And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.
— ACTS 5:32 (NRSV)
The role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christ-follower invariably generates conflict in the Christian community. Few biblical subjects are more electrifying and controversial. The witness of the Scriptures, however, is unambiguous. Jesus Christ and his first generation of followers were indisputably energized by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the eternal Gospel
of salvation for humankind. Embroiled in the cosmic conflict between the forces of light and darkness, their lives were conduits of divine power manifested in spectacular and subtle ways. Miraculous signs and wonders in the form of healings and exorcisms were complemented by gentle yet impactful words of wisdom spoken in conversation. Receiving unusual guidance through dreams and visions was normal in a Spirit-filled church culture, which birthed and shaped dynamic faith in the lives of converts.
Expectation of communication between the divine and human pervaded first-century worship gatherings. They were animated by public prophetic utterances and prayers in tongues alongside instruction and common meals. Early Christians lived with extraordinary generosity and prayerful boldness. Their spirituality was naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural. They were elevated above dependence on their natural capabilities and intimately connected to the Holy Spirit from whom empowerment came. They listened confidently for the Divine voice to guide them, trusting for provision and protection in what they were called to do.
The consequences of their risk-taking lifestyle were often unpredictable. Remarkable evangelistic success and excruciating suffering, even martyrdom, went hand-in-hand in the lives of the early church members.
In our time, we will flourish when we listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the global Church; through genuine repentance, we will recover a personal and collective inspired, courageous and winsome Christ-centred life only possible in the Spirit.
1. Do I sense empowerment by the Holy Spirit in my life? Am I listening to his promptings?
2. What do I need to learn about the ministry of the Holy Spirit with which I am not currently familiar?
The image above is a real flower commonly known as the White Egret: a species of orchid found in China, Japan, Korea and Russia.