The Work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost


(Note: I wrote this article and posted it on my blog before my book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession was published by WestBow Press in February 2018. This critical topic was later included in the book. I invite you to check it out.)

This past Sunday, my wife and I attended church at Redeemer Fellowship in downtown Kansas City with our son and daughter-in-law. We always hear great preaching every time we go; this was no exception. Here’s a link to the sermon.

The message was on Acts 1:6-8, where Jesus tells His disciples of the upcoming outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This narrative about the power that the Holy Spirit would bring to these early Christ-followers clearly demonstrates the idea of Immanuel labor, God’s presence in our work. It also shows that work has intrinsic value, since God Himself is one who works.

Pastor Key reminded us of what the Prophets and Jesus had said about the promised Holy Spirit and what He would bring to God’s people. He mentioned Ezekiel 37, where we read in context of the account of the valley of dry bones that the Lord would put His Spirit “in you” (v. 14) and that His dwelling place would be “with them” (v. 27).

In John 14, Jesus told His disciples that the Father would give the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, who “lives with you and will be in you” (v. 17). His constant voice would teach and remind them of what Jesus said (v. 26). He would guide them in the truth (Jn. 16:13). Since Jesus was physically about to leave His disciples, both in John 14-16 and in Acts 1:8, He wanted to assure them they would have the very presence of His Father and Himself with them at all times so that they could know Him, follow Him, and remain faithful to fulfill their calling.

I forgot the preacher’s exact words, but in effect, he reminded us that the mission of the early church at that time was too great in terms of magnitude and extent for them to accomplish in their own strength. It was too high and too far. The Roman Empire offered much resistance to the gospel, and even today, the flesh, the devil, and the world are still too strong for us to take on alone. Also, it was absolutely unthinkable that Christians in that Jewish anti-diverse culture would be able to take the gospel message of life in Jesus outside the relatively safe confines of Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

The kicker was when the preacher pointed out that it was only due to the Spirit-empowered efforts of the church over the centuries that we were able to hear and respond to the gospel right there in Kansas City, which to the early church was “the ends of the earth”. I was blown away when he said that.

This profound sermon on this powerful passage highlighted to me again that God is a worker, which implies that work has value. Sometimes, the Triune God works by Himself; often He will work through His children, the church, as His co-workers. Those who were created in God’s image and subsequently re-created in the image of His Son by the power of His Spirit were called to work with Him, in His presence, and with His power to expand His Kingdom. This is indeed Immanuel labor.

This partnership between the Holy Spirit and the church is just one phase of the operation. The next phase I want to address next is between Paul and the church, as they partnered together in the power of the Spirit to spread the gospel.

Russ Gehrlein

Master Sergeant Russell E. Gehrlein (U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 38 years, father of three, grandfather of four, blogger, and author of “Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work”, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is also a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. Russ currently works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

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