Sunday, May 24, 2015

The secret of the church's success

Pentecost - Estella Canziani
Pentecost - Estella L. M. Canziani (1905-1936)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 2:1-21

TO CHEW ON: "Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, 'Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? …. We hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God'" Acts 2:7,11

The odds of those 120 Jesus-followers gathered in that upper room ever making anything of their movement were almost non-existent. They were mostly uneducated people without influence. They were out of favor with all the ruling factions, especially their own Jewish leaders. They had just been through the traumatic lynching and crucifixion of their rabbi, and though He had returned, it had been different than before. He came and went mysteriously. Recently He had physically disappeared into heaven.

But from the Day of Pentecost, those 120 never stopped growing.  From that day they gathered new followers wherever they went. What was their secret?

It was the Holy Spirit.

My Bible has an outline called "The Work of the Holy Spirit" that references the ways He has been active on this earth from the beginning through to now. In relation to fulfilling our mandate to spread the Gospel, the Holy Spirit works in all aspects.

He inspired the writing of Scripture—the good news we share - 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21.

Now he works in the hearts of the news-spreaders as He:
  • Pours out God's love in our hearts - Romans 5:5.
  • Gives power to proclaim the gospel - Acts 1:8.
  • Imparts gifts for ministry - 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

On the other end, the Holy Spirit also works in the hearts of the hearers as He:
  • Brings conviction - John 16:8-11.
  • Regenerates - Titus 3:5

Still today we need to take into our work a sense of our own inadequacy without the Holy Spirit. It is only through His empowering that we can accomplishing anything of eternal value:

"… the church was birthed in the worshiping, ministering power of the Holy Spirit; and shortly, three thousand people received Christ. This enablement by the Spirit initiated the spread of the gospel in the hostile environment of persecution, idolatry, and political oppression, and it is still the answer for the spread of the gospel today" - Scott G. Bauer, "The Miracle of Pentecost" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1492 (emphasis added).

PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for coming and indwelling all believers—me too. Help me to give You full rights and access to my life so that my life and work will have eternal significance. Amen.

MORE: Day of Pentecost (Whitsunday)
Today the church celebrates the Day of Pentecost, also called Whitsunday.

The liturgy for today begins with the following collect:

"Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

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