Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm
Should God’s existence be proven? /Apologeticshtml/Should the Bible and God Be Proven Fideism vs WCG.htm
Does the Bible teach blind faith? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Gospel of John Theory of Knowledge.htm
What Did the Disciples Do After Jesus’ Resurrection?
After Jesus’ resurrection, what did the disciples do? In the short term, Jesus trained the disciples by appearing and speaking to them before His ascension to heaven, but in the long term, their main job eventually was to preach the gospel to the world, which wasn’t what they had anticipated during His ministry.
Let’s say that the “short-term” period was that before Pentecost, the holy day on which the Church was born (Acts 2:1-4) when the Holy Spirit came. The “long-term” period refers to the rest of the disciples’ lives during the first century A.D.
Let’s begin by looking at the short-term picture first. After Jesus was resurrected, He confronted the disciples for their skepticism and unbelief (Luke 24:25, 34-42). For example, He rebuked Thomas for not believing in Him based upon the reports of others (John 20:24-29). Jesus appeared repeated to them (Acts 1:3): “To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days.” He also instructed them about how to interpret the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and how they applied to Him (Luke 24:27, 44-46). He did more miracles for them as well (John 20:30). He also spoke to them about “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), which is a key part of the Gospel’s message. When Jesus appeared to them for the third time, when Peter went fishing not long after the resurrection, it’s distinctly possible that he planned to go back to his old occupation after Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 21:1-11). He may not have realized then that the rest of His life was to be spent in leading the church as an apostle and in evangelization about who Jesus was and His future Kingdom (cf. Mark 1:14-15). The Lord told them that they would need to preach to all nations about repenting from their sins, starting from Jerusalem, but they shouldn’t leave Jerusalem until they had received power from on high (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5)), which refers to the Holy Spirit. So during the time before His ascension (Acts 1:9-11), Christ appeared to His disciples to build their faith and to train them for future service as evangelists.
The primary responsibility of the Church after Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost became to preach the gospel to the world as much as reasonably possible. This is the long-term mission and the main responsibility of what the disciples were trained to do by Jesus during His earthly ministry and after His resurrection, but before His ascension to heaven. The classic text here is Matthew 28:19-20, which is known as the “Great Commission”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Similarly, Jesus instructed His disciples (Mark 16:15-16): “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” So the Book of Acts and Paul’s Letters describe the Church’s work in evangelization and what the disciples, now called apostles, taught others.
On the day of Pentecost, one of the annual Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23, the Holy Spirit first came en masse to a large group of (seemingly average) people at once. Acts 2:4 states what happened miraculously in a nutshell: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Now, were these angelic languages or some other special language of the Holy Spirit unknown to other human beings? What does the Bible itself say? Verses 5-6: "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. [They were pilgrims in town visiting for this special day, which is described specifically in Leviticus 23:10-16--EVS] And when this sound [from the Spirit's arrival] occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language." In verses 9-11 is a list of all the places/nations these Jews from around the known world had come. Yet, they could understand the 120 disciples of Jesus as they spoke. Interestingly enough, the miracle was as much in the hearing as in the speaking, for these people could understand what was being said.
Evidence that the disciples didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost comes from what could be called the "gentile Pentecost" at Cornelius' household, which occurred many years after the events narrated in Acts 2. Here God had a miraculous, publicly noticed receipt of the Holy Spirit by the gentiles in order to show He didn't play favorites spiritually at least permanently, in His plan for humanity. Notice Acts 10:44-47, especially the last verse: "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, ‘Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?’" If the gentiles received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles did, then they received it on Pentecost, when similar publicly noticed miraculous events took place. It’s true the disciples made use of the Spirit before being converted at Pentecost, such as when they cast out demons. But it's necessary to make a distinction between having the Spirit with you and having the Spirit in you. Notice John 14:17: "The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you." The Spirit was with them, but not in them to give them salvation. So Jesus told them to “tarry” or wait in Jerusalem until the gained the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49) so they could evangelize much more effectively.
Now, in this context, the message that the disciples brought to the world should be examined. So what does the Bible itself teach about how someone can be saved? On the original birthday of the New Testament church on Pentecost, Peter preached a powerful sermon about Jesus' being the promised Messiah and Savior. The crowd of Jews, realizing their guilt about crucifying their Savior, asked, "Brethren, what should we do?" Peter replied, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38). Such a text points to the need to repent, be baptized, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved. Repentance is simply the determination from a fundamental change of mind for someone to change his life by embracing the need to obey God's will as expressed through His law. Before a person repents, he has a mind that's hostile to God and His law (Romans 8:7). Baptism in this context clearly meant the ceremony by which someone enters water by immersion to demonstrate his changed life by re-enacting crucial steps of Jesus' own life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-6). According to what Scripture explicitly reveals, the Holy Spirit is gained after the laying on of hands by ministers and pastors (Acts 8:14-19; 19:5-6; I Timothy 4:14; 5:22).
So in this context, what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? This refers to the gaining of the Holy Spirit. Notice the resurrected Jesus’ explanation in Acts 1:5: “For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” In context, he was obviously referring to the powerful descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Christians that’s described as occurring on the Day of Pentecost in the next chapter. Peter interpreted these words the same way in Acts 11:15-17: “And as I began to speak [to the gentiles, including Cornelius], the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as it did upon us at the beginning [i.e., on Pentecost, in Acts 2]. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Here Peter plainly equates baptism by the Holy Spirit with receiving the Holy Spirit, not with fire. One is baptized by the Holy Spirit after one is baptized by water and then receives the laying on of hands from an elder to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 8:12, 14-19; 19:16). So the baptism of the Holy Spirit is very good, and to be sought, since the Holy Spirit makes someone into a Christian and gives someone eternal life conditionally (Romans 8:9; 2 Cor. 5:5; Ephesians 4:30).
So what does the Bible itself teach about how someone can be saved? On the original birthday of the New Testament church on Pentecost as described in Acts 2, Peter preached a powerful sermon about Jesus' being the promised Messiah and Savior. The crowd of Jews, realizing their guilt about crucifying their Savior, asked, "Brethren, what should we do?" Peter replied, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38). Such a text points to the need to repent, be baptized, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved. Repentance is simply the determination from a fundamental change of mind for someone to change his life by embracing the need to obey God's will as expressed through His law. Before a person repents, he has a mind that's hostile to God and His law (Romans 8:7). Baptism in this context clearly meant the ceremony by which someone enters water by immersion to demonstrate his changed life by re-enacting crucial steps of Jesus' own life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-6). According to what Scripture explicitly reveals, converts gain the Holy Spirit after the laying on of hands by ministers and pastors (Acts 8:14-19; 19:5-6; I Timothy 4:14; 5:22). Based on what Scripture itself reveals, it's a mistake for anyone to believe that simply praying will give that person salvation (or place him on the initial stage of the salvation process) by itself. More is clearly required, if we take the words of Scripture as the foundation for our faith, not the traditions of men and recent theological innovations.
Does Scripture recognize that baptism, by itself, isn't enough? Notice that John’s baptism wasn’t enough for salvation, according to Paul: “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus” (Acts 19:4). After hearing this, these people were then baptized in the name of Jesus (v. 5), for they hadn’t known enough the first time they were baptized in order to be deemed saved by God by it. These people also needed to receive the Holy Spirit, which they had not even heard of (v. 2). So God gave them the Holy Spirit via Paul’s laying on of hands on them (v. 6). And not just anyone can be used to give others the Holy Spirit, as Simon the Sorcerer perceived. After Philip had baptized people in Samaria, Peter and John had to be sent up to give the people the Holy Spirit, which they did by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:12, 14-17). And besides the initial spectacular miracles in which the outpouring of the Spirit was used to start the Church of God with a bang (Acts 2:1-4, 16-18), and which showed a special blessing was upon the first gentiles to come into the church (Acts 10:44-47; 11:16-18), the normal way the Holy Spirit was given was by the laying on of hands (Acts 9:17; I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6).
Notice this exchange what the jailer in Philippi asked Paul and Silas and their response back (Acts 16:30-31): "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." However, mere faith and speaking the attendant words without action wasn’t enough. Two verses later the jailer and his household were baptized. So "belief" in this case required action to demonstrate its reality. Similarly, as James explains, faith without works is dead (James 2:17-20). We need to act upon what we believe if we expect to be saved, even though good works of any kind don't earn salvation (Ephesians 2:5, 8-10) nor give us our initial justification, in which our past sins are removed from our accounts by faith alone (Romans 3:21, 28). We need to act on our beliefs by going through certain ceremonies, which here are water baptism and the laying on of hands, in order to be saved after repenting and accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior by faith.
So as explained above, Jesus instructed the disciples about what to believe and preach as the gospel for their future roles as evangelists during the time before He ascended to heaven. Then after they received the Holy Spirit on the holy day of Pentecost, the disciples became powerful evangelists for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world, which was what they did in the long term for the rest of their lives.
Click here to access essays that defend Christianity: /apologetics.html
Click here to access essays that explain Christian teachings: /doctrinal.html
Click here to access notes for sermonettes: /sermonettes.html
Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm
May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm
Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm
Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm
Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html
Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm
Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm
Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm
Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm