On the first Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down from heaven and rested upon the apostles in a visible form. Pentecost is one of the three great holy days on the church calendar. These holy days divide the church year into the Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost periods. During the last decades, however, Pentecost has lost its significance and the meaning of this holy day has become unclear to many people.
The Holy Spirit joins believers together
Although we cannot see the Holy Spirit, the third person of the deity is as real and functional yet today as it was in the time of the apostles. According to Lutheran Christian doctrine, Christ’s work in this world continues as the work of the Holy Spirit in His congregation. The Holy Spirit forms the congregation of believers when it joins them to Christ and to one another. The congregation is the body of Christ, which the Spirit makes alive.
According to the teaching of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, which comes from the Father and testifies of Christ. The Holy Spirit defends the followers of Christ, teaches them to know the truth, and reveals to them what is to come. The people of this world do not have this Spirit. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit reveals that the world is in error. It also indicates what sin is, what righteousness is, and what judgement is. The Holy Spirit does not speak in a different way than the Father and the Son; it receives its message from them.
The Holy Spirit guides the work of God’s congregation on earth. However, this does not mean that the members of the congregation, even together, could not make incorrect decisions. That is why it is important to always listen to what the Spirit says to the congregations, as Jesus Himself taught. The Bible contains many examples of how in uncertain situations the apostles carefully examined which solution would be in accordance with the mind of the Holy Spirit.
The most important task of the Holy Spirit on earth is connected to the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to His disciples, he also gave them the task and authority to forgive sins. Jesus did not give this task to His disciples only; he gave it to all who believe in Him and follow Him. When a believing person proclaims the forgiveness of sins, it is fundamentally not man’s forgiveness, but rather God’s forgiveness. God works through man, through His Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also works today in God’s congregation. It effects in people a desire to bring God’s word onward and it also gives them the power and strength to do so.
Text: Pekka Aittakumpu
Source: Päivämies 19/2016
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä numerossa 15.11.2017
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