Sunday, 4 June 2017

Pentecost Sunday

Today is Pentecost Sunday when numerous Christians celebrate the coming of the Spirit in a special manner to empower the New Testament church for worship and witness. It was the commencement of an incredible contribution from the eternal God that remains with his people and will do so until the next major event in the story of the church, which is the second coming of Jesus.

Old Testament prophets, as well as Jesus, had predicted the coming of the Spirit and the consequent growth of the church. Over three thousand people were converted on that first Pentecost and I wonder how many were converted today throughout the world. Probably many more than three thousand. Even if one person was converted in each location throughout the world where living Christianity exists, there would be many more than three thousand in number.

In addition, one role of the Spirit is to sanctify all those who believe. This sanctification, while it involves dealing with the power of sin in their lives, is also concerned with making every believer become like Jesus in character. They no doubt wonder if that change is happening, but the presence of the Spirit is the guarantee that the change will occur and that one day, either when they die or when Jesus returns, they will be fully conformed to his likeness.

Moreover, one aspect of the coming of the Spirit was to deliver spiritual gifts from the exalted Christ to each of his people. Paul tells us that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift and when exercised as they should they create a community of holy people competent to serve their risen King in the ways that he wants them to do.

It is an incredible blessing to live in the age of the Spirit. We should remember this as we see all the crises and catastrophes happening all over the world. And we should remember this as we see problems and disappointments in the church. While we may grieve the Spirit and lose his blessing until we repent, he is not going to go away. On the Day of Pentecost he came in power and blessing, and subsequent days of his activity have not drawn to a close.

As we reflect on this Pentecost Sunday about the coming of the Spirit we can also remind ourselves of what Paul says when he writes that throughout this age we have the firstfruits of the Spirit. This means that what the church has and is experiencing is only a sample and that there will be greater involvement by the Holy Spirit in the lives of his people when the new heavens and new earth commence.

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