“This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says the LORD, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…then whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Acts 2:16, 17, 21).
Peter spoke these words on the Day of Pentecost, just after the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the band of 120 disciples of Jesus who were waiting in Jerusalem to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).
The tongues of fire, the sound as a rushing wind, the speaking of the gospel by the disciples and the hearing of it by all the Feast of Pentecost travelers in their native tongues, left no doubt that “this was that”—what the prophet Joel had prophesied. It was also the beginning of the “New Covenant,” a new way that God would “know” His people, now from inside them, each one individually in their hearts, not just Jews but now a people drawn from every nation, tribe and tongue in the whole world.
However, this incredible experience included still more.
Peter concludes his sermon with these words: “He (Jesus) has been exalted to the right hand of God (at the Ascension), has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, and has caused you to experience what you are seeing and hearing. For David did not go up to heaven, but he said (in Psalm 110:1—quoted whole or in part at least seven times in the New Testament) ‘The LORD (Jehovah God) told my Lord (Jesus Christ), [Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.]’ Therefore, let all the people of Israel understand beyond a doubt that God made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (king of the earth and the Messiah for the Jews)!”
Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, when He received the Holy Spirit, was His empowerment for His ministry of saving the world and then ruling over it. Peter saw this “receiving the Holy Spirit ” at Pentecost in the same way; it was our baptism to equip us for our ministry under the New Covenant. It was a sign that Jesus was now enthroned in Heaven, and was ready to begin that ministry—through us!
This is the task for which we were created. Peter recognized that this new relationship with God by the Holy Spirit is neither our end-game, our grand finale on the earth, nor our purpose in life, any more than Jesus’ baptism was His. No! Our salvation is to empower us (by the now-given Holy Spirit), for our purpose in life, just as Jesus’ baptism, accompanied by the same Holy Spirit, empowered Him for His.
So, we are now equipped and ready—to attack! Jesus rules in Heaven, through us, His body, on the earth. First, wherever we go, whatever we do, Jesus goes and does those things, because we bear His image, and we are acting, speaking and thinking just as He would, because it is He who does it. As we walk by faith in that fact, and not by trying to be like Jesus by keeping His law, He is literally living His life through us (Galatians 2:20).
Second, as He does so, He is ruling over the earth, even though He remains seated at God’s right hand in Heaven. The Holy Spirit, given to us at Pentecost for this very purpose, as stated clearly in Psalm 110 and repeated again and again in Scripture, brings Jesus Himself into every situation we face. As we rule in all these instances, by extending His selfless love and service while proclaiming His uncompromising law, His kingdom instantly “comes on the earth as it is in Heaven ” and the Lord’s prayer is answered in that place!
Third, our wives are ruling at our sides as our “2nd in command,” supplying insight and assistance in all we do, giving us what we lack, to use at our discretion. They are our “irreplaceable lieutenants,” not only because of their unique communication gifts, but also their unique physical one of bearing children. We are to “fill the earth” with offspring, and we are helpless to fulfill this third aspect of our commission without them.
Keep in mind that this “Great Commission,” found in Genesis 1:26-28, was communication within the Godhead only, spoken before man was created, and was God’s original intent for man. Satan, at the Fall, took man on what appeared to be a perilous, fatal failure to follow God’s plan, but the cross has brought us back. That failure in the Garden proved to be only a temporary detour, and we have been restored again onto the highway that leads us to fulfilling our original commission to rule over the earth.
This is “big picture” stuff; the forest, instead of the daily, in-your-face, everyday struggles that come from individual trees, but it is important to always keep that big picture of the forest as the foundation from which we face those trees. Proverbs 29:18 in The Message translation says it beautifully, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”
Without seeing the forest—God’s three-fold purpose for man—the individual trees make no sense. Chaos reigns all around us. Reflecting His image, ruling over the earth and reproducing, are all done by simply “believing you are“ (faith that God is doing what He says He is doing!). This faith brings victory in the midst of the chaos. We leave the house every morning knowing we are dangerous, all of us, as atomic hand-grenades, attacking the gates of Hell, conquering and ruling, not by power and force but by sacrificial love, service, and by never compromising the word of God. The gates of Hell don’t have a chance!