As we continue looking at the book of Acts, especially the account of the lives of those in the early church, we are stopped cold in our tracks and amazed by a small, cryptic phrase found in Acts 1:2. And in these four small words, through the Holy Spirit, we find great encouragement in our own quest for the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and our goal of being more like Him (1 John 2:6), being complete in Him (Col. 2:10), and experiencing the Higher Christian Life (John 10:10).
Let me explain.
When we see Christ in the Gospels, we tend to view Him in one of two extremes. One, as the Son of God who is fully God in every aspect, both co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He is the Mt. Sinai God, the God of the Old Testament, all smoke, thunder, and lightning, only in a different person. We have looked at this subject in the past. And when we focus primarily on the divine aspect of Jesus, He becomes somewhat aloof and untouchable to unholy men like us with dirty hands and impure thoughts.
But, if we allow the pendulum to swing too far on the other side, we primarily see Jesus as only a man, a friend, someone we look up to and admire, but certainly not a King and definitely not God in the flesh. He thinks like us, likes what we like, and struggles with the same things we struggle with. Therefore we feel no need to fear or respect Him, much less obey Him. And we don’t worry too much about sinning because as a man, He is just like us (as uncomfortable as it is to admit)— fickle, prone to doubt, and as uncommitted and faithless as we are. Or at least that is what we assume.
Yet neither of these extremes fully capture the nature of Jesus. Again, as we have already discussed, Jesus is fully God and fully man and will be so forever. Yes, forever. Theologically this is known as the Hypostatic Union and can be summarized as follows:
“Remaining what He was (fully God), He became what He was not (fully man).”
In summary, Jesus is (1) both fully God and fully man, and (2) there is no mixture or dilution of ether nature, and (3) He is united as one Person, forever. In other words, Jesus is both God and man, and His two natures, human and divine, are inseparable and will be forever.
But what Jesus did was to choose not to take advantage of His divine nature while on earth in order to fully experience our temptations and sufferings and become, as Hebrews states, our High Priest who was, like us, in all points “tempted as we were, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus chose to present Himself as our perfect example of how to live the Higher Christian Life by not utilizing what we don’t have— a divine nature, and voluntarily limiting Himself to what we do have— a human nature. As a result, Jesus struggled as we do, yet did not give into His struggles and sin. Jesus was tempted as we are, yet did not succumb to those temptations and sin. Jesus faced everything we face, even more so, yet held His head high, kept His eyes focused on His Father, and did not sin while being fully man. And in doing so, He showed us the way of victory over the things that hold us back from all God designed us to be. Jesus modeled unbroken intimacy, faithfulness, and obedience to His Father, while fully a man. And in doing so, Jesus became the prime example for the Higher Christian Life.
So how did He do this?
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but (His choice) made Himself of no reputation (kenṓsō – to make empty, void, without meaning), taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, (His choice) He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross – Philippians 2:5-8.
This was a choice Jesus made. He purposely, voluntarily, and with great faith, surrendered His life into the hands of the Father and received from the Father the same power available to us today— the Holy Spirit. That’s right, Jesus ministered through the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that now lives in you and is the key that unlocks the abundant life He promised (John 10:10).
We will speak more on this later, but let me close by sharing just a few truths to drive this point home. And the first is found in Acts 1:2, the verse that prompted this discussion.
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He (how) through the Holy Spirit (what) had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen – Acts 1:1-2.
Jesus did not give these commands to His apostles by His own authority, but through the authority of the Holy Spirit living in Him. He had placed His life in total submission to the Spirit of God who, if you remember, descended and remained on Him at His baptism (John 1:33). But there is more.
In Acts 10 we have Peter preaching in the home of Cornelius and describing Jesus as one “anointed” by God. How can Jesus, as God, be anointed by the Father, His equal, with the Holy Spirit, also His equal? Simple. God was anointing and empowering Jesus the man, through the Holy Spirit, that allowed Him to do all the things He did with the power that comes only from God (John 3:2). And this is the same Holy Spirit, and the same power (dúnamis), that now resides in you.
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with (1) the Holy Spirit and with (2) power (dúnamis), who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” – Acts 10:38.
This is a perfect description of what God promised to give to His church in Acts 1:8. And it is the same Greek word for power (dúnamis) used in both verses.
“But you shall receive power (dúnamis) when (what) the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you (as the result) shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” – Acts 1:8.
There are many other passages that point to this truth, but we will look at them another time.
So as you struggle with the Higher Christian Life and sometimes think it’s not for you, consider that everything Jesus did on earth was done through the power of the Holy Spirit who was given to Him, and to you, for the same purpose. There is nothing you lack that is not found in Him. And there is nothing Jesus lacked that was not found in the Person of the Holy Spirit who indwelt Him. So be encouraged, all you have to do is surrender your life to the Spirit who now lives in you, and you will be empowered like Jesus promised when He said, “greater works than these (you) will do, because I (Jesus) go to My Father” (John 14:12).
Do you remember what happened when Jesus went to His Father? That’s right, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us (Acts 2). And, as they say, the rest is history.
Let that sink in for a moment and be encouraged.