Thursday, May 23, 2013

Expectations Fulfilled at Pentecost

There is but one God only, the living and true God. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
         This catechism answer is a good one. We tend to think in terms of hierarchy when with thing of God’s power and glory. The Father is the ancient God, Jesus is less than Him but someone we can relate. We know from our theology that the Holy Spirit is God but since we cannot see Him, He is even more mysterious to us than the Father.
         But this way of thinkng will not do. The Son and the Spirit are co-equal persons in the Godhead with the Father. The Son is fully God. He has existed always, is omnipresent and omniscient just as the Father. The Holy Spirit is also fully God. He has been God from before the creation. He hovered over the waters at creation. He was with Israel in the wilderness. He came with expansive power at Pentecost and dwells in the Christian Church globally and in each individual Christian personally.
         This is where we may even have a problem with the fact that Spirit is God. Since the Holy Spirit indwells His people, it is true to say that God is not only with us, He is in us and this is difficult for us to comprehend. God is in us, in our body, making us alive through the process of regeneration. The life that we now we live, we live in the Spirit.
         Of course, God is not wholly contained within us. He is in us and this is real and glorious but neither the Church at large nor our bodies fully contains the Holy Spirit. This is impossible because the uncreated Creator cannot be contained in Creation. And the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Creator.
         Contrary to popular modern Christian belief, the Holy Spirit did not arrive on the Earth at Pentecost. He had always existed here.  He was in the beginning hovering over the waters as God created the world.  He spoke by the mouth of the prophets.  He inhabited the praises of His people in a very tangible way in the glory cloud, in the pillar of fire and between the cherubim over the mercy seat.  The Holy Spirit did not begin to exist at Pentecost, but most certainly something new and glorious was happening.
This is a great and glorious passage.  It is the inauguration of a new age in the church and a new age in the world.  The old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.  We must see the coming of the Holy Spirit with all the splendor that our God desires.  He did not come merely that we might go to heaven.  Granted, that is a most precious reward of living in the Holy Spirit.  But believing Hebrews always believed that.  Remember that David said that he could go to his dead child?  He knew there was an afterlife and he looked to it in faith.  The promise of heaven is most certainly to all who believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world. 
But the Jews had promises given to them from God and they counted on God to fulfill that which He promised.  Faithful Jews believed that God will fulfill these promises.  In order for us to understand what was going on at Pentecost and the days following, we must get a hold of some idea of what the believing Jews expected. 

Acts 1:6   When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
You see from their question that their expectation of Jesus is that He would be the promised King of David’s line that would rule the re-established kingdom of Israel. Jesus’s answer prepares them for the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it would mean for the Spirit to be poured out on all flesh. Instead of a kingdom in Israel, the kingdom would extend to the ends of the Earth. And this is exactly what happened when the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost.

No comments: