The Father, the Son and the Feast of Pentecost
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The Father, the Son and the Feast of Pentecost
How did the 12 apostles change from men who ran for their lives when their Master was arrested (Mark 14:50) to giants of the faith, willing to die if need be for their Lord and Savior? How did Peter and the rest of the apostles get to the point where they could proclaim they were willing “to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) even if it meant imprisonment and possibly death?
The biblical Feast of Pentecost gives us the answer. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told them, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
These 12 men had no idea of the magnitude of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that they were about to receive!
Why do we strive to live by God’s commandments? We obey God not to earn our salvation, which of course is impossible, but rather as part of genuine love for God the Father and Jesus Christ.
This power came upon them 10 days later. In Acts 2:1-2 we read: “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.”
Just as Jesus had promised, His disciples received this mighty power! The apostles went from men who hid behind closed doors in fear to men who were willing to be beaten for the name of Jesus (John 20:19; Acts 5:40). They went from self-centered individuals to men of godly love and deep faith and conviction in something far greater than themselves.
The cause of this transformation was the power of God—what the Bible calls the Holy Spirit!
The promise of the Father
Among Jesus’ final words to the apostles were the instructions that they were to wait in Jerusalem until they would receive the “power from on high,” the “Promise of My Father” (Luke 24:49).
Even before His crucifixion, Jesus promised them that they would receive this amazing transformative power. He said in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, [which] will never leave you” (New Living Translation 2015).
Jesus further explained that both God the Father and He would dwell in the hearts of believers: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
This miracle—the fact that both the Father and the Son make Their dwelling within Christians—is made possible because the Father sent His Holy Spirit to us. We read of this in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, [which] the Father will send in My name . . . will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
And of course, Jesus also had a key role in sending the Holy Spirit: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send [it] to you” (John 16:7).
Both the Father and the Son were to send the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Both Father and Son would dwell in the hearts and the minds of Christians by this invisible power called the Holy Spirit.
This was profound instruction, and the disciples could not fully grasp it at that time. So Jesus made things easier to understand. “I will not leave you orphans,” He said. “I will come to you” (John 14:18). That is why Paul could later write in Colossians 1:27 that Christ lives in us as the hope of our future glory.
Conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit
God sets forth in His Word certain conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit. Just to be clear, in speaking of “conditions,” we do not mean that there is any way that we can earn God’s precious gift.
The plainest condition set forth in the Bible regarding how we can receive the Holy Spirit is the matter of baptism. In Peter’s sermon on that Pentecost, God inspired him to say, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [or forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, emphasis added throughout).
To repent means to stop sinning and to in faith give our lives in full surrender to God’s will and purpose for us. It means obeying Him in everything He tells us to do. It means a total and complete change of life and priorities.
Peter’s sermon, given on this special Holy Day, was so powerful that 3,000 people were baptized! (Acts 2:41). The power of God’s Spirit cannot be measured.
The Scriptures themselves are clear that God’s Spirit is only given on the condition that we start obeying God—an important part of true repentance. Acts 5:32 explicitly tells us that God gives His Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him.”
Notice at least two key verbs in this verse: God gives the Holy Spirit—it is a free gift. And He gives it to those who obey Him—so this is a clear condition. Obedience cannot earn the gift. But the gift is not given unless the condition is met. Obviously God will not give this precious gift to a rebellious, carnally minded individual. When Simon the sorcerer, who had managed to get baptized, offered to buy the Holy Spirit (his devious heart was set on power rather than on obeying God), Peter strongly rebuked him (Acts 8:19-22).
The specified requirement of baptism is a sacred ceremony, but there is also another ceremony that must take place for us to receive the Holy Spirit. It is the laying on of hands by true ministers of God. In Acts 8:17 we read, “Then they [Peter and John] laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (This was the power Simon coveted.)
In Hebrews 6:1-2 the laying on of hands is listed as one of the foundational doctrines of the Church, along with repentance, faith and baptism. This ceremony, which must take place for the receiving of the Holy Spirit, shows that God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit through His true and faithful ministry.
We show our love to God by our obedience
Godly love involves much more than just thinking about God. It involves more than attendance at church services. In Jesus’ final instructions before He was crucified, He said this to His followers: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
He followed this with: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).
He then continued with the same theme, stating, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
Indeed, the Bible is consistent. We show our love for God by our obedience to Him!
And of course, Jesus was not requiring of us anything He did not Himself do. As He said: “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do” (John 14:31). Just as Jesus showed His love for the Father by obeying the Father’s commands, so too do we strive to follow Jesus’ example.
So, then, why do we strive to live by God’s commandments? We obey God not to earn our salvation, which of course is impossible, but rather as part of genuine love for God the Father and Jesus Christ. Obedience is not saying, “I’m earning my salvation by my works.” Rather, it is saying, “I love God, and my obedience is the proof!” Godly love is more than an emotion. It involves active obedience.
It was God’s gift to the New Testament Church on Pentecost that made it possible for all Christians to show our loving obedience to Him.
The miracles of Pentecost
What happened on Pentecost opened the door for many miracles. People from various lands were able to hear the apostles’ words in their own native languages (Acts 2:8). God gave to Peter the gift of inspired preaching (Acts 2:14-40). Three thousand people were baptized.
Miracles continued in the days following. A man lame for over 40 years was healed (Acts 4:22). The early chapters of Acts show inspired preaching, conversions of more thousands (Acts 4:4) and even more dramatic miracles (Acts 5:14-16). And for us today, the greatest of miracles from the Holy Spirit is to be led to true faith and willing obedience, being changed from the inside out into the kind of people God wants us to be.
The loving Father and His dear Son offer this same gift to you today. Are you willing to take Them up on Their offer?