The Community of the Spirit: The Old Testament promises were understood to be fulfilled in the New where the gifts of salvation are attributed to the Spirit. Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35), Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and sustained there (Lk 4:1ff) and the church is constituted by the Spirit. This institutional gift of the Spirit came at Pentecost (‘the birthday of the church’), and from beginning days the Spirit was seen prompting every activity of the church, whether prophecy, service or the public confession of Christ that often lead to martyrdom.
Paul’s theology of the Spirit in the church grew from the experiences of these earliest Christians. It is the Spirit which animates the body of Christ and pours the love of God into our hearts (Rom. 5.5). All the gifts of grace are associated with the Spirit, and Paul describes the Spirit itself as inhabiting the church and individual Christians. The gifts of the Spirit, knowledge and love of God and witness in all its forms, illuminate and even constitute the life of the church. Second Thessalonians attributes sanctification generally to the Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13). The fourth gospel promises that the Spirit will remain with the church (Jn 14: 16, 25).
Given in a special way at baptism and manifested in the church, life in the Spirit unites Christians of every age and every place, but the action of the Spirit is not restricted to any group and it would be presumption to say so. Like the wind, ‘The Spirit blows where it wills…but [we] do not know where it comes from or where it goes, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit’ (Jn 3: 8). The Spirit cannot be tied down in time or place or any other way; the community of the Spirit transcends the church. (Joanne McWilliam, Christ Church, Deer Park, Toronto. The Anglican Church of Canada)