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October 20, 2017

The Mission of Pentecost

by Matt Fray

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

Acts 2:5-13 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=ad52221ea3&e=82a9a8f891)

John Calvin, one of the leading voices of the Protestant Reformation, is perceived by some to have been a cranky, impersonal, and dull pastor. While Calvin was likely cranky (due to chronic ailments and cultural critics), he was hardly impersonal or dull. We would be hard-pressed to find a pastor more committed to the personal pastoral care of those in his congregation and community. And in the words of the great Princeton professor B.B. Warfield, John Calvin was “the theologian of the Holy Spirit.” Where the Roman Catholic Church prized the institutional influence and power of the church, Calvin reclaimed the personal influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Consider Calvin’s description of Pentecost from his commentary on Acts: “If God could openly and visibly descend from Heaven, His majesty could scarce more manifestly appear than in this miracle.” For Calvin, Pentecost is the miraculous appearance of God’s majesty. While God’s majesty had appeared previously in earthly phenomena (like Israel’s guiding pillar of cloud and fire) and in the physical incarnation of the Son, those previous appearances were all temporary and localized. But at Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit came to all believers globally for all time, including us today.

Both of my sons celebrated birthdays during the past week, and as I write this, I am across the table from some of their gifts. While they brought smiles and activity for a day or two, they now lie unused and forgotten. In fact, the suggestions for Christmas gifts have already begun! How similar are we with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Has the majesty of the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit grown dull in our hearts? Has our sense of need for the Holy Spirit’s influence and power been usurped by a sense of need for other things which seem more influential or powerful? Are we more interested in the tangible gifts of the Holy Spirit than in His mysterious, personal presence in us?

Ironically, it is the Holy Spirit alone who can revive our wonder, dependence, and gratitude! May we be a people praying for God to restore these things to us by His Spirit, and may we be a people eager to extend the gift of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ the Son to our world.

Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul.
Bring the presence of the risen Lord to renew my heart and make me whole.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me; give me faith for what I cannot see;
Give me passion for Your purity; Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
- “Holy Spirit,” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

About the Author

Matt Fray
Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Matt grew up in South Florida and first sensed a call to pastoral ministry while a high school student at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Dallas. After graduating from St. Mark’s, Covenant College, and Westminster Seminary in California, he spent four years serving as the assistant pastor of a PCA church in Savannah, GA. In 2014, he returned to serve at PCPC as the Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation.

Matt and his wife Erin have three children: Lydia, Hudson, and Samuel.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Don't Worry about What to Say!

    [Jesus said,] "But when you are arrested and stand trial, don't worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit."

    Mark 13:11 NLT

    Key Thought

    What an incredible promise! We are never alone, even when we are under the threat of persecution and martyrdom. We have the Holy Spirit of God within us. We are not abandoned in trial or torture. The Spirit who bore witness to Jesus through the centuries will bear witness to Jesus through us. The power of this promise is demonstrated in the story of Stephen: "But [the people arguing with Stephen] could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.... Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 6:10; Acts 7:55).

    Today's Prayer

    O Almighty God, please give me the courage to speak up for Jesus with grace and boldness trusting that your Spirit will give me the right words and attitude to share my hope with those who do not yet know your grace given in Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Speaking by the Holy Spirit

    [Jesus said,] "David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."'"

    Mark 12:36 NIV

    Key Thought

    Jesus tells us that David's great Psalm 110 is Spirit-inspired. And that Psalm speaks to the greatness of the Messiah — the greatness of Jesus! He is Lord. Lord of the nations. Lord of all. Lord of even David. He will rule. He will triumph. And the power of David's testimony is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gave this testimony about Jesus being Lord through King David a thousand years before Jesus came. When the Holy Spirit is present, Jesus is praised, and his identity is proclaimed, as has been true for centuries!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord. I believe the Holy Spirit gave testimony to this truth through inspired witnesses thousands of years before Jesus came. I trust that as I draw close to you and as I am filled with the Holy Spirit my life will also be a testimony to the greatness of Jesus Christ my Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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