“To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
Jesus Christ was alive on the earth after the Resurrection in His resurrection body for forty days. During that time He was seen by over 500 people. We have several resurrection appearances up to the Ascension; eleven are recorded in the Bible. He appeared to Mary Magdalene and several other women. Then, He made an appearance to Peter. Later He appeared to a couple of believers on the road to Emmaus, people whose names are not known to us. Then He appeared to ten of His disciples. Thomas wasn’t there. (Mark 16: Luke 24: John 20) Then He appeared to the eleven disciples (Judas had hung himself) and then to seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee, then to 500 believers at once, and then to His step brother, James. Finally, there was the appearance at the Ascension. (Luke 24:50-53)
And speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God is a reference to God’s spiritual kingdom, but the coming Church Age in particular. We know this from verse 5 where Jesus prophesied the baptism of the Holy Spirit that would occur on the day of Pentecost. During those forty days Jesus was teaching His disciples about the Church Age. The baptism of the Spirit begins the Church Age. Matthew 16:18 says the Church is future. Acts 1:5, 2:3 records the actual event. Acts 11:15-17 says the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place on the day of Pentecost. (I Corinthians 12:13)
“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised. “Which,” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord,” is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Verse 4 begins the post-resurrection ministry of Christ. Why did Jesus stay forty days? He stayed because during those forty days He covered the whole realm of doctrine necessary for the beginning of the Church Age. Two facets of this promise are given. The first is given in verse 5. The second is given in verse 8.
Verse 5 is a contrast of baptisms. We have two categories of baptisms in these passages. We have ritual baptism, and ritual baptism always involves water, in a ritual baptism water always represents something. For example, in the baptism of Jesus the water represented the plan of God for Christ. When Jesus went into the water he said in effect I will go to the Cross. The water in the baptism of John represented the kingdom of God and when people believed in Christ they were entered into the kingdom of God. John was the herald of the first coming of Christ and the only ritual authorized in John’s ministry was water baptism. The word “baptize” means identification.
When Jesus said “but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” he is referring to an actual identification. This would be in the future and meant that the baptism of the Spirit had not taken place as yet. This is very important because the Church cannot begin until the Baptism of the Spirit begins. There is no church unless you are entered into union with Christ. Never once in the Old Testament anywhere, under any circumstances was the baptism of the Spirit mentioned.
At most there were 120 people who saw the Lord Jesus Christ ascend. Just before He ascended He had several things to say which are of extreme importance to us. One of the things is found in verse 5 and that deals with our union with Christ, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The second thing was also connected with the Holy Spirit and recorded in verse 8, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” This was is a reference to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit leading to the filling of the Holy Spirit. They would be given this power in order to fulfill their responsibility as royal ambassadors to be witnesses for Christ.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is neither seen nor felt. It is a fact stated in the Word of God for us to believe. Technically, it is when the believer is placed into union with Jesus Christ at salvation. There are seven baptisms in the Bible and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is but one of these. The word for baptism in Greek is “baptisma” and literally means “to dip.” It was used to describe the dyeing of a garment or the drawing of wine by dipping the cup into the bowl. Since John the Baptist and Jesus used the word to describe water baptism as submersion, the accurate interpretation of the word is “to dip into or submerge.” (I Corinthians 12:13)
When a person trusts Christ as Savior they are positionally “dipped into” or “submerged” into the “body of Christ.” This, of course, is speaking of positional truth, signifying our union with Christ. Water baptism for believers has always been a picture of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Submersion into water pictures how the believer becomes united with Christ. (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:4-5)
There are seven baptisms in the Scriptures and all are for the purpose of identification. Of these seven, four are ritual identifications and three are actual identifications. In the apostate times in which we live, water baptism (ritual) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (actual) have been distorted into a system of works. Water baptism, for example, is taught by some ministers as a necessity for salvation, which is false doctrine. No one has ever been saved by being submerged in water. The only purpose for water baptism is identification: Identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which it pictures. It was a teaching aid for the early church before the canon of Scripture was completed. As a matter of fact, water baptism is mentioned only once after the historical record in the book of Acts and it is mentioned as a source of division in the church of Corinth. (I Corinthians 1:11-17)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit results in a union which never before existed for the believer. This union with Christ is unique and sets up many potentials for the believer. Being placed in union with Christ is called Positional Sanctification. Positional Sanctification describes our new relationship with God through Christ. Our new relationship is permanent, based on our faith in Christ and it never changes, regardless of the believer’s spiritual condition. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore, sets up the potential for the believer to make his daily experience (Experiential Sanctification) align with his position in Christ (Positional Sanctification). This means that we are to exhibit the character of Jesus Christ on a daily basis by means of the power of the Holy Spirit Who is indwelling us. (John 14:20; I Corinthians 12:12-27)
The filling of the Holy Spirit is for every believer in Christ. The purpose of this filling is to empower the believer to live the Christian Way of Life. When a believer is living the Christian Way of Life, he brings glory and honor to Christ. All believers are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they trust Christ as their Savior. The first time we sin after salvation however, we lose the filling of the Holy Spirit and we are out of fellowship with God. In order to restore both the filling of the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God, we must simply name our known sins to God. (I John 1:9) We are then commanded to move forward with the execution of the Christian Way of Life, which the Scripture calls “walking in the light.” (I John 1:5-10) The filling of the Holy Spirit is potential, depending on the volition (free will) of the believer. It is also a command and literally means “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”
To be filled is to be controlled by or empowered by the Holy Spirit in the same manner as a person is controlled by alcohol when he is intoxicated. We choose to allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives by allowing Him to control our thinking. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ.” This means we must have the Word of God stored in our souls. It is this doctrinal information that the Holy Spirit uses to control our lives. Divine Viewpoint Thinking produces divine production.
The Greek word for “filling” is “pleroo” and has four meanings, which all apply to the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The question of the need to witness for Christ should be obvious to any Christian. There are people without Christ who we can introduce to the Gospel. God is not limited by our lack of faithfulness to share the Gospel. However, in order for us to be obedient, we need to witness for Christ. It is always a great joy to see a person trust Christ as Savior as a result of our witness. (Luke 16:23-26; John 3:18; II Corinthians 5:11)
The most important reason to share the Gospel is that God has commanded us to do so. We are ambassadors for Christ. As His representatives, we have been entrusted with the Gospel, much like Israel was under the Law. We do not want to fail as Israel did in our responsibility to the unsaved. (Mark 16:15; II Timothy 4:1-2; I Corinthians 9:16)
The final reason for witnessing is that it is our privilege as believers. God could have chosen angels to carry the message of salvation but He didn’t. God gave us that privilege. If God loved us so much to send Christ as our substitute, it only makes sense that we would want to share this information with others. (I Thessalonians 2:4,19; II Corinthians 5:19; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16; John 15:8)
God’s plan of salvation was designed in eternity past. Jesus Christ always knew the plan and joyfully executed it. This plan, as you know, called for Jesus Christ to take on human flesh, become a man, live a sinless life and go to the Cross as our substitute. He did exactly that and while still on the Cross, having been judged by God the Father for the sins of the world, He said, “It is finished.” Because Christ did all the salvation work, salvation is a matter of God’s grace. This means that we cannot work for it and we do not deserve it. Salvation is appropriated by faith alone in Christ alone. There was nothing easy about what Christ did for us, but the fact is that God did make the plan of salvation easy, so that anyone can be saved by a simple act of faith. There are over 150 verses in the New Testament alone that tell us that eternal life (salvation) is by faith and faith alone. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)
To be an effective witness it is important that we maintain a good testimony before the world. The world will judge Christianity by how Christians we live. Therefore, if we desire to obey God’s command to be witnesses, we must be credible when we speak of Christ. Therefore, we never want to be a stumbling block to an unbeliever because we are exercising our liberty under grace. (Romans 14:13; I Peter 3:15-16)