11 • God’s Family
Before the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago, the Holy Spirit didn’t live inside all God’s people on a powerful and permanent basis. Throughout the history of the world, the Holy Spirit came upon people many times, inspiring them to write the words of God or doing miracles through them: like Moses through whom God parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-27), or Elijah who prayed for fire to come down from heaven (1 Kings 18:20-38), or Elisha who prayed for dead people who were then raised from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-37), or Joshua who at God’s command invaded the city of Jericho where the walls supernaturally tumbled down (Joshua 6:20), or the prophets enabling them to prophesy about future events (Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 61:1-3), or a prophet giving him insight, knowledge or wisdom (Daniel 2:26-45; Genesis 41:14-32,38).
The Holy Spirit came to live more powerfully inside the church (God’s people) in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. This wonderful event was also foretold in the Old Testament: in Ezekiel 36:26-27 it is written that the Holy Spirit will give believers in God a new heart where His Spirit will dwell! Also, in Jeremiah 31:33,34 it is written that God said He will make a New Covenant with His people and write His laws on their hearts and in their minds and remember their sins no more. These prophecies and others were fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in Jerusalem. The church received power when the Holy Spirit baptized the followers of Jesus Christ. To be baptized means to be drenched in the Spirit, like a person who dives into a swimming pool and is soaked with water. The Holy Spirit soaked the disciples in the same way, not only from the outside but mainly from within. They became God’s property. The Holy Spirit made them God’s possessions (Ephesians 1:14; Romans 14:8).
Another way to put it is that they were born of the Spirit. When a person is born in the natural world, it means that you have a mother and father. In spiritual terms, when a person is born from above, it means that he or she is born of the Spirit of God. He or she becomes God’s son or daughter! If a person is ‘born again’, or ‘born of heaven’ or ‘born of the Spirit’, it means God becomes his or her Father (John 1:12, 13)! All the people of God—all the people who are born of God and baptized with the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) are called God’s church or family (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Ephesians 2:19).
The people who belong to God come from different nations, tribes or ethnic groups and speak different languages (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). God’s purpose was never to have favourites among people. He started with Israel, but His purpose was that through Jesus Christ, all the ethnic groups and families of the earth should be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:26-29)! As Galatians 3:28, 29 says, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.’ God’s family are really a unique bunch of people! They might not all understand one another, but they have the same characteristics (love and God’s Holy Spirit), which binds them together. Jesus said the world would know that they belong to Him: by the love that they have for one another (John 13:35). The Holy Spirit’s presence and the love He puts inside each believer’s heart (Romans 5:5) is real and glorious and no fantasy, daydream or illusion.
Questions and truth to consider: Do you belong to God’s family? Have you experienced the love that God’s children have for one another? It is marvelous and sweet to experience God’s love among Christians. Christians call themselves brothers and sisters of one another because they have the same Father—GOD!
Read: Exodus 14:15-27; 1 Kings 18:20-38; 2 Kings 4:32-37; Joshua 6:20; Isaiah 53:1-12; 61:1-3; Daniel 2:26-45; Genesis 41:14-32,38; Ezekiel 36:26,27; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ephesians 1:14; Romans 14:8; John 1:12,13; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22,23; 2:19; Rev 5:9;7:9; Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:26-29; John 13:35; Romans 5:5.