And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Act 1:4-8
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Promise of the Father, which was promised back in Jer 31:33 and Eze 36:27, comes upon us, we receive power, in order to be witnesses to Jesus to the ends of the earth.
Power is in Greek, dunamis, and it means strength, power, or ability, in several aspects:
a) power which resides in a thing by virtue of its nature. So the power resides in the Holy Spirit because He is in nature God. This is what Paul is speaking of, when he says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Rom 8:11).” Because the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, then the power which is inherent in Him also dwells within us.
b) supernatural power for performing miracles. I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father, (Joh 14:12).” The works that Jesus did, were miracles of supernatural healing, casting out demons, walking on water, and things of that nature (Act 10:38). It was Jesus’ expectation, that because He went to the Father (i.e., the Spirit could not be given until He had gone to His Father, Joh 16:7), that then anyone who believed in Him would not only have supernatural power for performing miracles, but that he would exercise that power.
It is the theology of some of the denominations in the Church that supernatural miracles passed away when the apostles passed away. I personally believe that doctrine arose to explain the absence of supernatural miracles in our midst. It was not the teaching of Jesus or the apostles, and weren’t we supposed to hold fast the things we received from them (2 The 2:15), and walk in the way they walked (1 Cor 11:1, 1 Joh 2:6)? Yes!
The purpose for the power is clear: it is to witness to Jesus. It is to point to Him, to glorify Him. If a great miracle is done in the name of Jesus, that gives weight to the unbelievers standing by watching, that the gospel of Jesus is in fact TRUE. It is not to make a name for oneself, to get money, or to tickle the fancy of others by seeing something amazing.
But just because people have used power wrongly in the past, does not make it either obsolete, unnecessary, or non- existent. Paul in 1 Cor 12- 13- 14 corrected the improper use of power in the church at Corinth, but he did not discourage it just because ignorant men were using it improperly. He just instructed them so that it would be exercised properly, with order, respect, and decorum from now on. Likewise, we should not reject this aspect of the Holy Spirit in our lives, because some people have given it a distasteful name. Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit because He knew we would need Him in all His aspects in order to witness to Him. Effectively. 🙂
c) moral power and excellence of soul. This is what is meant, when Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Gal 5:16). The Holy Spirit gives us the moral strength needed (by creating a new heart within us) to walk in His statutes, and to keep His judgments and do them (Eze 36:27). The fruit of the Spirit starts to grow in our lives, which the mere exhortation to obey the Law cannot produce, but which keeps the Law, because Love is the Spirit of the Law (Gal 5:22). The Law is the written expression of God’s Holy nature. Therefore the Law is not separated from the HOLY Spirit; the Spirit and the Law are not opposed to each other. But the Law needs the Spirit in order to be walked out in a person’s life. 🙂
d) power and influence which is inherent with riches, numbers, or armies, forces and hosts. The Spirit, in other words, can wield the same influence over persons or situations or nations that wealth, numbers, or superior force usually does (Mar 13:9-11). This is because the favor of God rests on His children, and He goes before us and is our rear guard. It is through our witness, both of our words and our lives of obedience and holiness, that His work, His plan, His purpose is accomplished in the world. Therefore His ability (dunamis) provides for the accomplishment of His sovereign will.
Before I close, I just want to mention that ever since Acts 1:11, we have been waiting for the return of Jesus. And He will return, when we have witnessed to Jesus to the ends of the earth. Being witnesses is in fact the only reason we are still in this world, once we have been saved. Because we could die tomorrow and spend eternity with God, so we are not still here awaiting salvation. But others are. A witness is someone who just tells, from their perspective, what he has seen and heard. That’s it! We are not to keep silent, nor is it our responsibility to make sure that the people who have heard our testimony have the response to it that we would wish them to. That is God’s responsibility, and I am so happy to leave it in His capable hands!