Born from above and receiving the Holy Spirit

2015-22.12  TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2015

vegetable garden growth Vegetable plots grow: Seedlings planted out and growing. A characteristic of Christians is that we are intentional about growing spiritually.

Pentecost

THIS past Sunday was celebrated by millions of Christians (actually about two billion) in every tradition and every part of the world as Pentecost. This recalls the event that followed soon after Jesus’ ascension to heaven; His disciples continued meeting together, one in heart and mind, beseeching the Father to give them what Jesus had promised: the personal impartation of the Holy Spirit.

And on that day the Holy Spirit came in power, and the church-sized congregation of disciples and friends and family in the Upper Room, and thousands of others milling around outside, were impacted by this and changed. And so what we understand as the Church was born, in that courtyard and upper room in Jerusalem.

pilot light boiler burner ignition

Whooooomph: From pilot light to full flame

For those first disciples, this was not their first experience of knowing the Holy Spirit in their lives. Jesus had already lit the flame for them and so they were in a good place to receive more. Using the picture of an older-style gas heating boiler, this was the ignition of the full flame from the pilot light that was already burning.

John 20:19-22

John 20:19-22 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

But let’s think further about the first stage – accepting Jesus as Saviour and also embracing His Lordship of our lives in every aspect.

This is the absolutely essential, vital first step and it is a faith decision we have to make – to allow Jesus into our lives. When you don’t really know someone and you don’t know what they are going to do in your life, that’s a faith decision. At this point we receive the Holy Spirit and a lot that was fuzzy becomes much more clear. This is what the Bible calls "being born from above" John 3:3 and 7.

If you are reading this, it's quite likely you will have taken that decision about Jesus. Or you may have welcomed Him once and the relationship may have become distant for all sorts of reasons. Or you may have been standing on the edge looking in, with all sorts of reasons for caution.

Decision

It is a decision we need to make. This is the Way to Life that Jesus spoke of. There isn’t another way. Call it exclusive if you like, but other religions offer just that – religion. Try harder religion – do you want that? By contrast, Jesus offers you a RELATIONSHIP – and one which is more and more life-giving as you learn to trust Him more and more.

It’s a crossing of the line, from darkness into light. But it’s also a process: that’s why it is good to revisit Jesus’ offer often. Life presents difficulties: bad stuff (I’m being polite!) happens. Becoming a Christian doesn’t change that fact, but it radically changes the outcome. The journey has its hazards, and breakdowns can occur – but we have an absolutely first-rate rescue service on our journey.

What Christians do – they grow

It is also a process of growth. That’s what Christians do – they grow, spiritually. A little encounter with the Holy Spirit frees you for a deeper one. Get to know Jesus a little, and you’ll be ready for a lifetime of knowing Him more. Find a church where people have the look of Jesus, and talk about Him as someone they know – and you'll be well on your way.