As of publishing, this coming Sunday is Pentecost, so we thought it would be great to have a conversation about Pentecost, and the role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism. You can listen to the podcast and follow the notes below.
What is Pentecost?
In the Jewish calendar (see Leviticus 23), Pentecost is the “Feast of Weeks”. It’s held 50 days after “Firstfruits.” At “Firstfruits” you have tasted the goodness of the coming crop. At “Pentecost” the harvest comes in.
In the New Testament, Jesus rose on the day of “Firstfruits”. He was the Seed who went into the ground (on Good Friday) and came up again (on Easter Sunday). His new life guarantees a rich harvest of resurrection.
The first ever Pentecost happened in Exodus – 50 days after the Israelites came out of Egypt. On that day Moses came down from the mountain with the law and he judged idolatrous Israel. 3000 people died on that first Pentecost. In Acts 2, the Spirit comes down from on high and brings life – on that day 3000 people are reborn!
What does Acts 2 teach us about the Spirit?
The Spirit comes through the Word – especially preached. (v14ff)
The Spirit is associated with the last days (v17).
The Spirit is the triune life of God poured out (v33).
The Spirit is a gift for the unworthy (v38).
What does the rest of the Bible teach about the Holy Spirit?
The Spirit is the LIFE of God.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)
Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
If Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
What does the Spirit do in the life of God?
1. He joyfully declares the Father’s overflowing love:
You are my Son who I love, with you I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)
2. He joyfully declares the Son’s glad dependence:
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. (Luke 10:21)
3. He gives life to the Son
Through the Spirit of holiness [Jesus] was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
What does the Spirit do in our life?
1. He joyfully declares the Father’s overflowing love to us:
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
2. He joyfully declares our love as sons back to the Father:
The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ (Romans 8:15)
3. He gives life to us
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
Everything that the Spirit is in God’s life, He becomes in our life! The Spirit sweeps us up into the Son’s communion with the Father. By Him we “participate in the divine nature”! (2 Peter 1:4)
How do we get the Spirit wrong?
The three main trinitarian heresies all have implications for how we see the Spirit:
Arianism: The Spirit is a non-Person.
Here we see the Spirit as an It, a Force, an abstract Power.
Modalism: The Spirit is the same Person (as the Son / Father)
Here we forget that the Spirit unites us to Jesus and brings us before the Father. Instead modalists (eg Oneness Pentecostals) imagine that we have an unmediated relationship with God (undifferentiated). That’s not the gospel!
Tritheism: The Spirit is a detached Person
Here we think of the Spirit as another source of blessing. We imagine that we can have some blessings from Jesus but we need to go to this other power called the Spirit
to get certain blessings.
If we keep looking to Jesus we won’t go too far wrong!
What does this mean for our Christian walk?
Let’s pray for the Spirit Himself (not just His fruit). But let’s come to Jesus to know the Spirit – there’s no other Way.
Let’s be Spirit-filled which means…
centred on Jesus,
obsessed by the word,
overflowing with words of our own,
walking by faith not works,
trusting Christ not our flesh,
looking to the future when the Spirit will raise not only us but the whole world. Then even the deserts will bloom.
The Spirit [will be] poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. (Isaiah 32:15)