The book of Acts is not a history book or it could have been written without reference to The Holy Spirit. The writing of Acts was not to give a history of the early Christians as much of it is left out. The thing that distinguishes the book of Acts from other histories is the narration of the role of the Holy Spirit in the early church and this is the main reason I believe that we have the book of Acts.
Examples of the workings of The Holy Spirit in the life of a follower of Jesus are given to us in the Acts of the Apostles. This shows the guidance and empowerment (anointing for ministry) of The Holy Spirit in the early church and how The Holy Spirit should work today in the life of a follower of Jesus.
The first principle is that you must wait for God to give The Holy Spirit to anoint you to minister too and for Jesus (Acts 1:3)
The Holy Spirit is given to empower you to serve Jesus (Acts 2:1) which is shown by the fact that Peter preached openly after he had been anointed by The Holy Spirit to represent Jesus (Acts 1:8). Before that He had gone home to fish and no longer preached Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus convinced Peter Jesus was The Messiah so He went with the other apostles and remaining disciples to wait for their authorisation to minister on His behalf (Pentecost).
The first gift given was the gift of tongues (Acts 2:4) for the purpose of proclaiming Jesus. The true purpose of every Gift to bring Glory to Jesus in some way! If man has any glory from a gift being used and it is not the reflected Glory of God then in that person's life the gift is being misused.
The first mention of the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts is as a guide when Jesus instructed the Apostles as to what He wanted them to do after He was gone (Acts 1:2) This role of The Holy Spirit is mentioned first as it is the primary task of The Holy Spirit, namely to guide us in our Christian life so that we are always doing the Will of Jesus. If we are always doing the Will of Jesus then everything else we need to do for Jesus will follow. That is why those that are led by The Holy Spirit are called 'adopted sons of God' because they are always doing their Father's Will!
In Acts 1:8 is the next thing we are taught about the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to do the work of Jesus. It is only as He guides us and empowers us that we can we help others and do the miracles God wants to use us to do. He does them for us when they are commanded in accordance with the Will of God (which The Holy Spirits tell us) so that we know what to command in the delegated authority Jesus has given us. Because it is the Will of Jesus we know it will be done
The disciples were empowered to do the work of Jesus (Acts 2:3-5). Note the following:
In John 20:23 they had received the Holy Spirit so they were identified as belonging to Jesus but had not yet been anointed to do His Will. (Acts 1:8).
After they were anointed and the first thing they did was to proclaim Jesus using the true gift of tongues.
They had been 'saved 'earlier and there was no mention of tongues earlier in the Bible than Acts 2. So no tongues had occurred before that or God would have recorded it as the first event of anything in the Bible as the first mention of anything is important and indicative of what the event is to be used for.
Note: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was given so they could preach and teach Jesus and was a result of being His followers through their earlier salvation.
It is noted that 3000 people followed Jesus as a result of this first sermon by the apostles and disciples and not just Peter.
Act 2:7-8 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
The early Christians all shared what they had with each other and showed their love for each other was real as they shared what their security was in those days (their excess possessions) trusting God to supply their need both then and in the future (Matt 6:33). They were one in purpose and heart as the church was guided by The Holy Spirit.
The next gift that was expressed was that of healing (Acts 3:6-7). These two signs (evangelistic tongues and healing) were declared to be some of the signs that would follow those that truly believed in Jesus (Mark 16:17-18).
Peter then preached openly to the Jews and their leaders no longer having a spirit of fear to face them and even accepted without complaint the fact he was jailed for preaching Jesus (Acts 3 & 4).
The result of their preaching was another 5000 followed Jesus.
God does not like hypocrites. People who say one thing but really mean another. This He showed by the way He treated Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1). They were liars and their father was Satan which is why Jesus purged them from the church.
There was a movement of God happening in Jerusalem and all were sharing what they had with those who did not. Ananias and Saphiras pretended to do this and God removed them as they had rejected The Holy Spirit in their heart and lied about their Christian activities. A Holy God could not tolerate them so God removed this seed of ungodliness form their midst. They are probably the first example of unrepentant people being dealt with in The New Testament.
The evidence people belonged to The Kingdom was shown in the lives of the Apostles and Disciples through the power of The Holy Spirit and the signs in Mark 16:7-18 being a part of their daily life. Many souls were added to The Kingdom, healed and delivered as a natural part of the daily ministry of the apostles and disciples and by this empowerment of The Holy Spirit Jesus was Glorified and Honoured.
As is always the case when God moves Satan raises opposition from the entrenched religious leaders. The religious leaders who seek God's Will will examine what is happening with a view to embracing it if it is from God. Those controlled by Satan will try and stop it. This is what happened and is still happening in churches and denominations. But the move of The Holy Spirit was too strong and the Christians did the work of God in spite of the threats of the religious leaders. (Acts 5:17)
The other way to stop the a move or diminish a move of God is for Satan to raise leaders who say the follow Jesus but live their own version of Christianity and give an apparent evidence of their 'great' spirituality so that others follow them and do not follow those Jesus has trained and authorised. These are men who have promoted them self and do not have the anointing of The Holy Spirit so are empowered by demons to deceive even the those God has called to follow Him (Acts 5:37)
The order in God's body is that those who look after the physical things are separate to those who look after the spiritual side of things. It is only for control purposes a person will want to be in charge of both. Those who are to minister spiritually are not to be concerned about the things of the world in regard to the church but are to wait on God and inform others what He says to them (Acts 6:1).
The early Christians were so on fire for God they were willing to die for Jesus and preach to those who opposed Him in case they would repent and turn to Jesus. The proclamation of Jesus and The kingdom of God was more important than their life and as they loved Him so much they willingly laid down their life for these (Acts 7). They were not afraid to obey any command The Holy Spirit gave them, even if it cost them their life!
The religious leaders could not control the power of The Holy Spirit and the demonstration of The Kingdom of God so tried to eradicate it. At first they tried to keep the early Christians from preaching in the Temple so they could not preach to the followers of these leaders. But that failed so then they tried to remove them or kill them (Acts 8:1)
If you keep The Holy Spirit led people out of a church they cannot influence or convict the church leaders of things they should be doing but are not! Also, the church leaders will not guide the Church in the way Jesus desires it to be guided. The evil in the church cannot be exposed then and the church will not be empowered or led by The Holy Spirit so that it will not represent The Kingdom of God or do the work of Jesus as it should. The people in this church will not be taught all the truths they need to know and the church will end up at best a powerless church and at worst a social club. They will preach Christ and say they represent Him but will not do the work He requires to usher The Kingdom of God into that church. There may be social work amongst the poor and needy but it will not demonstrate the authority of The Kingdom or expand it in any way. But it will promote the denomination, church or organisation.
People see the manifestation of The Kingdom of God and want this in their own life without wanting to pay the cost to obtain this authority. This is when commercialism enters the church and God is 'sold' to people through merchandise, courses etc so people are not trained by the spirit but through man's methods and books. People then associate themselves with a leader rather
than Jesus. (Acts 8:18).
The early Christians had no Bible colleges, New Testament Scriptures, denominations, Christian organisations or church structures but did what Jesus said to do and turned the world upside down. They only knew what Jesus had taught and expressed His Quality of Love to all around them. So much so that an early comment on Christians was "Oh how they love". This was because the primary real command they had from Jesus from which the others in The New Testament flow was to love others with the same quality of love with which He did .
The work of The Kingdom prospered as it was led by The Holy Spirit and expressed Kingdom attitudes to people and so followed God's plans and not what man reasoned should be done.
The rest of the book of Acts reinforces these things and shows more of the workings of The Holy Spirit in the early church.
Many signs were done by the apostles as a result of this Baptism of The Holy Spirit so that people were afraid to resist them (Acts 2:43).
The book of Acts then continues to demonstrate the effect of the anointing on people.
From the importance of The Holy Spirit in Acts it can be seen that you cannot live the Christian life as God wants you too if you are not led and empowered by The Holy Spirit.
He was vital to the success of the early church and must you wonder how vital He is to the success of the modern church and whether the impersonal relationship most have with Him is the cause of the decline of the modern church.
The Holy Spirit anoints people to:
To promote them in the service of Jesus
To empower people to preach Jesus, teach Jesus and to demonstrate the Kingdom of God
The question you need to ask yourself is why these manifestations are not part of your Christian life if they are not manifesting through you. This demonstration of The Kingdom was so important to the early church. So why is it not so important now? Or has the church lost something it desperately needs to regain?