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Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Topic: The Holy Spirit And The Mission Of The Gentiles
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Recognise that the coming of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of Jesus promise,
ii. Identify the signs associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit,
iii. Identify the major points in Peter’s sermon,
iv. Recognise the fact that the Holy Spirit is still at work today.
The Ascension (Acts 1:6 – 11)
The Ascension in the context of the scripture simply describes the manner in which Jesus Christ was taken into heaven. After his last appearance, he was with the apostles in Jerusalem. They asked him about the time the Lord would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus made them realize that God himself is the only one who knows the time and then season, not human beings. The Important thing is that they would receive power and after that the Holy Spirit would come upon them. They would be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the world. When he finished the address, he was taken up to heaven.
As the apostles were gazing up to heaven, two men in white robes said to them:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).
i. The ascension indicated that Jesus would no longer be with the disciples in the flesh (physically) but in the spirit.
As Christ departed, the Holy Spirit was sent to take leadership positions in the life of believers. For Christians, it is the Holy Spirit that would give them guidance and courage in evangelism and other works of God.
The Holy Spirit At Pentecost (Acts 2:1 – 41)
The word Pentecost is a Greek word for fifty. For the Jews, the Pentecost was another name for the feast of weeks. This feast was celebrated fifty days from the Passover feast. It was one of the three main feasts of the Jews, during Pentecost; every male child must appear before the Lord. It was in agricultural feast to mark the completion of wheat during which they gave thanks and praise to God who made it possible for the crops to grow and the fruits ripen. They would then use the occasion to welcome the new year of agriculture.
It was on this Pentecost day the apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were all with on accord in one place, when a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind filled the house where they gathered. There appeared on their head, tongues as fire which sat upon each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they started speaking in other tongues as the spirit gave them utterances. There were many pilgrims from different nations of the world in Jerusalem that day. They converged together to listen to the apostles but they were amazed as each heard the apostles speak in his own language. While many of the multitude wondered on, some mocked them, saying they were already drunk.
Peter stood up and refuted the charge of drunkenness. He said they were not drunk as the people had thought, but they were speaking in tongues in line with the out pouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel that, on the last day He would pour His Spirit upon all flesh, people would prophesy and there would be signs and wonders. He further recounted the signs and wonders God had accomplished through Jesus Christ and his crucifixion and resurrection.
To support the resurrection of Jesus, Peter quoted the Psalm of David which says, “For thou will not abandon my soul to Hades nor let the Holy one see corruption.”
Peter said David was speaking about the resurrection of Christ that he would not be abandoned to Hades; that his flesh would not see corruption. Peter said the people were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Peter concluded his speech, the people listening to him were touched and they inquired from him what they should do. Peter advised them to repent from their sin and be baptised for the forgiveness of their sins. About three thousand people repented at the Pentecost and they were all baptised. They joined the disciples and received the Holy Spirit.
The Significance of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
i. Prior to the Pentecost day, the apostles were afraid; it was receiving the Holy Spirit that day of Pentecost that gave them the courage and boldness to preach the gospel.
ii. The miracle whereby the apostles spoke in tongues and the nations of the world around understood their languages symbolizes the universalism of the gospel.
iii. The Pentecost marked the beginning of evangelism as that was the day the apostles started preaching the gospel and after Peter concluded his speech, about three thousand would were won for Christ.
iv. The coming of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the Christian Church and the continued presence of Jesus among the disciples and believers. Jesus is continually active in all the churches who serve God in truth and in spirit.
v. Peter’s speech on the Pentecost day helped in convincing the people that Jesus was the expected messiah and this led most of them to repent and be baptised.
vi. It is pertinent to note it was the same Holy Spirit that came down the Pentecost that is still working in churches today and through the power of the holy Spirit, most of the nations that were idol worshippers with a lot of in human practices have been converted by the church through evangelism.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
i. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”. Discuss the:
(a) Fulfillment of this promise and the reaction of the people who witnessed it.
(b) Of what significance is the descent of the Holy Spirit to the church?
ii. Give an account of how Phillip preached the gospel message to the Ethiopian Eunuch.
iii. In what two ways was this episode Important to Christianity?
iv. Give an account of the work of Phillip in Samaria. In what two ways were the activities of the Holy Spirit manifested in Samaria.
v. Narrate the events on the day of Pentecost. State two ways in which the Holy Spirit still influences the life of Christians today.
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