Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Day of Pentecost

After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the newly formed group of believers would have to carry on without him. There was nothing about them that distinguished them as competent and prepared for success. They were considered a cult and looked upon with ridicule. They didn't have their own building in which to meet. They lived on the verge of poverty and were small in number. One of their leaders had just betrayed Jesus and had been fraudulent with their money. The rest of the apostles were unproven. So what made the difference? How were they able to grow by leaps and bounds and see wonders and miracles? The remarkable turning point for the Early Church was the infilling of the Spirit that occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

While Jesus’ body still lay in the tomb, a group from the Sanhedrin made its way to a field ready to be harvested. They cut down the firstfruits of grain, standing sheaves that were pre-tied. The cut sheaves were taken back to the temple to be waved before the Lord the next day. The harvest was not to be partaken of until that offering of firstfruits was made.

It was no mere coincidence that Christ arose the very day of Firstfruits. However, on that day it was not in the temple, but in the tomb that the real firstfruits was waved before God. Until Jesus was raised from the dead as the firstfruits, none of us were able to partake of the fruits of resurrection.

Seven weeks after Firstfruits came Pentecost. The barley harvest was over, and a baked loaf of the harvest was offered to God. However, on that day, the Pentecost offering that God blessed was not in the temple but in the upper room. God poured out his Spirit and baptized 120 believers, initiating the outpouring of the Spirit as predicted by the Old Testament prophets and just as Jesus had said would happen.

This is Luke’s account of what happened that infamous day:

Acts 2:1-13When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

The day Jesus had promised them finally arrived in phenomenal form. Suddenly, they heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind that filled the whole house. Perhaps this sounded like a hurricane. Certainly they were more than a little shocked by the sound of the wind, but there was more. They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that came to rest on each of them. There appeared be an actual fire in the air above their heads. There was one more visible and audible sign that would leave people perplexed and in awe.

There were things that were completely unique to the Day of Pentecost, such as:

·         The sound of the wind
·         The appearance of fire over them
·         Speaking in other tongues that were clearly understood by the listeners occurred only here (with exception of a few extraordinary contemporary accounts).

There were other things that were not unique to the Day of Pentecost, such as:

·         Speaking with other tongues as a result of being filled with the Spirit occurred elsewhere in Acts, even though the tongues are not recognized as a definite language by those listening.

·         In Acts, speaking with other tongues is never described as occurring before a person is filled with the Spirit.

·         Speaking in other tongues is not the only evidence of the Spirit-filled life, but there are five incidents that show us the baptism of the Holy Spirit, three of which the people are said to speak in other tongues.

Day of Pentecost         Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues             Acts 2
Samaria                       Filled with the Spirit                                             Acts 8
Damascus                    Filled with the Spirit                                             Acts 9
Caesarea                     Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues            Acts 10
Ephesus                      Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues             Acts 19

The Pentecostal Church around the world still moves forward because of the infilling of the Spirit. The Day of Pentecost was the beginning. As Peter said in his sermon, that day is for all of us, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).

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