We seem a little reluctant to talk about the ecstatic experience. Is that for mystics and weirdo’s I think?
Maybe it’s not just for kooks.
- Doesn’t Jesus just rock my world?
- Am I out of my mind at what Jesus is doing?
- Am I crazy in love with Jesus?
- Am I stunned at His beauty and brilliance?
Ecstasy in response to Jesus the Messiah: The Greek word “ecstasy” (ἔκστασις, ekstasis) means “standing outside of” and refers to the experience of having the mind cut off from ordinary sense perceptions. These experiences are often referred to as mystical or ecstatic experiences.
Does Jesus amaze me? Am I stunned by His beauty and brilliance? Am I rejoicing greatly in the Holy Spirit? Here are some examples of “crazy love” experiences.
The author of Acts recounts Paul’s ecstatic experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). This passage is permeated by Old Testament. For example, like Ezekiel, Paul spontaneously experiences a vision of light and, like Elijah, hears a divine voice (Acts 9:3–4).
Paul’s companions are able to hear the divine voice, although they cannot see the divine light (Acts 9:7). These parallels suggest that Acts 9 is a literary interpretation of Paul’s experience rather than an independent witness to the event.
They also suggest that Paul interpreted something he experienced in an ecstatic vision as the risen Messiah.
- Acts 2:4 — 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
- Acts 10:44–46 — 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,
- Acts 13:52 — 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
- Acts 19:6 — 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
Peter was just getting started in his message when his congregation believed, and the Holy Spirit interrupted the meeting. God the Father interrupted Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, and God the Son interrupted him in the matter of the temple tax. Now, God the Spirit interrupted Peter — and Peter never was able to finish his sermon! Would that preachers today had interruptions of this kind!
The Holy Spirit was giving witness to the six Jews who were present that these Gentiles were truly born again. After all, these men had not seen the vision with Peter and come to understand that the Gentiles were now on an equal footing with the Jews. This was an event parallel to Pentecost: the same Spirit who had come on the Jewish believers had now come on the Gentiles. No wonder the men were astonished!
With this event, the period of transition in the early history of the church comes to an end. Believers among the Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles have all received the Spirit of God and are united in the body of the Messiah.
These Gentiles were not saved by being baptized; they were baptized because they gave evidence of being saved. Sinners have always been saved by faith; that is one principle God has never changed. But God does change His methods of operation, and this is clearly seen in Acts 1–10. The experience of Cornelius and his household makes it very clear that baptism is not essential for salvation. From now on, the order will be: hear the Word, believe on the Messiah, and receive the Spirit, and then be baptized and unite with other believers in the church to serve and worship God.
Peter tarried in Caesarea and helped to ground these new believers in the truth of the Word. Perhaps Philip assisted him. This entire experience is an illustration of the commission of Matthew 28:19–20. Peter went where God sent him and made disciples (“teach”) of the Gentiles. Then he baptized them and taught them the Word.
That same commission applies to the disciples today. Are we fulfilling it as we should?