had promised the Holy Spirit. But in Acts 2:16, Peter points them back to the OT, to the words of the prophet Joel. Hundreds of years before the time of Christ, Joel wrote, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh...” (Joel 2:28). The idea that the Spirit of God, which in the OT only came on special people at special times, the idea that this Holy Spirit would be given to everyone, was astounding. But it wasn't a hidden truth. Not only did Joel speak about it, so did prophets like Ezekiel (36:27) and Isaiah (44:3). It certainly wasn't a hidden truth to the apostles. Less than two months before this amazing incident, Jesus talked to them about the promise of the Spirit. Listen to the words of Jesus from John 15:26–27...

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. [27] And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

And that's the perfect segue to a third truth emphasized here: the evidence of the Spirit. This entire scene is sparked by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Remember the sights and sounds: (v. 3) “tongues as of fire” and (v. 2) “a sound like a mighty rushing wind”. Remember what resulted from His coming: (vs. 7-8, 11) “And the [people] were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language... we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” That's the same phrase Peter used about Jesus' ministry in verse 22. Jesus was “a man attested to you by God with mighty works”. Just as Jesus had promised them, they were bearing witness to Him... through the Spirit. Peter who had, less than two months earlier, denied even knowing Jesus (three times!) was now boldly proclaiming his name... through the Spirit. You see, the Spirit was doing just what Jesus had said: he was bearing witness to Jesus. Remember, in our main verse Peter pointed to Jesus as the One who was sending the Spirit: he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.


III. Stepping Out in Faith

Brothers and sisters, friends, be encouraged. If uncertainty and weakness seem to plague your life as a disciple, there is good news this morning, good news of certainty and power! Certainty because the Spirit is not simply a possibility, but a promise. Look ahead to and listen to how Peter reassures them with this in vs. 38-39...

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

If you've received forgiveness of your sins from God, then you've also received the Spirit. And that promise, according to 1:8, is the promise of power: Before his final exaltation, Jesus encouraged his followers... “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now, the New Testament will go on to describe powerful ways in which the Spirit of God works in and through the children of God: understanding through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14)... gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7) ... the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)... the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3)... and best of all... the sanctification of the Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). But here in Acts 2, the emphasis is clearly on Spirit-empowered words. God wants to empower the lips of his people. He wants to empower your words... my words; words that point to the mighty works of God through Jesus Christ! 

So think again about my initial statement from the beginning of this message: When we step out in faith in light of the finished work of Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that the power of God will be seen and heard in our lives. What did that faith look like in Acts? It first looked like waiting. And sometimes it does mean waiting. Though most of those disciples of Jesus gathered together on Pentecost were from northern Israel, Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came. Pentecost took place fifty days after the Passover, and according to Acts 1:3, the resurrected Jesus appeared for forty days before returning to the Father. That means these disciples waited another week or so before the Spirit was poured out. But they waited in faith. And that faith was clear from the fact that they were “devoting themselves to prayer” (1:14). And when the Spirit did come, Peter's faith was on display as he publicly proclaimed Christ. And what is the book of Acts if not a record of the 'acts of the Holy Spirit'? As we continue to read through this book in the coming weeks, look for and be encouraged by how you see the Spirit of God at work through the people of God.

But if you belong to God's people, then what about you? Where is God calling you to step out in faith? Take a moment and let the Spirit confirm that for you. Where is God calling you to step out in faith? With whom is God calling you to step out in faith? Our rescue has been secured! Eternal life has been won! Death has been defeated! Our Redeemer, our Advocate, our Master is at the right hand of the Father! We can rest assured. And because He is there, the Holy Spirit is here. Jesus has not only secured pardon for sinners like us. He's also secured power, for mere mortals like us; power to live in Christ, and to live for Christ; power to know him and make him known. Brother, sister, we can rest assured. So I ask you again, where is God calling you to step out in faith? With whom is God calling you to step out in faith? Those around you, whether believers or unbelievers, need to see and hear the power of God in you (even though it may be strange to them at first). So let's look for the doors He opens. And when he does, open your mouth in faith. And as you do that, rest assured... in light of his gifts: the gospel and the Spirit. Thank him now. And for those without the Spirit, seek him now. The promise is also for you!