Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith

 

Chapter Six

THREE FESTIVALS

 

Forty days after the Lord's resurrection He ascended back into heaven, then ten days later was the coming of God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The seventh day following Pentecost is sometimes known as Trinity Sunday, when we think about God as being One God in Three Persons.

Between His resurrection and ascension the Lord Jesus appeared to all His followers, reinstated Peter thrice - once for each of the three times Peter denied knowing the Lord just before the crucifixion - and promised to send to the disciples the Holy Spirit in His place.  During that time Jesus only appeared to believers and not to the unbelieving Jews or Gentiles.


The Ascension

The ascension ended the physical ministry of the Lord Jesus here on earth.  As He ascended back into heaven from whence He had come thirty years earlier, two angels appeared as they had done in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified and at His resurrection.  Jesus was welcomed back into heaven and seated at the right hand of God the Father.  He was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, having conquered sin, Satan, death, and all evil, making possible the way to heaven for all who believe.  Jesus has gone before us to prepare for us a 'place' (literally: a home or mansion) which will be our habitation after we die.  No housing shortages or needs there!  And the kind of holy, fruitful, and godly life we have lived here on earth will determine our place in Paradise - in heaven.

Christ's ministry now is to ever make intercession for us to God the Father whenever the devil tries to condemn us.  Jesus counters the enemy with His perfect prayer, reminding His Father, Who is the ultimate Judge, of all the fruits of His (Jesus') death and resurrection which have been imputed to us by grace through our faith in Him and in His work for us.  Thus even when we have done wrong, as we live in Christ and seek His forgiveness daily, we are forgiven and cleansed with His shed blood.


Pentecost

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent by God the Father to take the place of Jesus on the earth until the Lord returns again at His Second Coming.  The Holy Spirit came upon all the disciples who were gathered "in one place", filling them with His power and emboldening them to take the Gospel far and wide that all may hear and be saved [1].  Peter was so full of the Holy Spirit that when he preached to all the multitude in Jerusalem that day, 3000 souls came to the Lord and were saved [2].

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity; co-equal in every way with God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.  Always giving the glory to Jesus, the Holy Spirit never puts the spotlight on Himself.  He convicts sinners of their need for salvation and brings to life our innermost being - our human spirit - when we are born again, enabling us to become true followers of Christ and working deep within us to guide us into all of God's truth.  He convicts us of any wrong-doing by means of our conscience prompting us to seek God's forgiveness.  He helps us to pray aright and works through us to help, strengthen, and bless others in their need, as He also comforts and supports us in our need.  He empowers us to grow day by day in His Holy fruit [3], changing us so that others may see Jesus in us, enabling us to produce more fruit for the Kingdom, and making us more pleasing to our heavenly Father.


The Holy Trinity

Just as we are made up of three parts: body, soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit, but are nevertheless still one being, so the Holy Trinity is made up of three persons but is still one God.

Trying to fully explain the doctrine of the Trinity has kept theologians very busy down the centuries.  One helpful picture is to imagine the sun shining in the sky.  The sun itself is unapproachable in its fiery majesty just as God the Father is to us.  But the light that flows from the sun illuminates our lives as does the Son, Jesus Christ.  The radiating heat that gives us energy to move and grow is like the work of the Holy Spirit.  It's impossible to have the sun without its light and heat, but both light and heat are from the sun yet are distinct in themselves, each having different roles to play.  In other words, the sun gives off light and heat and whenever we stand in its brilliant light we feel the warmth that comes from it.

Another example may help.  As we said above, God is one God of three parts which we see dimly reproduced in ourselves as tri-partite beings.  We also carry out distinctive roles towards various people and are known by folk according to the relationship we have with them - a father will see us quite differently from the way a son does, while a spouse, workmates, or friends will see us differently again, yet we are still only one person throughout our life.  Similarly God the Father is the Creator Who is always on the throne in heaven, while God the Son is the Redeemer who lived among us for thirty years and died to save us, and God the Holy Spirit indwells all true Christian people to sanctify us and prepare us for eternity.

All such examples are, of course, inadequate, and we shall need eternity to know God more fully - a God Who has no beginning (which is beyond our comprehension) and no end.  Because God is outside time and space, having created them both when He created the planets and stars, he has an overall 'birds-eye' view of everything.  He looks at the universe from the outside, and He sees all history from start to finish.  He is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere-present).  In contrast our knowledge and view of things is very limited, which we may liken to a 'worms-eye' view.  As the eagle flying high in the sky can see many things for miles around, so the worm on the ground sees only the few things in his immediate vicinity.


All three festivals centre on God, not us.  They may help us to understand more fully all that He has done for us.  Having created us, He loved us so much that He laid aside His glory in order to rescue us from sin, and died at great cost to Himself, and He continues to care for us, meeting our needs, teaching us, guiding us, correcting us, forgiving us, and helping us along the road that leads to eternal life with Himself.  There we shall come to know and worship Him more completely than we can ever do here on earth.

 

Footnotes

[1]  Acts 2:1-5.          [2]  Acts 2:14-41.          [3]  Galatians 5.

 

 

 

Chapter Five   |   Chapter Seven   |   Back to Contents

 

 

Michael Smith 2013