“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance.” – The Acts of The Apostles: Chapter 2 The Coming of the Holy Spirit (2:1-13, ESV)
This is a critical moment in the history and development of the Christian faith in the immediate days following the death of Jesus and the start of the first church. Jesus had already instructed the chosen twelve disciples on what he was proclaiming, gave them wisdom for a life according to Gods will and instruction on how to proceed after his ascension following the resurrection.
Notice that this is the moment, not before, when the Holy Spirit finally enters into the men and women present in that room; the eleven original disciples, along with the newly appointed Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, the mother and brothers of Jesus, and select close followers, in all 120 people. Before this moment they indeed had favor with Jesus and with God but had not yet fully received the Spirit.
Two separate steps are crucial in the process of proper Christian practice, the first is giving yourself over to God and Christ, and the second is receiving the Spirit that is Holy. The latter follows the former. “The Trinity” means there are three entities at work here: God, Christ and The Holy Spirit. It is not automatic that by simply being a follower and believer in God and Christ that you will receive the Holy Spirit, but merely a pre-requisite.
You can study to gain knowledge and understanding, but all that will be useless until you have the last and perhaps most important element of the process of connection with God, and that is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Only then you will be “joined” to them.
That is why most Christians feel “disconnected” and question the validity of the faith. They feel and experience nothing inside of themselves, only words that form a marginal understanding. Likewise, rituals are only aides to assist you in your understanding but are not capable of giving you anything if you don’t have genuine belief and connection to God. Conversely, you can receive the Spirit without rituals, if you do meet the requirements of genuine connection.
The Holy Spirit is the connection with God, like a tether. It is the medium that directs the energy from Gods powerful universe directly into you. Jesus showed The Way to the source itself, God. But you must then acquire and maintain the Spirit within you throughout your existence until death.
Jesus urges the utmost sanctity of the Holy Spirit when he proclaimed that you can denounce him and be forgiven, but denouncing the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. Three important elements of Christianity are plainly spoken of here, that the Holy Spirit is real, it is separate from Jesus and is sacred beyond measure.
“31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” – Matthew 12:31-32, ESV
When you acquire the Holy Spirit, you are doing the right things and on the right path. If you do not gain the Spirit inside you, you are misplaced. You must ask yourself whomever your spiritual leader is, are they misguiding you or inadequate to get you there? Every practice, every word you read, every prayer has only that one goal. When you have it you will know the difference. You will feel a new entity dwelling in union with yours. You will feel it ebb and flow for when it is strong in you and when it has depleted in you.
Coming across someone who has an abundance of the Spirit inside them is a wonder. You can feel it just being around them. Some describe it like a beautiful warmth or a strange new kind of love. It’s like being around a spirit of joy, happiness, renewal, energy, clarity, and peace.
Don’t be impressed by someone’s title, position or showiness in any of the churches throughout the world, regardless of discipline or division. Many appointed officials of the church know the material of Jesus’ teachings on a scholarly level and have impressive presentations of rituals, but they cannot necessarily get you to the most important part of the whole process, and that is gaining the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus told of his death and resurrection he promised:
“7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” – John, Chapter 16:7 ESV, The Work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus calls the Spirit the Helper and goes on to call it “the Spirit of truth”, because the Spirit brings with it a new level of existence, one tethered with God. God will use the Spirit to guide you. To be a follower of Christ is believing that he offers the road map to getting to God. That is why it is called The Way. But the way requires you to have the Spirit.
“12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the father has is mine, therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” – John, Chapter 16:12-15 ESV, The Work of the Holy Spirit
People fear the mystical process of Christianity. It is much easier to live without pursuing anything beyond empty rituals and simple knowledge. Understand that outward displays of faith may make you feel better and impress those around you, but when empty inside, it accomplishes nothing.
Throughout the history of the church and its development, few understood the distinction between hearing the word of God and acquiring the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who did understand the distinction, selfishly wanted to keep that knowledge to themselves, afraid of losing their own power by too many people having what they pretended to be only theirs to understand. Some believed it was too hard for ordinary people to understand, and for most, a simplistic understanding would suffice. Most spiritual leaders were simply ill-equipped to communicate what it was or how to receive it.
Gnosticism flourished in the early days of the church. It means the “esoteric mystical knowledge” of God. These “mystics” received the Spirit and were perceivably different than the others. This mysticism was hard to understand, acquire and communicate the knowledge of. The power-hungry of the early church decried the Gnostics as heretics and through heinous means sought to silence the spread of this knowledge.
Today, we are handicapped by our knowledge of the world through science and technology. We use it to discredit our spiritual makeup. But it needn’t be exclusive that you must have one or the other. Ask yourself, does your understanding of some things make you knowledgeable of all things? Then why leave spirituality behind. Why not have both?
Jesus’ ministry had one purpose, showing us The Way. He simplified the process. You start the journey with his teachings and then live a life by the principles therein. Don’t look for a lightning strike moment here (although it may happen that way). It will occur over time. Think of yourself as a jug being filled with water. Jesus used this concept often. But instead of being filled up with water, you are being filled up with the Holy Spirit. That is how you will experience it.
You will feel yourself get more and more full, until hopefully one day you become overflowing with it. Conversely, you will feel it empty from you as you lose your way. You must keep a watchful eye on your “Spirit level”, taking notice of where the level is between empty and full.
Make the decision to “fill ‘er up”, then keep it that way. With a body full of the cleanest purest water there is, the Spirit, your life will be powerfully more potent. Then share it with others. You are a vessel for God. Spread it around everywhere. But if you are unwilling, you will have a different experience, an empty vessel and the sound of Gods silence.
“16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew Chapter 28, The Great Commission 28:16-20, ESV
IMAGE: “Jesus Praying – Part 3”, 2002 ©Artist Robert Perez, Mixed-Media on Wood, 48 x 48 inches