At Work & Theology 101

What Pentecost Means for Our Work (Part 1)

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The Day of Pentecost has sometimes been overlooked in many churches I have attended, which is unfortunate. What happened with the early church in Jerusalem fifty days after the Passover clearly empowered them to do the work Jesus had called them to do, which radically changed the civilized world as we know it. The Holy Spirit’s power and presence continue to impact our workplaces today.

In my Christian walk, I have observed several key truths about the Holy Spirit I would like to explore. I’ll discuss the first two today and the third and fourth in my next article.

  • The power of the indwelling Spirit enables Christians to do great things for Christ’s Kingdom. 
  • We experience God’s presence through the Holy Spirit as he teaches us and reminds us of Jesus’s words. 
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit help us to find our purpose. 
  • The fruit of the Spirit makes us like Christ.

The Power of the Holy Spirit

The best place to start our discussion on the impact that the Day of Pentecost had on the work of Jesus’s disciples and with believers today is to unpack the power of the Holy Spirit. Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem to “wait for the gift my Father promised” (Act. 1:4). Jesus said that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” and that this gift would enable them to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Act. 1:8).

In Acts 2:1-41, the Holy Spirit did a mighty work among the ethnically diverse crowd gathered on the Day of Pentecost to expand the church to three thousand new believers. The Spirit worked in and through Peter as evidenced by his powerful preaching, where he moved in the hearts of the Gentiles who had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own language and repented. The church continued to work in the power of the Holy Spirit as God’s coworkers to expand his church in Jerusalem on a global scale. 

This power the apostles had enabled them to do the challenging work Jesus called them to do. This same power resides in us, giving us strength to obey God in order to live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit gives ordinary Christians the ability to work with a renewed mind and a higher purpose.   

Tom Nelson, in Work Matters, heartily echoes this concept, 

You were created with work in mind. You have been gifted to do a particular work. As a follower of Christ who has been born from above, you have been equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to make an important vocational contribution, a contribution that God has providentially arranged for you to make in this world.  

The Presence of God in the Holy Spirit

Wayne Grudem, in his book, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine defines one attribute of the Holy Spirit: 

The work of the Holy Spirit is to manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially in the church. This definition indicates that the Holy Spirit is the member of the Trinity whom the Scripture most often represents as being present to do God’s work in the world. 

Let me highlight a few key verses from the Gospel of John where Jesus mentioned the Holy Spirit. In John 14:17, Jesus taught his disciples that the Father would give them a Counselor, who “lives with you and will be in you.” His constant presence and still, small voice would teach and remind them of what Jesus said (Jn. 14:26). The Holy Spirit would guide them in the truth (Jn. 16:13). Since Jesus was about to depart, he wanted to assure them that both his Father and he would be with them at all times so that they could know him, follow him, and remain faithful to fulfill their calling. 

The Apostle Paul taught that every follower of Jesus Christ is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). We are like “walking tabernacles” of God’s presence wherever we go, including the workplace. Just like the tabernacle, the portable temple where God’s presence resided that the Israelites carried through the wilderness for forty years until they entered the Promised Land, we too can experience the presence of God as we travel through the wilderness of our workplaces over our forty-year careers. He blesses our employers, coworkers, subordinates, and customers as he works with us, in us, and through us.

Miroslav Volf, in his book, Work in the Spirit concurs. He emphasizes that “the whole Christian life is a life of cooperation with God through the presence of the Spirit. A Christian’s mundane work is no exception. Here, too, one must say: I work, and the Spirit of the resurrected Christ works through me.” In my own faith and work journey as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know the presence of the Holy Spirit makes a huge difference in my life at home, at work, at church, and everywhere I go. I can honestly say that even now, I am experiencing his presence as I write this article about his presence.

The power and presence of God is manifested in the Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christ-follower upon their conversion. God’s presence isn’t something that is given solely for our comfort and God’s power isn’t merely given to help us to overcome sin. The indwelling Holy Spirit supernaturally changes us from the inside out. His work is a major component of the sanctification process as God makes us like Jesus. The gifts and the fruit of the Spirit outwardly display this transformation. 

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