Connections 05.19.2024: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-21

In this passage from the beginning of the Christian church, one of Jesus’s kindest promises is gloriously fulfilled. Even as he told his followers he must one day leave them, he comforted their fears with the promise to send them a “Helper” or “Advocate” known as the “Holy Spirit” (see Lk 11:13; Jn 14:15-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13; Acts 1:8). Jesus’s physical presence departed the earth after his death and resurrection, but this gift came to his followers just as he promised.

Acts 2:1 says “they” were all together in a house on the day of Pentecost, likely referring to Jesus’s closest followers. Surely still sad, scared, and confused by the loss of him, they kept gathering as they tried to figure out the next step without their leader. Then they experienced something so strange and powerful that they could not deny it: a “violent” rush of wind, fiery tongues, and the sudden ability to speak so that more than a dozen different people groups understood every word, “in the native language of each” (v. 6). It was kind of like a reversed Babel (see Gen 11); instead of scrambling the people’s language so they could not communicate, the gift of the Spirit allowed everyone to understand. Some of the onlookers were skeptical, assuming the influence of alcohol (v. 13), but Peter’s powerful message delivered the truth: that God had poured out the Spirit as Jesus promised, giving the power of prophecy to all (vv. 17-18).

When I was growing up in the church, Bible study teachers and pastors indicated that the voice I heard inside, the “conscience” guiding me in a better way, was the Holy Spirit. I think that was true sometimes; other times it was just myself, not as connected to God as I wanted to be but still trying to be a Christlike person. Rather than speaking directly into my thoughts, for me the Holy Spirit has been more like a sensation of closeness to Christ—a comforter in times of fear and uncertainty, an encourager in moments of hard work, and a revealer of God in the most normal moments of everyday life. Sometimes I wish for that violent wind and a fiery tongue to rest upon me, proving the existence of God. But most of the time, the quiet presence of the Spirit is all I need to believe.

Discussion

• Why do you think God sent the Holy Spirit in such a visual, audible way?
• How do you imagine Jesus’s followers felt as they experienced the violent wind, the fiery tongues, and the sudden ability to communicate in other languages?
• How have you experienced the Holy Spirit in your life?
• Why is this gift so significant for Christians?
• What are some ways we could become more attuned to the Holy Spirit?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University (BA in English, 2000), has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theatre productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she always has one book going and several more waiting to be read!

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