Latter Rain Update - December 1996


 

We’ve talked about them and even compared ourselves to the them. It seemed only fitting to Pastor that we should study them.

The very first edition of the Latter Rain Update had an article in it entitled "Are we becoming the Church in Acts?" The answer to this question will be within our grasp at the conclusion of the current lesson entitled The Book of Acts.

After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days. Just before He ascended to the right hand of the Father, Jesus left them instructions to wait in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, whom He had spoken to them of in John 16:5-15. He told them that they would receive power to be witnesses once they received the Holy Spirit.

They then asked Jesus if He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel at that time. They viewed the Messiah as the Lion coming to deliver them from the oppression of their enemies. This is why they asked. Jesus will indeed come as the lion at His second coming, but, at His first coming, He came as the lamb.

Jesus was then received into a cloud up into Heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12). Angels here testified of Him that just as He left, so would He come again to them.

The disciples obeyed Jesus and assembled together into the upper room where they were staying in Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit.

In the meantime, they cast lots to decide who would take Judas’ place as the twelfth disciple. This was a mechanism that God used to communicate to the people through under the Old Covenant. Although the Old Covenant had ended, because the New Covenant had not yet began, God still used this method to tell the people His will. Another method God used to communicate to the people through was called the Urim and Thummim (Num.27:21, I Sam.28:6, Ezra 2:63). Under the New Covenant, however, things have changed:

"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son..." (Heb.1:1-2).

At that time, however, they cast lots. Judas was the enemy from within that enabled the devil to cause damage to Jesus’ ministry. "A house divided against itself cannot stand," as Jesus said. Even so, Judas’ betrayal was all a part of God’s plan to trick Satan into shedding Jesus’ blood. It was written of Judas beforehand by the mouth of David.

* Prophecy is merely history prewritten; it does not set history. Jesus even knew that Judas would betray Him when He called him to be His disciple because He foresaw what would happen.*

Seven days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples received the Promise that Jesus told them about. The Holy Spirit entered the earth with the sign of tongues of fire and the sound of a rushing, mighty wind. He then entered into the believers and the evidence of His indwelling them is that they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It was at this time that they received the power that they needed to be witnesses. It is He who bears witness of Jesus by His actions. Without His witness inside of us, we cannot truly be effective witnesses to others of Jesus. Without Him, we have a very minute understanding of Jesus because the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, hasn’t revealed Him to us yet.

Once the Holy Spirit entered into the earth, He began convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. His arrival caused the disciples to be more effective in ministering salvation than Jesus was able to be because He had been limited to using miracles, signs, and wonders to draw people to Him. People came to Him because they had needs, not because they were sinners in need of salvation. The Holy Spirit convicted the hearts of men and thus was much more effective in working through the disciples.

When the Jewish men in Jerusalem, who had come from every nation under Heaven, heard these Galileans speaking in their own languages, it boggled their minds. The disciples were speaking in tongues foreign to them but common to the various nationalities present for the Jewish Festival. What they were experiencing was the fulfillment of the prophecy from the Prophet Joel who spoke of what would come in these, the Last Days. All believers, not just selected few who were anointed to fill the office of prophet, high priest, king, or artisan, could now be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Newly endowed by the power of the Holy Spirit to witness of Jesus, Peter began to preach to the multitudes and explain that it was the partial fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. He also began to tell them about Jesus whom they crucified and how God had raised Him up. He further explained that the pains of death could not hold Jesus (Acts 2:24).

The Mystery of the Gospel

Satan had shed Jesus’ innocent blood. The killing of Jesus was unjust. God had tricked the devil into thinking that Jesus was a sinner. However, the sin that was on Him was our sin, not His own. When it came time for Jesus’ arraignment, there were no legitimate charges. Death had to loose Him. God also declared that since Satan had killed Jesus unjustly, Satan would also have to release all those who believed on Jesus. We all rode Jesus’ coattails out of Hell (Ephesians 4:8-10). I Corinthians 2:7-8 tells us that the devil and his hoard did not know this, otherwise they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

The Father then gave Jesus a name above every other name, even above all other Host of Heaven except the Father Himself. The Father made Jesus Lord - (Phil.2:9-11) not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man. He was reclothed with His deity and given all authority over the power of the enemy.

And He gave it to us.

To Be Continued in the Next Edition of the Latter Rain...

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