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Chapter 12 - The Kingdom Authenticated
A key element of the kingdom was to be the work of the Holy Spirit. This work would be in ‘power’ and a convincing sign that God was establishing the kingdom. There were two main periods in the history of Israel where there was an abundance of miraculous signs, the exodus from Egypt and ministry of Elijah. With Jesus we also see an abundance of miraculous works.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. - Luke 7:22
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: - John 20:30
Jesus had given his disciples the ability to do miraculous signs as well.
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. - Luke 9:1-2
The disciples had grown so confident in this powerful ability that they saw in it the same power that Elijah wielded.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? - Luke 9:54
Jesus in describing the work of the Holy Spirit to the disciples explained that the Spirit 'dwelleth' (present tense) with them, but would be 'in' them (future tense). This describes two general manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The first is for the working of signs and miracles which authenticate that God is at work. The second is a vital 'abiding presence' of God the Holy Spirit.
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. - John 14:17
When Jesus addresses the disciples just before he ascends into heaven, he tells them to wait for a few days because they will be 'baptized' with the Holy Spirit. (Note: it is unfortunate that the translators chose to transliterate the Greek word baptizo as baptize rather than translate it as 'immerse'. The word in Greek was used for dying wool, washing dishes, and ships that sunk)
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. - Acts 1:3-5
Ten days after the ascension of Jesus was the annual celebration of Pentecost. Pentecost was the memorial of the law being given to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai. It is interesting to note that on the same day the new covenant was offered and authenticated by the work of the Holy Spirit.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. - Acts 2:3-4
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: - Acts 2:14-18
The Apostles demonstrated the continuance of signs and miracles authenticating the ministry of Jesus and the continuing offer of the kingdom.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. - Acts 3:6-7
Paul was called primarily as an apostle to the gentiles. However, he also would declare Jesus to the Jews.
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. - Romans 15:18-19
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: - 1 Corinthians 2:4
The writer of Hebrews mentions that the Hebrews had ‘tasted of the power of the world to come’.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, - Hebrews 6:4-5
The supernatural ‘gifts’ were referred to by Paul.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: - 1 Corinthians 12:4-10
It may be that these supernatural gifts were only given to Jewish believers in anticipation of the potential kingdom as well as given to gentile believers as can be seen with Cornelius which occasioned a debate in Jerusalem as to whether the gentile believers should be compelled to observe the law.
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. - Acts 10:45
It is difficult to imagine what else could have been done to demonstrate to Israel that God was real and offering to have his kingdom established. However, the human ability to disregard important matters was described by Jesus using the illustration of the rich man and Lazarus.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. - Luke 16:29-31
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