(An article I wrote for the St. Simon's North Vancouver Pentecost Newsletter)
The Day of Pentecost was not just a random phenomenon that resulted from the fervent prayers of the apostles, it was an event planned by God ahead of time and prophesied by Jesus (Acts 1:4,5). God had a purpose for sending the Holy Spirit and when the resurrected Christ appeared to them, He told His disciples what that purpose was: “when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."(Acts 1:7-8 MSG)
Could Jesus’ followers have accomplished this commission without having been visited in power by the Holy Spirit? The book of Acts contains numerous accounts of miracles, healing, deliverance and conversion performed by the apostles of the early church, and of the often treacherous journeys they made throughout the known world as they spread the gospel of love and planted churches. The Holy Spirit guided, directed and taught them through dreams and visions; filled their mouths with words; and worked in power to perform miracles through them. These miracles, signs and wonders gave glory to God and changed the lives of those who witnessed them.
Are you hungry, as I am, to see God move in the lives of the people around you; to be able to witness to people about the power and love of God and have signs and wonders following? Do you long to see captives set free, and hearts and lives transformed in an instant by the hand of God? Me too! The people of the early church were hungry too. They met and prayed together for hours every day. If we want to be used by God in a powerful way, we need to make ourselves available to Him. We need to surrender our lives and exchange our worldly priorities for God’s Kingdom purposes. In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable about servants who are prepared and waiting for their master’s return. If we want to be used mightily by God we need to be watchful and ready so that when God sends the Holy Spirit we are available to be used as His vessels to do whatever He commands.
Before He ascended to heaven, the resurrected Christ told his followers: "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17-18) This power is available to all who believe! It’s not just for apostles, preachers, or revivalists, and it wasn’t meant just for the founding members of the early church. Jesus said these signs will accompany those who believe. Do you believe? Me too. So where are the signs? And how come when we do see them we doubt the credibility of the believers whom they accompany? Is it because of unbelief?
If we truly believed in Jesus we would believe His sayings as well. When I sought God about where He stood on the issue of blessing homosexual unions in the church, He said to me, “If my Word is true, it’s all true.” So if God’s Word is true, then the sayings of Jesus that have been recorded for us to read two millennia later are true too. Let’s believe them! And let’s set aside our personal priorities for God’s Kingdom purposes so that we can truly be His witnesses and see people everywhere turning to Him.
"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)