“When 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 – Acts 2:1-2 (NIV)
Pentecost was the second great festival of the Jewish year and it was the celebration of harvest when the first fruits of the grain were presented as offerings to God. In a similar way, Pentecost symbolizes for the church the beginning of God’s spiritual harvest of souls in the world – that is, people coming to know God personally through the Lord Jesus Christ. The events during the celebration of Pentecost by the church marks the dividing line between the Holy Spirit’s occasional presence and temporary empowerment on certain individuals as seen in the Old Testament and His continual presence and sustained empowerment now available to all Christians. On this particular day as we read in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit filled the believers with His presence and remained with them.
VIOLENT WIND AND TONGUES OF FIRE
The external signs preceding the baptism in the Holy Spirit on this occasion showed that God was present and active in a powerful way. There were times in the Old Testament when fire accompanied God’s presence – “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire I did not burn up – Exodus 3:1-2. Fire among the believers on this day, Pentecost may have brought all the more assurance that this was the presence of God. The “fire” may also have symbolized how God’s people were set apart for the work and purpose of bringing honour to Jesus Christ and of witnessing for Him. This first occasion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the only time tongues of fire are mentioned. However, speaking in tongues continued to accompany the baptism in the Holy Spirit. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” – Acts 2:4
JESUS AND PENTECOST
In Acts 1:1-9, just before our resurrected Jesus Christ is taken up into heaven, He tells the disciples about the Father’s promised gift of the Holy Spirit, which will soon be given to them in the form of a powerful baptism. He tells them to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will empower them to go out into the world and be His witnesses.
A few days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were all together when the sound of a mighty wind came down from heaven, with tongues of fire resting on them. The Bible says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The crowds observed this event and heard them speaking in different languages. They were amazed and thought the disciples were drunk on wine. Peter then got up and preached the Good News of the kingdom and 3000 people accepted the message of Christ! That same day they were baptized and added to the family of God.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the commencement of the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ marks the birth and spread of the Church. Beginning in Jerusalem with disciples and the 3000 added to their number, the message travelled across the Roman empire. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the disciples preached, taught, healed, and demonstrated love in the synagogues, schools, homes, marketplaces, etc. Wherever God sent them, lives and history were changed.
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift God wants every believer to have. The Lord Jesus Christ says that this gift is a promise from God the Father to all who truly purpose to follow Him and fulfil their part in the mission to spread His message – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” – Joel 2:28-29 (NIV). The baptism in the Spirit is for all who have accepted Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and given control of their lives to Him. Such people have been “born again” spiritually “….I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” – John 3:3 (NIV). This means God’s Spirit has come to live in us to transform our lives, redevelop our character and guide us into God’s purposes.
Jesus baptized His disciples in the Holy Spirit – “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holt Spirit and with fire” – Luke 3:16. Jesus Christ tells us that one of the main reasons He had to go to the Father was that the Holy Spirit would come and be with us – “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you but if I go, I will send Him to you” – John 16:7
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just a matter of speaking of speaking in tongues or having a deeper spiritual experience. We are to use the Holy Spirit’s power to share Jesus with those who do not know Him. On the day of Pentecost, the outward sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues – Acts 2:4 , but the end result was that many people who did not know God were introduced to Him that day – Acts 2:41.
We have all been called to spread the message of Jesus Christ as revealed in His own teaching and through the teaching of His disciples.
Let us be baptized in the Holy Spirit and receive the power to be the representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth.
COME, HOLY SPIRIT, HEAVENLY DOVE – MHB 292
1 COME, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.
2 In vain we tune our formal songs,
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.
Isaac Watts – 1674 – 1748
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