The Promise Of Pentecost

The Promise Of Pentecost

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The Promise of Pentecost
"I am going to send you what my Father promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Luke 24:49(NIV)
Since the Old Testament, the Spirit of God was promised to come to the people of God. The prophet Joel wrote: "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." (Joel 2:28 NIV) Nine hundred years later, the Spirit of the living God was poured upon His church in an event named Pentecost. The purpose of the following research is to show the Pentecost as a major point in the life of the apostles, as well as the beginning of the church of Christ.
Fifty days after Jesus was risen form the grave, in Jerusalem was taking place a celebration called the Feast of Weeks, time in which every Jewish male was required to appear at the sanctuary. This celebration, used to bring Jewish people from all around Asia and Europe to Jerusalem. It was about this time when the Pentecost took place (Grieb).
The eleven disciples were "all together in one place" waiting for the promise to come. Katherine Grieb tells us in her article Church on Fire that "Luke is careful to tell us that along with the 11 "apostles" he names, there were some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and also his brothers."(Grieb) After ten days waiting at the upper room without really knowing what to do, the promise came to the disciples. "It was attested by miraculous signs in the form of a rushing mighty wind, a tongue of fire which sat upon each of them, and the ability to speak ecstatic tongues in praise of God."(Ockenga 17) Arno Clemens in his book for seminaries and biblical institutes wrote: "…He came not as a dove, but in the form of cloven tongues like as of fire. He came on the Lord in the shape of a dove, because He was not to make His voice heard in the streets. But His disciples were to give the testimony, the Word with power, which is like consuming fire."(33) Like mentioned before, by that time, Jerusalem had several visitants from different countries, who spoke different languages, and the testimony the disciples were supposed to give was magnified by the fact that this Galileans were speaking in languages these visitants could understand.

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The Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible says about this phenomenon: "…it must be a sign to authenticate the message and ministry of the disciples."(Holy Spirit)
Clemens writes, referring to the tongues: "It proclaimed outwardly the great fact that the Holy Spirit would make known the Gospel to all the nations under heaven, and though no Gentiles were present when all this took place, the languages of the Gentiles were heard and that from Jewish lips."(33-34) For the purpose of showing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the life of Peter will be analyzed, because like it was stated in the introductory part, Pentecost was a determinant point in the life of the Apostle. Harold Ockenga, Minister of Park Street Church in Boston, says that "Peter was a rough, sturdy, rugged, weather-beaten, labor-hardened and storm-ridden man."(27) He also was a fisherman, and by that time a fisherman was not an educated man, "yet Jesus saw the possibilities of his character."(Ockenga 27) But after following Jesus for almost three years, "Peter failed miserably. He became a typical backslider. His first big slip in his spiritual life was his failure to pray in the garden if Gethsemane…within a short time he denied his Lord with curses and oaths and renounced his identity with Him" (Ockenga 29)
Consequently, Peter was an uneducated man who was capable of betraying his very own teacher. But then, the life of Peter took an astonishing twist; He was visited by the Spirit of the Most High God. After the noise and confusion caused by the tongues, Peter stood up before the crowd and explains to them what has just happened. Ockenga writes: "Peter's first sermon after Pentecost demonstrates his power as a preacher. He was doctrinally sound. Practically every doctrine of Christian theology is included in this first sermon given at Pentecost."(34) What is Minister Ockenga talking about? The fisherman betrayer was preaching with great eloquence and authority? It seems like Peter had something different.
Arno Clemens says: "In his bold testimony Peter, the erstwhile denier of Christ, manifests the power of the Holy Spirit. His inspired testimony shows what witness the Holy Spirit will bear through the believer, when He is unhindered."(34) Clemens adds: "Peter preached the Word and through the Word he preached the Person, the Work and the Glory of Christ."(34)
The first message from Peter was a blast. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, professor of theology at the University of Helsinki, says: "…Pentecost is a dramatic work of the Spirit: Three thousand repent, and charismatic elements are visible."(31) Ockenga includes an interesting fact: "This sermon resulted in the conversion of 3,000 people, who continued in the apostles' doctrine and in prayer. They were note temporary conversions."(35)
Another important issue that marked the life of the Apostles specially Peter's, was that they were now able to do miracles like what they saw Jesus do. Minister Ockenga says: "In his position as an apostle, Peter had great power so that he performed miracles."(35) Acts 2:43 says: "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostle. (NIV)" Minister Ockenga says: "…Peter's actions subsequent to Pentecost were totally in contrast to what happened before Pentecost."(18)
Pentecost came to fulfill what was said by the prophets and Jesus. Similar to what the Baker Theological Dictionary says: "Here is the fulfillment and end of the old covenant and the beginning of the new. The Spirit who has spoken in past prophecy, including through Jesus, now makes himself available as a "gift" along with the forgiveness of sins to all who repent and obey."(Holy Spirit)
Having the promise completed in their hands, the Apostles were ready to begin their journey with the early church filled with the Holy Spirit. John Kavanaugh, commentator for the America journal, writes: "…Pentecost unleashed a courageous power. Driven by wind and fire, the followers of Jesus were set loose upon the world to make bold proclamation."(Kavanaugh) Richard Gaffin, professor of New Testament and chairman at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, says: "Pentecost is no thing less than the establishment of the church as the new covenant people of God, as the body of Christ. The Spirit given at Pentecost constitutes the body of Christ as a dwelling place of God in the Spirit, as the temple of God in which the Spirit of God dwells."(21) As the Bible says in Acts 2:46-47: "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV)" It is also important to notice that the church that began after Pentecost not only did it as an institution, but as a way of touching lives through the Gospel. Ferdinand Hahn writes in his Biblical theology book: "It was in Jerusalem that the miracle of Pentecost took place, and extremely successful missionary activity by the first Christians began at once. Peter…was the leader of the Church and he was the most influential missionary."(48)
Pentecost made the disciples change from being listeners to be men of action. Suddenly, the uneducated fisherman who had betrayed his master was preaching with enough power to make thousands of people bow down before Jesus. Suddenly, the disciples knew what to do and how to manage a church with more than three thousand people in it. That is the kind of power the Holy Spirit brought. The power that made the life of Peter transformed in no time. The power that initiated an unbelievable movement called the Church of Christ. In addition, Pentecost was a major point in the life of the apostles, as well as a beginning for the church of Christ. Minister Ockenga confirms this when he writes: "When, in the power of Pentecost, the apostles preached, they witnessed the conversion of thousands. This occurred at Pentecost and again shortly afterwards. This is the secret of great Christian revival… the manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit…"(24)

Works Cited
Clemens Gaebelein, Arno. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. New York, N.Y.: Publication Office "Our Hope", 1928.
Gaffin, Richard B. Jr. Perspectives on Pentecost. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979.
Grieb, Katherine. "The Church on Fire". Sojourners May 1999. ProQuest. .
Hahn, Ferdinand. Mission in the New Testament. Naperville, Ill.: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., 1963.
"Holy Spirit" Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible. 1996.
Kavanaugh, John F. "Solidarity and courage". America Press May 14, 1994. ProQuest. .
Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. Pneumatology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2002.
Ockenga, Harold John. Power through Pentecost. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959.
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