June 4, 2017 is marked on most Christian calendars as Pentecost Sunday. So, for this month’s article, I wanted to do a little reflection on our Pentecostal history. This is not the history of a denomination or a movement or any other random collection of people. It is a very specific Biblical account of events following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:1-4 opens the story for us all. Jesus had been crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb. All hope had seemed gone until that 3rd day when He rose from the dead and for forty days walked among them. He left them with the instruction and the promise to go to Jerusalem and wait until they were endued with power from on high. So it was that 120 believers were gathered in an upper house in Jerusalem, waiting. . .
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
The word Pentecost comes from a Greek word that means “fifty.” For the Hebrews, it was a feast that occurred fifty days after the Feast of Passover. Pentecost was the fourth of seven holy days in Hebrew history mentioned in Leviticus 23. It was called the Feast of Weeks in Hebrew.
On the day described in Acts 2, God began to pour out His Spirit – and continues to pour it out today. The Day of Pentecost became an era, rather than a designated 24-hour time slot. This era, this “church dispensation” is the entire period between the coming of the Holy Ghost in Acts and the Lord’s return. For this reason, Peter could stand up that day and quote the writings of Joel, “this shall come to pass in the last days…” Pentecost was not mean to be a denomination. It is an experience!
On that particular day the Holy Ghost fell with tongues like as of fire. The people spoke in tongues. The Holy Spirit empowered men and women to speak languages they did not know. Tongues is the charter of the New Testament church. Some would ask, “Do I have to?” When, in fact, the response should be, “I get to!” The first word about tongues in the New Testament is in Mark 16:17: “they shall speak with new tongues.” The last word about tongues in the New Testament is in I Corinthians 14:39: “forbid not to speak with tongues.” These are strong words they shall and forbid not.
The Holy Ghost and power promised by Jesus turned commonplace fishermen, tax payers, and worker into prophets and teachers. Men who were timid became bold, the cowardly became courageous as these men became men of God burnt up in a blaze of personal Spirit-baptism. These were they who turned the world upside down. Their presence gave king’s insomnia created an unexpected jail break called down fire from heaven. This power (“dunamos” in the Greek) was a promise. Ye shall receive power (dunamos)after the Holy Ghost comes upon you. It happened!
In John 14, we read Jesus promise:
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
This Holy Ghost outpouring on the fully-come Day of Pentecost was the promised Comforter come. It is the transition from being with us to being in us. It was no longer localized and restricted or limited to a corporal body. It was let loose upon the whole world. In that Upper Room was suddenly heard the sound from heaven. Weymouth called it a “blast from heaven.” Moffitt calls it “a violent wind.” Lake said, “a violent breeze but no zephyr or gentle breeze.” It was a blast from heaven – that rushing mighty wind.
Eight hundred years prior to that day in Jerusalem, the prophet Joel had written, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” Many other things had been poured out in the days after that – hate, greed, lust, war, wrath. But here it was, the Day of Pentecost fully come, and the Spirit was being poured out upon all flesh. It is still being poured out today.
There’s so much more to the story than can be captured in this short article. The Day of Pentecost’s outpouring of the Holy Ghost was the most important thing to happen since Calvary. The most important question you can ask yourself today is this: Has it happened to me?