Some teach that the church was born when Jesus mysteriously entered a room where his disciples were hiding and breathed on them (See John 20:19-22).
Easier-to-grasp is that the church was born on Pentecost Sunday, that amazing morning when the Holy Spirit fell at 9am with supernatural power, filling and anointing 120 patiently waiting faithful disciples.
Immediately they willingly moved out from that room of blessing into the marketplace to witness for Jesus. There, renewed and rejuvenated, a transformed Peter gave his first big sermon and a public altar call.
The incredible result was around three thousand convinced people accepted Christ as Saviour, received forgiveness of sin and gained godly confidence to live each day joyfully in their troubled world.
Now that makes more sense! Twelve people meeting in a room, no matter how blessed they may get by a heavenly visit, do not constitute a church! They’re really just a home group. A church is a vibrant Spirit-filled body of people active in reaching out to a needy society.
In Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 Jesus had promised his disciples something exciting was about to happen, that they’d receive miraculous ability to become confident witnesses for him all over the earth.
A gobsmacking morning
And on that year’s religious feast day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came in such an unexpected but powerful manner at nine in the morning!
As the British would exclaim, they were gobsmacked! Bewildered, amazed and probably baffled! But they knew that something unusual and incredible had happened in a few seconds. The Holy Spirit – the Father’s promise, indeed as promised by both God and Jesus – came with fire and power and enabling!
Acts 2 paints the dramatic picture. A violent wind sound, the Spirit blowing on those faithful first disciples; fire falling from heaven touching their lips. They began to praise God in new languages granted by the Spirit.
Their immediate desire was to meet regularly without fail, to fellowship, pray together and be taught from scripture, share meals and communion, meet needs, worship Jesus and grow in him (Acts 2: 42-47).
But more importantly, they rushed out into the streets to witness for Jesus Christ and be involved in seeing the new church of Christ expand locally and worldwide.
It was the beginning…persecution began immediately, yet grow they did! They grew personally as friends and followers and studiers of the Word and pastoral teaching meeting in genuine fellowship. And they grew numerically as they witnessed for Jesus and what he meant to them personally and as they prayed for and believed for more new souls into the kingdom.
A committed and supernatural church was expanding the kingdom nationwide and on a world scale.
What has happened?
This was a dynamic, exciting, powerful church of followers living by the Bible and the apostles’ doctrine. A church with Holy Spirit anointing and empowerment, healings, miracles and answers to prayers. A church that Jesus vowed Satan and every ‘gate of hell’ would not overcome (Mat. 16:18). It was an on-fire group of people committed to seeing lives transformed by the power of forgiveness, the indwelling Christ and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
Over the centuries Satan, governments, cults, false religions, evil people, even some wrongly thinking Christians have opposed and tried to hinder its growth – but as Jesus promised haven’t succeeded.
Yet today many churches are not the powerhouses they’re supposed to be, many Christians are not on fire with the Spirit as they’re supposed to be. And many don’t know how to dream in God, trust him and, relying on the Spirit, serve Jesus in a fuller, deeper way.
What’s holding us back from being a powerhouse church? From being on fire for Jesus, witnessing, growing, trusting God, really giving ‘the 3 ts’ (time, treasure and talent) to his kingdom and ‘turning the world upside down ‘as did the early church?
Maybe we really need to rethink what church should be… the outworking of the doctrine of God – missio Dei – the sending of God! That is…a missions-mind God who so loves the world that he sends on-fire churches to evangelise it both locally and overseas.
So often we think in the easy terms of ‘Oh, yes, our church has a mission.’ But more correct, determined thinking would be ‘The mission has our church!’
Pentecost Sunday should be a time of renewal
In one sense it doesn’t matter when the church was born. The fact is that it was and we must do whatever it takes to strengthen Christ’s church today, ensuring it is the powerhouse it’s supposed to be.
In these continuing uncertain days, still rampant with dangers, including false doomsday prophecies as proclaimed this month by California’s Harold Camping (89), it is time to act. To be as the early Christians – determined to move ahead in the power, anointing and enabling of the Spirit!
This year June 12 is slated as the church’s Pentecost Sunday. Churches everywhere never forget to celebrate Christmas and Easter each year but few highlight this important celebration.
If we choose to remember what Pentecost Sunday is really all about and look forward in anticipation to something exciting happening to us – and our church as a whole – then in a few week’s time we could easily be greatly refreshed, renewed and re-powered by the Spirit.
The world offers many deceiving distractions, as well as pulling down negatives. Let’s recall afresh the Paul’s encouraging ‘Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph. 5:18). The word ’filled’ is pleroo, meaning ‘filled full.’
Now that’s the pentecostal kind of wine that doesn’t ruin us but empowers us to witness for Christ, see our churches become havens of healing and comfort for all, and the kingdom expand.
What time does your church gather Sunday mornings? Nine o’clock, ten, eleven? It doesn’t matter; come along every Sunday morning, just not Pentecost Sunday, expecting Holy Spirit visitations.
More importantly, may every church have a desire to become an on-fire, mission- Dei one for Jesus!