In 2:1-13 we see the Jewish believers’ baptism in the Holy Spirit. Verses 1 through 4 are concerned with the economical filling of the Holy Spirit. In this message we shall pay particular attention to these four verses.
Acts 2:1 and 2 say, “And when the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled, they were all together in the same place. And suddenly there came a noise out of heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” In the Lord’s resurrection, the Spirit of resurrection life is likened to breath, breathed into the disciples (John 20:22) for their spiritual being and living essentially. In the Lord’s ascension, the Spirit of ascension power, poured upon the disciples, is symbolized here by the wind for the disciples’ ministry and move economically. The essential Spirit of resurrection life is for the believers to live Christ; the economical Spirit of ascension power is for them to carry out His commission.
We need to see clearly the difference between the breathing in John 20 and the blowing in Acts 2. The breathing in John 20 is for the imparting of the life-giving Spirit into the disciples essentially for their spiritual being and for their spiritual living. But the blowing in Acts 2 is for the pouring out of the economical Spirit of power upon the believers, who have already received the essential Spirit into them. The pouring out of the Spirit of power is not for the believers’ spiritual being or living; rather, the outpouring of the Spirit of power is for the believers’ ministry and move. Therefore, the essential aspect of the Spirit is for living, and the economical aspect is for ministry. It is important for us to differentiate these two aspects of the Spirit, for then we shall understand the Gospels and Acts in the right way. Otherwise, we shall be confused.
Many years ago, a certain highly respected minister said that the breathing in John 20 was not a fact but was merely a performance that indicated that the fact was yet to come in Acts 2. According to his understanding, after the performance in John 20, it was necessary for the disciples to wait fifty days to receive the fact. In the view of this minister, both John 20 and Acts 2 refer to the same thing, the difference being that one describes a performance and the other describes a fact. This concept is altogether wrong. As we have pointed out, there is a difference between the breathing in John 20 and the blowing in Acts 2. Breathing is for life, but blowing is for power.
In the Gospel of John the Spirit of life in resurrection is likened to water for us to drink. John 4:14 says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life.” John 7:37-39 says, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were about to receive.” In Luke 24:49 the economical Spirit is likened to clothing that we put on: “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you, stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Water is for life inwardly, and clothing is for work outwardly.
Let us use a policeman as an illustration of the difference between the essential Spirit for life inwardly and the economical Spirit for power outwardly. A policeman does not put on his uniform in order to quench his thirst. Thirst cannot be quenched by putting on a uniform. A policeman clothes himself with a uniform when he is about to go on duty, that is, when he is ready to work as a policeman. Suppose a policeman drank something to quench his thirst and then went to work without his uniform. If he did this, no one would pay attention to him as he tried to give orders on the street. No matter how much he may drink to quench his thirst, a policeman still must put on his uniform when he is about to work as a policeman. If he is clothed in his uniform, others will respect him. Through this illustration we can see the difference between drinking and being clothed. Drinking is inward, but being clothed is an outward matter.
It is a serious mistake to say, as did that minister years ago, that the breathing in John 20 is a performance and the blowing in Acts 2 is a fact. This kind of interpretation comes from the shortage of proper knowledge and leads to confusion. The proper knowledge we need requires not only the study of the Scriptures but also heavenly enlightenment along with adequate experience. It is not accurate to say that in John 20 Peter did not receive the Spirit of life into him. The Lord’s breathing in that chapter was certainly not a performance. According to John 20:22, the Lord Jesus “breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.” This is not a performance—it is an accomplished fact. Here we have the fact of the breathing of the life-giving Spirit into the disciples on the day of Christ’s resurrection.
The divine breath in John 20:22 is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate consummation of the processed Triune God reaching His redeemed people. In particular, this reaching took place in John 20.
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