Friday, September 23, 2011

Let There Be Light

As I was preparing my BSF teaching lesson tonight on Acts 2, the warmth of the early followers of Jesus really struck me. "... And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (vv. 46-47).
This joy, gladness, and deep communion is nothing less than the "fellowship of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14), that is, the reciprocal participation in one another's lives and in the joy the Spirit gives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. These were all those who had seen their own complicity in the Messiah's death and had received the gospel that in Christ their sins were washed away forever, and they had receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (vv. 36-41).
The image that keeps coming to my head is that of an incandescent lightbulb. When the switch is turned on and the metal connection is restored, the circuit allows electricity to stream from its source through the bulb's tungsten filament, causing it to glow and radiate warmth and light. In the same way, in the life of the repentant sinner who receives Christ and the forgiveness that comes through him, he is restored to connection with the very life of God--his Spirit, his Breath--who is poured out into the believer's soul and acts upon him in such a way that he cannot help but radiate joy, peace, and love over the grace of his God. "On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." ' Now this he had said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).
But even though this Spirit and the grace that comes through the message of the cross can be found even by a man alone with the Bible, how often do we rather encounter the life-giving, joy-producing Word through the prayers, consolation, hymns, and encouragement of other Christian brothers and sisters? As we've received, so we freely give to others. And so the church glows brighter, with the result that the Lord will add to her number day by day those who are being saved.

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