|How was the
end of Jesus' ministry connected to the coming of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus began to
explain to his disciples at his last supper with them about what was next
in store for them, the gift of the Holy Spirit that they would soon be
receiving. They, of course, had no real understanding at this point
that he was no longer going to be with them, that they were now going to
have to take his ministry forward without him. They would be without
him--but they would not be alone. They would have the Holy Spirit
there to guide and strengthen them in this work.
Read John 14:15-17,
25-26 and 16:4-15
What did Jesus
tell his disciples are the different things that the Holy Spirit was going
to the gospelwriter John, did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit?
Read John 20:19-22
When and how
did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit?
Read John 20:19-22.
According to the gospelwriter John, they received it on the evening of
the first day of his resurrection--as Jesus breathed on them the very powers
of the Holy Spirit.
to the gospelwriter Luke, it did not come until later, some 7 weeks or
49 days later (on Pentecost Sunday).
Read Luke 24:49-53.
On the day of his ascension into heaven (the 40th and final day of his
resurrection--and 10 days before the Jewish feast day of Pentecost) he
instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been "clothed
with power from on high."
Read Acts 1:1-5.
The Book of Acts is also written by Luke and is a continuation of his gospel.
He begins the Book of Acts by repeating some of what he had reported in
the last part of his gospel.
Read Acts 2--the
entire chapter. This is the famous story of Pentecost.
Luke explains how the Holy Spirit came as a mighty wind, it caused them
to talk in foreign tongues so that people from all kinds of foreign countries
could understand their preaching. Peter explains how this event,
which must have looked and sounded wierd was actually a fulfillment of
ancient prophecy (Joel 2:28-32).
Indeed on Pentecost
the Holy Spirit truly began his work: Peter and the disciples preached
not only fearlessly, but powerfully. And the Holy Spirit convicted
many people of their sins--so that they repented and were saved:
brought into the new covenant fellowship with God. So many people
that day received the power of the Holy Spirit.
How is the
Church the most important work of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit
thus had the task of creating the new covenant fellowship--the new church
of Jesus Christ. The foundations of new church were laid out in the
hearts of the people through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy
Spirit's main work was thus to ensure the continuation of the redeeming
work of Jesus Christ on earth through the building up of the church.
The church was not (and never has been) the work of human designers or
visionaries. It was (and always will be) the work of God through
the Holy Spirit.
How are the
people's spiritual gifts vital to the unity of the Church?
Because so very
often (in fact most of the time) the receiving of this power from on high,
this Holy Spirit, was accompanied in the early church by people "speaking
in tongues," many people today (Pentecostals or Charismatics)
insist that a person must speak in tongues as proof of having truly
received the power of the Holy Spirit.
Read 1st Corinthians
must have arisen early in the church because even Paul had to write a long
letter to the church in Corinth, Greece which included his opinion on this
matter. Paul's opinion was that there are many different gifts by
the Holy Spirit, which includes the speaking in tongues, and that all these
different gifts are equally important in building up the whole body of
Christ, the church.
Read 1st Corinthians
This passage is
read frequently at weddings. Paul is speaking beautifully about love.
But he is not talking about romantic love, or the love between a man and
a woman. He is talking about the kind of love that ought to unite
all people to each other and to God--in caring service and obedience to
What Paul is saying
at this point is that it doesn't matter how talented you are, how well
you perform good deeds, or how much you exceed religious expectations with
your piety. If a deep, self-sacrificing love is not behind these
deeds--then they are all worthless. The gifts you bring to the minstry
of Jesus Christ are of no interest to Christ.
Read 1st Corinthians
So he returns
to this question of gifts, especially the gift of tongues. His point
is that if this gift does nothing to help build up an unbeliever in the
wisdom of God, then this gift is worthless. Indeed all gifts mean
nothing unless they are worked together in an orderly manner--as the Holy
Spirit himself is orderly.
He concludes (vs.
39-40): "Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not
forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting
and orderly way"
What, to Paul, are indeed the real
signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in someone?
the fruits of the Spirit are the outflow of love, such that brings us together
in a wonderful harmony that unites us in a oneness with Christ.
Our own human
works can't improve on that. In fact they can't even come close to
matching that. In fact they most always will merely act as an obstacle
to the work of the Spirit--for in many ways they are naturally at war with
each other: our worldly nature (the "flesh") and God's Spirit.!