My mind has been reeling since the International Assembly last summer. I felt personally motivated and challenged by the messages and themes conveyed by many of the dynamic speakers. Their words still echo in my thoughts and resonate through the Scriptures. Throughout the course of this year, since the Assembly, I have been carefully considering the meaning of “reconciling the world to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.” I have been blessed by reading through the Bible with this framework in mind.
One thing that truly strikes me as I examine the Scriptures is that the Spirit has worked almost invariably through human beings. Perhaps on the surface, this does not sound like some grand revelation. Indeed, it probably is not, for God works through the ordinary. Many messages have been penned about our gracious God working through broken and unqualified human beings. However, the focus is not on the quality of those with whom the Spirit works, but on the incredible irony that the Holy Spirit performs the amazing work of reconciliation through these “earthen vessels.” God could choose to bypass the human element altogether and allow his Spirit to minister to the world, and surely some could testify that was their experience. However, our Father loves us such that he desires for us to be included in his rescue plan.
In parallel to this divine-human collaborative effort, we should also note that this role is not a novelty of the New Covenant. The Spirit worked through ordinary human beings in the past, individuals such as Bezalel (Exodus 31:1–4; 35:30–33) and Gideon (Judges 6), but this happened to people quite sporadically. The day of Pentecost ushered in an entirely new metric. Simon Peter famously declared, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:16, 7 NKJV).
In the millennia since that day, the Holy Spirit truly has been poured out on all flesh. All believers are now born of and anointed by the Spirit. Because of this, we are called to serve as kings and priests. All who belong to Christ are meant to be the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6), the intermediaries seeking the reconciliation of the world to our beloved Savior.
The role of kings and priests is absolutely vital to this conversation. In the Old Testament, we saw something special take place to announce that someone has been set apart for either of these roles. That something was “anointing.” These individuals were chosen and set apart to function as representatives of the people of Israel before God. We are called Christians, which could be more literally translated as “little anointed ones.” That should serve as a reminder of our calling to be the “royal priesthood” of God.
How does all this relate to being empowered by the Spirit for the reconciliation of the world? My friend, Pastor Raul Umanzor, recently reminded me that the power of the Holy Spirit is unlocked in our lives through obedience. We are new creatures, born of and anointed by the Spirit, but the true power of that anointing is hampered when we are double-minded. The human condition is such that obedience is never completely easy. No one is above temptation so long as we wear this mortal flesh.
Thankfully, obedience is made possible by the Spirit who dwells in us. The Spirit is aptly called our Helper, and love is his mechanism. The discourse of Paul in 1 Corinthians illustrates this powerfully. Chapters 12 and 14 are packed full of instructions and information concerning the gifts of the Spirit.
However, that beautiful thirteenth chapter is sandwiched between them for the express purpose of showing how love must be the hallmark of our lives. It is through the simple obedience of ordinary people that the majority of kingdom work is accomplished: acts of charity, preaching the gospel, ministering to the outcasts, and such deeds. Reconciling the world to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit looks like this: ordinary human beings, changed and empowered by the Spirit, engaging their communities and cultures with effervescent, unwavering acts of love for Jesus the Messiah.
Jeremy Osborn graduated from Lee University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art and currently works in fabrications/welding. He is a lay minister working on licensure and serves as the regional youth director of Northeast Texas. Jeremy is passionate about God’s Word, artistic expression as a form of worship, and engaging young people on the Christian journey. He resides in Maud, Texas, with his wife Brittaney and their daughter Xoi.
As published in the May 2023 issue of the White Wing Messenger.