Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Presence of the Future: Part 4


We see that God’s presence not only marks His people but the Holy Spirit is the one who stirs His followers to go to every nation with the good news of the kingdom. This is no small task as we see the diversity of nations and cultures today. Every major city on the planet has multiple cultures within its boundaries. The last time we see the nations with one language is Genesis 10. In Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel brings divided tongues, which in turn divides and scatters mankind. This encounter reveals that man attempting to save himself results in racial and social hostility and destruction of human community.

In Acts 2, God came to create a new people, to empower them and to show them His goodness. First, barriers between the races come down. When Jesus was crucified, God tore the dividing curtain in two and we now have access through Jesus. Now as He fills the Church with the Spirit, the sin division which kept nations separated is torn as well. The first sermon was preached in all these different languages to demonstrate that God has come and reversed the curse of Babel and reconnected earth’s community.

The power of the Spirit demotes our nationality and race so that we see ourselves as God’s one family, reconnecting those who were separate. A person in Christ from another culture now has more in common with you than someone who does not know Jesus in your own culture. When God’s Spirit is working in the Church, you get along with people you normally would not. Your attitude is changed toward your money. Your identity, your possessions, and your culture are all transformed.

As Christ followers, we must continue to embrace the living presence of God in our own lives, our churches, our communities and ultimately the nations. The Spirit of God brings us into the presence of the nations, the presence of the future and the presence of the Lord Himself. Have you been filled with the Spirit since you believed? Are you now walking in the fullness of the Spirit? The Spirit has created a strong, new community. This community is overwhelmed with a revelation of God’s goodness that motivates us to pursue those who are yet outside of Jesus.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Presence of the Future: Part 3


God’s presence is what marks His people. Every time God shows up in the Old Testament, there is wind or fire. God meets with Job in a whirlwind, with Abraham as a burning torch and with Moses as a burning bush. At the “first Pentecost” on Mt. Sinai, God came down in windstorm with smoke and lightning.

Now consider the presence of the Lord at Pentecost with a sound of “mighty wind” and “tongues of fire” appearing (Acts 2:2-4). In Acts 2, Pentecost was the living presence of God coming to be with us and show Himself to us. The subjective experience of a transcendent God is vital to God’s people throughout history.

How does this transcendent power come to us? Being filled with the Spirit isn’t an experience with some abstract or naked power like electricity. When the believers are filled at Pentecost, they begin to speak what the Spirit has shown them. What the onlooking crowd can’t get over is revealed at the end of verse 11: “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” When filled with the Spirit, God’s people declare the wonders of God.

The Spirit fills us and gives truth about God Himself, revealing who He is and what He has done. Christianity is neither mysticism nor rationalism. It is far too mystical for rationalism and far too rational for mysticism. Christianity is a deep experience of a deeply rational truth. God doesn’t merely give us a bare experience but comes to fill us with truth about Himself.

Pentecost is looking back to God descending on the mountain and Moses telling God he wants an experience. Moses wants to see something incredible. This is how most of us come to God. God tells Moses He will let His goodness pass before him. For God to give you an experience of His glory He has to show you who and what He is. God doesn’t allow Moses to see all of His goodness because that would kill Moses. God hides Moses in the cleft of the rock to shelter him and allow the back part of His glory to pass by.

Moses wants an experience of power and God tells Moses that the only way to do that is by telling him who He is. He tells Moses He is “the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands and forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:5-8)

However, he also says, “…but who will by no means clear the guilty.” This sounds contradictory. The Lord is telling Moses that His goodness demands that He not clear the guilty. Likewise, a judge in our country can’t wink at some great law being broken. He wouldn’t be a good judge. God is good and therefore can’t clear the guilty. Yet in His goodness He loves to clear the guilty and forgive sinners. His good love and good justice come together in Jesus.

At Pentecost the early church had an experience of God’s Spirit coming in great power that caused them to cry out about the wonders of God. Today, God’s Spirit comes to show us His goodness, who He is and what He has done. The Spirit makes the cross electric!

Moses received a glimpse of God’s back, but now through Christ we are brought face to face with God. God’s Spirit came upon a mountain with Moses but now He comes IN us. The result for those at Pentecost was a passion to declare His goodness to those who are not yet saved. The revelation of God’s goodness eradicates any fear to share Jesus. Let us therefore continue to experience His presence and glory today. May we also have fresh passion to speak the good news of Christ to those we meet.