The Holy Spirit proves God to be intensely personal and also the source of unity in local congregations (as well as the supporting bond for billions of Christ-followers around the world).
The best way to describe God that is true to the Bible is to say that God is three-persons-in-one. I don’t know how to say it any other way. God is the Father -- the creator and ruler of the universe. God is the Son -- the person who deals with us and our humanity. God is the Holy Spirit, the divine person who resides in the heart of any woman, man or child who trusts in Jesus. God is not one person who appears as different persons at different times. Nor is God three gods in one. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all time and eternity.
Author Tim Keller calls the Spirit “the personal divine resident of the Christian’s heart.” The Spirit created the church, helps it, and sends it out into the world. The church is by its very nature personal because the Person of the Holy Spirit makes it so. Speaking of the Spirit, Jesus tells his followers that “you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17, NIV).
That is a very personal description.
The Holy Spirit is the “advocate to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). The word “advocate” is best translated “legal defender.” As such the Spirit defends us before the Father as the one for whom the Son has endured all the consequences of sin. The Spirit also makes a case for us against all our self-doubts and self-condemnation.
As we celebrate Pentecost on Sunday, May 20 and rejoice in our most recent Youth Discipleship Group --
we look to God’s Spirit. Pentecost is the day that the Spirit created the church 2,000 years ago. The church is so much more than programs, sermons, staff, missionary projects, and buildings. The Spirit converts well meaning organizations into church families -- where people are led to love, not just congregate. As such the Spirit equips us to change the world in ways that only God can.
At the conclusion of worship I pronounce this blessing: “Wherever you go this week, God is sending you there.
Wherever you are, God has put you there. God’s Kingdom is on the move. God’s Kingdom is being extended through the daily lives of everyone who trust in Jesus. God has already planned every person who will be crossing your path this week. Take heart! And may the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, the honest love of God, and the intimacy of the Holy Spirit be with you today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. . .until Jesus returns and forever. Amen.” Notice I say “intimacy” rather than the traditional “fellowship” in this benediction from 2 Corinthians 13:14. It is a focused personal closeness that the Spirit causes. “Intimacy” seems reflect more accurately in our language what that verse from 2 Corinthians indicates. It is the bond that causes us to get into each other’s lives.
The local congregation is the hope of the world because of that closeness that God’s Spirit creates. Jesus commands the church to love, to be close to one another. The Spirit enables it. The Spirit also challenges everything in us that would cause us to doubt or to minimize that closeness. The Spirit always makes a case for us -- even to ourselves -- that we are protected and cherished by the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Where heaven meets earth (the church and the world) there will always be a clash of the values of this world and God’s Kingdom values. And there will be a strong bond among those for whom Christ died and was resurrected. The Spirit makes the cross and the power of resurrection real on internal, daily basis and then translates it into a bond that goes far beyond our individual life into the lives of those in our church family.
Where the Spirit is at work we can see ourselves coming to terms with self-condemnation. We can see people over diverse backgrounds and experiences getting into one another’s lives. We can see the author of the Bible (the Spirit is that, too!) cause people to be opened to its truth. We can see people becoming more courageous, self-forgetting, and aware of the world around them. We can see how eternal hope is rising in our midst.
Wherever we go this week, this year, and in this life the Spirit fuels, leads and sends us and this church.
Have a blessed Pentecost!
YOUTH DISCIPLESHIP GROUP JOINS CHURCH FAMILY
On Pentecost Sunday, May 20 the Youth Discipleship Group will have the opportunity to join our church family as covenant members. In both morning worship services they will profess their trust in Jesus and their willingness to follow wherever God leads First Presbyterian Church of Babylon to go.
Members of the group are Jakob Champlain Chu (7th Grade) of Lindenhurst, Loraine Consuela Felisme (8th Grade) of Babylon Village, Christopher Andrew Hartney (7th Grade) of Lindenhurst, Tharon Maurice Leonard, Jr. (7th Grade) of West Babylon, Saphyr Ismael Moussignoc (8th Grade) of Wyandanch, Alix-Nathanial Jones Point du Jour (8th Grade) of Babylon Village, Lucas George Robayo (7th Grade) of West Islip, and Samuel George Robayo (9th Grade) of West Islip. Leaders of the group are Dawn Tuthill, Jeff Dein, John Renard and Pastor Paul.
Beyond the preparatory classes, each member of this group is an active participant in our church’s life -- whether it is Kids’ Zone, youth group, Sunday School, and/or worship.
A reception for this wonderful group will follow both Pentecost worship services. Four of the youth will be baptized that morning. Be sure to welcome them in any way you can!