According to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit comes to Jesus’ apostles in a dramatic, apocryphal way. The Holy Spirit arrives in a rush of sound, wind, tongues of fire, and ecstatic speech that is remarkably and universally understood. When the devout Jewish population of Jerusalem gathers before the Apostles for an explanation, Peter gives an impassioned speech that includes a Trinitarian formula for salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (1) Repent of your sins. (2) Be baptized in the name of Jesus. (3) Receive the Holy Spirit.
But these are not the only conditions to be met. Salvation is not a “one-and-done” sort of thing; i.e., go through the motions and enjoy a sort of cheap grace. The gift of the Holy Spirit must be stirred up and shared deliberately in common worship, charity towards others, breaking bread and prayer. When the people did this, Scripture says that the Holy Spirit rushed through the world from believer to believer, “and day by day the Lord added to their number those whom he was saving.” (Acts 2:47).
Reading through the New Testament, we see that the Holy Spirit is never idle. Divine Inspiration is constantly on the move, empowering Jesus’ followers to evangelize throughout the known world. Through the Holy Spirit, churches were planted, multitudes taught, Scriptures written. And the courage given by the Advocate allowed apostles and disciples to hold fast to their faith, even at the cost of their own lives.
Prior to Pentecost, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment, to love one another as he loved us. (John 13:34-35). There was a slight catch. “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” If we love Jesus so deeply that we desire nothing but his way of life, the Advocate will indwell us as a result of that love.
The Holy Spirit is still rushing through our world today. If we quietly look beyond saber-rattling dictators, national conflicts, fear of lack and the thirst for vengeance displayed by a seeming majority, we can perceive the Spirit’s activity continuing on. The Spirit is active among those who feed the homeless. It is moving through children in oppressed countries who stand up to government leaders to demand an education. The Advocate inspires the prayers of chaplains at the bedside of the dying. The Spirit’s presence rushes through new church plants, joyous music and the laughter of children. The Holy Spirit inspires artists, energizes scientific researchers, blesses relationships, and comforts us in prayer.
The Holy Spirit begins and ends in love, the same love that God feels for His creation, the same love Jesus felt for us even unto death. When we boldly say, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!,” the Spirit’s presence breathes into the world and spreads its healing and inspiring grace.