Pastor Edgar Mayer;
For more sermons and other writings check out pastors homepage: http://www.geocities.com/mayeredgar
Gods Absolute Best
Peter had not even finished his preaching, when the ultimate happened. I read from the Bible Acts 10:44-46: While Peter was still speaking these words [preaching Jesus Christ], the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The other Christians [original: circumcised believers] who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on them [original: Gentiles]. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
This had been on Gods mind from the beginning. Remember that God had sent an angel to Cornelius with the following message Acts 10:4-6: Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter Then after further arrangements by God Cornelius finally caught up with Peter and heard these words from him Acts 10:36: the message [is] good news of peace [with God] through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all. Peter continued with some more preaching about Jesus how everyone who believed in him would receive forgiveness through his name but then came the practical outcome what God had intended from the beginning the absolute best what anyone can have from God. I read it again from the Bible Acts 10:44-46: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The other Christians [original: circumcised believers] who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on them [original: Gentiles]. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
God was fast-tracking Cornelius. Not only did he listen and then believe for his salvation. He also immediately received the promised gift which is promised to everyone who puts his faith in Jesus. If you are sitting here in church this morning and you do not yet know what this gift is about if you do not yet know what happened to Cornelius keep listening to this sermon (which is preaching the same Jesus Christ that was preached to Cornelius) learn in greater detail what is also promised to you and then also receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit now today.
I say it again: God cut Peter short. He could not even complete all that he wanted to preach because God was almost impatient (so it seems) to shower grace upon grace unto Cornelius. The Bible teaches us that John 3:16: God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. And therefore, the Bible encourages us with this question Romans 8:32: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If you are sitting here in church this morning and you are not quite sure about God and what you can expect from him, listen to this: God is even wanting to cut this sermon short (he doesnt care how much preparation time I put into this) because he desires to bless you with the same gift that came upon Cornelius. This is the truth. God did not spare his Son also for you and, along with his Son, he wants to give you all things. Meditate on this for a moment: all things all things. Romans 8:32: He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
[And by the way God knows that we do not deserve anything good (none of us has lived up to his perfect standard) but he delights in giving us what we do not deserve by grace, that is: undeserved compassion and love and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-10: But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one may boast ]
Lets unpack in more detail what precisely happened to Cornelius. Whatever it was, it was something that others could observe because Peter could see and hear that something had happened to his congregation. The evidence was according to the Bible Acts that . they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Something from God had been powerful enough to break the protocol of politeness (letting a guest-speaker finish his sermon) and broke out in joyful speech speaking in tongues (prayer words given by the Holy Spirit that the mind does not understand) and praise.
Witnessing this Peter and the other Christians said Acts : They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. And later Peter reported to his home-church Acts : As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Peter drew a reference to his own experience which was the experience of the very first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus. I read the account from the Bible Acts 2:1-4: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
This is what happened in the beginning.
Now the experiences of Cornelius and Peter were not identical. With Cornelius
there was no sound like the blowing of a violent wind or tongues of fire but
both times there was speech praise (the
joyful speaking out of Gods truth) speaking in tongues even though only in the case of Peter and
the first Christians the speaking in tongues had come with the miracle of being
understood by people from other nations. Foreign nationals had asked in
amazement Acts 2:6-11:
how is it that each of us hears them in his
own native language? Parthians, Medes
When the Holy Spirit is poured out on people, the experiences vary but Peter and the other Christians were not confused. Cornelius and those with him had received the same gift. Back home reporting to his church Peter added another comment which may be helpful for us today. He declared Acts : Then I remembered what the Lord had said: John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. What John did with water, Jesus would do with the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself had said that he would baptize people in the Holy Spirit which means that he would plunge people into drench them with submerge them in the Spirit of God. As people went completely under water in the baptism of John, so people would be completely under (covered by) the Spirit of God in the baptism of Jesus. Therefore even though the Bible nowhere gives a precise definition of the event the experience of the Spirit baptism is one of fullness and richness saturation (which means that you know when it happens).
Hear a few more Bible references on
this. John the Baptist the
forerunner of Jesus had already
announced him with the words Luke 3:16:
He will baptize you with
the Holy Spirit
himself as Peter would remember later also spelled it out clearly to the first Christians Acts 1:4-5:
you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8: . you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and [then] you will be my
The Father raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus then received from him the promised Holy Spirit and poured out the person of the Holy Spirit on the first Christians and other Christians including us today. [You can see here that we have one God who comes to us in the form of three persons who is three persons.] Further experiences of this are recorded in Acts 13:52: And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Spirit. Acts 19:6: When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Cf. Acts 8:15-17; .
One evangelist shared that there are
some who receive a more sedate baptism of the Holy Spirit and that is okay there is nothing deficient about
that but his was explosive. He writes:
The night I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit marked my ministry and
me forever. It was during a meeting with evangelist Manuel Ruiz. We started to
pray and worship God. In a few minutes most of the people in the place were
speaking in new tongues. Maria, my wife, looked like an angel. She was singing
and speaking in tongues with such fluency. I suddenly realized that everybody
was receiving the baptism except me. From the depth of my soul I wanted to
receive the baptism they were receiving. I started to cry out to God with all
my heart, Lord, baptize me or I will die! I had only known him for a week,
and I was already experiencing incredible things. As I was crying out to God
with all that was in me, asking for his baptism, lightning fell over me from
heaven. It was Gods power. It threw me to the ground, and I started to speak
in new tongues ... (Carlos Annacondia: Listen To Me Satan,
Did you notice his passion his desperation when everybody seemed to receive except him? He cried out: Lord, baptize me or I will die! Do the same. This morning ask the Lord to baptize you.
Then, the same evangelist talked about
his children: Some years ago in
1981 when my children told me that they wanted to receive the baptism of the
Holy Spirit, I said, All right, if you want God to baptize you, go to your
room and kneel down to pray. So they did. They went to their room and started
to ask God for his baptism. Even our little baby girl was there, in her nannys
arms. All of a sudden I heard a clamor coming from their room. I told my wife,
Maria, Lets go to see the children. God is visiting them. When we came into
the room, the nanny was shaking. She was a new believer, but she was speaking
in tongues and prophesying. My eldest daughter was on the floor prophesying.
The rest of the children were speaking in tongues
Listen To Me Satan,
The Bible makes it very clear that after the initial baptism with the Holy Spirit, we need refillings and again refillings and throughout our lives experience ongoing top-ups of Jesus pouring out the Spirit on us. So this is what one pastor experienced who needed a fresh touch of God in his life. He writes: When I picked up the phone John Arnott was on the other end. I could feel the intensity in his voice . come and check this out he began to describe how the Holy Spirit was touching people My interest was stirred, and I bought a one-way plane ticket to [his place] As I was packing the Lord spoke to me and said, If you go to analyze, youll end up criticizing, and I will lift my hand off of you. But if you go as a child to partake, I will pour out my anointing on you, again, and again, and again! I arrived and I felt like I had walked into a bonfire I did the typical . pastor thing; I stood off to the side to observe what was going on. As Randy prayed As he interceded for me, I felt this overwhelming sense of the peace and power of God come over me, and then it felt like someone turned out the lights. I dont know how long I was out, but I had this incredible sense of the immanent presence of the Holy Spirit resting on me. Throughout the evening every time I would try to get up, someone would pray, Touch him again, Lord. More, Lord. More, Lord! And out I would go again, each time resting deeply in the peace and presence of the Lord This went on for days. I felt and acted very intoxicated. I couldnt talk, except in short cryptic phrases But as time passed I felt more and more cleansed and calm deep down on the inside. I felt the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit all the time, and continued to soak in a state of blissful abandonment (Guy Chevreau: Catch The Fire, Canada: Harper Perennial 1994, p149-151).
When this pastor gave up standing off to the side gave up any critical analysis and entered in like a child, he received peace, becoming cleansed and calm, soaking in the presence of God.
His wife also later came and joined him.
She writes: I cancelled
appointments, and left
On the way up all I could pray in my spirit was
Whatever you want Lord
whatever you want. I have to admit I was both scared
what would happen to me?
We got Ron [my husband] up and on a chair, and as worship began, he nudged me
and pointed his finger in my face and said (as best as he could) C
Call 911 call 000 if you want but do not fear it is going to be all right. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is only going to confirm this fact to you. Are we beginning to get a handle on the baptism with the Holy Spirit? Yes? Hear a few more testimonies of the ultimate the absolute best what anyone can receive from God: I [Dora Bittermann] can hardly explain in words what is going on deep in my heart. All things I am describing now are an increasing process. Jesus has removed many of my lifes pains, and lifted my burdens He has led me to repentance, and released me from many of my fears. More and more, he fills me up with his love, his joy, his life. I often feel as if he burns himself into my heart. For the first time in my life, I really feel his love for me (Guy Chevreau: Catch The Fire, Canada: Harper Perennial 1994, p165).
As they started to pray for me [Belma Vardy], I felt a heat penetrate through my face. I felt as if the Lords face was right against mine, and it seemed as though his love began to fill me (Guy Chevreau: Catch The Fire, Canada: Harper Perennial 1994, p177). while praying with my eyes closed, the Lord showed me [Terry Bone] a picture of my soul, after which I saw a large hand come down and remove something marked FEAR. At that moment, I perceived that the Lord was removing from me the fear of that which is phony, and the fear of loss of control which, for me, go hand in hand. A few seconds later, I fell backwards on to the floor where I stayed for over half an hour weeping, while the Spirit of God did some inner healing. I wasnt very orderly that day (Guy Chevreau: Catch The Fire, Canada: Harper Perennial 1994, p184). Later on my twelve-year-old son came forward and said, I think kids can receive too, Dad. As soon as he raised his hands, he began to sob, fell to the floor, and soon began to laugh louder and longer than ever in his life. After thirty minutes, he began to flow with Spirit-given language for the first time! This was followed by my ten-year-old daughter falling to the floor and remaining there, hands extended upward, praising God (Guy Chevreau: Catch The Fire, Canada: Harper Perennial 1994, p186).
This is for children also. You may be here in church this morning and you may be only ten years old but know this: The promise is also for you. You are not too young. If you want the gift, pray to God that he will also fill you with the Holy Spirit.
How do we receive this? At this point of time are we all wanting desiring to be baptized with the Holy Spirit maybe for the first time or receiving refreshments? God thought that it was worth sending an angel to Cornelius so that he would receive the gift. Do we now want the same gift and how do we get it?
The short answer is: Look to Jesus and let him do it for you. You cannot make it happen for yourself. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift that comes from him. You need to wait on God allow him to do it for you in his way even the first Christians waited on God for days before they received the outpouring of the Spirit but at the same time you are not completely passive during this waiting period. You can position yourself or let God position you. Again we learn from Cornelius. According to the Bible you can get ready for receiving from God.
The Bible account introduced Cornelius with these words Acts 10:2: He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. This came to the attention of God and for that reason he sent an angel to him, saying Acts 10:4: Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God The communication from God is very clear on this point. It was on account of 1) God-fearing prayers and 2) money gifts to the poor that salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit came to Cornelius and his family and friends (cf. Acts 10:35).
You may decide to do the same. Fear God and love him by praying to him always and sharing your money with the poor. Then, Jesus himself encouraged us to be very specific in our prayers for the Holy Spirit. He said Luke 11:9-13: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
There is more. As Peter gave his report
about Cornelius to his home-church (back
In summary then, this is how you can position yourself for receiving an outpouring of the Holy Spirit: repent, believe in Jesus, pray and give away money to the poor. [One additional observation: God responded to the prayers and money giving of Cornelius but then not only Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit. All of his family and friends also came under the anointing which may be an incentive for us today to seek out the company of God-fearing people because we may share in their blessings.]
However, at this point I may also mention one obstacle that most of us need to overcome before we can receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I am talking about fear which is the opposite to faith. In the testimonies from before fear was a recurring theme. What if anything weird happens? What if I lose control? What if this is all fake and hysteria? What will others think and say about me?
The fear factor is an issue for most of us because the sensation of being overcome with God maybe bursting with strong emotions or physical reactions is not something that we can easily get our heads around. God is so big and so holy.
Then, the fear for many people gets heightened because when Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, he frequently targets one of the key-strongholds of human power and control, that is: our tongue. Many a time with the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. Many a time when in the Bible people were baptized in the Spirit, they all without exception received the gift of tongues (cf. Acts 2:1-5; Acts 19:6). This can be scary to yield control of something so personal as your tongue to God. And it is so humbling because it offends the control of the human mind. Is this not just babbling and blabbering speaking out words given by the Spirit which you do not understand?
In my limited experience there are numerous people who shut themselves off to the baptism with the Holy Spirit because they cannot come to grips with the gift of speaking in tongues therefore resisting this gift insisting that the Spirit baptism has to happen without it. And indeed God may pour out his Spirit and not release the gift of tongues in you at least not straight away (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:1,5) but we dont make the rules.
Even a few weeks ago (May 09) at the end of our Friday night prayer watch I had the impression that I should ask a young man whether he already spoke in tongues and whether he wanted to receive this gift. We prayed for him and after the prayer he thanked us for the experience but I asked him what had happened. He said that he had felt the Holy Spirit on him and that something lifted his tongue inside his mouth. Then he became scared and stopped the encounter. Fear blocked him.
A Lutheran pastor friend shared with me
that when he was at the
Fear is a frustrating reality because even the people who want the fullness of God can become afraid when the unexpected happens. I myself am so desperate for more of God but then on two different occasions (May 2009) in a dream God took me into an encounter where I felt the presence of God coming onto me and God showing me visions it was beautiful but I did not understand everything that happened in the dream and therefore stopped what was happening. I woke up to my great frustration. Fear is not faith and we receive by faith.
This is where Cornelius had an advantage. When the angel came, he was at first scared of him but then the angel assured him of Gods favour and set him up for the preaching engagement with Peter. By the time he finally heard the message of Jesus Christ he was brimming with positive expectations because he knew that God had something planned for him and that it would be good. God has something good for us this morning.
In closing I want to touch briefly on the purposes of the Spirit baptism. Why does Jesus want to baptize you with the Holy Spirit? The number one reason is love. When Jesus was baptized in the Spirit himself, the following happened Luke 3:22: . the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (cf. Matthew 17:5). The same happens for us. When we are immersed in the Spirit and presence of God, we hear the same voice from heaven clearly saying to us: I love you. You are my child. Heaven is your inheritance. You are precious to me. An assurance comes on us that we are saved.
The Bible refers to this experience as being sealed with the Holy Spirit (stamp of approval) or receiving the Holy Spirit as a deposit a down payment (in the hands of our experience) of what is to come in heaven. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22: [God] anointed us, set his seal on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: Now it is God who has made us and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body [would prefer to be dead] and at home with the Lord [in heaven] [Ephesians 1:13-14: you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth [then] having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [in heaven] Ephesians 4:30: the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.]
The practical outcome of this is that we call God Abba/Dear Father/Daddy. We are secure in the love of God. Hence, the Bible says Romans 8:14-16: you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are Gods children.
[Martin Lloyd-Jones: Gods Ultimate
Purpose. An Exposition Of Ephesians 1:1 to 23,
The second reason for receiving the
Spirit is power. Peter told Cornelius that Jesus himself operated in power
because of the Spirit. He said Acts
: . God anointed [baptized] Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power,
[so that] he went around doing good and
healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Jesus promised the same to his
disciples. He said Acts 1:4-8:
you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
you will receive power when
the Holy Spirit comes on you; then you will be my witnesses
According to the Bible we Christians do mission work Romans 15:19: by the power of
signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit
Baptized in the Spirit we will say with the
Bible 1 Corinthians 2:4-5:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but
with a demonstration [an experience] of the Spirits power, so that your faith
might not rest on human wisdom, but on Gods power. 1 Thessalonians 1:5:
came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit
and with deep conviction
[1 Corinthians : . the
When the Holy Spirit is poured out, there is power for preaching, driving out demons, protection from danger, healings and miracles. This is also where spiritual power gifts find their place wisdom, knowledge, administration, healings, miracles, faith and prophecy (cf. 1 Corinthians 12; Hebrews 2:4).
Yet another key realm of experiencing power is personal holiness. The Holy Spirit gives you power over sin and enables you to resist temptation. The Bible says Romans 6:14: . sin shall not be your master Romans 8:9-17: You . are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body Galatians 6:16: live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Thus, if you are caught in a sin that you cannot seem to shake, seek more of the Spirit and become free.
This is the end of the message. Do we want this now for ourselves? Are we ready for the love and power? This was on Gods mind from the beginning Acts 10:44: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. Cornelius and those with him ended up speaking in tongues and praising God. There were no regrets only joy. Therefore, look to Jesus without fear and receive. Amen.