Recently the Christian community celebrated a tremendous day — it is referred to as “Pentecost Sunday.” It occurs 50 days after Passover, the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus; seven days after Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 2:1-21).
Many people have heard of the Holy Spirit, but in truth, many do not know exactly what He does, or how vitally important He is.
Of course most people know about Jesus, although they may not know all that Jesus did, or why He did it.
Because we’ve all sinned, every single one of us, God the Son was born as one of us, so that He could live a perfect life in our place, and then offer Himself as our substitute to receive the punishment due to us for our sin. He did this because God cannot ignore sin, not even one sin, and since all of us are sinners, and since we can’t pay for our own sins, God alone was left to pay the price for our sin (Isaiah 43:10-11).
What an amazing thing God did for us. We rebelled against God in sin, and since we could never pay for our sins God paid the price Himself so that He could offer us the opportunity of receiving forgiveness and the gift of eternal life — Exalted Life with God, as a gift. What amazing grace! (Romans 6:23).
Although Christ paid the price for the sins of the whole world, not everyone receives salvation; forgiveness and salvation are only given to those who believe in Jesus, repenting of their sins, and putting their faith in Christ alone as the only way to receive the gift of eternal life (John 14:6).
That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. Among the other things He does He convicts us of sin, and He reveals to us who Christ is, who we are, and why we are in such desperate need of the saving grace of Jesus (John 16:8).
Something important to know about the Holy Spirit is that He is not a force of God, He is God Himself. The Bible reveals to us that there is only one God, but that He exists as three persons — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In a manner of speaking they each have different important roles that fall under their purview. One of the Son’s big roles was to be a substitute for us on the cross, providing the way of forgiveness and eternal life.
But how that salvation and eternal life is applied to each of us is primarily under the purview of God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts you of your sin, and of your need to repent and place your faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is not what Jesus did plus what you can do, nor is it what you can do plus what Jesus did; it is what Jesus alone did — He fulfilled all righteousness, and paid for all sin.
But it is the Holy Spirit that reveals this to you, as you read or hear the gospel, and then, when you put your faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit changes you. He cleanses you of your sins and unrighteousness, and He covers you with the righteousness of Christ. He makes you a new creation — a new creature ( Titus 3:4-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
In addition, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your life forever. Remember, God is Omnipresent — He can dwell everywhere at once. The Holy Spirit lives within you when you are born again, not only to make you a child of God, but also to enable you to do what God expects of His children (1 Corinthians 3:16).
The Holy Spirit teaches you the truth of the Bible, as you spend time reading the Bible, and then He enables you to apply those truths and actions to your life. This is important to realize because many people who read the Bible, especially the New Testament, say, “How can I be like God wants me to be?” The answer is simple: when you are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, God empowers you; He enables you to live a holy and righteous life through the Holy Spirit who is given to you the moment you are born again (John 14:26).
What a wonderful gift; a gift that was first given to believers on that day of Pentecost. It is through the Holy Spirit that you and I are cleansed, and it is through Him that we can live as obedient children of God Most High.
Think about the grace of God: Jesus lived and died for us; He was resurrected, victorious over sin and death, and because of that the Holy Spirit can apply the work and sacrifice of Christ to our lives when we repent of our sins and place our faith in Christ. He cleanses us, making us a new creation, and then the Father accepts us into His family as children of God for all eternity.
The Holy Spirit does far more than most people realize, and that is why Pentecost Sunday, the day the Holy Spirit was given to us as a gift, is so precious and important.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.