6 Requirements for Kingdom Christians

Crown

Go to most churches, and you’ll encounter a lot of activity that has nothing to do with building God’s Kingdom.

Prayer books. Electronic worship. Coffee hour. Kids’ plays.

These things are nice, but Jesus never mentioned them.

According to the Bible, what are musts for Christians called to build God’s Kingdom on earth?

The requirements are the things that Jesus did and taught His disciples to do in His Name.

1. You must be born again.

Nicodemus approached Jesus one night and said, “‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him'” (John 3:2 NIV).

Knowing Jesus as a teacher from God is not enough. All orthodox churches admit that.

You also must recognize the power behind the miraculous signs that Jesus performed—healings, deliverances, and mastery over nature.

How did Jesus answer Nicodemus?

“‘I tell you the truth, no one can SEE the kingdom of God unless he is born again‘” (John 3:3 NIV).

You can’t understand the spiritual operation of Kingdom power unless you’re born again. In fact, Jesus went on to say, “‘[N]o one can ENTER the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit'” (John 3:5-6 NIV).

To enter the Kingdom of God, you must be born of the Spirit:

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
–Titus 3:4-7 NIV

Spiritual regeneration doesn’t result from simply knowing about God or Jesus or from going to church. Rather, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV).

The new birth is received by turning from sin and turning to God in faith: “‘Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out'” (Acts 3:19 NIV).

To comprehend the Kingdom, to enter the Kingdom, you must be born again.

Spiritual regeneration is actually an Old Testament experience: Abraham is father of all those who have faith (see Rom. 4:12-16). What kind of faith?

Saving faith.

This is why Jesus was incredulous that Nicodemus did not understand the necessity of being born again. He should have. For, Jesus said, “‘the Lord, “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” … is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive'” (Luke 20:37-38 NIV).

Why are we born again? To have living relationship with God. To enjoy eternal life.

Also to enable us to be filled with the Spirit: “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham [being born again by grace through faith] might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by [that same] faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Gal. 3:14 NIV, bracketed additions mine).

2. You must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul wrote the Ephesians, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18 GW). This is a commandment for born again believers.

Jesus told His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3 NIV). See also Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5. The disciples were regenerate from Jesus words, which are spirit and life (John 6:63).

Then He said,

16 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—
17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be IN you.”
–John 14:16-17 NIV

Jesus promised them He would send the Holy Spirit, now with them to regenerate and cleanse them through the word, to be IN them.

He commanded them, “‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit‘” (Acts 1:4-5 NIV).

One hundred twenty born again disciples received the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Later, Philip proclaimed Christ in Samaria. The Samaritans “believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, [and] they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12 NIV).

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
–Acts 8:14-17 NIV

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from being converted. The Samaritans, though born again and water baptized, did not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit until hands were laid on them.

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is not automatically received when you’re born again. You must separately receive the Holy Spirit and be “clothed with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49)—the power to be Kingdom witnesses (Acts 1:8).

You need this power to love God, love your neighbor, and move in the gifts of the Spirit.

For more information:

3. You must love God and your neighbor.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (NKJV). Those who inherit the Kingdom are those who love God (see James 2:5).

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
–Luke 10:25-28 NIV

You can’t love God without loving your neighbor (see 1 Jn. 4:8,20-21). And everyone is your neighbor—no exceptions.

If you’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit, love is easy “…because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:5 NIV). The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:23).

They will know we are Christians—Kingdom Christians—by our love.

4. You must move in the gifts of the Spirit.

Jesus demonstrated, taught, and trained His disciples to do the miraculous works He did. He commissioned them, saying, “‘As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give'” (Matt. 10:7-8 NIV).

Paul said, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor. 4:20 NIV). There’s a lot of talk in the Church. But where is the power Jesus and the early disciples demonstrated? This is the Kingdom and the true Gospel: signs and wonders.

To minister Kingdom power, we need the Spirit’s enablement. We must submit ourselves to be used of God through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11). We must excel in the gifts that build up the Church (1 Cor. 14:12).

Paul wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1 NIV). The “most excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31) to move in the gifts is through love. Love sets captives free.

5. You must live an obedient, holy life.

Even if we’re born again and Spirit-filled, moving in the gifts does not guarantee us heaven. Jesus warned His followers,

20 “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
–Matthew 7:20-23 NIV

Peter preached, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32 NIV).

John wrote, “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 Jn. 3:24 NIV).

We must obey God and do the Father’s will. How?

The indwelling Spirit leads us to live a life filled with good fruit, set apart and sanctified for the Lord and His Kingdom. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14 NIV).

6. You must help fulfill the Great Commission.

Ninety percent of what today’s churches are involved in, Jesus never mentioned nor practiced. What was He about? Peter told Cornelius,

37 “You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
–Acts 10:37-38 NIV

Jesus said, “‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons'” (Matt. 10:8 NIV).

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn. 3:8b NIV). What’s your reason for following Him?

Jesus set aside his divine powers (Phil. 2:5-8) and instead received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Lk. 2:21-22), through which He healed and performed miracles and prophesied.

We, likewise, need to be filled with the Spirit; move in the gifts, motivated by love; and set captives free. This is true Kingdom work.

Just before He ascended to heaven after the Resurrection,

18 Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
–Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. He has delegated His authority to His born again, sanctified, Spirit-filled followers. We are to go in His name and make disciples.

What kind of disciples? The kind who do what He did. The kind who do what He released the Twelve and the seventy-two to do: heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, drive out demons.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked WITH them and CONFIRMED his word by the SIGNS that accompanied it.
–Mark 16:15-20 NIV

We must do the greater works Jesus promised we could do (John 14:12). This is “God’s Kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Restoration of the Church

Times of Refreshing

Since the Dark Ages, God has been restoring the Church to the power and glory that it demonstrated in the first century. This involves establishing its members in present truth (2 Pet. 1:12) so that the Body of Christ can become mature and prepared for the return of Christ.

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord,
20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to RESTORE EVERYTHING, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
–Acts 3:19–21 NIV

What must we do when the Spirit moves as He did on that first Pentecost? Respond to the Lord through repentance and faith (v. 19). See also Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20.

What does such a response lead to?

  • Our sins and shortcomings are wiped out
  • Times of refreshing come from the Lord
  • We draw nearer to the day when Christ returns to earth

Cleansing and conversion are not the only benefits of responding to the moving of the Spirit. Receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit self-perpetuates revival.

Times of refreshing

Times or seasons of refreshing speak of continued revival.

Refreshing in Greek is the word anapsyxis, used only here in the New Testament. It carries the sense of “to cool by blowing, to refresh, to relieve, to strengthen.” It connotes alleviation and liberation. It refers specifically to the “definitive age of salvation.” This refreshing wind of the Spirit, this reviving with fresh air, comes from the presence or the face of the Lord. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)

Seasons of revival are promised before the return of Christ. But we must accept them through repentance and faith and then walk in the truth revealed (2 John 1:4).

God desires to restore to His Church all that was lost during the Dark Ages. Accepting each new restorational move of the Spirit prepares us and brings us closer to the return of Christ.

Christ will not return until God “restores everything” (v. 21). Restore means to renew, to bring back to or put back into a former or original state. If God must “restore” things, then things must have first fallen apart, deteriorated (2 Thess. 2:3).

We must take part in this restoration by welcoming new outpourings of the Spirit and moving in the restored gifts of the Spirit: “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (1 Cor. 1:7 NIV).

God is restoring His Church from the “falling away” of A.D. 400–1500 through repentance, the restoration of sound biblical doctrine, and revivals of His Spirit.

Restoring the glory

Jesus must remain in heaven UNTIL God restores everything to His Church. If we’re not walking in the power and authority of the Church in Acts, then we’re not yet fully restored. That means there will be more change.

25 …Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
–Ephesians 5:25–27 NKJV

God is restoring the Church to maturity and perfection so that He can release Jesus from heaven to return to earth! But Christ is not coming back for a broken, helpless Bride. She’s going to be powerful, glorious, and holy!

The first century Church had the full revelation of New Testament Christianity (Jude 3), much of which was lost during the Dark Ages. Since then, God has been progressively restoring what the Church abandoned so that it will become mature so that Christ can return.

We’ll learn more about his maturing process next time.

Seasons of Revival

Seasons of Revival

Council of the Lord Series #4

Did you know there are cycles or seasons or revival? I listened to the council of the Lord on August 7, 2018, and here’s the prophetic message I received.

My son, the cycle of renewal goes round and round. There are times and seasons for the outpouring of the Spirit, and there are times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord. And we desire to restore completely that which the Early Church walked in, and we desire to go beyond.

For we desire that the Body of Christ, the followers of the Lord Jesus, do greater works than what He did while He was on the earth: greater works in numbers, greater works in capacity, greater works to reach greater numbers of people.

For there is a great harvest. The fields are white unto harvest. And the fields are ready for harvest. But are my people ready? We desire that my people be ready to receive that outpouring of the Spirit and to be used to draw into the Kingdom those who do not know the Lord.

We’re sending you out to the highways and to the byways, even far outside the cities and the established places where people may come and be invited to the wedding feast. For there is food galore, there is drink, there is blessing, there is fellowship at the table. We desire that you go forth and bring in those who are far from the gospel, that they may be drawn near to Christ and become members of His Kingdom.

We will pour our Spirit out upon you and enable you to do this, and we will draw them. And the prodigals will come running, will come running. And the love of the Father will be lavished upon them.

Bring out the ring, the robe, the fatted calf. The lost will be found again, and the Kingdom will swell its ranks with those formerly who walked in darkness.

Again, if you are hearing or reading anything along these lines elsewhere, please comment with a link. Thanks and blessings.

Further reading:

The Next Revival

Next Revival

Council of the Lord Series #3

What will the next revival be like? I listened in on the council of the Lord on August 6, 2018, and here’s the prophetic message I received.

My son, we once again desire to bring revival to the earth. We desire to add line upon line and precept upon precept. We desire to add rain upon rain, an outpouring of the Spirit to refresh and to restore all that has been promised to the Church.

We will go before you, we will go before many to bring in this promised ushering of the Spirit, for the Spirit shall come in, shall sweep in, and shall take over, and the Spirit shall orchestrate many things—not only during meetings but during movements—between meetings, between cities, between churches, between denominations, between countries and nations.

Know that the Holy Spirit is the Great Administrator and is able to do these things to bring about great changes, changes that religion, changes that governments cannot deny and cannot put down.

We will pour our Spirit out in many ways in many places. Fires shall spring up, and they shall not be quenched. The fire of the Lord burns ever brightly. Let it burn with the fear of the Lord, and let the Spirit, the Spirit of burning, baptize you with fire that you may be purified and go forth unto the nations to preach the gospel with signs following.

This is the next move of God. All nations shall come to know the King. The gospel shall be preached to all nations, and then the end shall come.

Do not be afraid, but give yourself and seek the Lord while He may be found. Ask for rain in the time of rain. Ask for revival. Ask for the outpouring of the Spirit, and you shall surely see it begin to be poured out.

We have a work to be accomplished. We have history to bring to a close. For we desire to get on with Eternity, where all rejoice in the presence of the Lord and the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Are you hearing or reading anything along these lines elsewhere? Please comment if so. Thanks and blessings.

Further reading:

  • Psalm 80:18
  • Psalm 85:6
  • Hosea 6:2
  • Deuteronomy 11:14
  • Joel 2:23
  • Zechariah 10:1
  • James 5:7
  • Isaiah 4:4-6
  • Isaiah 55:6
  • Habakkuk 2:14
  • Matthew 3:11

Follow the Spirit

Follow the Spirit

I received this prophetic word on May 14, 2018. May it encourage you to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

My child, I have called you to follow me. I’ve called you not to follow the doctrines of men or the religion of humankind. I’ve not called you to follow the Church, but I’ve called you to follow the leading of my Spirit. For I will lead you and guide you into all truth.

I will make my face to shine upon you and I will show you my way. I will light the way before your feet, for my word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. I will speak my word to you; I will direct you and guide you in the way that you should go.

I will guide you with my eye upon you. I see the way before you, and I will open your eyes to that which I would show you. I will enlighten your eyes.

I will illumine my word within you, and I will grant unto you my revelation. For this revelation comes by my Spirit, and by my Spirit I will open your eyes and I will open your mind and I will open your understanding to that which I desire you to comprehend.

For I have more that I would share with you. I desire to open the heavenlies unto you, that you might see, that you might partake, that you might enter in to all that I have set aside for you. For this is my glory: that you be glorified in me and that you share my glory by contemplating me.

Seek wisdom, and I shall surely grant it, for I am Wisdom to you. I am Peace, I am Life, I am Strength. Follow me. Look not to another, but lean wholly on me. Run after me. I will lead you into all truth and I will make you like my Son.

You Can Prophesy

prophesying

You can prophesy, did you know it? If you desire to bless and encourage others, you can deliver messages from God. Here’s how to get started.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy

On the day of Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on the followers of Christ. The Apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’”
–Acts 2:17-18 NIV

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy. If you’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you’ve been given the potential to speak for God.

When Paul placed his hands on [the Ephesian disciples], the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
–Acts 19:6 NIV

Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. … For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged” (1 Cor. 14:1, 31 NIV).

All Spirit-filled believers have the potential to prophesy. But they must eagerly desire the gift to bless others.

What is the gift of prophecy?

Christian prophet Dennis Cramer defines prophecy as “a supernatural message given for the purpose of ‘strengthening, encouraging and comforting’” (You Can All Prophesy, Arrow Publications, 2003). His definition comes from the words of the Apostle Paul:

But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
–1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV

The gift of prophecy is available to all believers filled with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7). The gift of prophecy is not for foretelling world events, but simply for bringing strength, encouragement, and comfort to those who receive the message. You can prophesy to individuals or groups.

Here are four principles to focus on if you want to prophesy.

1. Esteem the prophetic gift.

First Thessalonians 5:20 says, “Do not despise prophecies.” J.N. Darby translates it, “Do not lightly esteem prophecies.”

The first principle in becoming a prophetic person is to value the prophetic gift. The revelation of the Spirit is precious. Treat it like it’s important and respect the message. (As well as the messenger.)

“I hold prophecy in high esteem.”

2. Believe you can prophesy.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (1 Cor. 14:31 NKJV).

You can prophesy. You all can prophesy. You can all practice prophesying so that everybody learns.

Prophesying—speaking a message from the Holy Spirit—is not just for a chosen few who are specially gifted, but for everyone who wants it. That means you. Say with me:

“I can prophesy!”

3. Desire to prophesy.

Believe it or not, a key factor in determining whether you move in prophecy is how badly you want to.

Some believe they’ll deliver a message only if the Holy Spirit overpowers them. It doesn’t work that way. Romans 12:6 says you prophesy “in proportion to your faith.”

You can prophesy. But you must believe it—believe it enough to step out in faith, try, and keep trying. Faith comes to those who prepare for it through desire.

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1 NKJV). Another version puts it, “you should truly want to have the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (NCV).

If you follow the way of Christ’s love, you’ll want the Holy Spirit to use you to speak inspired words of strength, encouragement, and comfort to others.

“I desire to prophesy.”

4. Be eager to prophesy.

Wanting to prophesy is important, but it isn’t enough. You must be eager to do so every chance you get. This is another area where desire will open the door to opportunity.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39 NIV). The word “eager” is zeloo in Greek, which means “to burn with zeal; to desire earnestly, pursue; to envy; to covet.” Strong words, but good advice.

You esteem prophecy. You can prophesy, you want to prophesy, and you have a burning desire to receive and deliver the message from the Spirit. You must be zealous to prophesy at every opportunity.

“I am eager to prophesy.”

Understand that any prophetic message is instigated by the Holy Spirit, not your own desires. Part of learning to prophesy is being sensitive to the Spirit’s nudgings. So be eager without being too aggressive.

Start by ministering to your close friends, then as you grow in your abilities, branch out to other acquaintances who are on the same page spiritually. Be eager but start slow and learn as you go.

Prophetic principles to promote prophecy

This is my daily meditation. if you make it yours, God will use you to bless others with encouraging messages from above.

  1. I hold prophecy in high esteem.
  2. I can prophesy.
  3. I desire to prophesy.
  4. I am eager to prophesy.

Let me know how this has helped you in your life and ministry. God bless you!

Inclusivity of the Holy Spirit

inclusivity

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of inclusivity, gathering from all nations and every walk of life those to be filled with prophetic power. This is explicit in the volume of Luke-Acts.

The Spirit of inclusivity poured out

On the day of Pentecost following the ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the praying disciples. The sound of a violent wind and the 120 declaring the praises of God in tongues draws a crowd of the curious.

The listeners—Jews from many nations—declare, “‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’” (Acts 2:7b-8 NIV)

The people ask, “What does this mean?” (v. 12).

Inspired by the Spirit, Peter preaches an explanation, quoting the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants [doulos], both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’”
–Acts 2:17-18 NIV

All people. Sons, daughters. Prophesying. Young men. Visions. Old men. Dreams. Servants (slaves, bondslaves). Prophesying. All these are signs of the new age of the Spirit’s inclusivity.

We first see Luke’s theme of Spirit-filled prophetic inclusivity in his gospel.

Zechariah: An old man who sees a vision

Zechariah was an old man (Lk 1:7). During the course of his priestly duties, he is called to burn incense in the temple (1:9).

An angel appears to him, delivering a message that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who was barren, would have a son. They must name him John. John will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in the womb, and he will be a prophet preparing the way of the Lord (1:11-17,76).

The vision leaves Zechariah unable to speak (1:22).

Mary: A young woman bondslave

Gabriel, the angel who appeared to Zechariah, next visits a young woman in Nazareth. Gabriel declares that Mary will give birth to a boy named Jesus, who “will be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:26-32).

Mary asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (1:34)

Gabriel answers, “‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’” (v. 35) He reveals that her relative Elizabeth is presently with child (v. 36).

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answers. “May it be to me as you have said” (v. 38). The Greek word for “servant,” doulē, is the same used in Acts 2:18.

Elizabeth: An old woman who prophesies

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,
40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”
–Luke 1:39-42 NIV

At Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and begins to prophesy (1:42-45). The unborn John is filled with the Spirit also, leaping in her womb for joy (v. 44).

Mary: A young woman who prophesies

Mary is likewise filled with the Holy Spirit and begins to prophesy of her Son’s prophetic destiny (1:46-55).

Zechariah: An old man who prophesies

When his son is born, Zechariah is asked what the child should be named. When he writes “John,” his tongue is loosed, and he begins to speak, praising God and prophesying (1:62-79).

Simeon: An old bondslave who prophesies

After the days of purification, Joseph and Mary take Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord.

An old man named Simeon, righteous and devout, has been told “by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Lk 2:26).

27 Moved by the Spirit, [Simeon] went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant [doulos] in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
–Luke 2:27-32 NIV

This old bondslave prophesied to Mary and then looked forward to being dismissed, the prophetic promise of the Holy Spirit being fulfilled.

Anna: An old woman prophetess

Also in the Temple, the aged prophetess Anna approaches Jesus’ parents and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (2:38).

John: A young prophet

Next we see John the Baptist as a young man, beginning his prophetic ministry: “the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Lk 1:80; 3:2-3).

Jesus: A prophet who includes the outcasts

Jesus, “a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19) regularly fellowships with those that the religious leaders of his day consider “sinners” (5:29).

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.
2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
–Luke 15:1-2 NIV

In response, Jesus tells parables about God rejoicing over the lost being found and included in the fold.

Martin William Mittelstadt, summarizing Murray Dempter’s focus, states:

[T]he Lukan Jesus exemplifies social concern as he encounters the burning moral issues of his day—the treatment of aliens, the exploitation of women, the economic exploitation of the oppressed, underemployment and unemployment, and the dignity of children. Similarly, Spirit baptism enables the charismatic community to break down walls of partition between men and women, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, and even demarcations of religious backgrounds within the Christian community itself.
[Martin William Mittelstadt, Reading Luke-Acts in the Pentecostal Tradition (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010), 117.]

The early Church grows through Spirit-inspired inclusivity

In the book of Acts, Luke reports inclusivity in the prophetic life of the Spirit among God’s people:

  • The Hebraic/Hellenistic problem of feeding widows is solved by appointing those “full of the Spirit and wisdom” to oversee fair distribution of food (Acts 6:1-5).
  • A new mission is established to the Samaritans with the preaching of the Gospel and the baptism in the Spirit (8:4-25).
  • Philip ministers to the Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40).
  • God pours the Spirit out upon the Gentiles at an Italian’s home, thus opening Jewish table fellowship to the Gentiles (10:24-11:18).
  • A Gentile ministry team is formed after deliberation about how best to instruct them (15:1-33).
  • Philip has four daughters who prophesy (21:8-9).

Jesus preached a gospel open to all who will come. The Holy Spirit ratified His message and empowered the disciples to reach out in new ways to all peoples. Mittelstadt says that “Luke presents the alternative way of peace, a message of radical love based on God’s desire for communities built upon human inclusivity” (124).

Jesus said:

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
–John 10:16 NIV

Are you filled with the Spirit of God as on the day of Pentecost? If not, ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13). Then leave the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost and rejected. Include them in God’s love. This is the gospel we are commanded to share with everyone.