This year the Christian festival of the Pentecost falls on Sunday, May 23. Pentecost or Whitsun is one of the five main Christian festivals. Christmas speaks of the incarnation, Good Friday Christ’s sacrificial death for the propitiation of sin, Resurrection his coming back to life with a spiritual body, Ascension his going back to heaven and Pentecost of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the earliest followers of Christ on the 50th day after the Resurrection. We live in a sin-sick world where the human family has ever since been suffering from the pangs of undue materialism, consumerism and all that come from our lust and greediness of all sorts. Coronavirus has attacked the entire human family killing millions all over the globe. Nobody knows for how long this pandemic will continue its onslaught on mankind. Strangely, human greed, pride and evil continue unabated all over. We notice with great alarm the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unleashing untold sufferings upon innocent people in Gaza. We fervently pray and implore God’s interference amidst all such human crises that we may have new hearts, new minds and new spirits. God wants to work in and with us, not by worldly might and power, but by his Spirit.
God had promised through the Old Testament prophet Joel during the 9th century B.C. that He would pour out His Holy Spirit “in the last days” upon all of God’s people that they would do miracles of transformation in the world and bring glory to Him. The single fibre of the Holy Spirit runs through all these events throughout the Christian year. This promise came to be realised in the first century in the Christian era when the immediate disciples or the Apostles of Christ experience the outpouring of the Spirit and untold and unprecedented miracles took place in their lives and lives of many to whom they were witnessing about Christ.The phrase “in the last days” refers to eternal promise of God for the transformation of the lives of people and the rule of God on earth as opposed to satanic rule over mankind.
The promise of Almighty God, God the Holy Spirit, was meant for all godly people, who would transform lives and conditions for Godly rule on earth. The Holy Spirit that came down upon the Disciples of Christ was also for all people, all believers in true God that the devilish conditions prevailing in mankind might be transformed. Pentecost is of great significance in the lives of the individual Christians and in the life of the Church as a whole. While the Church owes it’s beginning to this event, both are to be led by the Holy Spirit for meaningful existence.
The historic event of the Pentecost is narrated in the New Testament book of Acts (Chapter 2). The Holy Spirit (or God’s Spirit) was poured out upon the apostles of Christ just as he had promised them on the eve of his ascension to heaven on the 40th day following his resurrection. The power of the Spirit empowered and completely transformed their lives. They were able to preach the good news of salvation in Christ to both the Jews and the gentiles with courage. And their preaching was accompanied by great miraculous works. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth,” he had told them (Acts 1:8). The Spirit came upon the Jews, then on the half-Jews, i.e. the Samaritans, and also on the non-Jews from different nations in course of time. Christianity spread from Jerusalem to Rome as a result of the work of Spirit. This is recorded in Acts, the first Church history book. That’s why this book is also could fittingly be called the book of the acts of the Holy Spirit. Because of the complete work of Christ for the salvation of man through his birth, innocent suffering, death, resurrection and ascension he singularly had the authority to pour out God’s Spirit upon all flesh. Each and every work that he did is a testimony to the Spirit’s work. By the Spirit he was installed into his Messianic position. By the power of the Spirit he was led to be tempted by the devil, and he also resisted the devil by this power. The Spirit also equipped his apostles for their mission and work of bringing the good news to a sin-sick world.
The Bible, as a whole, depicts the works of the Holy Spirit as opposed to those of the fleshly or carnal mind. We see this clearly mentioned in the Epistle to the Galatians. Two millennia ago Paul wrote to them: “The works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissention, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like”, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”(New Testament: Galatians 5:19, 22).
The Holy Spirit will come to dwell in our hearts and empowers us when we acknowledge our weakness in our fighting against the desires of the flesh and the adversaries of this world. The Holy Spirit guides us towards the welfare of our total personality: body, mind and soul. He can affect a total spiritual revolution in us transforming the character and attitude to life and the world.
We need to repent for our sins and fleshly desires, materialistic outlook in our day-to-day life. And correspondingly, we need to turn to God and put our trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God so that we can have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to overcome the influence of the devil in our lives. There is always the constant need of renewal of our minds, thoughts and our whole beings. We need to receive spiritual illumination for understanding the Word and Will of God and the inspiration from the Holy Spirit for us to be vehicle of God’s grace for other people, serving and caring for them. The human race is going through too many problems.The historic Pentecost as described in the book of the Acts of the Apostles Ch. 2 (New Testament) is an once-and-for-all event, but the promise and the power of the Holy Spirit is for all believers of all ages if one is willing to receive it. On this specially holy day let all our prayers be that the transcendental gift of the Holy Spirit may effect a renewal in our lives that we may be agents of renewal and healing, peace and reconciliation. We look around and our hearts and minds are traumatised by corruptions and crimes against humanity done every day and every minute all over the world. This world needs transformation; we need God and His life-giving Word, His soul-changing Spirit. So our prayer today is: O God, grant us your gift of the Holy Spirit that we may live in a world man who will love your creation and glorify your holy name.
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and a Church leader