God’s Spirit descended upon the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2. It was a powerful, memorable and historic event. The followers of Jesus heard something that sounded like a violent wind (Acts 2:2). They saw what looked like tongues of fire on each of them (Acts 2:3). They were supernaturally able to communicate the Gospel in languages they had never learned and the people around them understood the message.
This event ushered in a new era in the Big Story. God was now going to be present with His people personally through His Spirit. Peter interpreted this as a sure sign of the inauguration of the “last days” (Acts 2:14-21). It is also a fulfillment of the prophecy given to Jeremiah about the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
This new era, launched at Pentecost, continues to this day. We are living in the age of the Spirit, the New Covenant and the last days. The Messiah has come and the new covenant was announced and initiated by Him. He paid the price for the sinfulness of mankind on the cross. His resurrection signaled the victory over death. Sending the Holy Spirit to the church has made His presence and His power available to all of us who follow Him.
Filling of the Spirit – Now that God is present with us personally, it is possible to be filled with His Spirit. In fact, we are instructed to be filled with God’s Spirit (Eph. 5:18). We are to empty ourselves of our desires and wants – so that we can be filled with God’s desires for us. Plus, the filling of God’s Spirit means that God’s power is at work in us. He is enabling us to overcome the frailty of our sinful condition. He can lead us to new heights in accomplishment. He can re-order our priorities. He can re-direct our passions and govern our emotions. He can alter our perspective and motivate us with a higher calling.
Gifts of the Spirit – Now that God is present with us personally, we have all been gifted to serve His interests (1 Corinthians 12:7). These gifts are to be used by us in service to God for the common good. These gifts are varied and specific. They are intended to equip God’s people to accomplish God’s purposes in the church and in the world.
The gifts are diverse but they all come from the same Spirit. Consequently, as we are engaged in service to God, we experience a sense of unity with God’s people in the church. We are able to express the diversity of the gifts without damaging the unity of the church. In fact, the operation of the diversity of the gifts actually strengthens the unity of the church.
There many different types of gifts mentioned in the New Testament (see Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12-14). God recognizes just how diverse and different we all are. He matches these gifts with the personalities, talents and abilities of His people. These gifts are functional and practical. If you have never considered what your spiritual gift is, you can take an online survey to at least offer you a suggestion of how God may have gifted you for service — http://fbca.org/spiritualgifts
These gifts are certainly primarily to be used for God’s glory in our service through the church. However, our spiritual gifts are not disconnected from our calling to work!