It is true that trusting in Christ has made us holy, but that it is an alien righteousness. In other words, it is a righteousness that belongs to Christ, but as an act of God’s grace, it is attributed to us. But to effectively serve Christ in the world, we must not merely be called holy; we must actually be holy. This is why Jesus told the apostles before His ascension to wait in Jerusalem “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). At His ascension He repeated this, saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were all gathered together in an upper room. Suddenly there was a sound of wind and fire, and they were all “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). This is a very important event in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. Pentecost is the event whereby the Holy Spirit comes in full power to enable Christians who have been declared righteous to actually be righteous. It is not that the Day of Pentecost itself makes the church righteous, but this is the beginning of the full ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. Here are some of the key things that took place because of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the Day of Pentecost and beyond.
1) Pentecost reveals the work of a triune God in our salvation.
Pentecost is the day when God clearly demonstrates that salvation and redemption are the work of the triune God. The Father is the source, the initiator, and the final goal of all the redemptive acts of God. The Son is the embodiment of the mission of God. The work of salvation is accomplished through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The Holy Spirit is the empowering presence of God who makes us holy.
2) Through the events on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit now dwells among us.
The Holy Spirit is God Himself acting in this world and in our lives. He draws us by His grace to the Father. He intercedes with us and within us, helping us to pray. The Holy Spirit teaches and admonishes us when we read Scripture. He gives us the gift of discernment so that we might have the mind of Christ and think about things in ways that are informed by godly wisdom. He applies and nurtures the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). The Holy Spirit assures us of our forgiveness and our adoption as the children of God. In short, the Holy Spirit mediates the presence of God in our lives and in the church.
3) The Holy Spirit empowers the church for effective service, witness, and global mission.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would empower us to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). It is the Holy Spirit who enables the church to serve sacrificially and to be an effective witness unto Christ and the gospel. Holiness, as we shall see, is not just about making us personally righteous, but it is about extending God’s glory and righteousness to all peoples of the world! There are thousands of people groups who still have not received the good news about Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who makes sure that the gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth through the empowered witness of the church.
4) The Holy Spirit reveals the signs and wonders of God’s in-breaking kingdom.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit is the One who continues to manifest redemptive signs of God’s kingdom breaking into the world. The good news of God’s powerful work in this world did not stop at the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is too small to think that we are called to simply proclaim something that happened in history thousand of years ago. While the cross and resurrection form the central proclamation of the church, we also acknowledge that the good news of God’s reign continues to unfold. All the future realities of heaven (healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, deliverance from evil, and so forth) are breaking into the world now through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Men and women are healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They experience forgiveness and reconciliation with one another. The poor and downcast receive hope. The Holy Spirit applies all the future realities of the New Creation to the present. This process will not be fully complete until Jesus returns, but if we look around, we can see that God is still at work by His Spirit, reconciling the world to Himself.
5) The Holy Spirit makes us holy.
Fifth, the Holy Spirit is the One who makes us holy. The presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s empowering presence in us, leads to transformational holiness in our lives, in society, and in the world. As God’s empowering presence, the Holy Spirit embodies the New Creation, including purity of holiness. This should really begin to expand our understanding of the full dimensions of holiness in our lives. In chapter 4, we saw that holiness is the sign and seal of God’s presence in the world. This means that we must expand our ideas regarding what it means for God’s holiness to be reintroduced into the world.
We mostly think of it in terms of personal holiness. We understand God’s presence as eradicating sin in our lives. This is an important aspect of holiness. However, God’s presence also challenges and transforms the society we live in. In other words, social holiness is also crucial to a proper understanding of biblical holiness. God’s transformative work infuses not only our individual lives, but also the whole structure of culture and society. Moreover, holiness is not only personal and social; it is also missional. This means that holiness is not just about our being transformed, or even our culture reflecting certain things, but it causes us to think missionally about the world and how we can mirror God’s actions in the world.