Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Missions

The Role of the Holy Spirit in Missions

Scripture Text: Acts 1:8;2:1-37

            Over the last century, there has been a renewed emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ, especially through the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.  This includes the area of evangelism and missions.  Here, the role of the Holy Spirit is expressed in several ways, first in the lives of unbelievers, and then in the lives of followers of Christ.
            The first role of the Holy Spirit is that He brings conviction of sin (Acts 2:26-37).  Under the power of the Spirit, those who listened to Peter were convicted of their sin.  Since sin separates us from God, sin must be dealt with in order to come to Christ.  The Holy Spirit, then, is the midwife of the new birth (cf. John 3:3-8), and is also the one who goes before the evangelist or missionary, preparing the hearts of the people to receive God’s Word.
            Second, the Holy Spirit commissions and empowers believers for service (Acts 1:8).  Spirit empowered people can overcome their natural insecurities and fears about witnessing.  Peter, for example, vacillated regarding his faith, confessing Christ as Lord on the one hand (Matthew 16:18-20), and denying he ever knew him on the other (cf. Luke 22:54-62).  On the Day of Pentecost, however, Peter was a transformed man, preaching both with confidence in his message and under the power of the Holy Spirit.
            Third, the Holy Spirit endorses testimony, whether it is preaching as Peter did in Acts 2, or ministering one on one as Philip did with the eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), that points people to Jesus Christ.  Peter preached Christ and three thousand people were added to the Kingdom of God.  The same Spirit was also at work with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch when Philip shared Christ with him.
            Fourth, the Holy Spirit sends people to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Gospel.  Acts 1:8 reveals the geographical and cultural progression of the Church.  In Jerusalem, the disciples were familiar with the language and culture of the people.  In Samaria, the language is the same but the culture was somewhat different.  There was also deep racial hatred between Jews and Samaritans, posing a barrier to the Gospel that could only be overcome by work of the Spirit.  As the Church expanded and became more Gentile in nature, important cultural issues such as circumcision needed to be faced and overcome. While the original apostles may or may not have had to grapple with learning new languages, modern missionaries must successfully cross this barrier, which is possible through the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Application and Prayer:  Let us seek to be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in the corporate life of the Church.

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