COLLINS COLUMN: The Power of God’s Spirit in Fulfilling Prophecy

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Zechariah said it centuries earlier. His words were given to bring hope to the exiles as they rebuilt the temple. As God’s chosen people, they faced what was, from a human perspective, an impossible task. The city and the temple had been destroyed. The old promises of God are often difficult to understand, let alone cling to, when facing stress, scarcity, and fatigue. Yet those in Jerusalem heard the words of the prophet and with faith that these words were true, labored on to complete their assignment.

In Acts we see a similar phenomenon. First, it was the 12 who experienced an outpouring of God’s Spirit and proclaimed the gospel on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit brought conviction to thousands on Pentecost and continued to transform lives by the hundreds and thousands in the following days and weeks. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and the others continued to testify about Jesus and the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit filled them as they performed miracles again and again, baffling the chief priests and the Pharisees.

The Jewish leaders were shocked when a mighty leader in their flock was converted on the road to Damascus and now spoke in the name of Jesus. In Acts 10, we see yet another movement of God’s Spirit that continued the truth of Zechariah’s prophecy that it would not be by power or by might but by God’s Spirit that God would bring about his divine plan of redemption and renewal of all people and eventually all things.

On one day at the same hour God’s Spirit revealed himself to two different people. A Roman centurion named Cornelius who feared God and was generous to others had a vision of an angel of God telling him that God had heard his prayers. The angel told Cornelius to send men to Joppa and bring a man named Simon Peter to his house. Cornelius obeyed the Spirit’s instructions given through God’s messenger.

In Joppa, the apostle Peter went up to the rooftop to pray. He was hungry and wanted something to eat, and while some of his colleagues were preparing food, Peter fell into a trance and saw the heavens opening and lowering a sheet from heaven. He also heard a voice from heaven with instructions concerning what he had seen.

In his vision, he saw virtually everything he had been forbidden to eat all his life. The voice from heaven simply said, “Kill and eat.” Peter’s religious and cultural training caused him to firmly refuse to do what was forbidden. The voice from heaven spoke again, “What I have made clean is not forbidden.”

While Peter pondered this vision, the men arrived from Joppa beckoning Peter to come with them to the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion. In obedience to God’s prompting through Peter’s vision and having heard the vision of Cornelius from the men of Joppa, Peter left with his guests and traveled to the house of Cornelius.

As both the Roman soldier and the apostle met together two things happened:

1) Peter shared the gospel of Jesus, resulting in the conversion of Cornelius and his entire family.

2) Peter realized what his vision was all about, namely that the gospel was for everyone and not just the Jews.

When God’s Spirit moves and we surrender to God’s will, things happen that are simply beyond anything we can make up or imagine. When we trust in the promises of God and heed to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we will see evidence that the words of the prophet are true and reliable even today.

“Not by power, nor by might, but by my spirit, said the Lord of hosts.”

I have spoken this verse out loud and repeated it in my prayers for about 18 months. I have found this verse to be true many times in those same 18 months and dramatically so in the last two weeks. It is not by human effort or any perceived power we have by titles we possess or by influence that we think we have that God moves. But when the Holy Spirit moves and we obey, the impossible happens!

Father, thank you for the promises of your word. Thank you for the stories of faith we see in Acts as the church grew and the gospel transformed individuals, communities, and began to spread throughout the world. Today we surrender to you. We pray that the Holy Spirit would direct our paths, and that through our obedience to your word, we would see your kingdom expand and our Savior Jesus return in glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.