THE HOLY SPIRIT AS PROTECTION
By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
A short seven weeks before Pentecost, the Jewish leadership had rejected their Messiah and brutally crucified Him. The people praying in the Upper Room that fiftieth day had reason to believe their lives could be in danger. Many who gathered outside did too. So, what motivated their bravery?
The Holy Spirit covered Jesus’ disciples with protection as Peter preached his first recorded sermon. In addition, the Spirit placed a canopy of protection over the people in the Upper Room. Instead of throwing rocks, a sense of guilt for sinning against God began to settle over the crowd. Peter went on to declare, “God raised [Jesus] from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).
Jesus is the ultimate example of knowing how to bring good out of the worst situations. The very hatred in Jesus’ enemies explains what sent Him to Calvary. Talk about turning evil into good, Jesus died for our sins there and showed us His “great love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). The story climaxed with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and it gave a new meaning to the term, ‘the Cross.’ Yes, the cross of Jesus was a place of death, but it has continued to live in every generation since then as a place of resurrection and new beginnings.
Peter spoke unhindered, making his case by appealing to King David. Peter was obviously a quick learner about how the Holy Spirit would open the apostles’ minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). The Spirit does it here, quoting from Psalm 16: “I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:25-28; Psalm 16:8-11). That divine Presence also included protection.
This is a powerful testimony showing how David achieved so much in His forty-year reign, becoming known as the king after God’s on heart. His secret? He always saw the Lord before His Face and at His right hand. ‘Always’ suggests it was a daily norm for the king; what was invisible became visible to him through the eyes of his heart. The anointing on King’s David’s life had to have been, in New Testament terms, walking daily in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25).
As one would expect, the anointing of the Spirit on King David was very important to him. When he committed adultery with Bathsheba and followed it up with the murder of her husband who was a loyal subject of the king, David’s greatest fear was that God would withdraw the Holy Spirit from him (Psalm 51:11).
The Spirit that worked in the Messiah, David’s greater Son, was far greater than King David’s anointing. Psalm 16 shows it. David did die, and his body had been committed to the earth for a millennium when Peter was preaching. Messiah freely gave His life as the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.
What David prophesied came true and Peter preached it under the canopy of Holy Spirit protection. Israel’s Messiah was raised to life three days later before decomposition could begin; and Peter added, “We are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32).
Peter preached “God had promised David on oath He would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:32). Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise God made to David a thousand years before the event. Yes, the resurrection of Jesus was a fact to Peter and the other apostles, as well as to a large company of other witnesses who saw the Lord.
David also foretold in another prophecy that the resurrected Messiah would ascend into heaven to His Father’s right hand, and Peter preached that too with no one trying to stop him. “Exalted to the right hand of God,” Peter proclaimed, “Jesus has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out “’what you now see and hear’” (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:33). To seal the case, Peter added that King David did not ascend into heaven; hence, he could not have been speaking about himself. Yet, David wrote, “The Lord said to my Lord.” It is a message in Hebrew that reads “Yahweh said to Adonai,” or “God said to God.” The Heavenly Father is speaking to His only begotten Son, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1; Mark 12:36; Acts 2:34-35). This language is clear that God-the-Heavenly-Father was talking to God-His-Son, who is Jesus. Psalm 110 is timeless language that points directly to the Trinity.
Peter wrapped-up His indictment by saying, “Let all Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36; see also Acts 4:10). With this conclusion, Peter sealed the indictment, and at the same time offered hope, because Jesus indeed is both the Lord and the Messiah (the Christ) who forgives and restores – and still no stones were aimed at Peter.
Acts of the Apostles shows the Holy Spirit loves people enough to be both passionate and confrontational, requiring people to face their sins against God and make a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ choice about following Jesus. It is a theme that flows throughout Acts. The Spirit leads all who are willing to full repentance before God. It includes turning around and getting on the right road, the Jesus Road, in a new beginning with a new heart. Holy Spirit passion confronts people with the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection and promises them the forgiveness of God.
Passionate? Yes. Confrontational? Yes, and the Holy Spirit was their protector. Peter indicted the crowd for murder and accused them of the heinous crime of killing their own Messiah. The record does not say it, but I wonder if some people who screamed “crucify Him” at Jesus’ trial heard Peter proclaim God had made Jesus “both Lord and Messiah.” Even at this point in the sermon, no rocks went flying. Instead, the crowd was “cut to the heart.” They started asking, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter responded: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call. With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’” (Acts 2:38-40).
“Those who accepted [Peter’s] message were baptized. About 3,000 were added to their number that day,” and the Lord’s church was born (Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:37-41). The implication is over 3,000 were present. Not all who heard Peter preach received the message, but three thousand did and were baptized – and no harm came to a one of them.
Is it possible many people in America’s churches never feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit at work in compassionate and confrontational power? Does this help explain why a growing number of people are not taking the gospel seriously?
My prayer is that the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will settle over every one of our congregations.
Come Holy Spirit, I need Thee.
Come sweet Spirit, I pray.
Come in Thy strength and Thy power.
Come in Thine own gentle way.
Come like a spring in the desert,
Come to the withered of soul.
Lord, let Thy sweet healing power
Touch me and make me whole.
By: Heritage Singers