Bible Society of South Africa

The Holy Spirit lets the Church grow – 27 May 2021

By Carina Francke

Bible text(s)

15He said to them, “Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole human race. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17Believers will be given the power to perform miracles: they will drive out demons in my name; they will speak in strange tongues; 18if they pick up snakes or drink any poison, they will not be harmed; they will place their hands on sick people, who will get well.”

(Lk 24.50–53; Acts 1.9–11)

19After the Lord Jesus had talked with them, he was taken up to heaven and sat at the right side of God. 20The disciples went and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and proved that their preaching was true by the miracles that were performed.]

Another Old Ending


Mark 16:15-20GNBOpen in Bible reader

31And so it was that the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had a time of peace. Through the help of the Holy Spirit it was strengthened and grew in numbers, as it lived in reverence for the Lord.

On 11 September 2001, America and the world were brought to a standstill by the attack on the Twin Towers. Panic-stricken people ran in all directions. One group ran away from the towers, whilst another group ran towards the towers. Those who ran away tried to save their own lives; those running towards the towers were firefighters who tried to save lives.

This incident made me look inwards and left me with a question: In what direction do I run on my spiritual journey with people? Away from them because I do not really care what happens? Fearful that someone would give me the cold shoulder if that someone sensed that I am timid? Or am I part of a (spiritual) firefighting team, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that uses their knowledge of the Word, their skills, zeal and sincerity to reach insecure, lost and fearful people. After all, these are the values that bear witness to caring and loving others.

And this is exactly what the first church of believers did constantly. Their testimonies, unity, changed lives, charity and faithfulness were visible to all who crossed their paths. They took Jesus at his word: “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) A committed firefighting team of the Leader, Jesus Christ.

It is no surprise then that the “fire” of persecution launched an attack on the team’s commitment. Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, was stoned to death because he witnessed about the Truth. (Acts 7) A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. Believers were dragged out of their houses and put in prison. But the scattered believers remained a team. Jesus’ command to them echoed in their minds: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) They obeyed.

Detailed record-keeping of Church history makes it clear that the persecution of the church never stopped. And yet, the Church is still growing, even though in certain areas it has had to go underground due to severe persecution. But even in these circumstances, Christ is still the Head of the Church, whilst the Holy Spirit still empowers and energises the firefighting team of the Church. He is our guarantee and seal that every promise God made in the Word, will be fulfilled. Believers need not despair or lose hope, because the Holy Spirit is always present: “Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.” (Acts 9:31)

A truth that still goes from strength to strength today!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for every promise in the Word that is true for the now and for ever. Open my ears to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and his guidance clearly. Then enable this firefighting team member to act upon his instruction. Amen

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