Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Presence of the Future: Part 2

When the Holy Spirit fills people (like the crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2), those present are brought into the presence of three things:
  1. The presence of the future
  2. The presence of the Lord
  3. The presence of the nations
1) The Presence of the Future

When the Spirit fills you, you are brought into an eschatological presence. The word “eschaton” means “the last” or “the end.” It is a taste, an experience of what is to come fully in the future. For example, when farmers went out to receive the firstfruits of the summer harvest they could tell what the harvest was going to be that year. The firstfruits showed the laborers what to expect.

God is saying something by filling us with the Spirit.

Romans 8:18-23 “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Along with all of creation, we long for this freedom. I look in the mirror and it testifies to my own bodily decay. We long for that day when Jesus comes back and this present world is made new. Creation will be liberated from decay and we will have resurrected bodies on a resurrected earth. The glory of God will come down and make all things new.

Paul writes (Rom. 8:23) “we ourselves… have the firstfruits of the Spirit.” Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit who comes to fill you brings you into the presence of the future glory of heaven. The Spirit gives a taste of the beauty and splendor of God’s glory, a taste of the life, power and joy coming in fullness.

In Romans 8, Paul informs us that we’ve been given power beyond our imagination. Every Spirit-filled follower of Jesus is walking around with something under their flesh of far greater value and power than this entire world. The Spirit is eschatological, bringing you into the presence of the future. The Spirit is the firstfruit, the very Spirit of Christ himself.

Do you know what you have? Do you realize what you have been given? We have been given the power of God which today can work against all manner of decay: social, emotional and spiritual. Give up small ambitions and have hope beyond your imagination for your ministry, church and city.

We have a taste of what’s to come—where there are no more tears of pain and suffering, no more groaning under the burden of sin. It may only be a taste but it’s powerful beyond imagination. We can confront social issues, poverty, injustice, lost humanity because we have this firstfruit power.

Jesus declared, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses…to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8)

Do you know who you are? Do you know what you have?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Presence of the Future

The Church is a miracle, not only because its founder is Jesus but also because of those who comprise it. The Church began with a marginalized group of uneducated, poor, politically powerless, economically challenged followers of Jesus. They were a marginal people living on the fringe of Roman society.

How can we explain that within two centuries this group became the most dominant influence in the world? The Roman Empire toppled without military or political power by followers of Jesus. The Emperor Constantine declared his allegiance to Jesus.

The book of Acts is a story of something that had happened to Christ’s followers after He arose and ascended. They received something that transformed them. They were filled with some transcendent power. It happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) and was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. It ushered in a new age of the Kingdom that will be consummated with the second coming of Christ. When restoration is complete, we dwell together (a representative of every nation and tribe) with God in a New Heaven and a New Earth.


“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place” (v.1). Why did the Holy Spirit arrive on that day? What was the Holy Spirit doing in them that was so significant?

1. Pentecost was the feast of the firstfruits

In an agrarian culture, harvest was very significant. When the “firstfruits” of the harvest were brought in and eaten, thanksgiving was made to God for their firstfruits and they celebrated God’s goodness. Israel’s harvest happened 50 days after Passover. This is where we get the word Pentecost, as it meant “50 days.”

2. Pentecost was a celebration

The Jews viewed Pentecost as the time when celebration was made for being delivered from slavery. It was 50 days after their redemption that God gave the Law through Moses to His people. Pentecost was a celebration of God meeting Moses face to face to give him the Law.

The Acts 2 event was 50 days after Christ was crucified, which marked the establishment of the Church as she celebrates the true “firstfruits.” The church received God’s power to go into the world as His representatives.

The Holy Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost tells us something about the purpose of the Spirit coming and what it means to be filled. When the Spirit fills you, you are brought into the presences of three things. Those present at Pentecost experienced this also:
  1. The presence of the future
  2. The presence of the Lord
  3. The presence of the nations
More about this in my next post…