Did you hear the exciting news? An ancient manuscript was discovered recently, which turned out to be the long lost 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. People often wonder why the book of Acts ends so abruptly after 28 chapters. Well, now we know why: there is one final chapter which wraps up the story.
OK, well, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But an awful lot of Christians down through the centuries, including the institutional Church herself at times, have acted as if this bogus 29th chapter were real.
Some fundamentalist groups accuse the Catholic Church of trying to make the Holy Trinity a quartet. They misinterpret Catholic devotion toward Mary as worshipping her, even though the inerrant Scriptures quote Mary herself as saying, “All generations shall call me blessed.” Catholics do not worship Mary, of course, and it’s a good subject for another day.
Christian Trinitarian doctrine teaches that the one God exists in three persons. Believers have no problem acknowledging the first person of the Trinity, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth. And they have no problem acknowledging the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.
But when it comes to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, most believers pause and say, “Umm…well, two out of three ain’t bad.”
Far too many people are under the mistaken impression that the wondrous deeds of the Holy Spirit chronicled in the book of Acts — the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the miracles, the healings, etc. — somehow died off when the first century Christians died off. The thinking is, “Yeah, well, Peter and Paul and John and Lenny and Squiggy and whoever those other apostles were, they needed that stuff back then, but once the faith spread and the church got established, it was no longer necessary.”
What a goofy thought. Nowhere in Scripture is it stated, or even implied, that the Holy Spirit’s ministry was a temporary assignment. After guiding the first century believers, the Holy Spirit did not go on vacation, and He certainly did not get a pink slip. He is still present; He is still working; He is still inspiring God’s people, filling them with faith and hope and love, and empowering them to live victorious lives on this side of eternity.