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The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of the Disciples

We can see the same pattern repeated as God not only expands the Church geographically but also sovereignly includes Samaritans and Gentiles among those who call Jesus Lord. When the Church is scattered after Stephen’s death, Phillip visits the Samaritans. He preaches about the kingdom and about Jesus, and then he heals the sick and sets demoniacs free, leading many to believe and then receive water baptism. When the apostles hear about this early fulfillment of Jesus’ words, which are recorded in Acts 1:8, Peter and John visit them. “When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:15–16). It is likely that the presence and power of the Spirit have been manifested through various gifts. Later, when Peter is staying in Joppa with Simon the Tanner, he experiences a vision that teaches him to never call any person unclean. He is then told to go with the men who were just arriving to take him to Cornelius, a Roman centurion! When Peter begins to preach to these Gentiles, he tells them that God does not show favoritism and that Jesus had been anointed by the Holy Spirit, then healed people and set them free of the devil. God sovereignly interrupts Peter’s sermon by baptizing the group in the Holy Spirit with various manifestations of the Spirit, including speaking in tongues. The Jewish believers, with Peter, are amazed that even Gentiles, like us, had received the Holy Spirit. These new believers receive water baptism in the name of Jesus after God’s action. The elders of the Jerusalem Church have difficulty accepting this new reality but move toward acceptance by the conclusion of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). Through God’s sovereign action, a Jewish sect became a worldwide religion.

I believe that one crucial reason for the power of the Holy Spirit is ministry.

Saul, persecuting the Church after Stephen’s martyrdom, is stopped and blinded on the road to Damascus. He is then shocked to discover that the one he had been fighting against was God’s Son and his rightful Lord. Only after seeing a vision and being reassured does Ananias lay his hands on Saul, healing and transforming him and ending his physical and spiritual blindness. Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit and is then baptized with water. He immediately begins to preach the Gospel that he had opposed in Damascus. He spends a considerable time reaching a new understanding of his own Jewish background and this new reality before becoming Jesus’ chief missionary to the Gentiles.

The book of Acts continues to record healings and deliverances that are similar to the work of Jesus yet individually different. Paul tells a man in Lystra, who had been lame from birth, to get up—and he does! This results in Paul and Barnabas almost being worshiped, until Jewish opponents arrive. In other cities, a fortune-telling slave girl is set free, two people are raised from the dead, and a shipwrecked apostle heals every sick person on an island after he himself had been bitten by a viper yet did not swell up or die.

I do not believe that Christians are able to live the Christian life on their own steam.

I believe that one crucial reason for the power of the Holy Spirit, along with the good gifts that he distributes freely in our lives, is ministry. The Holy Spirit also baptizes us into the Body of Christ, gives us assurance of salvation, sets us apart, reminds us of Jesus’ words, and leads us into all truth. We are not sinless, we are often wounded, with several limitations, but God’s Holy Spirit of truth can enable us to so preach so that people are converted and to pray that people are set free and made whole, as the Body of Christ is built up. God wants all Christians to use their talents and gifts for God’s glory.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2016

About the Author: Peter Ostrander, Ph.D. (Penn State University, 1970), taught physics at Penn State, Fayette for 33 years. In 1973 he made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit one year later during the charismatic renewal. He pursued studies at Trinity School for Ministry and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1986. For 21 years, he served St. George’s Episcopal Church in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania as their Vicar. Peter grew interested in healing ministry, joined the Order of Saint Luke, and started a chapter South of Pittsburgh. He presented workshops at regional meetings, then retired from Penn State and served 6 years as Director of Region 2, attended national meetings and wrote articles for Sharing Magazine. Because Peter wanted OSL to remain true to the Holy Scriptures and the example of the early Church, he wrote New Testament Healing (Xulon Press, 2011). Peter has also served as a board member for the Healing Center at Shrine Mont and has been active in healing at Servant Song Ministries, a retreat center in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

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