Summary: The early church would not have been born without the coming of the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the church will not survive and do what God wants it to do without the presence, blessing, guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit today
Pentecost: when the first Christians were baptised with the Holy Spirit
John baptised people with water in the river Jordan.
All who were prepared to repent came to him
to have their sins symbolically washed away.
Their sins were not in their hair or on their heads
and anywhere else on the exterior of their physical body,
so the application of water
was only a symbolic action of something taking place on the inside,
on or in the soul, wherever that is.
It is the same with baptism or christening,
and the same with Holy Communion, or the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
We call these Sacraments, Means of Grace;
means or ways that God sends or imparts His grace
on those who not only take part in ritual actions,
but believe that He is present in them.
All we see or feel or taste is water or bread or wine,
but we believe something very important is taking place;
in the case of baptism, that forgiveness from all the sins
that we commits in our lifetime
are washed away in the water at baptism,
and in the case of holy communion,
that Jesus comes to us in and under the form of bread and wine.
John did not claim to be the Messiah, or even a prophet,
and he was honest and humble enough to admit
that Someone would come after him
who would be much more important than him,
and this Person would be able to do something that he, John the Baptiser,
could never do,
baptise with the Holy Spirit.
The word ‘baptise’ means to dip, or plunge, or immerse,
so John the Baptist was saying that while he could dip or plunge or immerse a sinner
into the water of the River Jordan,
Someone (with a capital S) would follow him,
and that Someone would be able to dip, plunge or immerse sinners
into the Holy Spirit, into the very God-head.
Jesus promised the disciples that He would never leave them or forsake them, spiritually,
but that He would leave them, physically, after His death and resurrection,
but that they should not worry,
because the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, would come upon them,
and in Acts 1:8 he said,
"you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you",
and this prophecy or promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost..
The word translated as ‘power’ is ‘dunamis’, which gives us the word ‘dynamite’.
It is a type of power that only the Divine, the Holy Spirit can give.
Everyone has some idea about what God the Father is like;
the Creator of the world;
the One who chose the Jews to be His special people.
The Father of Jesus, who sent the angel Gabriel to Mary
to tell her that she would be the mother of the Messiah
even though she was a virgin.
Everyone has some idea about what Jesus is like;
a middle eastern Jew who was brought up by a carpenter;
who became a preacher and healer and miracle worker,
and who claimed to be God in the flesh;
who was executed by crucifixion,
and who was later seen alive by over 500 witnesses.
But the Holy Spirit,
Who is as much a part of the Godhead and Holy Trinity
as the Father and the Son,
receives little attention,
and sometimes even Christians find it difficult to understand Him
and what He does,
and how He can help us,
and Boy, the church needs the Holy Spirit today!
I remember seeing a book in a Christian Bookshop a few years ago;
it was called ‘The Holy Spirit – the Cinderella of the Trinity!’.
The word ‘Cinderella’ is the key to understanding the Holy Spirit.
He is there hard working in the background,
and usually without recognition or appreciation.
We should recognise and appreciate that God wants to help us and guide us,
not only in our CHURCH-LIFE
but EVERY ASPECT of our lives,
and this is where the Holy Spirit does His work.
In the Bible the Holy Spirit is called The Comforter;
who doesn’t need comfort at some time?
Whenever we feel the need for strength or guidance in any area of our life,
we should pray, talk to the Holy Spirit,
and ask Him to help us, and especially to keep us from harm and temptation,
and help us to realise what is right and good for us,
because this is what He does;
that is His divine ministry.
The Holy Spirit is also called Paracletos;
this is a Greek word meaning ‘one who comes alongside’;
who doesn’t need Someone strong to come alongside them at some time?
Is there any local congregation anywhere in the world
that can operate or fulfil its mission
without the Holy Spirit?