Pentecost Sunday 2021: Can I get A Witness?
Today we celebrate the Birthday of the Church. The promise has been fulfilled. The Holy Ghost has been poured out on the 120 or so apostles and disciples and Mary the Mother of Jesus. And the 120 or so apostles and disciples with Mary had been filled with the Holy Ghost. Let us think for a moment about why the Holy Ghost had been given?
Had He been given so that we can perform healings and walk on water and have all our comforts met? Far from it! I believe that the Holy Ghost has been given primarily to help us attack all our own sins. Whenever Christians claim to be filled with the Holy Ghost but live lives persistently defeated by sin, I would question whether the Holy Ghost is even present in their lives
The writer of Hebrews says, “For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said: Vengeance belongeth to me, and I will repay. And again: The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Now how does the Holy Ghost help free us from the attachment to sin brought about by original sin?
• First, the Holy Ghost can help free us from the PENALTY of sin
• Next, the Holy Ghost can help free us from the POWER of sin
• Finally, the Holy Ghost can help free us from the PRESENCE of sin
To experience the full Christian life, we must learn how to interact properly with this Holy Ghost so that we can be increasingly freed from the grip that each of our sins has over us.
We now know that the Holy Ghost can lead us to victory, but why? For what purpose does the Holy Ghost want to free us from our sins? Is it so that we too can be gods one day, or achieve some state of perfect happiness and peace ?
Not at all, look at Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. "
There is a SIGNIFICANT difference between BEARING witness and BEING a witness.
Bearing witness is something that we do externally. There are many activities that we can do that are just bearing witness: handing out Christian tracts, telling others about Jesus, posting Christian-related stories on social media, etc. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these activities. In fact, they can all be useful and helpful activities for advancing the message of Jesus. However, being a witness is very different. BEING a witness of Jesus implies that our whole being (identity) exemplifies and magnifies the Person of Jesus. It means that our innermost hopes and dreams and ambitions match what we sing and talk about while at Mass on Sunday and what we claim to believe to our family and friends. We might fool people or even ourselves, but we most certainly cannot fool God. As we consider our lives before God, we must ask ourselves if we are BEING a witness of Jesus in God's eyes.
How then can we be witnesses of Jesus Christ who lived 2000 years ago? To be a witness means that we saw something first-hand.
Were we there when Jesus was crucified? Has Jesus appeared to us personally so that we are truly witnesses of His resurrection? The people to whom Jesus spoke these words to in Acts 1:8 were actual witnesses. They all saw the cross on which Jesus died, and they probably all saw Jesus' dead body taken down from the cross. Yet days later, they encountered Jesus again, now resurrected from the dead-living, breathing, and eating.
How can WE, who live today, be witnesses of Jesus Christ? This then is the beautiful part about the role of the Holy Ghost!
In addition to the apostles who saw Jesus that day, there was another Person who was there-the Holy Ghost. He watched the whole story as it unfolded. He saw them crucify our Lord. He was there when Jesus was raised from the dead. He was there when Jesus was seated at the right hand of God.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. he God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging him upon a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. And we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to all that obey him. (Acts 5:30-32)
This very same Spirit of God is available to us (Romans 8:11), and He can testify to our hearts that Jesus is real. He has been given to whisper in our hearts, " Jesus Christ is real. I was there when they crucified Him. And I am a witness that Jesus rose from the dead as well. Believe Me. "
There is a lot of scientific and philosophical research that give us historical confidence in the physical death and resurrection of Jesus. But my faith does not rest on their discoveries or proofs. My faith in Jesus rests on the hidden voice of the Holy Ghost that whispers to my heart that Jesus is real. And the Spirit of God testifies to my spirit that, because He rose from the dead, I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).
The reason the Holy Ghost comes to give us supernatural (Divine) power over sin in our lives is simply SO THAT we can BE witnesses of Jesus as if we had seen it all ourselves. It is not so that we can be good and kind and have outstanding moral character. No, the Holy Ghost wants our lives to be proof that His power enables us to overcome every sin, showing that JESUS is real and that JESUS has conquered all sins and even death. He wants our lives to act as one big sign pointing to Jesus!