As I write, it’s Pentecost Sunday—a time when many of us pause to remember and celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and reflect on what that means for us today.
I had been a Spirit-filled Christian for 20 years, and I thought I knew all there was to know about the Holy Spirit.
But then God showed up in unexpected places and revealed just how little I really knew.
Upon reflection, I can see that I had the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit all wrapped up in a neat little package.
My ‘box’ was comprised mainly of two compartments—the role of the Spirit in my personal life, and His role in church life.
In the first, I knew the Holy Spirit as my Comforter, Helper, Teacher and Leader—the One sent to empower me in my Christian life. This is the Holy Spirit as revealed by Jesus in John chapters 14-16.
In the second compartment, I knew the Holy Spirit as the One who distributes spiritual gifts to the church (1 Cor 12:4-11). This expression of the Holy Spirit—in my experience back then—was largely confined to church meetings and church services and church life in general.
This second also included my expectation and joy of the Holy Spirit’s Presence being felt, and His power being manifested, in church meetings and church services. And as a prophetic worshipper, I particularly loved this aspect of the Spirit!
But then in 1995, some things began to happen for which I had no prior frame of reference.
Surprised by the Holy Spirit
At that time, my husband Malcolm (aka ‘The Hunk’) and I experienced a fresh encounter with God personally. Our love for Jesus overflowed as we sought to reach out to people around us with the good news of salvation.
The Holy Spirit showed up in our neighbourhood, moving amongst unchurched people—people who had never stepped inside of a church building.
- There were answers to prayer requests made on the behalf of non-Christians.
- There were Divine appointments—seemingly ‘coincidental’ meetings or circumstances that were clearly arranged by God to lead someone closer to faith in Jesus.
- One time, friends and I prayed for a neighbour in our living room. She fell to the ground, overcome by the power of the Spirit as she experienced God’s love. And she wasn’t even ready to give her life to Jesus.
- There was the guy we had been praying for who called us one night in alarm—he was physically feeling the power of the Holy Spirit and he wanted us to explain to him what was happening.
‘Why God—You’re Here!
One evening I was visiting a neighbour who did not know Jesus. In our conversation, I referred to the troubles and escapades of my younger years.
Surprised, she asked me what had taken place in my life to cause such a change in me.
I began to share my story—the testimony of how I came to faith in Jesus and the changes that happened in my life as a result.
Whilst I was talking to her, I noticed something taking place in the room. The manifest Presence of God—the anointing of the Holy Spirit—filled her lounge room.
I had never known such a thing. We weren’t in a church service. There was no worship taking place, no spiritual ambience at all.
In fact, we were in a dark house, which smelled of cigarettes and the family dog and had witch puppets hung around the walls.
On the outside, I was still talking, but on the inside, I wondered in amazement: ‘Why God—You’re here!’
The Holy Spirit of the Book of Acts
I realise now that although I knew the Holy Spirit personally, and experienced His ministry in church life—I did not know the Holy Spirit as He is revealed in the book of Acts and in the life and ministry of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit—like Jesus—has come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He loves people and wants to reach them in partnership with us.
When the Spirit came upon the waiting believers on the day of Pentecost, the manifestation of His arrival drew thousands of people from around the area.
When Peter shared the Gospel, 3,000 were saved as the Spirit caused conviction to rend their hearts.
The Holy Spirit didn’t just come for those in the upper room—He came for those who were outside of the room. And so it is today.
A Reservoir, or a River?
‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.’ John 7:38-39
As the years go by, and as my husband and I visit from church to church, we recognise that many Christians have a limited knowledge and experience of the Holy Spirit— similar to the ‘box’ I described above.
This is not surprising when you consider that there are two contexts in which we primarily teach on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our churches today.
- Discipleship, where the infilling and baptism of the Spirit is taught in the context of spiritual growth
- Spiritual Gifts and ministry in the church
As a result, our personal lives and churches have become like reservoirs—we expect that thirsty people will come to us and drink. And we wonder where the crowds are.
But Jesus has called us to be releasers of the life of the Spirit—people and churches from whom the Spirit flows like a continuous river.
A River bringing transformation and life wherever we go—in our homes, in the streets, in our neighbourhoods, our schools and universities, in our workplaces, hospitals and supermarkets.
In our suburbs, our communities, our towns, cities, states, our nation and the nations of the world. (Acts 1:8)
This is the purpose of Pentecost.
And this is the vision I live for.
Read more about this subject in the following posts:
This article is related to my book, ‘How To Be A Supernatural Christian In Your Everyday World:’ a beginners’ guide to prophetic evangelism.
Find out more about the e-book here:
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog
On team with David McCracken Ministries
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