In Acts 2 on the Day of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the people gathered in Jerusalem, and the miracle of languages took place. The Bible says the people were amazed:
And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12)
2,000 years later we can ask the same question, “What does this mean?” The descent of the Holy Spirit means at least three things for us today:
1. The descent of the Spirit means the presence of God in our own experience.
You and I as Christian people must recover what it means to know that God is present with us both in worship and in individual living.
To have the gift of the Spirit of the living God means that Christ dwells within us. We are in the process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
2. The New Testament declares that the presence of the Spirit in our lives means moral transformation.
We bear in our bodies, as Paul says,
The fruit of the Spirit… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
These are moral manifestations of the Spirit in our lives so that we can live out what was pronounced over us at our baptism:
We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
3. The descent of the Spirit connects us with both our past and our future.
The Holy Spirit transforms our lives from the inside out.
We are given extravagant promises as Christian people. We are told that, just as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the father, so also we too will be gloriously raised from the dead.
We are promised that one day this sin-cursed world will be brought to a catastrophic conclusion. In the same moment, God through Messiah Jesus will transform heaven and earth and conquer the powers of evil. A glorious new kingdom will be manifested. We will be raised immortal in His presence.
The Holy Spirit is the common thread that holds together our past, present, and future.
The New Testament specifically connects our resurrection from the grave with Jesus’ return. It also relates our future resurrection from the dead to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives here and now. The Spirit has to do not only with the presence of God in our lives and moral transformation, but also with the future–our future hope of resurrection.
If we are in Christ, then a new decisive, creative, act of God has begun in us. It is not yet finished, but we are being transformed into the resurrection likeness of Jesus Christ. The gift of the Spirit provides continuity between this life, our past experiences, and the glorious age to come. Because we have such a glorious hope, we ought here and now to serve Him with our whole hearts.
We know, then, what the Holy Spirit means for our lives today. What does it mean for our past and our future? I’ll take a close look at the Holy Spirit’s influence on our memories of the past and on our futures in my next post.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on June 17, 1990.