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Holy Spirit as dove stained glassSunday, May 19, 2013, is Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were able to go forth to preach, heal and die in the name of the Lord. The Book of Acts carries this dramatic and moving account of the Apostles and disciples in the earliest days of the Church.

Acts 2:1-4 recounts the moment the Holy Spirit descended on them:

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

 1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Last year’s post excerpted a sermon from a Lutheran pastor which explains the significance of Pentecost and the comfort which the Holy Spirit brings.

This year’s reflections are taken from a sermon by the Revd P G Mathew, formerly of India. Dr Mathew worked as a scientist before ordination. He is a Reformed (Calvinist) clergyman with three graduate degrees in theology and serves as pastor of Grace Valley Christian Center in Davis, California.

The following is from his sermon, ‘The Holy Spirit, Our Helper’, specifically the conclusion, ‘The Spirit’s Effectual Intercession’. Emphases mine below:

The intercession of the Holy Spirit is always effectual. This is because God who examines our hearts knows the mind of the Holy Spirit and what his desire for us is.

God knows our hearts. David said, “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chron. 28:9). He also prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).

The prayer of the Spirit is always effectual because he prays according to the will of God in our behalf. The Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God, so there exists perfect harmony between the Father who searches our hearts and the mind of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, we do not always know how to pray in accordance with God’s will in specific situations. But in Romans 8:27 Paul tells us, “According to God [kata theon] the Spirit intercedes for the benefit of the saints” (author’s translation). The Holy Spirit always prays according to the will of God. So the Spirit continually helps us to bear our burdens. His intercession is always effectual because he intercedes according to God’s perfect will. He is our paraklétos, one who comes alongside to help us in all our weaknesses …

Conclusion: We are weak, but God is strong to help us in all our weaknesses. We can rejoice, knowing that we have a number of intercessors.

1. Christ in heaven is interceding for us (Rom. 8:34), guaranteeing our justification based on his blood atonement. His intercession is effectual.

2. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts according to the will of God. His intercession is always effectual for our sanctification.

3. God’s holy church intercedes for us. After James, the brother of John, was put to the sword, Peter was arrested and put in prison. The church was interceding for Peter in the house of Mary the mother of Mark (Acts 12:5), and the intercession was effectual. God sent an angel and let Peter out of prison to continue his ministry. Paul says that if one member suffers, the whole body suffers (1 Cor. 12:26). Elsewhere, he says, “Bear one another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

May we therefore not worry as we face problems, weaknesses, sufferings, and trials. God the Father is for us, Christ the Son is for us, the Holy Spirit is for us, and the holy church is for us. We are well taken care of, and in his time, the Lord will bring us safely home.

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