Today's Foundations Devotional: Wielding the Spirit’s sword
... the things which now have been reported to you through those who
have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
(1 Peter 1:12b)
Let us look briefly, today and tomorrow, at the examples of this type of preaching recorded in the book of Acts and at the results it produced.
On the day of Pentecost, before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the 120 believers in the upper room in Jerusalem were an unimpressive, uninfluential minority. But after they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and preached a sermon to a crowd of several thousand Jewish people who had gathered. What were the results of this one sermon?
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
Notice the phrase “they were cut to the heart.” This cutting to the heart is the operation of the Holy Spirit which Jesus foretold:
When He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement (John 16:8).
As a result of this conviction, before the day closed three thousand unbelieving Jews had repented, acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Saviour and been baptised.
However, it is important to emphasise that these results were not achieved by the supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit alone, but by this manifestation followed by the preaching of God’s Word.
It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21).
God has never ordained that men should be saved through witnessing miracles or through hearing prophetic utterances. These supernatural manifestations serve to arrest men’s attention and to open their hearts to the truth. But it is only through the preaching of God’s Word that men are actually saved.
This confirms Paul’s statement that “the sword of the Spirit ... is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
If Peter had not stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached a message from God’s Word, the Holy Spirit would still have been mightily present with the disciples. But He would have been left without any sword to wield. There would still have been awe and amazement on the part of the unbelievers, but there would have been no conversions. It was the sharp, two-edged sword of God’s Word, wielded by the Holy Spirit through the lips of Peter, that cut these unbelievers right to their hearts and brought them under such deep conviction.
Almost half of Peter’s sermon consists of quotations from the Old Testament. So great is the impact of God’s written Word when it is pressed home to the human heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thank You Lord, for the double-edged sharp sword of Your Word
that has also deeply affected me and that still works every day in
my life. Help me to cherish Your Word and take it to me with love
so it will keep on changing me and I can bless other people with it.