Life, Hope & Truth

From the May/June 2019 issue of Discern Magazine

The Power of Pentecost

Jesus Christ uttered this reassuring promise just before His ascension: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Its fulfillment on Pentecost continues to reverberate today!

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Even from an early age, we are fascinated by feats of power.

From a rocket spewing fire and smoke as it leaves the launchpad, to a Formula One racing car exceeding 200 miles per hour, to an Olympic weight lifter achieving new world records, we are enthralled by displays of power.

However, few realize there is a source of dynamic, supernatural power that supersedes all humanly produced powers. We need this transforming power if we want to please God and receive the gift of eternal life.

What is this power?

It is the awesome power of God’s Holy Spirit!

Pentecost and power

Seven weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, His disciples waited expectantly for the power He promised. On the Day of Pentecost they were all together celebrating God’s holy day, when God began to demonstrate that power.

God used physical miracles to draw attention to a much greater spiritual miracle. First God sent a sound “as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). Then came the appearance of “divided tongues, as of fire,” on the disciples, and God gave them the ability to speak in languages they hadn’t learned (verses 3-4)! “Everyone heard them speak in his own language” (verse 6). All this drew a crowd of amazed people wondering, “Whatever could this mean?” (verse 12).

God used Peter to powerfully proclaim that this was beginning to fulfill Joel’s prophecy, “I will pour out of My Spirit” (verse 17). Joel’s words clearly showed that God’s Spirit is a spirit of power, and when many of the people recognized their sins and asked what to do, Peter said:

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (verse 38).

About 3,000 responded! By being baptized and receiving God’s Holy Spirit, they received the awesome spiritual power that transformed their lives. That day the New Testament Church was launched with power!

What is the Holy Spirit?

God’s Holy Spirit is the marvelous creative power of the Father and Jesus Christ. Through His Holy Spirit, God created the heavens and the earth: “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).

His absolute control and power over everything in heaven and earth is described in the Scriptures. There is nothing impossible for God (Luke 1:37). He designed and planned the physical universe, and at His command the heavens and the earth were formed (Psalm 148:5). Through His mighty power, He controls and sustains everything.

The creative Spirit of God was present at the beginning, including the creation of the first humans—Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:1-2; 2:7).

Promised to humans

God’s desire when He first created humanity was to offer us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the tree of life, it was symbolically offered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But instead of accepting it, they made a horrible choice to reject it and disobey God, swayed by Satan’s deceptions. Ever since then, Satan has continued to deceive mankind into casting aside God’s blessed way of life (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But there is good news! God has planned ahead.

God’s plan for mankind calls for the removal of Satan and his ability to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:1-3).

In the meantime, God is calling only a few people out of Satan’s world (John 6:44; see our online article “God Calling!”). He places them into His Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit by which personal and spiritual development is possible. “For through Him [Christ] we [Jews and gentiles] both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18, emphasis added throughout).

As members of the Church they will be trained to fulfill future roles in His Kingdom.

A transforming power

Someone receiving and being guided by the Holy Spirit can become a changed person. He or she undergoes a renewing of the mind—a total change of attitude, direction and purpose in life (Romans 6:4).

God wants us to develop godly, righteous character, and this requires our participation. He does not want us to be robots, so He has given us free will. He wants us to choose to follow His Son’s example.

As we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, it transforms us to begin to think and act like Christ.As we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, it transforms us to begin to think and act like Christ: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). God reveals spiritual principles through His Spirit. “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Furthermore, the Spirit, which is “given to us by God,” leads us to an understanding of “spiritual things” that the natural mind (devoid of the Holy Spirit) cannot grasp: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

Clearly, humans need the power of God to uphold, honor and please Him.

Securing our incredible potential

Christ referred to the Holy Spirit as the Helper (Comforter in the King James Version), the Spirit of truth, available from the Father (John 15:26).

Years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter wrote about how God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness … by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

With God’s Spirit in us we have an astonishing future inheritance—to become children of God (Romans 8:16-17).

But first read carefully what Paul wrote in Romans 8:11: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit.”

True followers of God are presently composed of flesh and blood and cannot enter the Kingdom of God and gain their inheritance (1 Corinthians 15:50). But there is coming a time when they will be changed from corruptible flesh into incorruptible spirit (verses 51-54). Finally, we will inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God, ruling under Christ (Revelation 3:21).

We have been called to “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). When we are tempted to put something else before these promises, we should first ask if it is as valuable and enduring!

Fulfilling our astounding potential should be our yearning desire and goal. It is God’s ultimate purpose for each of us. It is up to us to grasp the opportunity as we strive to please Him through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit.

Learn more about Pentecost and God’s plan in our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You. And discover more about the Godhead in our booklet Getting to Know the God of the Bible.

 

Sidebar: Why Is the Holy Spirit Important?

As astonishing as this may sound, unless we have God’s Spirit, we cannot claim to be true Christians. “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:8-10).

If we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit:

  • God will work in us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
  • Our future inheritance in the Kingdom of God will be “sealed,” that is, God will set a mark of ownership on us, “with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:11-13).
  • As we show a willingness to obey and respond to God, the Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). True Christians cannot succeed in living God’s way without the guidance and support provided by His Spirit.
  • It will help us overcome our weaknesses (Romans 8:26) by giving us additional spiritual strength (Philippians 4:13).
  • Most importantly, we will produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Life is a constant struggle against ourselves, the world and the devil. Each of us needs to grow closer to God through regular prayer and Bible study—continually growing in the character of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Only through the help of the Spirit of God can we succeed and fulfill the very purpose of our existence.

 

Sidebar: How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Luke 11:13; Romans 5:5). We are not born with it, nor can we earn it. The Bible reveals salvation to be a process with certain necessary requirements:

  • First is genuine and heartfelt repentance. This includes believing in and accepting the sacrificial blood of our Savior as payment for our past transgressions. It also involves a godly sorrow for sins committed against God—an admission of wrong thoughts and actions.
  • Next is baptism by immersion and the laying on of hands by God’s ministers.
  • Then God fulfills His part by giving us His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
  • After that follows a life of conformity to God’s revealed Word—with the help of the power that resides in us through the Holy Spirit. We must strive to continue to obey since God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

Study the biblical steps for receiving the Holy Spirit in our booklet Change Your Life!

About the Author

André van Belkum

Andre van Belkum

Andre van Belkum currently serves as the pastor of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in New Zealand and the Pacific region. Previously he pastored congregations in southern Africa, including South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

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