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The Feast of Pentecost: A Spiritual Springboard

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The Feast of Pentecost: A Spiritual Springboard

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For 40 days following His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ met repeatedly with His disciples, instructing them in “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
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). “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4-5 Acts 1:4-5 [4] And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me. [5] For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
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).

The Father’s great Promise was fulfilled on the first New Testament Pentecost in 31 A.D. when 120 disciples were gathered “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 all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4 Acts 2:2-4 [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.
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).

It was no ordinary day on which the disciples had assembled when these extraordinary events transpired. Instead, it was on the “Feast of Weeks,” one of the seven biblically-mandated Feast Days (Exodus 34:22 Exodus 34:22And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
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; Leviticus 23:4-44 Leviticus 23:4-44 [4] These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. [5] In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover. [6] And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. [7] In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [8] But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [9] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [10] Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: [11] And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. [12] And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD. [13] And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. [14] And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. [15] And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: [16] Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD. [17] You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to the LORD. [18] And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering to the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet smell to the LORD. [19] Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. [20] And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. [21] And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. [22] And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God. [23] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [24] Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. [25] You shall do no servile work therein: but you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. [26] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [27] Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. [28] And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. [29] For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. [30] And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. [31] You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. [32] It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath. [33] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [34] Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. [35] On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [36] Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein. [37] These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing on his day: [38] Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. [39] Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. [40] And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. [41] And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. [42] You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: [43] That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. [44] And Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.
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). Also, as the passage explains, the disciples “began to speak with other tongues.” These were not mysterious babblings as some people assume, but actual known languages. This astounding miracle especially benefitted people who had traveled from other countries to observe the Holy Day and who spoke only their native languages (Acts 2:5 Acts 2:5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
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). These visitors “were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?’” (Acts 2:7-8 Acts 2:7-8 [7] And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? [8] And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
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, emphasis added).

What shall we do?

Immediately after this the apostle Peter gave a powerful oration about Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Upon hearing his inspired preaching, many of the assembled multitude were “cut to the heart,” meaning they felt deep, sorrowful emotion. As a result, they asked “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:36-37 Acts 2:36-37 [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. [37] Now 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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). Peter boldly answered by saying: “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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). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41 Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
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).

During that electrifying period and in subsequent weeks and months, the apostles gave powerful “…witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33 Acts 4:33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was on them all.
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). The gift of the Holy Spirit proved to be an enormously energetic force—the very essence and manifestation of God’s righteous, loving divine nature.

Today, those of us who have received God’s Spirit after our repentance and baptism apply its power in our hearts and minds to generate the positive, vibrant spiritual fruit of righteousness (James 3:18 James 3:18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
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). As Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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explains “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” The Holy Spirit makes available the capacity for each of us to build holy, upright character while also helping us carry out the vital work of the Church in preaching the Gospel and preparing a people (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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).

However, what about those individuals who God is calling right now who are aware of their need to repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, but have not yet taken those important steps? If you are among those people, is it now time for you to act in order to benefit from God’s marvelous divine gift that can wonderfully transform your life? Moreover, for those of us who have received the Spirit of God, are we doing our part to fully employ its power every day? Or, have we allowed ourselves to become complacent or distracted so that we are no longer bearing much or any spiritual fruit?

The scriptures reveal that just having the Holy Spirit is not good enough. The apostle Paul encountered this fruitless situation in the Corinthian congregation where baptized members were “behaving like mere men.” Rather than using the energy of God’s Spirit to grow spiritually strong and perform selfless service towards others, they were producing “works of the flesh”—works of strife, envy and division (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 [1] And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for till now you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able. [3] For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?
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). Paul had to admonish them for neglecting their divine obligations. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
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)?

Stir up the gift of God

What occurred in Corinth should be a clear signal to us that we are not immune to sinking into a similar adverse condition. The problems and distractions that arise in our lives have the potential to push us toward spiritual negligence if we are not careful (Romans 8:13 Romans 8:13For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
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; 1 Timothy 4:14 1 Timothy 4:14Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
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). Paul offered crucial guidance about this to a young minister named Timothy by encouraging him to vigorously “stir up the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
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). It would be incumbent upon us to take to heart Paul’s key advice. Indeed, the Holy Spirit must be put to work zealously in order to generate results that please God (Jude 20-21). The Holy Spirit must be put to work zealously in order to generate results that please God.

As we observe the Feast of Pentecost this year, could those of us who have the Holy Spirit employ it as a dynamic springboard or incentive to more effectively “fire up” its enormous force in our lives? And, for those who are aware of their spiritual needs, could Pentecost be the pivotal turning point by taking the heavenly Father’s calling to the next level—meaning repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of His Spirit?

The scriptures plainly reveal that when we are filled with godly righteousness there is no room left for the undesirable, negative fruit of our human nature (Galatians 5:19-22 Galatians 5:19-22 [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
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). Let’s therefore fully employ the power of the Holy Spirit so we can grow spiritually stronger, unselfishly serve others and deeply honor our great and loving Eternal Creator.