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Table of Contents
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6. The Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Luke, Acts of Apostles and Pauline Letters
The role of holy spirit in the New Testament as seen by Luke and St. Paul.
The concept of Trinity is very hard to understand; but it is a cornerstone of Christian Faith. Malankara World has an infocenter specifically devoted to Trinity. You can find it here:
13. Fiery Faith
This Sunday (May 27), our church celebrates one of the most important feasts -
the Pentecost. When Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection,
he promised his disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit, the comforter, to
them. The Holy Spirit will be with them to guide them. Before his crucifixion,
Jesus had told the disciples that it is necessary that he had to go so that the
Comforter will come and guide them. So the Pentecost was the fulfillment of the
promise made by Jesus when he ascended into heaven. It is the day when church
was born. We call Pentecost as the birthday of our church.
Last week, we looked at the role of the church in Christianity based on what
bible teaches us. This week we will take a closer look at the role of the church
based on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Thomas Rosica from Toronto, Canada
described this in a very novel way. He looked at it as if looking through the
eyes of a camera lens:
1) the wide-angle lens that looks at our belonging to the Church;
Let us take a closer look at these views (Excerpting from Rev. Fr. Thomas Rosica).
1. Wide Angle Look: "Sentire cum ecclesia" or "Think with the Church."
Pentecost is considered to be the birth of the Church. Our baptismal consecration in service to Christ cannot be separated from consecration in service to the Church. One of the main themes permeating the thought of St. Ignatius of Loyola is his exhortation "Sentire cum ecclesia" or "think with the Church." "Sentire cum ecclesia" also means to feel with the Church and to love the Church.
Pentecost invites us once again to walk with the Church, breathe with the Church, hope with the Church, feel with the Church. What does the Church mean for me as an individual? What is my personal relationship with the Church? Do I love the Church? Do I feel loved by the Church?
2. Mid-View: Our Current Reality.
Today, some of us are stuck in the ideological battles. This can distract us from addressing with requisite depth and discernment the issues facing us today. Whatever is not purified and transformed within us is transmitted to others -- especially to the next generation.
When we sell ourselves to cynicism and despair, meanness of heart, smallness of spirit and harshness in ecclesial discourse, we betray our deepest identity as bearers of joy, hope and truth. Is joy present in our Christian witness? What prevents me as an individual and us as a community from giving a robust, joyful witness to Jesus Christ, the Catholic Faith and the Church?
3. Zooming in on the Hope
Finally, let us zoom in on hope, a true manifestation of the Spirit at Pentecost. Is it not true that many of us in the Church today feel like we are caught in a flash flood that is unexpected, powerful, destructive and filled with despair? The flame seems to have gone out and our influence is terribly diminished. The media exerts a powerful influence on the thinking, the attitudes and the faith of people.
For the world, hope usually means that we make ourselves believe that everything is going to turn out all right. We use the word hope lightly and cheaply. This is not the hope of Christians. We must be icons of hope, a people with a new vision, a people that learn to see the world through the lenses of Christ, the Spirit, and the Church.
I hope that we have illustrated the importance of Church in our lives. Jesus loved the church and died for it. He considers any attempt to hurt the church as a personal attack on him as evidenced by his asking Saul (later aposle Paul) as to why Saul is torturing Him. Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity that is with us to guide us in our journey to salvation.
Rev. Fr. Brijesh Philip described salient features of the Feast of Pentecost for Orthodox Christians:
"When a hen hovers over eggs the white and yellow liquid in them transform to accomplish their hidden potential and chickens come out of the shells. When the Holy Spirit hovers over the creation, it receives order and beauty. Likewise the heat of the Holy Spirit helps the faithful to fulfill their God-given potential. It is quite natural, therefore, for the mother Church to wish that all her children become Christ-like by the hovering of the Holy Spirit.
Orthodox Churches prepare the faithful to identify with the early Christian Church to pray and wait for being filled with the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means fiftieth and the celebration of the Christian Pentecost is on the fiftieth day from the feast of the resurrection of our Lord and ten days after the feast of ascension of Christ. Holy Apostles, along with St. Mary and other early Christians, following the commandment of Christ, waited for the Holy Spirit and were filled with the Holy Spirit. (Jewish Pentecost is on the fiftieth day from their feast of Passover). During Christ's time, the Jewish feast of Pentecost was a celebration of the reception of the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. It was on such a feast day of Jewish Pentecost that the Holy Spirit descended on the early Christians in tongues of fire. (Acts: 2)
For Christians, Pentecost indicates the internalization in their hearts the concerns and commands of God through the reception of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian member receives the Holy Spirit today in baptism, which can be considered as a personal Pentecost. Ten days' preparation is recommended by the Church before the feast of Pentecost and especially this feast is a time of renewal of their baptism by being filled with the Holy Spirit. Edification and guidance of the Church, sanctification of its members, and thus the enlightenment of the world are certain fundamental functions of the Spirit."
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit bestows upon us seven gifts. These are: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
Each of these gifts perfect certain basic virtues, according to Rev. William G. Most.
Four of them perfect the intellectual virtues. Understanding gives an intuitive penetration into truth. Wisdom perfects charity, in order to judge divine things. Knowledge perfects the virtue of hope. The gift of counsel perfects prudence.
The other three gifts perfect virtues of the will and appetites. The gift of piety perfects justice in giving to others that which is their due. This is especially true of giving God what is His due. Fortitude perfects the virtue of fortitude, in facing dangers. Fear of the Lord perfects temperance in controlling disordered appetites.
We will end with a look at several awe-inspiring prayers to Holy Spirit.
Prayer to Holy Spirit:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy Faithful; and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
The Solemn Blessing for Pentecost:
May Almighty God, who enlightened the minds of the disciples by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit, make you rich with his blessing, that you may abound more and more in that Spirit forever, AMEN.
May God, who sent the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire that rested upon the heads of the disciples, burnout all evil from your hearts and make them shine with the pure light of his presence, AMEN.
May God, who by the Holy Spirit caused those of many tongues to proclaim Jesus as Lord, strengthen your faith and send you out to bear witness to him more and more, AMEN.
May the Spirit of truth lead you into all truth, giving you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and to proclaim the wonderful works of God, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always, AMEN.
May Almighty God, who enlightened the minds of the disciples by pouring out upon them the Holy Spirit, make us rich with his blessing, that we may abound more and more in that Spirit forever. Amen.
May God, who sent the Holy Spirit as a flame of fire that rested upon the heads of the disciples, burn out all evil from our hearts and make them shine with the pure light of his presence. Amen.
May God, who by the Holy Spirit caused those of many tongues to proclaim Jesus as Lord, strengthen our faith and send us out to bear witness to him more and more. Amen.
May the Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, giving us grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and to proclaim the wonderful works of God, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, and remain with us always. Amen.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Pentecost (Fiftieth day after Easter)
Before Holy Qurbana
Service of the First kneeling
Service of the Second Kneeling
Service of the Third Kneeling
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
The fruit of the Spirit is joy.
Joy in the Holy Ghost. -- Unspeakable and full of glory.
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; ... exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. -- We glory in tribulations.
Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; ... for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. -- These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. -- As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. -- The joy of the Lord is your strength.
In thy presence is fullness of joy: at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. -- For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
GAL. 5:22.; Rom. 14:17.; I Pet. 1:8.; II Cor. 6:10;7,4.; Rom. 5:3.; Heb. 12.2.
Throughout the book of Acts, the message that persists is very simple: Whenever the Holy Spirit fell, people’s lives were changed. We see this in the apostles who, together with the Virgin Mary, gathered in the upper room on Pentecost.
We see the same thing happen in the cities of Samaria, Antioch, and Ephesus. We even see it in people as far from Christ as Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the church.
In all these events—and so many more—we see the Spirit coming in power and igniting a fire that swept the ancient world. Let’s look at what the Holy Spirit did to turn regular, everyday people into joyful, committed followers of Jesus and fearless proclaimers of the gospel.
The Power of Revelation.
St. John tells us that at the last supper, Jesus promised his disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). A few years later, reflecting on his experience of this promise, St. Paul wrote, "God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). Jesus’ promise had been fulfilled! The Holy Spirit had been poured out, and the outpouring had brought the first Christians an overwhelming awareness of the love of God.
God loved them! This revelation changed their whole lives. It was no longer merely a statement of fact. It wasn’t just something Jesus told them. The revelation of God’s love was so real to them that it removed guilt, freed them from fear, and overcame their sin. It warmed their hearts to accept one another—even the Gentiles, whom they had were never considered worthy of God’s attention (Acts 11:18). So great was the love they experienced that their love for each other was turned into action as they prayed together and cared for the poor among them (2:44-47).
This love of God, poured out by the Holy Spirit, is the foundation of the entire gospel message. It is the very reason for the church’s existence, the key to all theological questions, and the answer to every crisis that has visited individuals and nations. This love is unmerited, an affection from the Father that persists, despite our sin and rebellion. As Paul wrote, "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
The book of Acts is a constant testimony to the fact that when the Spirit reveals God’s love, all of life takes on a new perspective. Our past sins are fully covered and forgiven. Our future is secured. And we are given the courage to work through the cares and concerns of the present. Because we have experienced overflowing, divine love, we are filled with an "unutterable and exalted joy" (1 Peter 1:8) that suffuses every aspect of our lives.
A Life of Surrender.
As they experienced indwelling Spirit, the disciples were compelled to surrender their lives to Jesus and to the mission of his church. Their interior lives were changed to the point that they decided to "live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:15). It was not enough simply to take up a different, more idealistic, lifestyle. The Holy Spirit had so invaded them that—weak and sinful though they were—they wanted to set themselves apart for the Lord, offering themselves as a "living sacrifice" to him (Romans 12:1).
St. Paul explained this surrender to Jesus by making a proclamation that can still touch our hearts today: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me… . I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). For Paul, and all the early Christians, the Holy Spirit, who overwhelmed them, also convinced them to yield each day to Jesus. The Spirit had revealed Jesus to them, not only as someone who loved them deeply but also as the Lord of all creation, worthy of their obedience, love, and devotion. Describing this process of obedience, Paul wrote:
Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things… . in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul, Peter, and all the disciples sought to open every aspect of their lives to the Holy Spirit and allow the love they had received in their hearts to renew their minds, their desires, their decisions, and their relationships. They learned to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5), and allowed themselves to be "transformed by the renewal of [their] minds" (Romans 12:2).
To the Ends of the Earth.
Despite arrest (Acts 4:1-4), beatings (5:40), and the threat of death (9:1), the early Christians continued to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen. As they continually opened their lives to the power of the Holy Spirit, they experienced a burning desire to share the gospel with others. Not two months after seeing his Master arrested and crucified, Peter boldly told those responsible for the cross, "God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (2:36).
Similarly, having just seen their brother Stephen die at the hands of the Jewish elders, all the disciples who fled Jerusalem "went about preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). In Samaria, "the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did." As a result, "there was much joy in that city" (8:6,8). Later, Luke tells us, "Those who were scattered … traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word" (11:19). Because of this small group of men and women, the fire of revival spread through all of Asia Minor.
Why did the disciples risk so much, even to the point of persecution and death? Again, St. Paul gives the answer: "The love of Christ controls us because we are convinced that one has died for all" (2 Corinthians 5:14). The ever-deepening experience of God’s love, coupled with an ongoing surrender of their lives to Christ, led the disciples to want to tell everyone they could about the salvation that was available to them in Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus!
The Holy Spirit touched the disciples so deeply that they experienced a longing to be with Jesus and see him face to face. This Spirit, who is "the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Ephesians 1:14), gave them a taste of what eternal life with Jesus would be like, and so the early church cried out, "Amen, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).
The first Christians understood that life in this world was only temporary, and that their true and final home was in heaven, united with the Lord. It was, in fact, this faith and hope in Jesus’ return that sustained the church in times of hardship and persecution: "If we endure, we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:11-12). What could be more hopeful than the promise of life eternal, glorified with the one who has loved us so faithfully?
Ordinary People Transformed.
In this season between Easter and Pentecost, we have a wonderful opportunity to open our hearts more fully to the Spirit’s transforming power. God’s purposes never change. Everything that the first disciples experienced is still available to us today. Just as it happened for them, it can happen for us.
We must understand that the disciples were not extraordinary people. They were just tradesmen, merchants, and government workers—parents, teachers, and political activists. They didn’t come together and devise a plan to turn their world upside down. They were weak and sinful, just like us, and they knew that only the Holy Spirit could do the work Jesus had entrusted to them. This is why, instead of striking out on their own, they followed Jesus’ words to remain in Jerusalem, praying and waiting for the Spirit to fall (Luke 24:49).
In this Easter season, as we celebrate the risen Lord, let us imitate the disciples and spend some extra time in prayer. Let’s ponder God’s word and ask him to fill us even more with the Holy Spirit. Let us all look forward to the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
The Role of the Holy Spirit (and other spirits) in the Gospel according to Luke:
The angel Gabriel says of John the Baptist: "Even before his birth, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit" (1:15); he will act "with the spirit and power of [the prophet] Elijah" (1:17); later, the child grows and becomes "strong in spirit" (1:80).
Gabriel tells Mary how she will conceive Jesus: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (1:35).
When Mary visits her pregnant older cousin, Elizabeth is "filled with the Holy Spirit" (1:41).
In her song of praise (the Magnificat), Mary proclaims, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (1:46-47).
After the birth of John the Baptist, his father Zechariah is "filled with the Holy Spirit" and utters a prophecy (1:67).
In Jerusalem, "the Holy Spirit rested on" a righteous man named Simeon (2:25); the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah (2:26); so one day, the Spirit guides Simeon to the Temple, where he encounters the infant Jesus and his parents (2:27).
John the Baptist distinguishes between himself and Jesus: "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (3:16).
After Jesus is baptized, "the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove" (3:22).
Before beginning his public ministry, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness" (4:1), where he is tempted by the devil.
After withstanding the devil's temptations in the desert, Jesus returns to Galilee "filled with the power of the Spirit" (4:14).
In the synagogue at Nazareth, his hometown, Jesus reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor" (4:18); after finishing the reading, Jesus declares, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (4:21), implying that he is indeed the Messiah, enlivened by God's Spirit.
In his public ministry, Jesus casts many "unclean spirits" and "evil spirits" out of various people (4:33, 36; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 8:29; 9:39, 42; 10:20; 11:24, 26; 13:11).
Soon after the seventy disciples return from their mission, Jesus "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit" and thanks God for hiding things from the wise but revealing them to infants (10:21).
While teaching his disciples about prayer, Jesus says, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (11:13).
In response to criticism from his opponents, Jesus tells his disciples, "Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" (12:10).
Jesus tells his disciples not to worry if they are arrested or put on trial, "for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say" (12:12).
As Jesus is dying on the cross, he utters his final words: "Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.' Having said this, he breathed his last (Gk: exepneusen)" (23:46).
When the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples, they are at first afraid, thinking that they were seeing a ghost/spirit (24:37); but Jesus assures them that he is not merely a ghost/spirit, but can be seen and touched, since he has flesh and bones (24:39).
The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles:
Just as in Luke's Gospel, the Spirit of God inspires and guides most of the action within the Acts of the Apostles. Some scholars even suggest that this book should be named "The Acts of the Holy Spirit":
Jesus instructs the apostles "through the Holy Spirit" (1:2).
The first disciples are "baptized with the Holy Spirit" at Pentecost (1:5, 8; 2:1-4; 11:15-16).
The apostles are "full of" or "filled with" the Holy Spirit, esp. when they preach (1:8; 2:4; 4:8, 31; 11:24; 13:9, 52).
Similarly, the Holy Spirit spoke through King David and the prophets in ancient Israel (1:16; 4:25; 28:25).
God "will pour out" his Spirit on all people and all nations in the last days (2:17-18, 33; 10:45).
Believers, including Gentiles, receive the Holy Spirit when they repent and are baptized (2:38; 15:8; 19:5-6).
Sometimes the reception of the Holy Spirit even precedes baptism (10:44-48).
Some people "test" or "lie to" or "oppose" the Holy Spirit, with dire consequences (5:1-11; 7:51).
Deacons and other ministers must also be "full of the Spirit" (6:1-6), esp. when they prophesy (6:10; 7:55-59; 11:28; 21:4).
The Spirit is conferred through the "laying on of hands" (8:17-19; 9:17; 19:6).
The Spirit "speaks to" the apostles and prophets (8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:1-4; 21:11).
The Spirit leads and guides the decisions and actions of the Christian leaders (15:28; 16:6-7; 19:21; 20:22-23).
The Holy Spirit in the Pauline Letters:
Since Luke was almost certainly a companion of the apostle Paul, it is not surprising but noteworthy how important the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, and spiritual gifts also are in the Letters of Paul. The Spirit of God does several different but interrelated things, in Pauling thought:
God's Spirit dwells in believers, making us adopted Children of God:
1 Thess 1:4-7 – "For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia."
Romans 5:3-5 – "We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."
Galatians 4:4-7 – "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God." [See also the very similar and more extensive text in Romans 8:1-17]
God's Spirit helps us to pray, and to understand God's ways:
Rom 8:26-28 – "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
1 Cor 2:10-16 – "These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ."
We are the "Temple" of God's Spirit:
1 Cor 3:16-17 – "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."
1 Cor 6:19-20 – "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
God's Spirit provides a diversity of gifts, but unity in the community, the Body of Christ:
1 Cor 12:1-13 – "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says "Let Jesus be cursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
1 Cor 14:1-19 – "Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. 2 For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their up-building and encouragement and consolation. 4 Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church... 12 So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church…"
Paul contrasts the "Works of the Flesh" with the "Fruit of the Spirit":
Gal 5:13-26 – "For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."… 16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh… 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious… 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things…" (The Vulgate Bible adds goodness, modesty, and chastity, for a total of twelve; see also Rom 13:8-14).
Copyright © 2007 ENTER, Felix Just, S.J.
The Eastern icon representing the Great Feast of Pentecost (see below) is probably unfamiliar to most Westerners. In the Western painting tradition, the tongues of fire and the presence of the Holy Mother of God are emphasized along with, of course, the twelve apostles. Sometimes, depending on the artist and the style of the period in which the work was created, the scene can be quite animated with gesticulating figures and a composition suggesting confusion or wonderment. Excitement may seem to permeate the atmosphere.
In the Eastern tradition, icons of the Pentecost don't always depict tongues of fire. Instead, at the top of the icon a circle or semicircle represents heaven and from its center twelve rays point downward toward the twelve apostles, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Also, absent from the scene (in many Eastern icons) is the All Holy Mother of God which is strange because the Acts of the Apostles makes a point of telling us she was present. Such a glaring omission begs for an explanation. Here it is: The Pentecost icons of the Eastern Church, unlike the images of the event in the Western Church, stress the underlying ecclesiological meaning of Pentecost and less so the narrative details of the descent of the Spirit or observable physical facts, as reported in Acts.
Along the same lines, in the icon at the bottom of (many) Eastern icons, is an image of something not reported in Acts. It appears to be a tomb with a king standing in the blackness of the interior. He holds a white cloth supporting twelve written scrolls. The king actually personifies the great multitude of people gathered in Jerusalem for the holy day. The image is called "Cosmos" and the dark place in which the king stands represents the whole world which had formally been without faith and had suffered under the weight of Adam's sin. The red garment the king wears symbolizes pagan or the devil's blood sacrifices, and the crown he wears signifies sin which ruled the world. The white cloth and twelve scrolls symbolize the twelve apostles who brought Christ's light to the world through their teaching.
That is the core message of the Eastern depiction of Pentecost. It is not so much about the physical manifestations of the descent of Holy Spirit as it is the substantial presence of the Spirit in the Church, acting through the Church to sanctify the world. The Ascension of the Lord represented the end of the Christ's earthly mission and Pentecost represents the beginning of the residency of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
Rather than a general disturbance -often portrayed in Western images of Pentecost- caused by the descent of the Spirit, Eastern icons of the event express an overall sense of order, calm and solemnity. Here we see the unity and singleness of purpose of the hierarchic Church in converting the world. A formal arrangement of the apostles in a semi-circle surrounding the tomb and king is broken only by an empty space in the seating arrangement at the top of the bend. It’s actually the seat reserved for Christ, the head of the Church. On close inspection you will notice that the apostles are depicted in inverse perspective: the size of the figures grow bigger the closer they are to the seat reserved for Christ. St. Peter sits to the right (our left) and St. Paul, to the left (our right). St. Paul, of course, was not present at Pentecost but that fact is not important here where the meaning of the icon is the substantial presence of the Spirit in the institutional Church. Actually, there are a few others also represented here who were not of the original twelve apostles: Luke the Evangelist (third from the top on the left) and Mark the Evangelist (third from the top on the right). They hold their gospel books. Paul also holds a book, symbolizing his letters. Others hold scrolls, symbols of having received the gift of teaching.
Contrasting with the uniformity of the semi-circle, and in harmony with the hierarchic detail, are the variety of poses in the figures of the apostles. No two strike the same pose. This goes to the inner meaning of the icon: although there is the one Spirit -one Body- each member is given special gifts.
As liturgical art, icons open a door for the worshiper into a transfigured world and into an experience of sacred time. An icon compresses events into one image and folds time into a holy present in order to communicate an inner meaning. It all comes together in this icon to show us the divine guidance given to the hierarchic Church in the conversion of the world.
Leonid Ouspensky & Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, (Crestwood, Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994) pp207-208
1. Icon of the 'Descent' from Ouspensky, p 206; photo by A LaVieille Russie, New York
2. Giorgio painting of the 'Descent' from http://www.aiwaz.net/gallery/pentecost/gi5068c534
Source: Cleansing Fire; http://cleansingfiredor.com/
by Dr. Charles Stanley
The principle we will explore today is basic but so powerful that it determines whether we experience victory in our lives.
You are probably familiar with the book The Little Engine That Could, in which a small engine keeps repeating the words "I think I can." By using sheer willpower, she pulls an entire train over the mountain. That's a nice children's story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short. Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can the godly life be achieved.
Throughout the Old Testament, God's Spirit would temporarily come upon saints for a particular work. However, after Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Spirit to dwell permanently within each believer. Consider what this means: If you're a Christian, God is living inside of you, available to help all through life by providing guidance, comfort, and empowerment.
Obedience to Christ is too difficult for anyone relying on his own strength. And discerning what to do in every situation is far too complicated for a fleshly mind. For some reason, though, Christians often try to live life by depending on their own energy and reasoning. Defeat and failure are unavoidable without His power in our lives.
Do you recognize your need for the Lord? Begin each day confessing your dependence upon Him. Ask to be filled with His Spirit so that all you think, do, and say will be an overflow from Him. Then trust Him to work in mighty ways through you. Watch what almighty God can do.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.
by Ray Pritchard
My problem this morning is simple: to explain a doctrine that all Christians believe but no one really understands. And I have to do it in 30 minutes!
So let's start at the very beginning. All Christians believe the doctrine of the Trinity. If you do not believe this - that is, if you have come to a settled conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true - you are not a Christian at all. You are in fact a heretic. Those words may sound harsh, but they represent the judgment of the Christian church across the centuries. Christians in every land unite in proclaiming that our God eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who deny that truth place themselves outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy.
Having said that, I admit that no one fully understands it. It is a mystery and a paradox. Yet I believe it is true.
I can think of at least three reasons for believing in the Trinity:
Someone has said it this way: If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.
The Doctrine Defined
There are many places we might go to find a suitable definition. Any of the great ecumenical creeds would serve us well in this regard. However, let's simply reprint Article B - The True God from the Calvary Memorial Church Articles of Faith.
While I am sure that this statement is biblically accurate, I also understand
that it can seem very intimidating.
As you might imagine, the early church struggled mightily over this doctrine. They eventually reduced their belief in the Trinity to two short statements. They concluded that God is ...
When we say these things we mean that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three gods but only one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but each is God individually and yet they are together the one true God of the Bible.
Have you ever seen the word "Godhead?" Theologians sometimes use that term when they want to refer to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as three divine Persons in one God.
At this point I think we should acknowledge the chief objection to the doctrine of the Trinity, which is that it is absurd. Sometimes the Jehovah's Witnesses (who pointedly deny the Trinity) ridicule it with this little equation: 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. In their minds Christians worship three Gods, not one. The answer is quite simple. The doctrine of the Trinity is not absurd if that's what the Bible teaches. Furthermore, there is more than one way to play with equations. You could also say it this way: 1 x 1 x 1 = 1!
The Doctrine Explained
What exactly do we mean when we speak of the Trinity? Let's start with the negative and work toward the positive.
A. What we don't mean
First of all, Christians don't believe in three Gods. That's a heresy called Tritheism.
Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God - like, steam, water and ice. That's the heresy called Modalism.
Third, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "parts" or "pieces" or God. That would imply that Jesus is 1/3rd God, the Father is 1/3rd God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3rd God.
B. Where do we find this doctrine in the Bible?
I would answer that the Trinity is taught in both the Old and the New Testaments. It is taught by implication in the Old and by direct statement in the New.
For instance, the Bible contains numerous clear statements regarding the unity of God: Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that "the Lord is one." 1 Corinthians 8:4 adds that "there is no God but one." 1 Timothy 2:5 explicitly says "there is one God." All Christians heartily affirm this truth.
However, the Bible also contains clear statements regarding diversity within that unity. For instance, in the very first verse of the Bible we are told that "In the beginning God." The Hebrew word for God is elohim, which is actually a plural form of the word el. It's a word that in other contexts is sometimes translated as "gods," referring to heathen deities. Later in the same chapter we have one of the most striking statements of diversity-in-unity:
Then God said, ''Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
Notice the shift in pronouns. "Let us ... in our image ... So God created man in his own image. ... he created him." From us and our to he. Why the shift? Commentators speak of a literary form called the plural of majesty or the "editorial we." This much is certainly true. If Genesis 1 does not explicitly teach diversity-in-unity within the Godhead, it certainly leaves room for it to be developed later in the Bible.
Isaiah 48:16 seems to explicitly refer to all three Persons of the Trinity (with my additions in parentheses):
I'm not suggesting that Isaiah fully understood the Trinity or that the Jewish readers would have understood what it meant, but I do think that in the light of the New Testament, we can say that this seems to be a clear statement of the Trinity in the Old Testament.
Consider further this line of evidence. All Three Persons are called God in different places in the Bible.
How could the Son and the Spirit be called God unless they somehow share in God's essence? But if they share in God's essence, they are God alongside the Father.
Finally, all three Persons are associated together on an equal basis in numerous passages:
Read the rest of this highly informative and fascinating
The concept of Trinity is very hard to understand; but it
is a cornerstone of Christian Faith. Malankara World has an infocenter
specifically devoted to Trinity.
You can find it here:
You can also learn more
about Pentecost, Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church in our
By Dr. Ben Kim, DrBenKim.com
Do you know anyone who suffers from chronic low back pain?
As simple as it seems, many people with chronic low back pain can improve and even fully heal their backs by doing one simple thing: stretching their hamstrings.
Your hamstrings are the muscles that run along the back of your thighs, from behind your knees to the bottom of your pelvis. If your hamstrings are tight, they are causing a constant downward pull on your pelvis. Since your pelvis is the foundation of your lower back and spine, having tight hamstrings contributes to an unstable lower back and a greater chance of intermittent sprains and strains.
In my chiropractic practice, I estimate that at least 80 percent of people who present with lower back pain have tight hamstrings as the root of their problem. Even if these people have their lower backs treated on a regular basis, they will continue to suffer from intermittent lower back pain if they do not address their hamstring tightness.
How do you know if your hamstrings are tight? The best way to assess hamstring length is to lie flat on your back and have someone slowly raise one leg. Your leg must be completely relaxed, and you must not help lift the leg with your own muscles. If your hamstrings are at an appropriate length for your body, your leg can be raised to 90 degrees off the ground (straight up towards the ceiling) without any significant tightness anywhere along your hamstrings from behind your knee to your sitting bone (pelvis). If you start to feel tightness before 90 degrees, you know it’s time to stretch!
A simple and effective way to stretch your hamstrings is to sit in a hurdler’s stretch – with one leg tucked behind your bum, and one leg flat on the ground, outstretched in front of you -and to lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch anywhere along the back of your thigh or knee. It is important to keep your back straight, and to only go to a point where you feel a comfortable stretch. If you experience pain, ease back until you are comfortable. Some people find that slinging a towel around their outstretched foot and holding onto both ends with their hands is more comfortable than bending forward without a towel. Be sure to breathe while you stretch, and to do the same stretch for your other leg.
It is best to stretch your hamstrings later on in the day, or after a good warm up such as after a brisk walk or jog. The key is to get lots of blood going through your muscles before you stretch. Alternating between legs for a few minutes each day is enough for most people.
Many people with chronic lower back pain can experience dramatic improvement after stretching their hamstrings on a daily basis for 1-3 months. If you don’t have lower back problems, stretching your hamstrings everyday is an excellent preventive measure that will keep your lower back and pelvis balanced for the years ahead.
5 large potatoes
Toppings: chives, shredded cheese, chopped broccoli
Bake the potatoes (one hour) and squash (1/2 hour) until tender when pricked with a fork.
Steam the cauliflower until tender.
Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle, leaving a thin layer along the wall of the skin.
Place skins on a baking dish for later use.
Scoop the squash from the shell. Add squash, cauliflower and potato in a large mixing bowl.
Add milk and butter and mix until creamy.
Add spices, to your liking, and mix well.
Spoon potato mixture into the skins, overfilling slightly.
Broil the potato boats a few minutes until browned on top.
Serve with toppings and enjoy.
Source: Wendy and Joe
by Sarah Phillips
This week we celebrate Pentecost, one of the oldest feast days on the Christian calendar. It traditionally falls on the 50th day of Easter, marking the close of the season - and talk about ending things with a bang.
The spectacular scene described here has understandably captured the fascination of countless artists through the ages. While traveling in Spain, I was blessed to encounter one such painting by El Greco which quickly became a favorite of mine.
The vibrant piece, stretching from floor to ceiling, portrays the Apostles and Jesus’ mother Mary with rapturous facial expressions illuminated by the brilliant flames of God’s Spirit hovering above their heads. The fiery tongues seem to be the only source of light in the room – anything outside the reach of the Holy Spirit’s glow quickly fades from dazzling color into shadowy darkness.
And yet for all the glory of that moment, the moments leading up to the descent of the Holy Spirit were, according to Scripture, filled with fear and uncertainty. The disciples had witnessed a roller coaster of events from the devastation of Jesus' crucifixion to the stunning miracles in the days following Jesus’ resurrection to the promise that somehow, Jesus would be with them until the end of the age even after his ascension into heaven. They had experienced doubt, despair, awe, and amazement. Their lives had been turned upside down, and they could only wonder what might happen next.
After a pregnant pause, God came through for this faithful bunch, and the Church was officially born. Pentecost marks the day the apostles received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, allowing them to spread the gospel and baptize all nations.
Pentecost reminds me that even those who witnessed the miracles of Christ firsthand had to face and overcome uncertainty and fear. The disciples weren't perfect, and they weren't always clued into the details of God's bigger plan. Just like the early disciples, we are often called to simply take one day at a time and trust God with whatever the future may bring.
Pentecost also reminds me that while God often works in seemingly ordinary ways, sometimes He bursts through the veil that separates heaven and earth and wows us beyond our wildest hopes and dreams. He doesn’t wait for us to be perfect or holy to bless us with His presence, but instead fills our frail selves with His glory and empowers us to do great things.
Source: Crosswalk.com, The Devotional. Sarah Phillips is the Crosswalk.com Family Editor
by Rubel Shelly
The late Bill Love used to tell the story of a psychiatrist, engineer, and doctor who got lost in the Canadian woods. Stumbling on a trapper's cabin but getting no response at the door, they went inside for shelter and waited for his return.
In the corner, on a crude platform at waist-high level, was a wood-burning stove. It quickly became not only the focus of interest for their half-frozen bodies but the center of their conversation as well.
The psychiatrist explained the stove's unusual position as evidence of psychological problems brought on by isolation. The engineer, on the other hand, saw it as an ingenious form of forced-air heating. The physician surmised the poor fellow had arthritis and found it too painful to bend over to fuel his stove.
When the trapper finally arrived, they could not resist asking about the stove whose warmth had saved them. "Simple," he said. "My stove pipe was too short."
I wasn't along for that hunting trip, but I've been where those guys were that day. I've tried to read someone's mind. I've seen motives that weren't there. I've walked into situations, caught a snippet of what was happening, and made a fool of myself by some badly chosen response. Or I've used a perfectly innocent slip of the tongue as my excuse to take offense. I can be a real jerk at times!
On occasion, the victim has been a stranger. At other times, it was a friend from church or colleague at work. Most often, it has been my wife or child.
Communication is a wonderful thing - when it happens. But there are so many barriers. Each of us brings baggage to every situation. Words can be vague or carry very different nuances for people from different backgrounds. Then there are the prejudices and blind spots all of us have.
Lots of confusion could be eliminated and far more progress made this week by following this simple rule: When something isn't clear, ask. Don't assume. Don't guess. Don't mind-read. Trying swallowing your pride and saying, "I'm not sure I understand. Do you mind explaining that to me?"
This simple strategy could save you embarrassment, time, and money. More important still, it might save one of your life's most important relationships.
About the Author:
Rubel Shelly is a Preacher and Professor of Religion and Philosophy located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. In addition to church and academic responsibilities, he has worked actively with such community projects as Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, From Nashville With Love, Metro (Nashville) Public Schools, Faith Family Medical Clinic, and Operation Andrew Ministries. To learn more about Rubel please go to: www.RubelShelly.com
A Minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.
Four worms were placed into four separate jars.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
So the Minister asked the congregation, "What did you learn from this demonstration?"
Maxine, who was sitting in the back of the church, quickly raised her hand and said,
"As long as you drink, smoke, and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
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