(May 22, 2021) Charles Schwab reflects on Pentecost and encourages believers to know a living personal empowering Holy Spirit experience today…
Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday! Pentecost is an experience for every Christian; not merely a denominational title… and limited to a denomination!
Yes, let’s be strong on remembrance and annual celebration of Pentecost – the day the Holy Spirit was given to the first Christian believers (Acts 2) and widely considered as the birthday of the church.
Pentecost experience is for all believers
Let’s not miss this!
The Bible assures that God intends all who love Christ to be strong in their personal experience of what Pentecost was then… and can be today in their own lives. Our Lord wants all his followers today to experience Pentecost for themselves. And… not only a one-time experience but a marvellous ongoing empowerment of ‘Pentecost alive’ in them.
The Lord is still spiritually empowering the lives and ministries of all Christians who sincerely ask and keep asking! Personally, I believe – I know – I need the Holy Spirit’s power to do what the Lord has called me to accomplish. So do you, dear reader.
Pentecost is not only an historical occasion of 2,000 years ago. Nor only an annual day on the church calendar, It can be a living personal empowering experience with God the Holy Spirit within our lives today, available to every Christian.
Now, that’s a bold statement which is often hard to accept if we are really honest. We can read the account in Acts 2 and so easily settle back to think of it as historic only, the birthday of the church.
But oh for its powerful reality in our own lives today! And this can be so – if we will seek, accept, and require in prayer being filled with the Holy Spirit.
A most remarkable thing happened on that day…
‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them’ (Acts 2:1-4).
‘Pentecost’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘50th’ and the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost was the fiftieth day from when Jesus was raised from the dead. (At the time of the feast of Passover, he had been slain to take away our sins – but was raised on the third day afterwards, a day known to Israel as the feast of firstfruits).
And on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent in a special way to those who believed in Jesus.
Who are the ‘they’ who ‘were all gathered together in one place’ (Acts 2:1)? They refers to the people described in Chapter 1:12–15 – the apostles, a group called ‘the women’ and Mary the mother of Jesus, his brothers and some other believers numbering about 120 persons in all (Acts 1:15).
‘On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit… But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”’ (Acts 1:4-5,8).
Here we have the expressed purpose. It is power to –
- Witness to others about what the Bible declares Jesus has done.
- Declare what he had done through his death and resurrection.
- Boldly testify about our Saviour!
- Bring evidence before an unbelieving world that Jesus is who the Bible says he is.
Elsewhere in the New Testament additional capacities and consequences are explained.
Pentecost… my story
55 years ago, in my early 20s, I sought for and received this experience from God. I received the Pentecostal experience – I was filled with the Holy Spirit.
I’d been a Christian for 15 years – and this new infilling was to be a particularly challenging journey. I had read about Pentecost, how Jesus’ first disciples along with his mother, his brothers and some others had received the Holy Spirit. And I heard that this experience, the Pentecostal experience, distinct from being born-again by the Spirit, was available for every Christian from the day of Pentecost until the day that Jesus will come the second time.
Unfortunately, the present-day availability of Pentecost – the experience with the Spirit– was not taught by the church I was raised in. They loved God and I was saved in that environment, but not a word about experiencing Pentecost as distinct from being born again, saved from sin.
And, those 55 years ago, I knew that I could not afford to be wrong about Pentecost-for-today, that so much depended on me being biblically assured of this matter.
I ran the risk of losing acceptance in that church – and in that whole movement of churches – and of being branded by some as a borderline heretic. Oh, they all were such dear Christian people (whom I loved and still love and will see one day in glory!), and they had not understood that Pentecost could be experienced in their lives in addition to and following their salvation. It was not part of their inherited belief system.
At that time there was, generally, a vigorous rejection of Spirit-infilling as a separate experience from salvation.
So, I read and re-read every prophecy about this in the Old Testament and every verse about this in the gospels, in the Book of Acts and in the rest of the New Testament. And I read every book on this that I could lay my hands on at that time and checked them out with the Bible.
I became convinced of the present-day availability of that the Pentecostal experience – being filled with the Spirit; that receiving the Spirit was (is) waiting for all Christians who would desire it, pray for it, welcome it.
Pentecost assurance now
Peter’s incorporation of Joel 2:28-32 in his explanation to the gathered crowd of Jews from many nations is recorded in Acts 2:14-17:
‘Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”’
It was the ‘last days’ then. And it is the last days now and will be until the ‘last day’ when Jesus returns.
So God’s word declares that the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost brings an availability to all Christians to receive the essence of what happened, filling with the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is for the asking
To the gathered crowd of Jewish people from some 15 nations and to many Jewish religious leaders resident in Jerusalem, and others… the picture was clear:
‘Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call”’ (Acts 2:38-39).
Pentecost today is assured. It is ‘for all whom the Lord our God will call’! All who are ‘called’ by God to receive Jesus as Saviour and Lord and who respond in repentance and faith – for them today Pentecost awaits for the asking!
Oh what a joy and delight to be filled with the Spirit according to this promise, and to refilled in an ongoing way according to the encouragement of other scriptures.
My own cry afresh is ‘Lord, give me a fresh infilling of Pentecost power! I want more of you, Holy Spirit!
‘Personally, I know from experience he will… and that Jesus will do the same for you – if you ask!
Pentecost Day signs
The faithful believers experienced…
- Sensing a sound like the blowing of a violent wind.
- Seeing what seemed to be tongues of fire.
- Speaking in tongues – which were languages of some 15 regions from which the Jewish pilgrims had come.
Now, the wind and fire do not appear again in the biblical record… but tongues are mentioned as a sign of receiving the Spirit (Acts 10:44-48 linked with 11:15-17; 19:1-7 and likely so Acts 8:1-17), and are mentioned as a means of self-edification, prayer and praise, thanksgiving, speaking and singing (1 Corinthians 14). And Paul talks about ‘tongues of men or of angels’ (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Naturally, there is much more I could add here… but search the scriptures yourself, even as I did on my journey decades ago. And you may view my online video on this subject if you click this link – CLICK HERE
If you have never known the Pentecost infilling experience, I encourage you to openly seek it. And if you have experienced the Holy Spirit, seek a fresh marvellous ongoing empowerment of ‘Pentecost alive’ in you.
Charles Schwab lives in Geelong, Victoria. Having served as a staff associate pastor for lengthy periods in two churches in Adelaide and Geelong and ministered in the Philippines and Fiji, his vision these days is to encourage churches and leaders wherever the Lord ‘opens the doors.’ Link: c/ OnlinerConnect@gmail.com __________________________________________________________________