This coming Sunday, May 24, Christians around the world will celebrate the Pentecost. While not as well-known as Easter or Christmas, Pentecost is a significant day in the life of a Christian, and comes just a few weeks after Jesus' death and resurrection.
According to the account found in Acts 2, the apostles and other followers of Christ were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost, fulfilling Jesus' promise He made upon His ascension and signalling that God had now moved to write the Law not on tables of stone, but in the hearts of his people through the work of the Spirit.
After he was filled with the Spirit, the apostle Peter preached his first sermon and urged the crowds to repent, to believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Over 3,000 people, both Jews and Gentiles, were baptized that day, thus marking the birth of the early church.
The Pentecost is significant for Christians today because we now live in the presence and power of the Spirit of God. The Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts explains that the coming of the Holy Spirit was important because the third Person of the Trinity "helps us to confess Jesus as Lord, empowers us to serve God with supernatural power, binds us together as the body of Christ, helps us to pray, and even intercedes for us with God the Father. The Spirit guides us, helping us to live like Jesus."
The Pentecost is also a vivid reminder of the truth that is found throughout Scripture: the community of God's people--the church--is central to God's work in the world.
As you observe the Pentecost this Sunday, reflect on the following verses to better appreciate this special, historic day.
The Holy Spirit arrived on the day of the Pentecost:
"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
"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 1:8
The Church was formed on this day:
"Peter replied, '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.'" ~Acts 2:38
"Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." ~ Acts 2:41
The Spirit now lives among us:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." ~Galatians 5:22-23
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."~1 Corinthians 12:7-11
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." ~Galatians 5:25
"And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." ~Romans 8:27
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through." ~Romans 8:26
"Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." ~1 Corinthians 12:3
The Church is the body of Christ, and members of the body are joined to Christ in salvation:
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body-whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." ~1 Corinthians 12:12-13
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." ~ Ephesians 4:15-16