Feast Of Pentecost: "New Fire"
Acts 2:1-7, 12-21
Psalm 104:3-4; 24-31
The Spirit of God has given life to His Church. The Spirit of God has been hovering in the beginning of creation, and He is also involved in re-creation. God began the work at creation which was made very good, but because of the malice of the enemy, it was marred, contaminated, and compromised. Then God began the work of renewing, restoring and recreating. The good news is that He also invites us to participate in this work.
Psalm 104:30 says, “You send forth Your Spirit and they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.” The Holy Spirit is not unfamiliar with lack of order or chaos, and He is not intimidated with these things. He is the restorer of order, of peace, of joy and of goodness. God is in the business of making all things new. This is why our theme for this year is “Walking in Newness of Life.” As we close forty years in our history as a Church, we again look forward to new life, the beginning of another generation.
A prayer says, “Let the whole world see and know the things which are being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection.” We are being renewed because we were wonderfully created, and yet, we are being more wonderfully restored. This is the work of God.
I can confidently to say that we are headed for something good and great. This is what is in store for us: the glory of the latter house will be greater than the former. How do I know this? The Spirit of God has given life to His Church and He is renewing the face of the earth despite storms, conflicts, and whatever it can intimidate Him. He is not unfamiliar with these things. There will be the restoration of all things - goodness; oneness; peace; unity; joy and peace. If we fight this, we delay it.
The Israelites went from Egypt to the Promised Land, a distance of only a couple of weeks, and it took them forty years because they were fighting the will of God. They were not walking together in unity. It was not a matter of them being the same or alike. Each tribe was different from each other, having their own personality and gifts. We don’t have to be the same; we just need to be one. We don’t have to be alike; we just need to be in unity.
There is a saying in the Church about unity: in essentials, unity; in nonessentials, diversity; in all things, charity. We can be different but be in unity. We agree in essentials like the Creed, but non-essentials like how baptism is done in one Church is not a matter to be argued about as long as we baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We may be different in physical appearance, but we have one heart and this is where we can be in unity. Unity in diversity; we overcome differences. We cannot reign without differences or challenges. Therefore, see respect for differences as victory and life! Although differences are not really an enemy to overcome, they are just realities to be respected.
There is a theological term to describe the unity of the Godhead: perichoresis. In Greek, peri is means around; chorein is to give way or make room. The word may mean rotation, which is an uninterrupted cooperation in unity and giving way to each other. The “Shield of Trinity” symbol depicts the concept of the Trinity where the Trinity has three Persons, but one God. Each of the Persons has a distinct personality where the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father, but the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God; and yet, there are not three Gods, but one God. There are not three Lords, but one Lord. This shows the unity of the Godhead which may be too unfathomable for us to grasp but this is the truth and the pattern of giving way to each other in an uninterrupted unity. Being different doesn’t mean that we have a license to commit evil. Crossing the line doesn’t mean we are different; crossing the line means we should repent because this is not our nature. In all things, charity.
In Acts 2, the disciples were in one place and when the Spirit of God came upon them, they spoke in different languages. Hundreds of years before this, at the Tower of Babel, people were gathered in one place, and they spoke in different languages. In both events, they were in one place and they spoke in different languages. However, in the Tower of Babel there was confusion; at Pentecost, there was unity. It is not about having the same language but all about preaching the same message or the same gospel of love in different languages because our mission is to make disciples of all nations. The gift of tongues was given to the disciples to penetrate the barrier of language.
The Holy Spirit is a Helper, and if there is a challenge or an impediment, He helps us to fulfill our mission. There was an impediment of language, and so the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of tongues so that they could reach to every nation in the world. Every nation was represented in Jerusalem at that time, and they were able to make them understand as they were able to proclaim the mighty deeds of the Lord. They communicated the nature of God which is love. We communicate the gospel of love. Sandi Patti sang, “Love in any Language” which says that love pulls us together. This is what the Holy Spirit is all about – unity.
Talking about the subject of communication, study says that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Only 7% of what we communicate effectively is through words. What do you think constitutes the non-verbal of our communication? It is action or a demonstration. As a Church, we can preach all we want about Scriptures, but we would be 7% effective. To be one hundred percent effective, we do the 7% of words but back it up with 93% percent non-verbal demonstration of the Spirit’s power and the Spirit’s nature.
Nonetheless, our speech should unite not alienate. Our words should bless and not confuse; it should build up and not tear down. Ephesians 4:29-32 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
The Holy Spirit is a Blessor who blesses. When He gave utterances to His disciples, He gave them words of blessing. The Holy Spirit is a Helper whom Jesus sent to His disciples, not a Santa Claus who whom one would ask for gifts for self. The Holy Spirit’s gifts are for us to use to fulfill our mission, and to perform our task. They are an empowerment for us to fulfill our mission. Our mission is to testify about Jesus. The disciples proclaimed the mighty deeds of the Lord.
1Corinthians 14, St. Paul said that tongues are for a sign, a message to unbelievers. The Holy Spirit is sent to renew the face of the earth. We have the gifts, filled with the Spirit so that we can make a difference. It is making an impact on the whole world because we participate in the renewing of the face of the earth. We are invited to participate in this, not to fight it to cause delay.
The fulfillment of our mission brings about the fulfillment in life. It is way greater than the fleeting pleasure we derive from just possessing gifts. Using the gifts, we get fulfilled ourselves. The Holy Spirit is sent forth to empower us and to use us to renew the face of the earth. He is in the business of restoring all things, making all things new. This is what is happening. This is what will continue to happen because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.