Volume 10, No. 5 (May 2015)
This Sunday, May 24), is Pentecost Sunday, the great culmination of the Easter season (50 days after Easter Sunday), commemorating the events of Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples, filling them with boldness to proclaim the message of Christ. The effects of Peter’s sermon that day, the conversion and baptism of 3,000 people, has led to the historical designation of Pentecost as “the birthday of the Church.”
The coming of the Holy Spirit was in fulfillment of Jesus’s promise to send “another Comforter” after His death, resurrection and ascension:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me.” (John 15:26)
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:7-11)
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-15)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The Spirit’s main focus would be to glorify Christ (John 16:13-14), rather than to draw attention to Himself. Indeed, in the New Testament we never see the Spirit acting in a way that is not inseparably connected with the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ.
J. I. Packer has written the following about the ongoing, quiet ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
Since the Pentecost of Acts 2 the Spirit empowers, enables, purges, and leads generation after generation of sinners to face the reality of God. And he does it in order that Christ may be known, loved, trusted, honored and praised. The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers—that is, to give them the knowledge of his presence with them as their Saviour, Lord, and God—that three things keep happening:
First, personal fellowship with Jesus…becomes a reality of experience, even though Jesus is now not here on earth in bodily form, but is enthroned in heaven’s glory.
Second, personal transformation of character into Jesus’ likeness starts to take place as, looking to Jesus, their model, for strength, believers worship and adore him and learn to lay out and, indeed, lay down their lives for him and for others.
Third, the Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed, and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family, so as to be “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), makes gratitude, delight, hope, and confidence-in a word, assurance-blossom in believers’ hearts.
(J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, p. 47)
For much more about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and His vital role in our worship, and a number of song texts and readings appropriate for Pentecost Sunday, please see Worship Notes 1.9.
For other song texts and readings about the Holy Spirit, please see HERE our church’s bulletin for this Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost.
(Another element we have used in other years has been to have some of our internationals recite John 3:16 in their different languages, as a reminder of Acts 2:6-11.)