Pentecost: Called Out by the Holy Spirit
Greetings Cascade Family and Friends,
Last Sunday, we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: the birthday of “The Church.” Just in case some of you are still wondering, What is “the Church?” I want to reiterate parts of my message. You will fully understand that how we define and perceive “the church” is a crucial component in determining the way we live out our faith. Ponder these questions: Is the church a building? Is it the place where believers gather to worship? Or is the church the people—the believers who follow Christ? If you are having trouble, I invite you to read (or reread) Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles.
The story is clear: “Jerusalem was The Place Where True Discipleship Began. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the group of believers—the Church--began in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. Here is your answer: The church is a body of believers who have been “called out” from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ: God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (Ephesians 1:22–23)
Cascade, we are “The Church”: God's people, True Disciples, living under the authority of Jesus Christ and changed by the coming and dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The CHANGE in us sets us apart from “the World.” Because we are God’s heart, God’s mouth, God’s hands, and God’s feet, we must exhibit the Marks of True Discipleship. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we change (1) our Conversation. The good news of Jesus, the Risen Savior, is told in every language. And as the Church, we come together (worship in one place) to bring each member to spiritual maturity. (2) We change our Circle of Friends and Associates. We live with a new purpose. We intentionally strive to fulfill the Great Commission: to spread the love of Christ and the gospel message to believers and unbelievers--and make disciples for the transformation of the world (Matthew 28:18-20). In Acts 2:41, the new circle included “about three thousand on the day of Pentecost.” (3) The gift of the Holy Spirit changes our passion for life. Our behavior, thoughts and values change. Acts 2:42-47 describe the disciples’ new way of living. They devoted themselves to teaching, fellowshipping, breaking of bread, praising and praying. They literally sold all their goods and possessions to be totally supportive of the ministry. They literally embodied the saying, “You can have this whole world, just give me Jesus.” Serving Jesus and growing the Kingdom became their new way of life.
It should be obvious by now: if you are serious about being or becoming “the Church,” CHANGE is unavoidable. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached that many “afar off” would be saved, God having called them. (And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, v39.) Happy birthday, True Disciples!
Pastor Lawrence L. Young