What is Pentecost? Originally, YHWH established it as a celebration held 50 days after Passover (Lev. 23:15-21). Christians celebrate it as the birthday of the Church. On the day of Pentecost almost 2000 years ago, powerful events occurred in Jerusalem that saw Jesus' disciples awaken to what Jesus had done for them, indeed for all of us. You may know about the tongues of fire and Jesus' disciples' speaking in tongues (languages unknown to the speakers), as recorded in Acts 2:1-4. But did you know that Pentecost means much more?
What is Pentecost about? It's not about tongues, though tongues are normative. It's not about spiritual gifts, although they abound. It's about the fire inside that sets tongues on fire to declare and demonstrate that Jesus truly is Lord, the son of YHWH.
Pentecost is about Acts 1:8, Jesus' declaration that his disciples would receive power from on high and be his witnesses where they lived, and in the communities nearby, and in the world at large. The spiritual gifts, including tongues, merely demonstrate the power and life of Jesus, working in his people as the Holy Spirit, glorifying the Father.
How could it be otherwise? The Old Testament practically screams with that power. And the New Testament records the awesome culmination of it in Jesus Christ and the people born to new life in him. (see John 3:3-6)
Pentecost drives the good news of Jesus Christ from the head into the heart as a hammer drives a nail into wood. It frees the innermost being of a person to soar with the eagle. It makes living in Jesus real.
You need Pentecost. We all need Pentecost. I may have authority over all the power of Satan (Luke 10:19), but if I never exercise it, what good is it? Pentecostal power frees me and empowers me to walk in that authority. Pentecost set my tongue on fire to declare that Jesus is Lord, the son of the heavenly Father, one with him and the Holy Spirit. I could not be in full-time ministry without it.
Pentecost has made me bold, yet compassionate, eager to do the Father's work. The embers that years of reading the Bible had kept alive and smoldering flared up into an open flame when I experienced Pentecost. My life has never been the same. Nor has the life of those around me.
The power of Pentecost made real all that I'd read in the Bible. It gave me a hunger to devour every word, every thought, every concept in the Bible, a hunger that remains more than 25 years later. It made me eager to know my heavenly Father, his son Jesus and his Holy Spirit. It stirred me to study and learn and, more importantly, to live the word of the one true, living God, YHWH.
Like so many before me, I was noisy and sometimes foolish. In my exuberance, I hurt others. I wish I could tell you that I never sinned again after receiving new life in Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can't. I behaved, even became, like a self-centered, self-righteous little child in many ways.
But I cannot imagine what my life would be today without Pentecost. I shudder at the prospect. Jesus has infused my being with such remarkable blessings. Among those, the peace I feel in times of stress and the joy I feel in boundless opportunities to serve him, such as when counseling and encouraging someone, when praying with someone, and when sharing the body of his word and the blood of his Spirit with those less fortunate than I.
How is it possible to live in the world, as hostile as it is, without the fire of Pentecost? I know I didn't. Yes, I did exist, and I presented the appearance of life, but I know now that I was not living the abundant life in Jesus.
After Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, what more could the disciples need who had been with Jesus, who had all the information they needed to be his witnesses? Jesus told them, and he tells us-- power from on high-- Pentecostal power. Knowledge without that power accomplishes little. Without him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Anyone who wants to be more than a mouthpiece, who wants to shed the passivity and banality that characterize the Christianity of many, must receive the Holy Spirit. We must experience Pentecost. We must allow the Holy Spirit to energize our entire being.
The Holy Spirit may come in when we open the door to Jesus. After all, YHWH is one. But we haven't received him, truly received him, until we invite him to do more than stand in the front hall, living room or parlor of our being. We must invite him to go wherever he chooses in our spiritual house-- every room, every closet, every thought, every memory, every desire, every word, and every deed. We must let him permeate our entire being, what the Bible calls being baptized in or filled with the Spirit. And we must keep being filled (Eph. 5:18, literal translation), so that Jesus overflows and spills from us onto others, in what we say and what we do.
He does not overpower us, take control of us or force us to do anything. But when we desire it, he gives us a special language to enhance our prayer life and enable us to communicate with YHWH at our innermost level. (1 Cor. 14:14-15) And if we desire, he will open the Scriptures to us as we study the whole of the Bible. According to the work laid before us, he gives us the abilities we are able to receive, so that we may accomplish the work.
Everything he does in us, and with us, and through us, will be only what we desire and allow him to do. Have you received YHWH's Holy Spirit? You have nothing to fear. Indeed, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not receive him now? After you have been born from on high (born again), ask with a sincere desire, and he will give (Matt. 7:7-8). If you open the door of your heart, he will enter (Rev. 3:20). And if you open your entire being, you will receive him, be filled with the Holy Spirit and experience Pentecost. He promised it, and he fulfills his promises.
*YHWH or YHVH is the English representation of the four Hebrew letters that spell the name of the God of the Bible, the one true, living God worshipped by Jews and Christians. YHWH was the name by which he identified himself to Moses in Ex. 3:14. According to references that I've read, the exact pronunciation of YHWH's name was lost in antiquity. After much study, I prefer to pronounce the name "Yahu-wah" (the "h" being aspirated as in "hay", emphasis on the last syllable), but the generally accepted pronounciation in common English is "Yah-weh" or "Yah-way". Some translations of the Bible, such as the KJV and NASB, substitute "the LORD" for his name, following a practice begun before Jesus' birth.
YHWH revealed himself in various ways to the children of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament. He also revealed himself in and through his son Jesus Christ and acts, among other ways, in and through Christians by the Holy Spirit. Because the word "God" is being used today to designate all kinds of human inventions, although accepted for centuries in English as a name for YHWH, I prefer to use the name that YHWH chose for himself rather than "God" or "the LORD" as I did in early versions of my writings. Please read The Name of the One True, Living God for a fuller discussion.
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