When the Spirit pervades the Church

What would the Christian church be without the Spirit? She would be spiritless. But for Christians God is triune: He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time. Therefore, His church is not spiritless. In June, our New Apostolic services will focus on the Holy Spirit.

On the first Sunday in June is Pentecost. The church is celebrating its birthday. Very few Christians even know what this means any more. Yet this feast in the liturgical calendar is a significant event in the history of salvation: the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles and the faithful who had gathered with them. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance“ (Acts 2: 4).

People witnessed this, talked about it, and believed it. The news of this great event spread throughout the world. The Holy Spirit gained momentum. These facts date back two thousand years, but Christians today must continue to believe in them staunchly. Nothing has changed since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: God remains Father, Son, and Spirit.

Trinity Sunday

Pentecost Sunday also marks the end of the long Easter cycle. Trinity Sunday, which is observed the Sunday after Pentecost, is dedicated to the divine Trinity. It is particularly interesting, especially from today’s perspective, that Jesus was not only baptised—thereby setting an example of repentance for us Christians—but that God also announced that Jesus is His Son: “When all the people were baptised, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptised; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased’” (Luke 3: 21–22).

The triune God reveals Himself here in an unprecedented way. Jesus is not only revealed as the Messiah of Israel but as someone in whom God is immediately present. In Him the fullness of the divinity is present. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit equally testify of the divinity and authority of Jesus Christ.

Church and Spirit

The third Sunday of the month is a task description for all who want to believe that church and Holy Spirit belong together. The second epistle to the Corinthians says that the congregation is to be a letter of Christ—a letter that is not written in ink but with the pen of the Holy Spirit, not on stone tablets but into the heart. This letter is signed by God. This is a reference of Paul’s to the congregation in Corinth. It is a sign of the close relationship the church has to the apostolate, a church that is allowing itself to be prepared for future tasks.

The Spirit animates

This is how things come together: God is triune, He is Father and creates the world. He is Son and saves mankind. He is Spirit and directs His church. For Christians this means that being filled with the Holy Spirit protects them from unbelief or superstition or from a belief that is based on traditions only. Where the Spirit is active, faith is alive and rites die. Not the attendance of divine services is what makes one a Christian, but the fulfilment of the tasks to hear the word of God, to keep it, and to practise it. We do not believe for others, but for ourselves! The Holy Spirit gives life to that which comes from God.

Photo: Julia Sudnitskaya

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Peter Johanning
Divine service