The Promise

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them … 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say … 16 This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”  (Acts 2:1-17)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:13-14)
When Jesus appeared after his resurrection to the first church in Jerusalem, he commanded them to “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:19-22). He gave them a taster of the Day of Pentecost, which was coming ten days later. When Jesus founded the first church in Jerusalem, the first thing that he did was to focus their eyes on the Promise of God.

There are around 8,000 promises in the Old Testament. That’s roughly one for every three verses of Scripture. Yet there is something so vital about God’s promise to fill his people with his Holy Spirit that the Greek New Testament refers to it several times as the promise” – that is, as the one Old Testament promise that encompasses them all. Jesus says that being filled with the Holy Spirit is “the promise” of God in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8. Peter agrees that being filled with the Holy Spirit is the promise” of God in Acts 2:39. The Apostle Paul echoes this when he says in Galatians 3:14 that the reason Jesus redeemed us is “so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

How much do you live in the good of that promise? If somebody witnessed your life, would they guess that being filled with the Holy Spirit is “the promise” of God your Father to you, or that it is merely one promise among many? Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is described as “wind” (since he is invisible yet very powerful) and as “fire” (since he comes to burn up all trace of sin from our hearts). As a result, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first church on the Day of Pentecost, they heard the sound of a rushing wind and saw what seemed to be flames of fire resting on each of their heads. We aren’t to expect this every time a person is filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:45-47 clarifies that the enduring signs of Pentecost are that people speak in tongues and worship freely, not that they hear wind and see fire. But those extra signs were given on the Day of Pentecost to make it really clear that “the promise” was no longer a distant hope. It had become reality in the here-and-now. Because of the life, death, resurrection and glorious ascension of Jesus, the Lord has fired the starting pistol on a new era for humanity. He now pours out his Holy Spirit on everybody who follows him!
  1. What has your experience of the Holy Spirit been so far in your Christian journey?
  2. Would you describe him as central to your daily life with Jesus, or as one promise among many?
  3. Throughout this week, we will be exploring how we can all be filled and refilled by the Holy Spirit – but why wait for the rest of the week? Why not ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit today?
Father God, I thank you for your promise that you will fill your followers to overflowing with your Holy Spirit if they ask you. I am asking you right now! I truly believe that this is “the promise” that you have given me – not just one promise among many but the one that encompasses them all. I therefore claim that promise now through the blood of Jesus, shed for me. Please empower me to live a Holy-Spirit-filled life for you every day. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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