This year the Christian festival of the Pentecost falls on Sunday, 9 June. On this day Christians all over the world celebrates the birth of the Church and it’s mission to the world. In the Old Testament this day—the fiftieth day after the Jewish festival of the Passover, which was ordained for the Old Testament people of the Israelites to commemorate their redemption from the fiery furnace of untold oppression of the Pharaohs of Egypt —was observed for the dual reason: the Israelites had this as the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to the people of Israel through Moses; and it was observed as the final day of the feast of the weeks or the Harvest Festival. This was the memorial to the promulgation of theocracy of the newly liberated people of Israel on Mt. Sinai and also the day of thanksgiving for the wheat harvest. However, the old festivals of the Israelites foreshadowed the new Christian festival of the harvest of human souls transformed by the power of God’s Spirit that was poured upon the earliest Disciples of Christ the same day.
The term ‘Pentecost’ comes from the New Testament Greek language ‘pentekostes’, meaning the fiftieth day. On this day the Diaspora Jews came from different countries and nations to celebrate the said two occasions. However, they witnessed an utterly extra-ordinary event taking place in the lives of the first disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. The disciples experienced and unprecedented experience as the Holy Spirit fell upon them in the form and likeness of tongues of fire giving them the power of speaking in tongues. Christ had promised them that they would be given the Holy Spirit to lead them all to witness to the world about Christ in their lives, words, deeds and signs. The Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and indwelt the hearts, minds and the bodies of the disciples as they were praising and singing of God for all his wondrous works.The Gospels, the book of the Acts of the Apostles (Ch. 2) – the first Church history book contain narratives of what happened on the day of Pentecost. The Gospel of John records Jesus’ Words telling us of the three-fold cardinal ministries of the Holy Spirit thus: “When he ( i.e., the Holy Spirit) will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now condemned.” (John 16:7). The work that the Spirit does in the world is in the life of the believers in Christ. People need to discern the fact that they are sinful. Sin is rebellion against God which is in thought, in word and deed. Because of this universal human condition people cannot admit their sinfulness. The Spirit convicts the world of sin. Without this conviction people do not see the need to repent and thereby also to come to God and to believe in Him. So they remain convicted of sin. With regard to righteousness, because Christ came to fulfil God standard or demand of holiness in the punishment for sin on the cross, and also manifested the grace of God thereby by acquitting sinners from the punishment of eternal separation from God. In regard to righteousness that is seen in the sacrificial and vicarious death of Christ for sinners. Christ’s righteous acts on the cross render believers a righteous stand before holy God. After the completion of the soteriological work for mankind on the Cross the resurrected Christ went back to the Father. This was his ascension to heaven and it set the final seal of the approval of his redemptive mission and work. Then he and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to the world for the Church. With regard to judgment, the Holy Spirit speaks of the fact that Christ’s victory over death implies that Satan is judged and defeated, and he is condemned to hell for eternity.
Pentecost marks the genesis of the Church. This event took place as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy that the prophet Joel had made (Joel 2:28-32; see Acts 2:17-21). On the first Pentecost the Church began to grow and expand. Pentecost also marks the beginning of the work and activity of the Holy Spirit. Before His departure Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphans. In His stead He would send the Paraclete, the Comforter, who would teach us all things, remind us of all things. In a most unique way Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit; today His activity in the Church and in the souls of men should impress itself upon us anew. Give more attention to the Holy Spirit, He dwells in your soul; and since baptism He has made your body and soul His temple, a house of God. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? Glorify God and bear Him in your body" (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). What saintly lives we would lead if we would but remember that the Holy Spirit is within us! The Holy Spirit is not merely a supernatural power or force, but he is a person—the third person in the Holy Trinity. He has personality.
He wills, speaks, directs believers, sustains them in love and grace for worthy Christian life, he teaches and leads us to more divine truth than we now have. The sanctifying and empowering ministries of the Holy Spirit are of immense value from the realistic Christian standpoint in this world where the devil continues to frustrate us even when we seek to live godly life. To quote Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22). Apostle Paul reminded the early Christians that the Holy Spirit dwell in their bodies! “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” What a remarkable think to say! This ought to remind us constantly that our life needs to be led by the power of God’s Spirit and not by any worldly desires and aspirations, not by the desires of the flesh. This world, indeed, would be diametrically different would we live our lives to this ideal. Whatever the Church can do and wishes to do for real transformation of the world must be done with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
According to Christian teaching this is the age of the Church and as such it is also the age of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the soul or the lifeblood of the Church, the mystical body of her Lord, Christ, and the church-members are its different parts. In a living body there is a soul; so is this God’s Spirit to the life and conduct of the Church, the body of people professing and confessing Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and a social worker.