The Gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10


If several years of blogging have taught me anything, it’s that you can’t know what people think about a given spiritual topic until you write about it and they react to what you’ve written.  For me, this has been the case with “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 10:45.  I think one can legitimately argue that the phrase means the same thing in 10:45 as it does in Acts 2:38 (though I don’t agree).

However, once somebody has made the argument, I think they’re locked into insisting that the gift of the Holy Spirit is miraculous spiritual gifts in both places.  That’s the second-best interpretation of Acts 2:38 (better than a non-miraculous personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is a Romans 8 concept rather than an Acts 2 concept).  In Acts 10:45, though, it’s far and away the best reading of the text, to the point where I don’t think there’s a moderately close second.  As a result, in my first post on the issue on Tuesday, I hand-waved at the argument, assumed that everybody would agree with me, and moved on.

I did have friends, though, who concurred that the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is salvation, but argued that the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10 also must be salvation, essentially because the same phrase is used in both locations.  I see the point, but I think there are serious problems with the argument. Continue reading

The Guarantee of the Holy Spirit

Somewhat to my surprise, my post yesterday on the gift of the Holy Spirit generated a fair amount of attention and discussion.  Though I wasn’t able to participate in the discussion as fully as I would have liked (I can only write a limited number of words per day, and the elders here want to see that output directed toward sermons and posts rather than ephemeral online comments), I did see one comment that introduced a topic worthy of a post all its own.  It had to do with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself chatting with a friend online about a very familiar subject to me, the meaning of the phrase “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts 2:38 and 10:45.  I literally spent decades arguing the point with my father, as part of our ongoing discussion about the nature of the Holy Spirit generally.  Because the subject does come up sometimes, I thought others might find my conclusions on the matter to be of interest. Continue reading

With God’s Word


Do you want God to speak to you?  Would you want to hear the audible voice of God? Maybe sometimes we wish God would speak to us audibly. We want to hear His voice. After all, there are certain preachers who claim that God speaks to them. They say, “God told me this,” or “Jesus was speaking to me the other day.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hear God?

Or maybe we feel like our circumstances and difficulties are so unique that only direct audible speech could guide us. We have tough decisions to make and wish God would shout from on high and tell us exactly what to do.

Yet, I highly doubt those preachers actually hear God’s voice. Some of them are truly hucksters and liars; others are likely just overanxious leaders thoughtlessly using charismatic jargon.

Furthermore, I don’t think we would necessarily enjoy God speaking to us audibly. The Bible talks about people God spoke to directly and they did not like it very much.

For one reason, God’s voice was a terrifying experience. Folks are fond of the Elijah story where God spoke in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). We figure we could handle that. But that is more the exception than the rule. God spoke to Job from a whirlwind (Job 38:1; 40:6). In the book of Job, great winds blew over houses (Job 1:19)! We forget God spoke on Mount Sinai and that the Israelites did NOT want God to speak directly to them (Exodus 20:18-21). Similarly, at the voice of God, men fell down afraid (Matthew 17:5-6) and even mistook His voice for thunder (John 12:28-29).

Secondly, when God spoke to people, He did not talk to them about what they wanted to talk about. He said what He wanted to say. He told Abraham to start moving cross-country without naming a destination (Genesis 12:1). The Bible does not indicate that Abraham had been praying about making a move in his life. Or God directed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). There’s no way that had been a question on Abraham’s heart! Job faced terrible circumstances and he thought he was ready to demand answers from God (Job 23:1-7). But once God started talking, Job could only cover his mouth (Job 40:4). God was not inclined to answer a single one of Job’s complaints (Job 38-42).

No, God does not speak to His people audibly today. And since God is all-wise, I’m going to say that is not a bad thing. Know that God has already spoken to you! He speaks to His people every day and any time of day through His Word, the Bible. God speaks through the Scriptures, the Bible. The 66 books of the Bible (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament) are inspired – God breathed!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16.

The 66 books of the Bible are not called inspired because they are in the Bible. Rather, they are in the Bible because they are inspired. The Bible is the collection, or library, of Scripture – God-breathed writings.

There is no other God and there is no other Scripture. The Bible is God’s revealed truth, His revealed will for our lives.

With God’s word, we are shown our world, how to understand it, and how to operate in it correctly. With God’s word Christians receive their standard for Faith and practice. With God’s word we have guidance for our lives: knowledge, wisdom, and counsel. With God’s word the great questions are answered: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Not only this, the Scripture is the standard we are given whereby to judge anyone who claims that God is speaking audibly to them (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 14:37)! Great care and discernment is required when listening to anyone who claims that God is speaking to them.

As we read the Bible, study it, meditate upon it, and devote our heart to it, the Holy Spirit works through the word in our lives. The word of God is the Spirit’s sword, after all (Ephesians 6:17). It is living and double-edged (Hebrews 4:12). When we take it up, it is He who wields it to

  • pierce our hearts
  • slay sin, error, and doubt
  • wage the great war for the souls of men against the evil one

Instead of waiting for thunder, read your Bible. The Bible is God’s true, constant, accessible, and near voice in our lives. Let’s start every day reading it. And let’s be sure to launch out on a new week with God’s Word.

By Andrew Roberts