The Advent of the Holy Spirit

Dove of the Holy Spirit by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). Wikimedia


The Spirit hovered over creation from the beginning. Alongside the Father and the Word, he brought chaos to order (Gen 1:1-2), and filled creatures with God’s breath (Gen 2:7). Rushing upon the Judges with power, the Spirit overthrew Israel’s enemies (Judg 15:14-16). He anointed Moses, David, and the rest of the prophets, filling their mouths and guiding their quills (2 Pet 1:21). In former times, the Spirit came upon God’s people temporarily for specific purposes. Today, on Pentecost, we rejoice in the dawning of a new age. The ascended Jesus has sent the Spirit to abide with us forever (John 14:16). As a result, we partake of the following gifts:

1. The Spirit brings us new life from God. Our first cry signals a birth of flesh, entrance into Adam’s race. As children of Adam we inherit both physical and spiritual death. Without the Spirit’s renewal we can’t enter God’s life. The Holy Spirit graciously imparts this new life through word and water (Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5). By means of hearing the word about Christ, the Spirit gives faith, moving us to forsake our idols and embrace Jesus with deep conviction (Rom 10:17; 1 Thes 1:4). Through the waters of baptism he cleanses our conscience toward God (1 Pet 3:20-22; Heb 10:22), setting us apart from the world (1 Cor 6:11). Like his work at creation, the Spirit hovers over our baptism, bringing forth as a new creation community, one ordered and beatified by the Threefold Name (Gen 1:1-2; Matt 28:18-20).

2. The Spirit welcomes us into fellowship with the Trinity. Mystically, through the Spirit, the ascended Jesus comes to us, affirming our adoption (John 14:15-18). Through the Spirit’s indwelling we understand that Jesus is in the Father, and we in Jesus, and Jesus in us (John 14:20). By uniting us with Christ, the Holy Spirit opens ancient doors, bringing us into interpersonal communion with the Trinity. He grants us a heightened sense of this fellowship at the Lord’s Table. As we drink the cup and break the bread, The Spirit opens our eyes to the Christ in our midst (Luke 24:30-35), and summons us to reign with him and the Father via the path of faith and repentance (Rev 3:19-22). Through the mysteries of bread and wine, the Spirit feeds our faith for the journey with the heavenly Christ’s body and blood.

3. The Spirit abides in us as our Counselor. While Jesus is away, the Holy Spirit comes to us as Teacher in his name. As indwelling Counselor, the Spirit’s main purpose is to glorify the Father and the Son. He does this by convicting the world of its need of Jesus, while guiding us who believe deeper into Christ’s truth (John 16). The Spirit abides as an anointing enabling us to overcome the false narratives that vie for our allegiance (1 John 2:26-27). He grants us access to the deep things of God, to the mind of Christ, opening our perception to the truth as it is in Jesus. The world mocks such knowledge because it doesn’t have the Spirit, but remains captive to the god of this age (1 Cor 2:6-16; 2 Cor 4:3-6). For us, the Spirit is the resident Gardener, weeding sin from our lives and cultivating fruits that please God. He also helps us pray, and when we don’t know how to pray he intercedes on our behalf (Gal 5:16-26; Rom 8:26,27).

4. The Spirit cloths us with power to proclaim Christ’s message. On this day we remember the fire that fell on Pentecost. We recall how the Holy Spirit turned the first disciples into bold witnesses, even martyrs for Christ (Acts 7:55-60, 12:1-2; Rev 2:13). Although these first martyrs suffered the dragon’s wrath, they were not defeated by his swords and stones. In death, they conquered the serpent because they loved Christ and his glory more than themselves. As a post-Christian world emerges in the West, we pray to the Father and Son for the same outpouring of the Spirit’s power. We ask for ability beyond our own to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name to all people (Luke 24:46-49). May the Spirit’s flame consume us in this act of worship as incense before the LORD!




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