Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pentecost

Christians have seven BIG annual holidays.  These are called the “Seven Principle Feasts” of the Church year.  You’ve heard of Christmas and Easter, but the other five tend to be forgotten by most American Christians.  This coming Sunday we will celebrate the Pentecost, a day where we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and where we celebrate the many gifts from the Spirit received by the Church.  Like the other principle feasts, there is more that can be said of Pentecost than one article can hold: the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God’s own presence IN his people, is so profound that I believe we will spend all of eternity talking about it.  The goal of this article is to help prepare us to honor God for the great gift of his Holy Spirit this Sunday. 

First, let me just say a few things about the Holy Spirit:

- He is a Person.  Note: the Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’ any more than Jesus or the Father are.  He is not just a ‘force’ or a ‘power,’ but a person.  He does things only a person can do: guide, comfort, teach, be grieved, be lied to, etc.  (Rom 8:14; John 14:26; John 16:3; Eph 4:30; Acts 5:3)

- He is God.  The Holy Spirit is the 3rd Person of the Divine Trinity.  He is included in the Name of God.  He is called ‘God.’ (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:10-11, etc.)

- He resides in every true Christian. The Holy Spirit is not just a gift that only the super-spiritual receive.  All Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them (Rom 8:9).

Given these three simple (yet profound) facts about the Holy Spirit, we should ask: 
  • Do I worship Him and honor Him as I do God the Father and God the Son?  How many songs of praise are there TO the Holy Spirit and FOR all that He has done? We have plenty of songs about the Father, about His works, and about the Son and his works, but what of the Spirit?  Too often we are seriously lacking in giving honor where honor is due. 
  • Do I remember that He is always with me, in a very real sense… in every moment of every day? How would it change our lives if we remembered we are filled with God the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit has done and does so much for the Church.  Just a quick survey of the Apostle’s Creed shows us some of his works:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ through faith and baptism.  The Holy Spirit, in that sense, ‘makes’ the Church: it is only because of the work of the Holy Spirit that any of us believe and are brought into the Body of Christ. He is the permanent unity that will always exist between God’s people: because He is our unity, for there is “one Spirit,” we have an eternal unity. 

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.  This is true when we are first saved, believing we are sinners in need of a Savior; but this also continues as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us and then convicts us of our lack of conformity to God’s truth and God’s ways.  The Holy Spirit gives us faith to believe that the forgiveness of sins of possible.  The Holy Spirit also inspired the Scriptures which give us assurance that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

The Holy Spirit secures us for everlasting life.  Eternal life includes the resurrection of our bodies at the final judgment.  The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11) and since we have the Holy Spirit in us we too know that the Holy Spirit will raise us.  Indeed the Holy Spirit is like a down payment on eternal life: because He is present in our lives, we know we will have life with God for all eternity (Eph 1:13-14).

And this is just a smattering of the work the Holy Spirit does!  He inspired the Scriptures (spoke through the prophets), He comforts us when we are hurting, He assures us when we are doubting.  He gives us wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and gentleness. 


But perhaps the greatest gift of the Spirit is that He is with us and in us.  Human beings were made for God, to be with Him.  We will never find joy and all we were made to be, unless we find it in God’s presence.  And the Gift of the Holy Spirit, through simply being with us and in us, fulfills the greatest purpose of humanity.

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