WHAT IF GOD…
…had not given the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost?
…had not allowed the death of Ananias, and Sapphira?
…had not allowed Stephen’s death?
…had not allowed the great sufferings of Paul?
…had not allowed the catastrophic events of the Last Days?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT INCLUDED THE BOOK OF ACTS?
We Christians take the book of Acts for granted. It is a dynamic piece of history with many exciting and suspenseful events reminiscent of the drama of Old Testament books. We read it and are amazed by the transformation of the disciples. We are encouraged by the miraculous survival of a fledgling group that was destined to transform civilization. We are awed at how God transformed an aggressive and dangerous persecutor by the name of Saul and turn him into Paul the Apostle.
But what if God had not included the Book of Acts in the Bible? What If that piece of history had been left out totally?
The Book of Acts is one of the most important books in the Bible. It is a work that is foundational to solidifying the validity of much of the New Testament; it spotlights the presence of God and Christ in the origins of the Church and it manifests God’s miraculous ability to change lives and to effectively spread the gospel through the nations.
Paul wrote fourteen critical treatises on Christ, his divine origins, his work of salvation, the church and its relationship to Christ, and the church’s destiny. Without his epistles our understanding of the grandness of Christianity would have been hampered significantly. Without the book of Acts the author of this powerful collection of critical works would have been an unknown as there is no mention of him in the Gospels.
The book of Acts serves to establish Paul’s credentials and thus to give greater value and credibility to his works. The fourteen Pauline epistles were not just the work of a brilliant theologian; they were the work of Jesus Christ made available to the Church through a former enemy of Christianity who finally submitted to God’s will and became a powerful tool for the spreading of the Gospel.
The beginning of the Christian Church was no mean thing. God started a work that was to include all of humanity and extend into eternity. Yet it started very small and with very weak, unassuming people. God chose the weak and the lowly and through a miraculous intervention witnessed to by thousands He transformed those frail people into an army that was to slowly march into the Roman Empire and begin a conquest that no one could stop.
Christianity was to be a powerful and unstoppable arrowhead in God’s hands that no one could stop and that was meant to fulfill God’s eternal aim. The beginnings of such a dramatic event demanded a record to be accessed to all for Millennia to come so that all would be conscious of their humble beginnings.
Nothing is impossible for God. No human mind, no matter how stubborn and difficult, is too hard for God
to convert. Paul was such a mind. Having consented to the death of Stephen, Saul (Paul) was breathing threats
and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). But God had a humbling plan for him and, thus, He was
struck down and was rendered blind by Christ Himself. The rest was to be a story of deep repentance and total
commitment to our Savior and a willingness to suffer any hardship for the Gospel’s sake—including death. God
can change even the toughest, hardest minds, and that is one of the messages in the Book of Acts.
Luke, the doctor and objective observer and historian, wrote the Book of Acts. Unlike his gospel, which was based on the testimony of many witnesses, most of the events in the Book of Acts were written as a result of his own active participation in them.
Luke accompanied Paul in his trips through the Mediterranean and carefully recorded the salient events. Luke saw Paul’s transformation and witnessed God’s power in him.
Luke was there when Paul was beaten and persecuted; he was there when Paul healed the sick; he experienced the shipwrecks and the beatings with him and with Paul traveled to Rome. Luke suffered for the Truth and was committed totally to truth.
From Luke we have an accurate, dynamic, dramatic and suspenseful account that strongly contributes to our faith and to the assurance that as God was with the fathers of our faith, He is with us today as well.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had not given the Church the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem?
…had given the Holy Spirit to each one of the disciples individually?
…had made the arrival of the Holy Spirit a quiet event?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT GIVEN THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST?
Before ascending to Heaven, Christ gathered his apostles and “…commanded them not to depart from
Jerusalem but to wait for the Promise of the father, which you have heard from me. For John truly baptized with
water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”(Acts 1:5)
Christ then added, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth” (Acts 1: 4-5, 8).
The disciples obeyed Christ’s command and went to the upper room of a house. There they “ continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (V. 14).
When the Day of Pentecost, a High Holiday commanded by God arrived, “Suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2: 1-4).
The rest of the story describes the mighty wonder of speaking in tongues and the conversion of thousands to the Faith and the beginning of the Christian Church.
Today most Christian churches most are united in the yearly celebration of the event that marked the beginning of Christianity.
But what if the Holy Spirit had come down on another day? What if Pentecost had not been chosen as the day of the beginning of the Church?
To many this may sound irrelevant. After all God could have sent His Spirit down at any time. Amazingly, there is a very special reason why Pentecost was chosen as the day of such a momentous event.
To understand why God chose Pentecost as the day of the inception of the Christian Church we must go back to the Book of Leviticus chapter 23. God commands Israel to “bring …two wave loaves …of fine flour…” Then God adds that they are “ the first fruits of the Lord”(V. 17). The priest was then to wave the sacrifices and the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering (V. 20).
These offerings and the bread of the “firstfruits” were a foreshadowing of the “firstfruits” who were to be converted later in the New Testament. In fact, the first group of converted Christians was the first fruits to be gathered among many more who would have followed later. The Day of Pentecost marked the beginning of the gathering that was to continue for millennia.
It is also worth noting that on the Passover Day, another great Holy Day commanded by God, exactly at the time when the Passover Lamb was to be killed, Christ was killed as our Passover.
Also significant is the fact that in the middle of the Days of Unleavened Bread a sheaf of the first fruit of the harvest was to be brought to the priest who would then wave it as an offering to God on the day after the Sabbath. This is understood to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, the very first fruit among the many first fruits of the resurrection.
Clearly the Holy Days commanded by God had tremendous prophetic significance and foreshadowed many events relating to Christ and the Church which were to occur centuries later.
If the Holy Spirit had not come on the Day of Pentecost, God would not have reinforced this great reality, and the typology inherent within the Holy Days would have been diminished.
This leads to the possibility that the rest of the Holy Days also have typological significance. Some in fact suggest that the Day of Trumpets symbolizes that day of Christ’s return, the Day of Atonement is a type of the imprisonment of Satan for a thousand years, the Feast of Tabernacles is symbolic of the Millennium and the Last Great day represents the Great White Throne Judgment.
This being the case, it all indicative of a God who has a clear timetable of events in His great plan and Who makes sure everything evolves according to it.
HOME TABLE OF CONTENTS
© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2004