About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
The Holy Spirit and Me
The true story of Peter the Apostle
The following story is a modern day narrative based on the life of Peter the Apostle and his dealings with Gods Holy Spirit as seen in the New Testament.
The story is told in the first person, as if Peter himself is recollecting certain events. Obviously the words used in this narrative are not the exact words that are used in the Bible, but the basic thought structure is definitely found in the New Testament. There has been a little improvisation but not so much that would take away from the accuracy of the account as seen in the Bible.
At each chapter title you will see the portion of scripture where the chapters content is based on. Therefore you can look up the scriptural reference for yourself and see what the Bible actually says.
What Jesus Told Us
About The Holy Spirit
As I sit here and recollect what the Holy Spirit means to me I think of a few things that our Lord told us about Him. I use the word "Him" for the Holy Spirit because He is not an "it". He is a spiritual person. He is part of the Godhead. He is in fact God.
On one occasion there was this Samaritan lady who came to Jesus at a well. We were all surprised that Jesus actually talked to this lady, due to certain cultural laws that we Jews have. Anyway, He told her that the water she was getting from the well would not quench her thirst forever. She would indeed get thirsty again, most likely by the time she got home. He told her that He had water that He would give that would never cause her to thirst again. Of course she was fairly confused by these words. Who wouldnt be. But that was Jesus. Sometimes He said some pretty strange things.
He also told the lady that this water that He had would be like a river flowing into everlasting life. Now at this point she knew that this guy she was talking to was some sort of religious man. But what kind of religious man He was she did not know or understand.
Later on Jesus told us that the water signified the Holy Spirit, and that some day believers could receive Him into their lives.
Then on another occasion Jesus said that this living water wouldnt just be in us flowing into eternal life, but that it would be like a river flowing out of us to others. When He told us this He did not hide his statement in a mystery, because He wanted us who believed to know what He was talking about. That was always the way Jesus seemed to approach things. Some people He spoke in mysteries without explaining them. Yet to us, His disciples, He often interpreted these mysteries.
He told us what He meant by the river of water flowing out of us. Like a fast flowing river, the Spirit would work through us to help others in many ways. He also said that once He was glorified, He would then give us this Holy Spirit. Now this was hard for us to understand at the time but as time went on we began to understand it perfectly.
After Jesus rose from the dead He ascended back into Heaven to be with His Father. This reunion with His Father was when He was glorified. We were all there and saw it happen. I will never forget that day when He went up into the sky and an angel came and stood with us. The angel told us not to stand gazing into the sky any longer, for in the same way that you have seen Jesus go, in that way He will return to the earth some day.
The last thing that I would like to mention is right near the end, right before Jesus left us to go back to His Father. He told all of us to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Gift that He had promised us. The Gift was the Holy Spirit. He said that we had been baptized in water, but not many days from then we would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. When this would happen we would receive the power we needed to be real witnesses for Jesus. At that point we would receive the ability to follow and obey Jesus in the way He wanted.
I did not realize to what extent Jesus was talking about until it actually happened to me. I will tell you, until you receive the Holy Spirit, you will not really know to what extent He could mean in your life. You see, prior to this point in my life I did not have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. O yes, He was outside of me, helping me along the way. Yes, He influenced me from time to time to do things I needed to do. But to actually have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, well, that was a different story altogether.
I Received Gods Spirit
As I said before, I did not have the Holy Spirit inside of me when Jesus told us to wait in Jerusalem. I did believe in Jesus. I wanted to follow Him, although I kept on messing up. It was clear and obvious that I needed more of something to help me be who I ought to be.
Jesus knew what I needed. I needed the Spirit of the Living God residing inside of me.
It was about fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, and about ten days after He went back to Heaven that we were all together in this upstairs room praying and waiting as Jesus told us. Suddenly we began to feel something like a breeze blowing in the room. I thought possibly there was a storm brewing outside and that the wind was blowing through an open window . The breeze turned into a rushing wind. Then I looked around and saw something real strange. You may not believe me, and you may think that I was imagining things, but I saw these things that looked like "tongues of fire" coming down from the ceiling. This was crazy I thought. Then the tongues of fire landed on us. At this point everything really went wild, I mean really wild. Things were so wild that some people outside on the street thought that we were all drunk.
I know I was not drunk. I had not been drinking. Besides, it was only nine oclock in the morning and none of us would drink that early in the morning.
This fire hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was like a thunderstorm going off inside of my body. I began talking in this language that I had never learned. And as I looked around me, everyone else was talking in different languages as well.
By this time there had gathered quite a crowd outside of the house we were in, listening to all of the commotion that was taking place. They were all confused to what was happening to us. I have to say that at first it was a little confusing to me as well, until it hit me. This was it. This was what Jesus told us to wait for. This was the Gift He had promised us. We were receiving Gods Holy Spirit into our bodies. We were receiving the power to live the life Jesus wanted us to live. We were now being a witness to those outside.
So I went out to the street. People told me that they heard us talking about God, talking about Jesus in their own language. You see there had been people from all over the area gathering in Jerusalem for a few days. They had many varied languages and they all heard their own language as we were talking. Each of us seemed to be talking in a different language so that those on the street could hear in their own native tongue. Pretty strange isnt it.
It all just came to me very clearly what was happening to us, so I motioned to the crowd of people to settle down and be quiet so I could have a chance to explain what was happening.
I said, "listen guys, we are not drunk as you think we are. Look, it is only nine oclock in the morning. But this is what the Prophet Joel was talking about. He told us generations ago that in later times God would pour His Holy Spirit into people, and the young men would see visions and old men would dream dreams. He told us that all people could receive His Spirit in these later days. It is all coming true. It may look and sound strange but it is all in Gods plan for us. This will continue to happen until Jesus comes back for us."
Of course some thought we were crazy and just laughed at us and walked away. Yet the crowd was growing, and some were asking how this might happen to them. So I told them. Repent, be willing to change from your own way of living. Get water baptized. Believe that Jesus is who He says He is. Ask Him for His Holy Spirit and you will be saved. You will receive what we have received this very day."
Guess what? About three thousand people believed that day and came to Jesus and experienced what we had experienced. Three thousand, can you imagine that.
The Lame Man
A few days later John and I were heading over to the Temple and we met this man who was lame from birth. He was there begging for money. Well, we felt that we had received a lot a few days earlier when we received the Holy Spirit, but one thing we didnt receive at the time was money. Both John and I were broke at the time. I told this guy, "listen, we dont have any money to give you, but what we have we will give you. In the name of Jesus stand up and walk".
"Wow, it worked. This is what Jesus used to do", I thought. This guy got up and started walking all over. Then he started jumping up and down and all over the place, giving thanks to God. All sorts of people saw this and as a result many believed in Jesus. Many gave their lives over to the rule of Jesus right on the spot.
In Trouble With The Religious Leaders
Once word got out that this man was healed all hell broke lose. And I mean that quite literally. I dont think the devil was very happy with what was happening. That didnt bother me in the least. I knew that my life was protected by Jesus, and whatever happened to me was in His plan.
As I was saying, all hell broke lose. Our religious leaders were not pleased with us. You see they were an insecure group of guys, who were losing some people over to our movement. They did not like that in the least. So they called us in and really blasted us. They threatened to put us in jail, which they did later on. They wanted us to stop telling everyone about Jesus, and stop immediately.
This is what I told them. "Who do you think we should obey, you guys or God"? That drove them crazy. They were really mad at us at that point. Yet that is how I felt, and that is what I wanted them to know. I was not going to disobey what Jesus told me to do in order to please them. I had a mission from the Lord and I was going to do it no matter what anyone said. If that meant going to jail, then so be it. In jail I would tell people the Good News of our Lord Jesus.
They let us go that time with a strong warning. So we went over to a friends house and prayed with them. It all happened again, more strange stuff. I mean it, the room we were in started shaking. Believe me or not, it really happened. We were all filled with the very strong presence of God. We were filled again with the Holy Spirit.
I know I had the Holy Spirit inside of me at this point. I had received Him earlier when they thought we were all drunk. But I came to understand that there is more to God and His Spirit that one body can contain and therefore these things happen over and over again. Gods Spirit come upon us many times to give us the strength and the ability to do what we need to do. Of course, if we want to do nothing, then nothing will happen to us. His Spirit wont bother with us.
Gods Spirit Comes To The Gentiles
(Acts 5:1-11, Acts 10, Acts 11)
I wont tell you about how the Lord killed two people we knew who had lied to the Holy Spirit. I dont want to scare you off. Maybe another day I will mention that one to you. Jesus doesnt do things like this very often but He was trying to tell us that He meant business, and that we were not to play games with His Spirit.
Anyway, one day I was on a roof praying. It was quiet up there, so it was easy to pray. It happened again. Another strange event. Now let me tell you that every day is not real strange like this one. But every day does have some excitement.
As I was saying, I had a vision. I wont go into the details but basically God was telling me that He wanted me to tell the Gentiles, (people who are not Jews) all about Jesus. I refused at first, because I didnt think telling non Jews about Jesus was a good idea. But it didnt take too long before I came to my senses. How could I say no to God.
So to make a long story short I went to this mans house to speak to Him about Jesus. He was waiting for me and so he had a group of people there ready to hear me speak.
I started telling them about Jesus. You see they knew about God, or at least they knew a little bit about God, but they didnt know anything about Jesus. There is a big difference between believing in some type of abstract God and believing in a person named Jesus.
Believe it or not, but during my speaking the Holy Spirit interrupted me. I did not even get a chance to finish what I was saying and the Holy Spirit came down on those guys just like He had on us in be beginning.
These guys began to speak the mysteries of God in different languages in the same way that we did. We have come to call this phenomenon "speaking in tongues". They began to speak in tongues and give thanks to God. You could tell that they felt like we did in the beginning. They were energized with the exhilarating force of Gods Spirit.
I thought, if these guys received the Holy Spirit like we did then I should get them down to the nearest river to baptized them with water. And so that is what we did. Thus the Holy Spirit for the first time in history had been given to people who were not Jews. Some of us Jews struggled with this idea at first but we soon came to understand that Jesus and the Holy Spirit was meant for all people, all over the world, and that He was not exclusive to any one nationality.
I felt so very glad that our Lord used me in sharing this Good News to the Gentile world. He used me in the very beginning when the Holy Spirit was first given to us Jews and then later when He was given to the rest of the world.
You know I could go on and on and tell you how the Lord has changed my life, and how He has used me since I have received His Holy Spirit, but I wont.
You know there has been some real exciting things happen to me. Mind you, they werent all nice things. There were times I got beat up, put in jail, had stones thrown at me, had robbers rob me, among all sorts of other things. I dont count my life all that important. The important thing is that I do what Jesus wants me to do. I know that without His Spirit there is absolutely no way this can be done in my life. No way at all.
So I would encourage all of you to learn who Jesus really is by experience, not just by your intellect. I would also encourage you to receive His Holy Spirit, for without Him you cannot be a real Christian, a real follower of Jesus. I also want to let you know that if you do not want to have your life turned upside down, and if you dont want to completely live for Jesus there is no use asking for Gods Spirit. It wont happen to you. But if you are willing to become a new creation, He will give you His Spirit and make you into a brand new person.
As my friend John says, "you will be born again". It is like being born all over again. Your life is really different. I wont get into this aspect of the life of Jesus. If you want to understand what being born again is all about, my friend John has some literature that you can read.
You can find out more about Jesus and more of my experiences as well, if you read the book of Acts in the Bible. The book of Acts is actually short for "The Book Of The Acts Of The Holy Spirit". I also have a couple of letters that you can read that ended up in the Bible as well.
Have a good day, and may Jesus be real to you when you receive His Holy Spirit into your life.
I hope this little narrative has showed you the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
It is clear that a believer needs more than his beliefs to make him a real Christian. If belief was all you needed then Jesus would not have told His followers to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.
Paul makes a significant statement in Romans 8:9. He says, "you are not controlled by your sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives within you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ".
Paul makes two points. One, the Spirit of God can live within you. Two, if you dont have Gods Spirit in you, then you do not belong to Him. This second statement is clear and to the point. If you want to belong to Christ, then you need His Spirit living within you.
Paul also says in Ephesians 1:13, "...after you believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit " This means that your believing should lead to receiving the Holy Spirit. Thus becoming a Christian is a package of a few important ingredients; turning from your own way of living, believing, and receiving His Spirit. Then the first thing you need to do in obedience to Jesus is to get water baptized.