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Lesson 4: The Promise of the Holy Spirit *

Introduction: Have you ever been promised something that you really wanted? A job promotion? A gift of money? Marriage? A new car? A vacation? How did you like anticipating the gift? I don't know about you, but I get great enjoyment out of the anticipation. Sometimes, I confess, the anticipation turned out to be as good as the actual gift - maybe better! Sometimes, I find that I was anticipating the wrong gift! This week our lesson is about anticipating the full power of God in our life. Let's race right into our study and find out what that means!

  1. The Pouring

    1. Read Joel 2:28. The text starts out "And afterward." What does that mean? (At a very basic level, it means "not now.")

      1. Let's skip down to Joel 2:31. What is the "great and dreadful day of the Lord?" (That is a clear reference to the Second Coming of Jesus.)

    2. Let's look again at Joel 2:28. We have a general time reference that this is "not now," but before the Second Coming. How does that relate to the time in which we living? Are we living in the time period described by Joel? (Yes. Read Acts 2:14-16. The time was Pentecost and Peter says that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. We are going to hold off until next week to study Pentecost. But, the point is that we are living between the time of Pentecost and the Second Coming.)

    3. What lesson do you find in Joel 2:28 about who will be filled with the Holy Spirit? (All receive the gift of the Holy Spirit: young and old, men and women.)

      1. What kind of gifts are given? (Prophesy, dreams and visions.)

    4. Read Joel 2:29. Why does Joel emphasize that the Holy Spirit will be given to "both men and women?" (We have a controversy over the role of women in the church. This text tells us that the Holy Spirit will pour His power into women. This should cause anyone who thinks women cannot be used fully by God to pause and question whether they are fighting God's work for the last days. This is something worth considering.)

      1. Why does Joel 2:29 refer to "servants?"(The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us that Joel 2:29 would be better translated, "and even on the male and female servants." This means that God will use all ages, all genders and all social classes as instruments of His power.)

        1. Would that include you?

    5. Let's continue with this prophecy. Read Joel 2:30-31. Have these "wonders" happened? (Certainly these things have happened on a regional basis. Many readers may recall these events being reported in the New England area of the United States about 100 years ago. While that may be part of the "wonders" of this prophecy, I trust that not even Americans believe that God had only them in mind when He gave this prophecy to Joel! My bet is that these are either world-wide events yet to come, or events that happen near the same time in so many regions of the world that everyone familiar with this prophecy is alerted.)

  2. The Baptism

    1. Read Matthew 3:11-12. John the Baptist is speaking here. Who is he describing? (The text of this chapter makes clear he is describing Jesus. See also John 1:32-36.)

      1. What does Matthew 3:11-12 say that Jesus will do? (Baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Gather wheat and burn the chaff.)

        1. Is this an accurate prophecy? Has it proven to be true?

      2. Read John 4:1-2. How do you explain this text in light of John the Baptist's prophecy? It says Jesus did not baptize.

      3. Read John 16:7-8. How do you explain this text in light of John the Baptist's prophecy? It says Jesus must leave before the Holy Spirit comes.

        1. John the Baptist predicts that Jesus will baptize people with the Holy Spirit, and it turns out that Jesus did not baptize and He had to leave before the Holy Spirit could come. Was the Baptist just wrong?

    2. Let's look at Matthew 3:11-12 again. Was John the Baptist right about Jesus burning up the chaff? (John the Baptist paints a picture of Jesus that is true on several levels. First, we think of water and fire as cleansing agents. Jesus' death made our baptisms meaningful. We go down in a "watery grave" to commemorate Jesus going into the grave, and we come out of the water to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. (See Romans 6:3-4) Thus, Jesus is the ultimate "baptizer." Second, Jesus cleanses us with His blood given as a sacrifice on our behalf. ( Hebrews 9:14). Third, when Jesus comes again He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous and cleanse the earth with fire. ( Revelation 20:9-10) Last, none of this would have happened, the Holy Spirit would have no work to do, if Jesus had not triumphed over sin at the cross.)

      1. Let's bring this back to the issue of the timing of the gift of the Holy Spirit. What do the series of questions I just asked suggest about the timing of the gift of the Holy Spirit? (The great work of the Holy Spirit in humans takes place after Jesus' resurrection and before the Second Coming. In other words, the time in which we live right now!)

    3. Read John 7:37-39. Again we have this picture of Jesus and water. How is it that we get the life-giving, purifying water that Jesus promised? (Through the Holy Spirit.)

      1. What does this text say about the timing of the gift of the Holy Spirit? (It tells us that this gift comes after Jesus is "glorified" - after Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Again, we see that the time is now!)

  3. The Promise

    1. Read John 14:25-27. We have repeatedly determined that we are living in the time that the Holy Spirit has been promised. What, exactly, does this text suggest this promise means? How will the Holy Spirit act in our lives? (I don't know about you, but when I think of the Holy Spirit I'm thinking about an explosion - an explosion of power and miracles. Here Jesus seems to be saying just the opposite. The Holy Spirit will bring peace into our life. He will do it by reminding us of what Jesus taught and help us to understand those teachings. I can understand why the KJV calls the Holy Spirit the "Comforter" in this text.)

    2. Read Acts 1:4-5. What does it mean to be baptized by the Holy Spirit? What was Jesus promising to His disciples?

    3. Read Acts 1:6. What did the disciples want Jesus to promise them?

      1. Do you think that they made a mental connection between the Holy Spirit and their status as rulers on earth? (This reminds me so much of my attitude: "Give me the Holy Spirit so that our local church can turn this town (state, country) upside down. Focus all eyes here.")

    4. Read Acts 1:7-8. How does Jesus answer this request for personal power?

      1. If the disciples knew what would happen to them during the rest of their life, would they have been disappointed? (Oh yes! They were never rulers here. They were persecuted by the rulers here. They were victims of the power of earthly rulers.)

      2. Did Jesus do what He promised them? ( Acts 1:8 promises that the power of the Holy Spirit will come to help them be witnesses to Jesus' life and teachings. Jesus did exactly what He promised.)

    5. Friend, you are living in the time when the Holy Spirit has been promised. Have you tapped into that power to understand and remember the words of God? Have you requested that power to witness to others? Have you invited the Holy Spirit into your life to give you peace? Or, are you looking for signs and miracles that bring glory to you?

  4. Next week: The Promise Fulfilled.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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