ODJ: the Spirit’s first gift
July 14, 2014
READ: Acts 2:1-12
Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability (v.4).
We often focus on the more controversial aspects of Acts 2. We question whether the Holy Spirit continues to work in the same way today, or if the miracles found in the passage have ceased; and we wonder if such gifts are necessary for salvation.
But there’s something important we often overlook: the disciples who gathered together were all of a homogeneous religious and ethnic background (v.7). On the day of Pentecost, however, they suddenly spoke in the myriad languages of the known world (vv.4,8-11). Of all the gifts the Spirit could have bestowed, the very first was the ability to communicate with people crossculturally. These early Christians were given the chance to reach out to those who were different from them in nearly every way.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, for Scripture reveals God’s perfect preparations for the miraculous event. We see Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, ministering to Syro-Phoenecians (Mark 7:24-30), Samaritans (John 4:1-26,39-42) and Romans (Luke 7:1-10)—scandalising the religious establishment of that time. Later, John wrote in Revelation 7:9-10 of a future time when people of every tribe, nation, people and language will stand at the throne of Christ, united in worship. It’s God’s heart—and His plan—for the gospel to transcend all boundaries.
I often ask myself, Does my heart reflect Jesus’ heart? Am I reaching out to those who are different from me—preaching in word and demonstrating in deed that God’s grace transcends all cultural and racial boundaries? I’m often disappointed by my answers. Still, the passage in Acts 2 inspires me—reminding me that God has powerfully equipped all believers in Jesus to fulfil His crosscultural plan! —Peter Chin
365-day plan› Mark 6:1-13
Read Acts 8:26-40 and 16:11-15 and note the diverse kinds of people the early church reached.
In what ways has God empowered you to reach people of varied cultures and backgrounds? How does the Holy Spirit provide you with encouragement as you reach out?