Dr. E. Dale Locke
Series: DDIY – Don’t Do It Yourself (Life is Better With Some Help), Week 1: So, What If I Told You…
Do you ever look at Christians around you – or even at yourself – and wonder why there is sometimes so little difference between Christians and people who don’t know Christ? The Holy Spirit is the key to seeing a difference.
- May 15 is Pentecost Sunday, which is the birth of the Church, when the Holy Spirit came. Read about this in the passages below, which were written by Luke to follow up after he wrote the Gospel of Luke.
- Read Acts 1:1-11:
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
- What thoughts or questions come to you as you read this passage?
- Why are some Christians afraid of (or nervous about) the Holy Spirit?
- Why did Jesus ask his followers to wait in Jerusalem for a while, before going to preach about Him to the ends of the earth? What were they waiting for, and why was it important to wait?
- Read Acts 2:1-4 and 42-47:
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…..
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
- How did the coming of the Holy Spirit impact Jesus’ followers? What changes do you notice in them?
- Peter is a model of the difference between trying to do religion without the Spirit, vs. following God with the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, Peter was fearful at Jesus’ crucifixion and even denied knowing Jesus. In Acts 2, just a little over 50 days later, Peter got up and preached a powerful sermon boldly in public, which brought 3,000 people to faith in Jesus Christ. What does this tell you about life with the Holy Spirit?
- Pastor Dale noted several distinguishing characteristics of the Christians after the Holy Spirit came:
Spiritual Maturity – People who have the Holy Spirit put priority on meeting regularly with other Christians to help them learn more about their faith. They are teachable and eager to grow. How is this characteristic evident in your life?
Passionate Worship – What are some ways to engage in authentic worship of God in daily life?
Authentic Community – Spirit-filled Christians don’t do life alone. Why not?
Ministry, Service, and Giving – A person without the Holy Spirit tends to be focused mostly on themselves and their own wants. How did that change among these Christ followers after the Holy Spirit’s coming?
Outreach – One of the signs that the Holy Spirit is present in a church is that new people are coming to faith in Christ. Why do some churches see so little of that?
- A Mourning Dove is gentle, soft, quiet, non-territorial, and stays faithful to its mate for life. A pigeon is sort-of a “dove imposter”. Pigeons are not soft or quiet, they tend to be very territorial and aggressive, and they don’t have a commitment to anyone but themselves. Pastor Dale used this as a metaphor for life in the Spirit vs. trying to do faith on your own without the Holy Spirit. Pastor Dale said that some of us only have the pigeon, but what we really want is the dove. Describe the difference between doing the Christian life with the Holy Spirit vs. without it.
(Book recommendation: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer)
- Read John 14:15-17:
“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever– 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
The word “advocate” here means “a supporter, a counselor, a coach”. Which of these words best represents the aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry that you feel a need for in your current stage of life? Explain why you chose that word.
- In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul describes some Christians who have “a form of godliness, but deny its power.” What does he mean by that? How do we avoid that?