How do we recognize the Spirit of the ascended Lord? Where can we see his wind blowing? What are the signs of the Spirit’s favor and presence? Where is God at work? Where can his blessing and presence be found? How does his Spirit work salvation in our midst? The Scriptures point out these signs very clearly.
The fruit of the Spirit is the very real form and shape of Christ’s community on earth.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-25)
The Holy Spirit’s work can be seen where sacrificial love and hospitality abound. The tools the Lord uses are the preaching of his Word and the right use of the Sacraments (Acts 2:42). What are the signs of God's favor and presence? His Word is being scattered like seed in the field of the world that begins to bear fruit even now (Matt. 13).
God is at work building a new community. The ascended Christ is not physically present, yet he has sent his Spirit at Pentecost, restoring communion not only between the Creator and his creatures but also communion between men and women of different social classes, ethnicities, and backgrounds (Eph. 4:3).
This is the field in which God is reforming humans into his image and binding them to each other in faithfulness and love, giving us a new identity and a new family. As Paul declares to us, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). This could only be so because the blood of Christ has brought us near!
And yet, this is something we must work at. We must learn to love by bearing each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). When this is happening, we can be sure God’s Word is taking root and we are in the Spirit’s presence. And where the Spirit is, so is Christ by his power and redeeming grace.