Joel 2:28-32
Pentecost
June 4, 2017
St. Paul’s Anglican Church

“The Activation of the Holy Spirit”

Today, we celebrate Pentecost – when the Holy Spirit came to Christ’s Church 2,000 years ago. The sound of a mighty rushing wind was heard… fire-like tongues descending from heaven were seen above Christ’s followers – audible and visible signs that the Holy Spirit had come to baptize… to indwell… and to fill Christ’s Church with sacred fire…

Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed for ever;
Day whereon God from Heaven
Shone in the world with His grace.

It is a sad commentary on the ignorance of the modern Church today that in a religious survey of Christians less than three years ago, over half of those questioned said the Holy Spirit is a “force” and not a “person.” This is tragic news because Christianity has once again become a breeding ground for ancient heresies once stamped out through the Herculean effort of Early Church Councils.

We are persons because we are made in God’s Image. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are Persons par excellence – because they think… feel… decide… they are aware of themselves and others… they communicate. These are some of their “communicable attributes” which they have passed on to you and me! And we best use them well… for they are a privilege! Animals do not possess these gifts – but we do! And the Holy Spirit is a Person!

In the beginning of time, at the start of Creation Week, when the basic elements called into being were without form and void, it was the Holy Spirit, as described in verse two of the Bible, Who moved upon the face of the waters – brooding like a bird, as it were, upon her nest. The word “moved” literally means “to vibrate” (or pulse). Elsewhere in the Bible it is translated “to flutter” or “to shake.”

What in the world was going on? Dr. Henry Morris, considered by many to be the father of modern creation science explains in his landmark tome, The Genesis Record, that we find here the creation of the electromagnetic spectrum – all frequencies of invisible waves, X-rays, gamma rays, radio waves, infrared waves and ultraviolet waves — which along with gravity are the only forces in the universe which impinge on matter! Energy in His world pulses by waves – heat waves… sound waves… light waves…

The term used to describe what the Holy Spirit did during Creation Week is “activation.” He activated the cosmos! Just like activating a new smart phone! It is there and ready for use, but until it is activated (by phoning a number or going to a website), it is non-functioning! Once it is activated, it comes alive, as it were.

If you have any doubts whatsoever about what the Holy Spirit can do in your life… and will do through you… you need look no further than the display of His power when activating – flipping the ON switch of – the universe! If you have any question regarding the outcome of human history in the struggle between the forces of rebellious Man and the Godhead… look no further than the six days in which the Holy Spirit assisted as the Prime Mover and Energizer of this universe! It gives me goose bumps!

There is a beautiful term from the past employed to describe this function of the Holy Spirit. The phrase describing the Holy Spirit as the Vital Energy of God has all but disappeared in our day under the onslaught of evolution! And one cannot see it… grasp it… comprehend it… in an instant. It takes time and faith to digest (sometimes years)! But it is a beautiful, descriptive, accurate and powerful phrase nonetheless.

As the Vital Energy of God, He is behind all of the unique abilities which His children possess…

• According to Job, He is the source of man’s understanding.
• According to Moses, He is the source of skillful management and sound stewardship…
• By the example of Bezaleel and Aholiab (who constructed the Tabernacle and its furnishings), He is the source of artistic abilities…
• By the example of Joshua, He is the source of military acumen…
• By the example of the Judges of Israel, He is the source of courage which always leads God’s people to deliverance…
• It is He, God’s Spirit, according to Solomon, Who gives wisdom…
• It is the Spirit, according to the LORD’s prophets and seers, Who gives ethical insight…
• And according to Nehemiah, King David, the prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah, it is the Spirit Who makes possible the penitence and strength of the righteous…

Well did St. Paul sum up the abilities given by the Spirit of God in I Corinthians 4:7…

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Indeed, it is the Spirit of God Who has always given life… Who has always preserved and maintained life across the pages of history. Well did we recite together the summary statement furnished in the (4th century ) Nicene Creed this morning: And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life…

St. Peter, in the second epistle bearing his name states something quite remarkable: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The same word, moved, again. The Holy Spirit activated the Word of God, by activating (or moving) its authors – just as He moved (turned on, as it were) the cosmos.

In the beautiful Old Testament Lesson from the Book of Joel before us this morning, we learn – over 800 years in advance – of the great change that would come by the Hand of God in His Own Household. The prophetic language for destruction – the sun turning to darkness… the moon into blood… wonders in the heavens and in the earth… blood and fire and pillars of smoke – foretold a great change yet ahead. An old order would pass away… and a new order would commence… An Old Testament would end… A New (or renewed) Testament would begin…

A long-established people of continual rebellion with whom the LORD had been most patient would be rejected and a new people (pariahs according to the old order — outcasts) would be gathered to the Lord God by His divine Spirit…

This plan was “activated”… these words were “activated” on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit descended upon His followers… transforming them from those who had been hiding behind locked doors into bold witnesses before men, women, children, and young people from around the world! They heard from them the Gospel preached in their own language! Not unintelligible gibberish! But clear foreign languages and dialects! Old Israel was cut off and a new people were grafted into the stump of Faith from every tribe and corner of this earth. Christ’s Church was “activated” that day by the Holy Spirit of God! The “On Switch” was flipped by the Holy Spirit Who gave new birth, new growth, new power, new gifts… to those who were once not His people!

The life-giving Spirit fell from Heaven then… The life-giving Spirit is still falling from Heaven today – activating faith in men young and old… in the matron and the maid… in the rich and in the poor… in the high and mighty… in the destitute of this earth.
His gifts were poured out upon mankind then… His gifts continue to flow to mankind this holy day – to those who seek them and who cherish them… who, as of old, call upon the Name of the Lord to be saved…
He still brings life to the dead… peace to the troubled… comfort to the distressed… strength to the weary… He is the Spirit of the Living God and His might knows no bounds!
He still furnishes visions to His own – visions revealing who we are to become in Christ Jesus! And He brings them to certain fulfillment…
He still furnishes dreams to His own – dreams disclosing what work we may yet accomplish for Him in His world. And, yes, He still makes those dreams come true…
But alas, our days are filled with noisy distractions… Many can no longer rest let alone dream… Many no longer have visions – for they are too busy! Many, I am sad to say, have no vision of their work for Christ because the Spirit Who gave them life has been quenched by their own choosing — too far down the list of their priorities…
Many today – many — feel no need for God… or His Spirit… for they have become self-satisfied… jaded… sated! No time for dreams or visions… No time to reverence the One who stands behind all of their gifts and abilities… No weekly offering of praise for the Life-Giver. A dreamless and visionless drift through life.

We dare not underestimate the Spirit’s power nor His willingness to fulfill the Words of the Father and the Son from Whom He did proceed. We dare not quench His leading… His work is not yet complete… There are many dreams yet to come to His people which shall change the face of this world for good and the course of history for righteousness! And He alone can – and will — “activate” them!

What is your dream? What is your vision this Pentecost?

The Holy Spirit is His Name… and we bless and honor Him as the Third Person of the Trinity this glorious morning…

Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed for ever;
Day whereon God from Heaven
Shone in the world with His grace. Amen.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email