Followers of Christ are now living in the age of the life-giving Spirit. The church in the world is called to proclaim the new-creation life inaugurated by Jesus. God desires to and will revive his church worldwide, even as his people heed his call to faithfully live in the Spirit.
God’s Spirit Brings Life
The first page of our Bible shows that as the Spirit hovers over the waters, God creates life in all its wondrous diversity. The Gospel of John declares that all things were made by the eternal Word. Then, to usher in perfect redemption, the divine Word stunningly became part of his creation. All things in creation have been created in and for Christ, the Son of God. Thus, the Triune God is the source, the sustainer, and the giver of all life.
Biblical revelation, time and again, reminds us that this God graciously restores lifeless and seemingly worthless things to glorious life. God promised to write the life-giving law in the hearts of his people. When Israel had lost all hope in the Babylonian exile, God promised the hope of restoration—to bring back life to dried bones. How would he bring that about? ‘I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.’ This glorious fulfilment has come in Christ, the giver of the Spirit, the founder of the new covenant. The life-giving Spirit now writes on tablets of human hearts.Jesus came as the long-awaited fulfilment to all the promises of God. ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. God has anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’ Jesus inaugurated the age of the Spirit, the long-awaited reign of God. Through his life, words, and deeds, Jesus brought forth God’s life for all to freely receive.
Jesus Promised Pentecost
John the Baptizer had prophesied that one greater than him would come who would baptize with the fiery Holy Spirit. After his resurrection, Jesus promised his disciples that he would send upon them the Father’s promise of power to be witnesses. That promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, with signs of unmistakable power. A rushing mighty wind—reminding one of Ezekiel 37—filled the entire house and the gathered 120 disciples, with tongues of fire on them, glorified God in many languages enabled by the Spirit.
Since the day of Pentecost, God’s Spirit is being poured out on all peoples. The apostle Peter reminds the wonderstruck audience that they were eyewitnesses of God fulfilling his promises, especially to Joel. God’s intention was to freely bestow his Spirit on people of every community on the planet. That still remains God’s intense desire. The Lord Jesus invites all who are thirsty to come freely and drink of the life-giving Spirit.
God’s Servants Declare the Life-giving Message
God seeks faithful servants who will partner with him in his life-giving mission to the world. He commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones even as he brought the bones to life. He appointed Peter to declare to the Jews from all over the world that they too could turn and believe and receive the Holy Spirit, and thousands did. Pentecost, originally a harvest festival, was later associated with the giving of the Law from Sinai. It marks the birthday of the Christian church which, just like Jesus, was born by the power of the Spirit.
God seeks Spirit-filled co-labourers who will be obedient to follow his directives; co-labourers whose proclamation he confirms with demonstrations of his divine presence and power. The book of Acts provides many of these evidences that resulted in new communities of faith being established all over the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit led not only the apostles Peter and Paul, but also countless others to spread, declare and display the Spirit to communities far and near.
A most beautiful reality is that Pentecost is a clear sign that all of God’s people are empowered to witness. Moses’ ancient desire that all of God’s people would receive the Spirit is now fulfilled in the aftermath of Pentecost. All believers, women and men, from around the world, can now be witnesses of Christ’s kingdom. The Spirit is poured out because Jesus has ascended to the Father.
Though initially the gospel story focuses on select apostolic witnesses, the Holy Spirit democratizes the empowerment and commissioning of all believers. Gender and age is no hindrance; all are directed and empowered by the Spirit to be witnesses and agents of transformation. The Holy Spirit guides and enables us to live a holy life, a life directed to bring life in its multiform ways into every sphere of life.
The Saviour is Exalted
When the Holy Spirit finds obedient partners, he empowers people to fulfil their God-given human callings. And as they live out their callings, the Saviour of the world is exalted. Jesus promised that when he would be raised up on the cross, he would draw all people towards him. A genuine work of the Spirit of God will result in Jesus becoming the centrepiece of people’s lives and communities. To the Corinthian church that had become overly enamoured with charismatic manifestations, the apostle Paul reminded them that he wanted them to be centred on the crucified Jesus.
It is only Spirit-led revival, and not any human or worldly entity, that will glorify Jesus in our churches and communities.God’s people will be emboldened to proclaim the message in spite of the expected persecution.
The Scriptures Guide
We need revival in the worldwide church. Where there is despair and disarray—and honest ones can see it all around us—we desperately need rivers of living water to flow. However, when there are fresh winds of the Spirit, there is sometimes the confusion brought about by the new and the unexpected.
A revival may be messy, like childbirth, but we all cherish the final outcome. At times like these, we heed the admonition of the apostle Paul: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire . . . Test everything.”  Scripture, faithfully interpreted in community, will provide us the required tools to assess our teaching and experience. It is the trustworthy plumb line that has guided God’s people through the centuries.
Revivals that have produced lasting fruit have always been associated with the powerful proclamation of the Scriptural message.Thomas F. Zimmerman, an American Christian leader, compared the Holy Spirit to a mighty river and the Bible to the banks of that river. The river can bring great good and flourishing when it does not overflow its banks.
The Spirit Spreads God’s Love
One of the greatest gifts of the Spirit is God’s love being abundantly poured out into our hearts. Since God is love, it makes sense that the Spirit bestows divine love into human hearts. Apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonian church that God has directly taught them to love each other. We need the revival that brings the infinite love of God into the multitude of difficult situations in our broken and hurting world. This Spirit-bred love will enable God’s people to go beyond the boundaries of culture and language. The Spirit will help us overcome our innate prejudices and to love others who are very different from us. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, we see Peter and John serving newly converted Samarians, when some time earlier they were ready to destroy a whole Samaritan village. In the book of Acts, we see the early Jerusalem community concerned for and working on behalf of the poor, as envisaged in the original Festival of Weeks, rooted in Jesus’ Nazareth declaration. We too must follow in their footsteps.
May the Holy Spirit find us faithful servants, so that the life of God will spread among us and through us and fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea.
- Gen 1:2; John 1:1-14; Col 1:15-17.
- Jer 31:33; Ezek 37:14; 2 Cor 3:3.
- 2 Cor 1:20-22; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43.
- Luke 3:16; 24:49; Acts 2:1-4.
- Joel 2:28; John 7:37-39.
- Ezek 37:11-14; Acts 2:38-41; Lev 23:15-22; Luke 1:35; Acts 2:1-4
- Num 11:29; Acts 1:8, 14; 2:33, 39;
- John 12:32; 15:26; 16:8-11; 1 Cor 2:2; Acts 4:31; 5:42.
- 1 Thess 5:19-22.
- Rom 5:5; 1 John 4:16; 1 Thess 4;9; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 4: 14-21;Luke 9:51-56; Lev 23:22; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35.