Tag Archives: Pentecost

The how’s and why’s of God’s Spirit of judgement and fire?

‘… he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.’ (Isaiah 4v4)

It is easy in this verse to misunderstand what is being said by the prophet. The reference to a spirit of judgement and a spirit of fire seems to suggest that multiple spirits are in operation – each with their own particular function. And yes, our New Testament understanding is that there is One God and One Spirit so how are we to understand this?

For me, this passage speaks of the future way in which God will operate in the world – a time that was heralded at the first Pentecost in which the visitors from many nations came to Jerusalem are were cut to the heart by Peter’s words (Act 2) as he tells them the way to God is through Jesus Christ who was crucified by one and all who fail to believe his message. ‘What must we do?’ comes the collective reply of the visitors who are mortified and experiencing judgement as the spirit touches them. ‘ Repent and be baptised,’ replies  Peter as God’s Holy Spirit, like a fire descends on the visitors, who then go back to their communities taking the message of God. In short, in this instance – One Spirit- two functions: to help people recognise their need for forgiveness and (once achieved) to physically, mentally and spiritually receive God into their lives as the Holy Spirit indwells them as Counseller, Guide and Enabler (to name but a few). Be blessed and know God’s Spirit lives within

 


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Holy Spirit in History?

‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”(Ezekiel 37v14)’ (Ezekiel 37 v1)

What I love about this scripture is God’s promise to ‘put’ his Spirit into the people. Of course, it is only when we factor in that it was spoken during the period we now refer to as the Old Testament that we realise its significance. God’s eternal plan of infilling his creation has begun.

Here we have the first inklings of what the disciples will encounter at Pentecost. Six hundred years on after the death of Ezekiel and Jesus instructs the disciples to wait on God’s Counsellor who will come to them after his departure. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples begin a period of fasting and praying in readiness for the Counsellor to come – but truth be told, they had no idea what to expect!

The Holy Spirit enters into each of them and – filled with the life and presence of God – they fall into the streets telling everyone the good news of Jesus. The persecution that follows only makes them bold and resilient. Soon their numbers grow as a handful of disciples multiply into the 2.18 billion followers in the world today. Not by clever marketing or strategy but because God lives within each person and what they have is good news. This is how we know ‘the Lord has spoken and he has done it!’ (Ezek 37v14)

 


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Holy Spirit in Human History (8)

But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11v29)

Those of us with knowledge of what happens 1300 years later at Pentecost will read Mose’s response as more of an unintentional propheric utterance to the people challenging him.

In Acts 2 we read of how Jesus’ disciples – bouyed by seeing him alive – obey his instruction to remain together as they pray for the Counsellor to be sent to them. What happens next is staggering as God’s Holy Spirit arrives comes upon them and they spill out into the streets, glorifying God to people in other languages who (convicted by what they hear and see) respond to the message and also become Jesus’ followers. More than that – the disciples discover that if they lay hands on these new believers and invite the Holy Spirit into them, it happens and these new converts are also filled with the Spirit of God.

How true the outcome: I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!

 

 


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Speaking the language of love?

‘Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.  Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’ (Acts 2v5-7)

I don’t know about you but I sense the crowd’s bewilderment at what was happening. It’s one thing for everyone to be speaking the same language in your own province  but to do it in a foreign country with a group of seemingly uneducated men speaking to you about the wonders and glory of God? Well, that’s another thing….

For the crowd, their amazement at being spoken to in their own language seems to have been quickly surpassed by incredulity as they realise the men are from Galilee – a place held with little regard by most from outside it and yet God’s Holy Spirit enters these ‘lowly’ people and instructs them to  announce the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.

However, God isn’t finished yet. Peter – a fisherman and disciple of Christ – steps forward with the other eleven and explains God’s plan of salvation to the visiting Jews. Finally, Peter finishes by explaining the need for the crowd to repent and be baptised and 3,000 visitors are saved as moist eyes give way to tears of repentance and the tag team of Holy Spirit and  humanity rolls on…


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Tongues of fire?

‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ (Acts 2v1-4)Growing up in England in the mid-seventies, there wasn’t much television for a child on a Saturday with sports shows dominating both channels. While most of what was broadcast held little interest for me, there was something intriguing about the wresting bouts. In  particular, the tag-team matches in which one weary wrestler  –  usually the one who had taken a right pasting at the hands of the opposition – would tag out and give way to the stronger wrestler to take over and save the day.  (Maybe you see where I’m going with this?)

The crucified and resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and instructs them to wait and pray for the promised Counsellor to come upon them- the Holy Spirit. Obediently, the disciples – buoyed by seeing Jesus in his resurrected state – wait and pray in anticipation, unsure of who they were praying for and what would happen. They didn’t have to wait too long because…

…on Pentecost Day – suddenly, unexpectedly, a wild wind fills the house where the fearful disciples had been praying. Everything breaks lose as the promised tag-team player arrives – God’s Holy Spirit falls on the disciples and they spill out from the house onto the streets, telling every person they meet about the good news of Christ crucified and resurrected. What’s more, they miraculously speak in languages they never knew they had and end up converting thousands of Jews (visiting from abroad) who will later return home, taking this message of salvation with them. A first wave of new converts who now carry the same Holy Spirit as the disciples. There can be no doubt. The Tag-team partner has arrived, ready to equip Christians to effect the work of Christ in the world!

 


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