Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” -Acts 1:38-39
At the time of writing this, it is the Christmas season. During this time, we focus of course on the coming of Christ; God in human flesh. And while each truth wrapped up in the incarnation of Christ is beautiful and worthy of reflection, his birth is the beginning not the end.
In fact, right before Jesus’ crucifixion, he shared with his disciple something they could not grasp in their grief over Jesus saying he was leaving them, But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7).
If you have ever thought that you wish you had lived during the time Jesus physically walked this earth and imagined that that would be better than now, Jesus says otherwise! The time we live in now, is better than when he was physically here.
Because of the person of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus was here, even though he was God in human flesh, he was limited in his physical body. He could not be everywhere at once physically. And while Jesus is “Immanuel” God with us, that reality is fulfilled in and through the person of the Holy Spirit who is not only with us, but now in us!
Peter in his sermon to the crowds that formed on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, referred to this fulfillment of God’s promise as “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of Christmas is not just the historical event of the birth of Christ. It is the unfolding of the promise of God’s presence in our lives as we trust in Christ. This promise of his presence is fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit to all who believe.
Yet how often do you think of the Holy Spirit? Many of us shy away from “the third person” of the Trinity because, well, the Holy Spirit is harder for us to understand. Some might even say “strange.”
To begin with, the first introduction we have in the New Testament to the coming of the Holy Spirit is described by “comparing” to something we can relate to; a “rushing” wind and “what seemed to be tongues of fire” appearing over each of the disciples. They then began to speak in other languages and a crowd formed because of this strange “sound” they heard. Then, as people heard the Gospel proclaimed in their languages, they thought the disciples were drunk! (see Acts 2:13).
Despite this, and other “strange” things, many just don’t recognize the true gift of the Holy Spirit; God with us, in us and working through us. The Holy Spirit is awesome! He guides us, reveals the truth of God’s word to us, convicts of sin, empowers us, helps us, strengthens us, revives us, fills us, restores our joy, gives us spiritual gifts to bless and serve others, imparts peace to our hearts, and so much more.
The Holy Spirit in essence, makes the reality of Christ real to us as a Living Person not just a Historical Figure. You and I can’t know God and enjoy his presence apart from the Holy Spirit’s work. Even the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives are what I like to call “expressions of the reality of God’s presence.”
The Holy Spirit makes all the difference in our lives of taking what is ordinary and transforming it into something supernatural. This is in fact, how the birth of Christ came about in the first place. Luke 1:35-37 records the angel explaining to Mary that; “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
The Holy Spirit is the one through whom God’s word is fulfilled and never fails. The Holy Spirit is a gift for all who believe. A gift that keeps on giving and is for all generations! It would do us good to thank God for the gift of the Spirit and discover more of the Spirit’s reality in our lives and families, presence in our midst, and power working through us to be and do what God has called his people to be and do in this world.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. -Zechariah 4:6