After the Holy Spirit fell upon the first followers of Jesus, Peter preached a sermon to help people understand what had just happened. He cited a portion of a prophecy from Joel:
‘In the last days,’ God says: ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit; even on my servants–men and women alike– and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-29)
Later, Peter explained that the Spirit would be given to all who turned from their sin and turned to God through Jesus (Acts 2:38).
This was a momentous, watershed event. For the first time in history, God began to do what he had promised through Joel, empowering all different sorts of people for ministry.
Whereas in the era of the Old Testament, the Spirit was poured out almost exclusively on prophets, priests, and kings, in the age of the New Testament, the Spirit would be given to “all people.” All would be empowered to minister regardless of their gender, age, or social position.
Although this truth would not mean that every Christian would be gifted for every kind of ministry, it did imply that all believers would be empowered by the Spirit. The church of Jesus Christ would be a place where every single person matters, where every member contributes to the health and mission of the church (see Eph. 4:11-16).
Because of this tremendous truth and responsibility, it has a personal implication for me and every Christian. Each of us needs to ask: Am I serving God through the power of the Spirit? Am I exercising the gifts of the Spirit in my life, both in the gathered church and as I live for God in the world?
Pentecost is a time to ask God to fill us afresh with the Spirit so that we might join in the ministry of Christ with gusto, faithfully obeying the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit in Eph.5:18. And it is a time to renew our commitment to fulfilling our crucial role in the ministry of God’s people in the world.
It is especially humbling to consider with those of us who hold positions of power and authority in the church, particularly being careful to examine our attitudes and actions. Are we encouraging all of God’s people to minister through the power of the Spirit? Are we opening our hearts to what the Spirit of God wants to do at VCF through his empowered people?
As a pastor and Elder, together with the VCF leadership, my role is to equip God’s people for doing the ministry of Christ in the church and the world (Eph. 4:11-12). At times, we fall short of this central pastoral calling.
Pentecost is a day for leaders to recommit equipping and encouraging all Christians for their ministry. It is a day for all Christians to recommit to obeying the commands of scripture. When we do this, the Holy Spirit will be free to use the church of Jesus Christ for God’s purposes in Lynden and the world.