Perpetuating the Power of Pentecost

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Perpetuating the Power of Pentecost

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And so it was, 1980 years ago, when the day of Pentecost had 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 the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×

Thus, Christ’s promise ten days earlier that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” was delivered in a miraculous display of power that defied human nature and transcends even the capability of modern communication technology (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
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). Transformed cowards proclaimed the message of God with such power that it was understood in multiple languages simultaneously.

Peter preached. God empowered. People listened and heard. God granted repentance and instilled conviction. It was the first New Testament Pentecost and the Church was born amidst an astonishing display of God’s powerful presence and divine capacity to engage and change the hearts of the men and women he chooses to call. The 120 had gathered in one accord. Before days end three thousand converted souls joined their ranks.

Pentecost 31 AD is an event without precedence and without equal in the history of Church growth and development. It transpired because of God’s powerful spirit presence and engagement—human foibles notwithstanding.

However, just because the results of Pentecost 31 AD is as of yet unequaled, does not mean that its essential power cannot or should not be perpetuated. Which begs a question to all those that have received His Holy Spirit: Are you and I perpetuating the power of Pentecost or are we overtly or unwittingly impeding it?

Stated another way: Are you and I allowing God’s Spirit to empower our lives, or are we denying It, its power to work?

It is a powerful question that should evoke passionate consideration, because the Holy Spirit is the only tangible permanent Agent of change and change we must if we are to achieve our God ordained destiny.

The Day of Pentecost, again is upon us. Are you and I together in “one accord?” Are you and I prepared to perpetuate its power, or is our heart inclined to impede it? Whatever the case it is within our capacity to choose—today.

Shall we allow the Scriptures to show us how? The second chapter of Acts tells the story. The day of Pentecost had fully come and the Spirit of God had arrived with a miraculous display of power. Things were happening. Then in chapter two in verse 14 Peter takes the lead:

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day’”

Peter’s performance is an astonishing turn of events. Peter the turncoat who only 53 days before had denied His Lord and Master raises his voice to challenge the same crowd that put his Master death—and he would tell them so:

 ”Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:22 Acts 2:22You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know:
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Here we have demonstrated for us with all the passion, emotion, and suspense of real life drama one essential component required to perpetuate the power of Pentecost.

If we are to perpetuate the power of Pentecost then the ministry of Jesus Christ must, like Peter, under the inspiration of the Spirit preach with passion the undiluted truths of God with relevance that will engage, convict and move their audience to action.

And the truth is always relevant if we don’t dilute it. Had Peter diluted his message into palatable politically correct sound bytes his audience might have missed his message and not felt the need to say “Men and brethren what shall we do?”

Preaching with passion relevant truth became the hallmark of the apostolic ministry and the Church grew like wildfire throughout the known world.  It is a legacy with which the apostles endowed the next generation. We often quote in connection with God’s Holy Spirit, Paul’s personal letter to the evangelist Timothy:

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2. Timothy 1:6-7)

Powerful words. Great description of the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. In this second letter to Timothy the apostle Paul challenges him in the introduction of the letter to stir up–to perpetuate the power of the Holy Spirit.

We often quote this, but the thing we may miss is that in the rest of the letter Paul goes on to say how to stir it up. Paul admonishes Timothy to “hold fast to sound words”, “to study to show himself  approved”, and to “flee youthful lusts” all of which are critical but he does not loose this opportunity to charge him to preach with passion:

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2. Timothy 4:2-4).

Preaching with passion was still the method of choice and Paul handed the mantel to Timothy.

We go back to Peter’s sermon. His concluding challenge is no less relevant and no less true:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 Acts 2:36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
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Ouch! Similar words got Stephen stoned, but Peter’s audience chose the right course of action: They repented with zeal.

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37 Acts 2:37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
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Then Peter responded with instruction and the road to action that he knew all too well: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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Therein we find the critical components: If we are to perpetuate the power of Pentecost it requires two essential components: Preaching with passion and repentance with zeal. It as a challenging and sometimes messy process that requires God’s Spirit to work but the result is unprecedented growth as the New Testament Pentecost amply demonstrates.

Perhaps the words of President Theodore Roosevelt in his speech delivered in Paris on April 23, 1910 will help us get the picture:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

May we all rise to the challenge on the coming Day of Pentecost: Let’s get into the arena; Let us preach with passion—this is both a challenge to those that preach and a request for permission to those that hear—and repent with zeal and so we will never be numbered among those poor and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.

Pentecost is coming. Let’s perpetuate its power!