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). “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).
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).
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; Leviticus 23:4-44). 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). 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, 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). 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). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
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). 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). As Galatians 5:22-23 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).
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). 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)?
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; 1 Timothy 4:14). 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). 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). 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.