Search for the Truth DVD:Burning in the Bosom:Holy Ghost in Acts

Table of Contents

The Holy Ghost in Acts

Critics' efforts to dismiss witnesses of the Holy Ghost lead them to insist that only the Bible can be a reliable source to truth. The Acts of the Apostles demonstrates how the early Church functioned, relying both on scripture and on new revelation and instruction from the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:37
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

God's word is spoken by the believers, not read out of scripture.

Acts 5:32
And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

The apostles insist to their accusers that both their witness (a part of which is contained in the scriptures), and the Holy Ghost will bear record—but only to the obedient. The disciples do not consider their own words to be the only, or the most essential, witness.

Acts 7:51
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Stephen faced an angry group of Jews—these certainly included some scholars who knew their scriptures. Yet, he describes them as proud, unconverted, and in error because they cling to their interpretation of the scriptures in preference to the Holy Ghost. They actively resist the Holy Ghost, and would probably tell others not to pay attention to anything except their scriptural texts.

Acts 8:29
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot....

The Spirit tells Philip to do something that is not in any scriptural text. Yet, Philip obeys and has a chance to help teach from the scriptures. One cannot dispense with either scripture or the on-going instructions from the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:17
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Saul of Tarsus surely knew his scriptural texts—but, without the Holy Ghost his interpretation of those texts led him to persecute the Christians.

Acts 10:19
While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

The Spirit tells Peter to do something contained in no scripture. He meets others (not yet even Christians) whom the Holy Ghost has sent to him.

Acts 10:44
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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.

Peter has a vision about Gentile conversion. He presents this "Word of God" to the assembled Christians, but that Word of God is not enough to convince them. It is not until the Holy Ghost enters and bears witness that all accept and embrace the divine message brought through Peter.

Acts 11:28
And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar.
Acts 21:11
...[Agabus] took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

The receipt of new aspects of God's Word was not restricted to the apostles—here an otherwise-unmentioned member provides important information not found in any scriptural text.

Acts 13:2
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

There was no Bible or writing to tell the apostles that Barnabas and Saul should be called as missionaries. Should the apostles have ignored this because "it's not in the Bible"?

Acts 15:28
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things...

When the apostles were confronted with the issue of circumcision for Christian converts, they actually violated Jewish scriptural commands regarding circumcision. If they had relied only on the "Word of God" that they had received up to that point, they would have erred. But, they continued to listen to the on-going Word of God through the Holy Spirit. Following reasoned discussion of the issues (mind) their hearts were also in unity and peace about the correct action.

Acts 16:6-7
Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
Acts 21:4
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

The Word of God had commanded them to preach the gospel to all nations and peoples; yet, here the Holy Ghost prevents them from preaching at certain places and times. Should the Christians have rejected such instructions as being "unscriptural"?

Conclusion

Clearly, the early Christian church and leaders required on-going instruction from the Holy Ghost about many matters not treated in the scriptural record. The scriptural record was even modified (e.g. circumcision) by the action of the Spirit.

Furthermore, the Christians functioned perfectly well without any of the texts now collected as the New Testament. Clearly, there are other sources of God's word and truth available to mankind than that contained in the Bible—and the Bible itself demonstrates this.

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