Every Thought Captive

The Word and the Witnesses

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen. He presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:1-8

They seem to be a rite of passage for becoming a youth pastor.  Or maybe it's a merit badge for middle school interns.  But the Friday night, church gymnasium lock-in has winnowed out more than a few.  Hardly ever is there an Adult Seniors lock-in.  It's equally predictable that at some point between "lights out" and "Praise The Lord, it's over", someone will roll out a ghost story. We can't help ourselves.  We're captivated by the murky mysteries beyond what we can see. Most years, Americans buy more Ouija boards than Monopoly games, and in the United Kingdom there were recent fears of a shortage at Christmas.

It's no wonder there is often confusion and even consternation when Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity is even commonly called the Holy Ghost in many traditions. But in the months between the Lord's passion and His ascension, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come upon all believers, and lead the expansion of the Kingdom of God until Jesus returns. On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples. Then He reminds them again before He leaves. Luke mentions the Holy Spirit three times in the first eight verses of his second volume.

So what is the role of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and the expansion of the church? It seems that, said most simply, the Holy Spirit proclaims the gospel.

First, He proclaims the gospel to us.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of unbelief so that a soul sees the Savior.  The calling from death to life is by the power of the Holy Spirit based on Christ's finished work.  It is by grace alone through the power of the Holy Spirit that any of us can be born again.

The Holy Spirit also proclaims the gospel in us.  It is the Spirit's work, through the means of grace, that we grow up into the fullness of Christ. The Spirit holds us fast that we may abide in Jesus.

And then, it is the Holy Spirit proclaiming the gospel through us that advances the Church to every tribe and every tongue, until the end of the age.

Those frightened fisherman gathered in the upper room would live the rest of their lives remembering their Lord's words.  So can we, because of the help from the Helper.

 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:25-27).

About the Author

Photograph of Mark Fulmer

Mark Fulmer


Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.