People of the Spirit, worshiping Jesus in all places, at all times

Freedom’s Song

If you do any serious reading into Pentecostal history and scholarship (Chris Green, Cheryl Bridges Johns, Amos Yong, etc.), you’ll discover that we consider ourselves to be people of both stories and song. We worship when we testify to the work of the Gospel in our midst through testimony: how Jesus has set us free through His once-for-all work on the Cross and has empowered our free worship through the outpouring of His Spirit. But we also sing it out. Pentecostal worship is distinctive from most known worship traditions in the way that individual actions contribute to congregational worship. Instead of becoming a simple “me and Jesus” time where everyone is worshipping solo and happen to be in the same room. And this is because what we are singing about– whether in congregational hymns and praises, or personal songs of adoration– is the good news about Jesus. It’s the symphony of heaven’s choirs being echoed by the Church on earth: that the Lamb has redeemed a people for God from every nation, tribe, and language.

That Jesus was killed to redeem us reminds us that He died to release us from slavery to the world, the sinful nature, and the devil. We’ve been set free. But he redeemed a people. We weren’t set free to be ourselves, or to be millions of little freed people across the earth. He made us a people, a Church. That’s the difference Pentecost makes. When the Spirit is poured out, the redeemed individuals are made into a holy nation that isn’t sovereign at all, but belongs totally and completely to God. And we were redeemed from every group because God made all things so that all things could be enjoyed by Him and all things could worship Him.

In our Pentecostal world, freedom doesn’t come to us because we are owed it. It doesn’t come because we claim it by faith. It doesn’t come because we speak some prayer more confidently than we did yesterday. Freedom comes because Jesus came. Freedom comes because Jesus poured out His Spirit on us. Freedom comes when we stop try to work up our faith, and do our best to lay hold of something, and press on to finish the day well, because those things are the precise opposite of freedom. Freedom comes because the Lamb of God has done what I could not, and will not do. He has worked to give us rest. He has died to give us life. He has fought to give us peace. When I try to do or claim any of those things, I stop walking by the Spirit and start living like a slave.

If you have been freed by Jesus’ death on the cross, have been raised with Him, and He has poured out His Spirit on you, you are free. Nothing you say or do will change that. The only thing that remains is to be the people of story and song that we are. We speak the story of how Jesus freed us from the world, sin, and the devil. We sing freely and joyfully. We worship as the Church, the freed holy nation because we are all free. And any brother or sister who would tell us differently needs to hear us sing louder. So speak and sing that Gospel.

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