The Holy Spirit and the early church

Pentecost Is Like the Opening of the Aswan High Dam

John Piper provides the following helpful illustration of the Holy Spirit before and after Pentecost:

Picture a huge dam for hydroelectric power under construction, like the Aswan High Dam on the Nile, 375 feet high and 11,000 feet across. Egypt’s President Nasser announced the plan for construction in 1953. The dam was completed in 1970 and in 1971 there was a grand dedication ceremony and the 12 turbines with their ten billion kilowatt-hour capacity were unleashed with enough power to light every city in Egypt. During the long period of construction the Nile River wasn’t completely stopped. Even as the reservoir was filling, part of the river was allowed to flow past. The country folk downstream depended on it. They drank it, they washed in it, it watered their crops and turned their mill-wheels. They sailed on it in the moonlight and wrote songs about it. It was their life. But on the day when the reservoir poured through the turbines a power was unleashed that spread far beyond the few folk down river and brought possibilities they had only dreamed of.

Well, Pentecost is like the dedicatory opening of the Aswan High Dam. Before Pentecost the river of God’s Spirit blessed the people of Israel and was their very life. But after Pentecost the power of the Spirit spread out to light the whole world. None of the benefits enjoyed in the pre-Pentecostal days were taken away. But ten billion kilowatts were added to enable the church to take the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to every tongue and tribe and nation.[1]


Today, we continue to focus on the Holy Spirt.


Why is the book of Acts called “Acts”?


It has been said that we could call the book of Acts the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is totally active in the whole book of Acts.


Let’s look at several of the passages where the Holy Spirit is active in the book of Acts.


My theme today is the Holy Spirit and the early church.


Let’s look at a few passages. This is not exhaustive.


  1. In Acts chapter two we have the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 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.
    1. The Holy Spirit comes upon the church in this passage.
    2. By the very end of the passage we have 3000 saved.
    3. This is an amazing passage. People are speaking in different tongues and Peter preaches. Moving on.
  2. But Peter filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8)
    1. In Acts 4:8 the passage specifically says that Peter is “filled” with the Spirit and he preaches once again.
    2. The Spirit works as Peter preaches.
    3. The Holy Spirit gives them great boldness.
    4. The Holy Spirit is powerful.
    5. Just think about the power in a dam. I read that illustration in the beginning. How many of you have been to the Hoover Dam? That is power. How many of you have been to Niagara Falls? That is power. The Holy Spirit gave boldness to the Apostles as they preached and and as they witnessed. In this case the Holy Spirit gave boldness to Peter.
    6. Remember Tim the Tool man? We need more power.
    7. [get a log ax and a chain saw out] I have this log to cut in half, should I use this ax or this chain saw?
    8. The Holy Spirit gives us power.
  • Last week we looked at Prayer (Acts 4:25-31). In Acts 4:25-31 we see the Holy Spirit in their prayer life.
  1. I will summarize the passage regarding Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5).
    1. In this passage they sell land and tell the Apostles he had given them all the money.
    2. This was a lie and the Holy Spirit reveals the lie to the Apostles.
  2. In Acts 13:1-3 we see the Holy Spirit communicate God’s will. Acts 13:1-3: Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
  3. The last passage I want to share today is The Macedonian Call Acts 16:6: Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 




God does not change. (Hebrews 13:8)

The Holy Spirit was active in the early church and the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit is active today.

How do we explain Muslims having dreams about a Savior dying on a cross?

How do we explain when people are saved simply reading the Bible?

How do we explain the following?


In Nik Ripkin’s book The Insanity of God, he tells the story of Aisha, a 24-year-old Christian widow and convert from Islam. She was so outgoing in her witness to Christ in the hostile environment of her Islamic town that the authorities arrested her and put her in the dark, unfinished cellar of the police station.

At the point when she felt she could take no more and was about to scream, instead, to her surprise, out of her mouth came a heart-song of praise to Christ. As she sang, she could tell the movement upstairs ceased. They were listening.


That night the police chief came down and said he was taking her home on one condition: You must come to my house in three days. Then he said,

I don’t understand. You are not afraid of anything. My wife and daughters and all the women in my family are afraid of everything. But you are not afraid of anything. … I want you to come to my house so you can tell everyone why you are not afraid. And I want you to sing that song.


The Holy Spirit is with us. We’ll talk more about Him next week.


Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23


God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


[1] John Piper, “Was the Holy Spirit not on Earth before Pentecost,” Gospel Coalition Blogs (5-24-15); submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

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