Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Great Commission

In the Gospel of John 20:19-23 we have the apostle John's account of the great commission, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Oh I know that whenever the great commission is mentioned, most people think of Matthew 28:19, or the accounts in Mark 16 and Luke 24. But I want to tell you that John mentioned it too. The key verse and words of the Lord Jesus are found in verse 20, "...when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost..." Perhaps this is the reason Apostle Paul, in Acts 19:2 asked the disciples of John he found at Ephesus "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" 

Receiving the Holy Ghost is not an option. The Lord Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, " shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." It is also recorded in John 7:37-39 that the Lord told His disciples that if they were thirsty to come to Him to drink. He said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Verse 39 tells us that He was speaking ("...of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.") Make no doubt about it, He wants us, no He commands us to "Receive...  the Holy Ghost..."  Receiving the Holy Ghost is not an option!

When the apostles and other disciples were tarrying for the Holy Ghost, the Bible says in Acts 2:1-4, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." They received the baptism of the Holy Ghost that day. You might argue that when you were confirmed into the Christian faith, that the preacher told you that you now had the Holy Ghost. But if you did not receive the Holy Ghost as they did on the day of Pentecost, you did not receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

In Acts 10 we read about the first Gentiles to receive the Holy Ghost. I am persuaded that those Jewish brethren who accompanied Peter to Cornelius' house that day would probably not have believed the Gentiles could receive the Holy Ghost without first converting to Judaism except that, " they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." You should read the entire story of their conversion in Acts 10, it is thrilling! In Acts 11 when the Apostle Peter gave account to the church council of Jewish Elders for his having visited a Gentile home (which he had told Cornelius in Acts 10:28 that is was not lawful for a Jew to visit a Gentile's home) the Bible tells us in Acts 11:2-4 that "they that were of the circumcision contended with him..." Then "Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them..." (I won't give the full details in this blog, if you are interested, you can read it for yourselves). The Apostle Peter commanded those who had received the Holy Ghost "to be baptized in the name of the Lord." ( See Acts 10:48)

After Peter explained his vision and told of Cornelius' vision he said, in Acts 11:15-17, "as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" In Acts 11:18 the Bible says, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." To think that God has granted to the Gentiles "repentance unto life!" That means me! Hallelujah!

Yes, God wants you, no He commands you to receive the Holy Ghost. The Apostle Peter as recorded in Acts 2:38-39 said to his hearers on the Day of Pentecost, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." It is a promise that if you will repent, turn from your own wicked ways and turn to God and His righteous ways, if you will be baptized in Jesus precious name, (the only "name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." See Acts 4:12) God will give you the baptism of the Holy Ghost which He has commanded you to receive. If you have not yet done so, obey the gospel and God will perform His word to you.  (See Acts 5:32) It was Jesus after all who gave the great commission, to "Receive ye the Holy Ghost..."

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