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  • James Stegall

Pentecost Sunday 2020

What a blessed Sunday we have before us! Pentecost Sunday is, in my opinion, the most important Christian observances along with Advent and Easter. Advent and Easter’s importance is something I’m sure I don’t need to explain here, but the implications of Pentecost affect every moment of our lives and can thus be easy to miss. While Advent and Easter gave us our merciful and faithful high priest (Hebrews 2:17). God came in human flesh through Mary, lived a perfect life, and died a sinner’s death. He was raised and ascended, making a way for us to be redeemed forever. When he left, something even better (John 16:7) happened for us than if he stayed on the earth after his resurrection: the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Pentecost as a whole is too big of a mountain to climb in a writing such as this, so I want to focus on two primary aspects about this day.

Pentecost raises many awe-filled questions. The fullness of God lives inside of me? How could that be possible? What does this mean for me? The first and most important (in my opinion), aspect of his life in us on which I’d like to focus is the way in He empowers us by his grace to live righteous and holy lives unto God. Paul and Peter call this process the sanctification of the Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Some of the clearest descriptions we have of the Holy Spirit are found not only in the book of Acts but in John 14-16. As Jesus teaches his disciples on the night before his crucifixion, he hones in on one primary title and characteristic of the Spirit: the Helper. Referencing him as such several times, Jesus shows that one of the primary reasons for which the Spirit is here with us is to—you guessed it—help us.

Left to our own devices, we are slaves to sin and lost in the darkness of a life without God. We strive and yearn but keep coming up short. How many times do we see this in our lives or with those around us, as well as in the Bible? The Holy Spirit dwelling within us changes everything, though. Justified and redeemed by the love of God, we are enlivened by the Spirit. In John 14-16, Jesus states that the Spirit shows us the truth, gives us deeper insight into the Scriptures, brings to our remembrance the words of Christ, bears witness of the truth of Jesus to our souls, convicts us, guides us into truth, declares to us things to come, and takes what is of Jesus and declares it to us. On Pentecost, the disciples turned apostles experienced this, and began to declare him to the whole world.

The second aspect I want to highlight is how the Holy Spirit manifests his power through the church as a witness to the world of who God is and what he is like. Whether it be the immediate manifestation of God’s power through the disciples on the day of Pentecost itself, the way these gifts permeate the book of Acts, teachings on them in the New Testament, or how we’ve seen them in the church throughout history up to the present day, God has shown that he is intent on showing the world who he is by his Spirit through his church. The gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) were graciously given to the church at Pentecost to testify to the world that God is good, caring, and powerful. They were also given to testify of the world to come, a world and age in which there is no more sickness, pain, fear, or death. As I’ve prayed with many throughout the years and seen them healed by God’s power, I have seen glimpses of the day in which all will be whole.

In Pentecost, God has pulled back the proverbial curtain a bit and showed us the characteristics of the kingdom we now serve, his kingdom that will come and rest on this earth forever. In Pentecost, God has shown us that we have not been left as orphans in this world, but dwells with us every moment of every day, as close as the breath in our lungs. So, take heart! You are the dwelling place of God himself. He is with you and will not forsake you. He will help you as you seek to walk with him more and more every day. He will use you to show this world that there is another world on the horizon, one of hope, mercy, kindness, and love.

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United Methodist Church
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