Tag Archives: Acts 1

Up, Up, but not Away: The Ascension of Jesus (3)

esus’s ascension, his disciples had assumed that he would continue with them in much the same way he had been with them before. But it was clearly not so. The great transition was taking place, and he had been taken from their sight. But he had given them work to do; they were to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. They had been commissioned. Continue reading

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Up, Up, but not Away: The Ascension of Jesus (2)

When Jesus was crucified, his followers despaired. When he was raised, they were astounded. They realized that something phenomenally important had happened, but they didn’t realize where it would lead. They did not understand that they were living in a … Continue reading

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Up, Up, but Not Away: The Ascension of Jesus

When the first Ford rolled off an assembly line in 1913, some people thought it ingenious, some thought it a novelty, but only a few recognized it as an era-changing event. The same could be said of the first mobile phone call made in 1973 by a Motorola engineer as he walked down the streets of New York City. Or one might mention the Internet Protocol Suite that was introduced in 1982.  It transformed the computer networks of a few eggheads into the world wide web. These were transforming events, but at the time most people missed their significance. Continue reading

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The Holy Spirit: Getting the Facts, Missing the Point

This is Pentecost Sunday, the day the church celebrates the reality-transforming, church-birthing, human-metamorphosing outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The God who so loved that he gave his Son also so loved that he gave his Spirit … and nothing has been the same since.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. It has been said that a person without the Spirit can never be more than a second-class Christian, but St. Paul went further than that. He said that without the Spirit, a person cannot be a Christian at all: “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).

Without the Spirit, there would be no church. A religious group can have a nave, altar, sacristy, pulpit, and steeple, but they’ll only have a church if they have the Spirit.

The Greek phrase ἐν πνεύματι (in or by the Spirit) appears 152 times in the New Testament. We are led by the Spirit, we rejoice by the Spirit, we worship the Father by the Spirit, are indwelt by the Spirit, are gifted by the Spirit, are marked as God’s people by the Spirit, love each other by the Spirit – I could go on.

With the Holy Spirit, we are connected to God’s own life. With the Spirit, we are connected to each other. With the Spirit we can confess Jesus Christ and actually know him. With the Spirit, we can live the Christian life now and expect glory in the future.

But what is the Holy Spirit—so ominously called by earlier versions the “Holy Ghost”? Continue reading

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