May 15 is Pentecost Sunday
(ROCKWALL/HEATH, TX – May 9, 2016) How can God be in so many places at the same time, helping and guiding so many people at once? This mystery amazes Christians and causes many others to doubt God’s existence or to hang back with no faith commitment.
I was hanging back, until, with a splash one evening, I fell in with believers. Afterwards I may have appeared intoxicated as I returned to my college dormitory late, laughing, and all wet. But I had only been to a Bible study.
The apostle Peter and a large group of Christ-followers were suspected of drinking too much on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost, after a sound from heaven, “like a mighty rushing wind,” filled the house where they gathered and visible “tongues as of fire” rested on them. As they began to proclaim the mighty works of God in a multitude of languages, some onlookers mocked and accused them of being “filled with new wine.”1
Peter defended the disciples’ strange behavior:“these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.2 Only days after Christ’s ascension into heaven, the apostle explained how God had just poured out the Holy Spirit as foretold by the prophet Joel and promised by Jesus.3
Pentecost always follows Easter, though even some Christians are unfamiliar with the event and its significance as the beginning of the church age. Yet Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.4
Peter is the Bible’s poster-boy for regeneration. His previous fear of man—evidenced in his three-time denial of knowing Jesus5—gave way to his bold witness after the Pentecost event. He told the feast-day crowd to “Repent and be baptized 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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”6
Theologian John Piper (DesiringGod.org) describes this rebirth as a “true inner awakening from spiritual death to spiritual life,”7 which separates Christ’s followers from those with religious faith and practice—cultural Christians. Without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, the church can resemble the world around it, he explains, whereas, “those who have been born again are being changed, even if slowly, from one degree of humility and love to the next. . . if the church is to let her light shine on earth that people may give glory to God (Matthew 5:16), then the new birth must be experienced.”8
My own rebirth occurred more than 40 years ago, following an off-campus Bible study I’d begun attending. When someone asked the leader—an elder in a local church—if she could be baptized that evening, I stayed as a spectator to her profession of faith. But standing there, under the influence of God’s word in my heart, I desired to be washed as well. I emerged from the swimming pool with a refining fire that has remained—still consuming the chaff in my life.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you,”9 Jesus said. By the Holy Spirit, God is at work in and through his people in every place.
Bible verses from the English Standard Version (ESV) include: 1Acts 2:1-13; 2Acts 2:15; 3Acts 2:16, 33; 4John 3:5; 5John 18:17, 25, 27; 6Acts 2:38-39; 7Finally Alive (2012 edition) p. 17; 8Ibid, p. 21; 9John 16:13
By Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter of Heath.
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