THE HOLY SPIRIT
Before Jesus died, rose again and ascended back to heaven, he explained to his disciples that they would be better off after he had gone, because he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them.
The Holy Spirit is God. The Spirit, with the Father and the Son, makes up what Christians refer to as ‘The Trinity‘ – one God in three Persons. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell with somebody, it is God himself taking up residence in their heart.
Jesus himself is the ultimate example of a Spirit-filled person. At the time of his baptism, the heavens were torn open and two things happened: the Father’s voice was audibly heard to affirm Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove. It was in the power of the Spirit that Jesus conducted his ministry. As he stated the manifesto for what he had come to do, he said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Just as the ministry of Jesus began with the filling of the Spirit, so too did the ministry of the church. In fact, as the resurrected Jesus commissioned the church to go on mission, he told them that they should not go until the Spirit had come.
On the day of Pentecost, around 120 believers were gathered in an upstairs room praying, and the Spirit came. It was a dramatic day, with sounds like rushing winds, and tongues of fire resting on them, and they began praising God in languages they had never learned. On this day everything changed. The disciples became bold and powerful to share the news of Jesus. Lots of miracles started to happen. The word about Jesus began to spread throughout the world as the spirit-empowered witness of the early church led many people to believe and new churches to be started in villages, towns and cities throughout the known world.
The Holy Spirit at Christ Church Manchester
It is the same Holy Spirit that filled Jesus and the early church who fills our churches in Manchester today. Some of the ways this effects church life are:
Spirit-led Worship. When we come together to worship in our Sunday meetings, we want to meet with God. We know that God is present with us all the time, but we also recognise that there are times when it seems like we experience that presence in a powerful way. We believe that the Holy Spirit is at work when we gather, and we let him lead the time – which will often include individuals feeling led by the Spirit to share Bible verses, prayers, prophecies or other encouragements, as well as our musicians and worship leaders being sensitive and responding to the Spirit’s promptings as they lead.
Fruit of the Spirit. According to the book of Galatians, the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. When the Holy Spirit is in our lives, he helps us grow in Godly character, and as a church we want to see our individual and collective lives marked increasingly by these characteristics.
Gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives each of us gifts that we can use to make a difference, serve others and build God’s kingdom. These gifts take many forms, from administration to teaching, from leadership to prayer. At Christ Church Manchester, there is an atmosphere where all of these gifts can be practiced, including the more overtly supernatural gifts such as healing, prophecy and miracles.
Filling of the Spirit. We believe that every Christian has the Holy Spirit. We can experience being filled with the Spirit, and this empowers us to live holy lives and equips us for mission and ministry. Being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time event, but we are instructed in the Bible to go on being filled with the Spirit, and as a church this is what we want to do.