The outpouring of the Spirit means empowerment. Sinners are weak and enslaved. The Spirit sets them free. He is like a grand conductor of life from God the Father though the humanity of Christ and into us. It is Jesus’ Resurrection life that the Spirit infuses into us both as it is an indestructible quality of life and also a way of life oriented toward God’s desires (Rom 8:9-16).
After rising from the dead, ascending into heaven, and being enthroned at God’s right hand, Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on the church. The significance of this event cannot be exaggerated. It is the culmination of Christ’s exaltation short of his second coming. It is here that every benefit obtained in his suffering and subsequent glory is transferred to us. In his sermon at Pentecost, the Apostle Peter describes the Holy Spirit as “the promise”, referring to the promise to Abraham of a blessing for all nations (Acts 2:33,39; Gal 3:14). He is also “the gift” (Acts 2:38) through which the gifts of God are communicated to believers (1 Cor. 12:7-13). In his ascension march as conquering king, Christ “gave gifts to men” (Eph 4:8; Psa 68:18). Those gifts are works of the Holy Spirit.
The climactic event of the Spirit’s outpouring is anticipated by the Old Testament and by Jesus’ own preaching. In his Pentecost sermon, Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18)
The language of outpouring fits the depiction of the Spirit as the “early and later rains” refreshing God’s people. The Spirit’s influence on God’s people would be similar to the essential influence of the rains on the growth of their crops.