“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11)
The stories that unfold in the Book of Acts come from the most transformative period and place in history. This is when the Holy Spirit comes and first dwells in the heart of all believers in Christ gathered in Jerusalem, thus initiating an entirely new era where the Holy Spirit now dwells as a permanent possession in the heart of anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus as the Christ and trusts Him for the forgiveness of their sins. We divide human history into before and after Christ. We could also divide human history into before and after the Holy Spirit. Prior to the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered certain leaders, prophets and judges of the children of Israel (and even pagans as well, to accomplish His purposes) for specific tasks, but then the Spirit would leave. Now we possess the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God possesses us, and it’s a permanent relationship.
The Holy Spirit is the key to transformation. He works in us what we are powerless to do for ourselves. You know the apostles. They were fishermen, journeymen, tax collectors, working class people all of them. Not the kind of people you would count on to found the church world wide. That’s what confounded the religious leaders of the Jews. They were schooled and trained; they had passed muster. They had a pedigree. Saul, who later became Paul, spoke of his religious pedigree as a Pharisee, something he totally denounced later, because of His only qualifying factor — the Holy Spirit.
Take the Holy Spirit out of the Book of Acts and what do you have? Absolutely nothing. This is why the ministry is everything from God, and nothing from us. This is really the Book of Acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles and early Christians. This is God’s thing. It has been, and it always will be.
It should be the same thing with us. Take the Holy Spirit out of our lives and what do you have? You should have nothing as well. If you have something — a semblance of religion — something that looks like Christianity without the Holy Spirit — then you have a fake, works-oriented Christianity that is powerless to transform anyone. And if you take out the Holy Spirit and nothing changes, then you have someone who is not relying on the Holy Spirit at all. He may be there, but we are still in control, acting out our own idea of spirituality and pridefully comparing ourselves to others. The Holy Spirit can only work when we are weakened, broken and trusting in Him for everything. That’s when He can transform us into His power and confidence, not our own. It’s a process of letting go.
Acts is all about transformation, and the transformation is all through and by way of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit should explain everything, especially the unexplainable.