I. Our Life Together is about Experiencing God’s Presence
There are many diverse understandings of the Holy Spirit among Christians and among churches. Some focus primarily – or solely – on the Scripture. Others focus primarily on Liturgy and Sacraments. In most of these Churches, the Holy Spirit is always noted but the Spirit receives little attention in the life of the church – whether the church is focused on Scripture or Liturgy.
The typical way of thinking includes both a list of doctrines and a list of acceptable behaviors/practices. People believe the doctrines and practice the behaviors. But, for the most part, people do not experience much of anything spiritually.
However, in the Pentecostal Movement, the Pentecostal Churches, and the Charismatic Renewal there is a significant emphasis on the experiential nature of the Spirit’s presence in the life of the believer. This experience is typically called “baptism in the Spirit.”
People who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit testify that their experience brought them:
- to a new awareness of presence of Jesus Christ – and of their own sinfulness;
- to a new hunger for the Word of God;
- to a renewed desire for holiness;
- to a new desire to build holy relationships and repair damaged relationships
- to a renewed desire to evangelize and serve the poor
And while with them Jesus commanded his Apostles, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, “you heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit a few days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
Jesus is not talking about his disciples waiting to be converted from unbelief to belief. Jesus is speaking about a genuine new experience – intended for people who already believe.
Luke confirms that people believed in Jesus as he summarized their response to Jesus’ ascension saying, “they (the disciples) worshiped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they continually went to the temple blessing God and praising him.”
II. Why is this gift of Baptism in the Spirit special?
When Jesus says, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” he is speaking about receiving an extraordinary power – a grace – intended for intimacy w/ God, personal holiness, and ministry. Jesus called this gift of Baptism in the Spirit as a “clothing from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Theologians say, “This power may come at the very moment of conversion or later. It is followed by lifelong subsequent experiences of empowering in the Holy Spirit.”
We need extraordinary experiences of God’s grace and power – again and again – so that we can grow in our faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. Fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit empower our lives, strengthen our faith, and emboldens our desire to live for God.
We need to pray for this power to come upon us every day. Protestant pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells us that he continually prayed, “God, I need a fresh anointing. I need a fresh filling. I need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
III. Baptism in the Spirit and Building a Community
The Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr Raniero said, “The principal instrument by which the renewal in the Spirit “changes people’s lives” is the baptism in the Spirit. This, he said, “is a personal Pentecost!”
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the grace that makes someone a renewed person.
Whether, in the early church, or today, the principal instrument by which the renewal in the Spirit “changes people’s lives” is the baptism in the Spirit. We need to pray for a fresh outpouring regularly.
The early church was drawn together in community after they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:42-47). They prayed together, they ate together, they saw miracles, they devoted themselves to the teaching, they evangelized.
You and I were baptized in the Spirit. We were drawn to community by the grace of God. You all are such a special to me – and it’s by God’s grace we met. Our mission is to help each other increase our love for God, be holy and to build the kingdom of God. May we be ever alert to this calling; pure in all we do; and never distracted.
IV. Inspiring each other to live our life together in 2021 – (in order of priority)
May we “treasure this gift of Baptism in the Spirit every day”
May we “ask the Holy Spirit to come and “pour the love of God into our hearts” (Rom 5:5)
May we “set our minds on things above as best we can each day – and be decisive (Col 3:2)
May we “present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1-2)
May we “love one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)
May we “have unity of mind, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8)
May we “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
May we “encourage one another and build one another up, as we are doing (1 Thess 5:11)
May we “never giving up meeting together and always be encouraging (Hebrews 10:25)
May we “be the people of God; his special possession; born to declare his praises (1 Pe 2:9)
May we “all do many great acts of service and love for Jesus this year” (Col 3:17)
Our life “in Christ” together is a wonderful way to live.