Pentecost revisited – Myth #1


It is a fact that the Holy Spirit lives in every true believer. Jesus promised speaking to the disciples in John 14:16,17

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you”. 

And of course, He kept that promise. Paul made clear the indwelling of every Christian by saying in Romans 8:9-11

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. 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 who dwells in you“.

Then in 1 Corinthians 6:19 he wrote

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”.

This is very clear and easy to understand isn’t it? The question then is not “if” believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the question is “when” did they first experience the fulfillment of Christ’s promise given above in John 14? The prevailing teaching is that it was at Pentecost. But was it? Consider the following facts.

In John 7:37-39 Jesus made this promise,

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified“.

This is a very important text for learning the “when” of the Holy Spirit living “in” Christians. First, the condition is that they are believers. This is repeated twice in these verses. The second condition given was that Jesus must first be “glorified”. “He was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” At the time Jesus said these words the first condition had been met, the second would not be met until He was “glorified“. What did that mean? Jesus was “glorified” when He came out of the grave victor over death, hell, and the grave. The same day Jesus was raised from the dead he again spoke to the disciples in John 20:19-22,

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

Is there some reason I am missing that I should not believe exactly what the Bible says here? Jesus made the promise and then after he had been “glorified” said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit“. I know they did receive the Holy Spirit when He commanded that they should. The same God who spoke and the created things lept into existence now spoke to the disciples and will anyone argue that they did not receive the Holy Spirit?

When the Lord commanded the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait “until you are endued with Power from on high” they were not going there to wait to be saved, they were not waiting to have the indwelling of the Spirit, but they were waiting and praying until they would be endued with Power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them in His fulness so that they could then get God sized results when they witnessed about the resurrected Christ.

The danger of not understanding this point is that if you believe Pentecost was when Christians were first indwelt by the Spirit you will of necessity also believe it is not repeatable. The narrative of the Acts proves that to be incorrect but people believe it anyway. No, the Pentecostal Power of the Holy Spirit is still available to those who are willing to wait on God, emptied of self, and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. Just at Peter and the others were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2 and were then filled again, and again later, so you and I can be as well.

Mark it down. If you attempt to do God’s work in the abilities and energy of the flesh you will get what the flesh can give. However, if you do God’s work in the power of the Holy Spirit you will have the results God can give. Paul did not say in vain, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might“. (Ephesians 6;10)

When we set out to preach the gospel of Christ we are invading Satan’s territory and that same 6th chapter of Ephesians teaches us that we are in a “spiritual” war. We must not enter the fray in our own strength. If we do we will have churches full of actors and pretenders and not people who have been “born from above”.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

The purpose of Pentecost


 

 

A fire department sub-station finally gets the long awaited new fire truck. It is delivered late in the afternoon and parked in the place of the old, worn out truck. At 7:00 a.m. the next day, just as the 1st shift gets to the station there is an alarm; there is smoke coming from a building at 10th and Main. The firemen rush to their gear putting on fire proof overhauls, the long coat, the helmet, and the long boots. Out the door they go and they see the shiny new fire truck. “Man, look at that chrome!” one exclaims. Another shouts, “Check these seats out, they are plush!”. Yet another can’t resist taking a quick peek under the hood. “it’s a Cat engine” he adds to the excitement.

Finally they get to the corner of 10th and Main to find only smoke and ashes and some charred steel girders. It is always best to keep the main thing the main thing and not get overly interested in the details. Many well meaning people approach the Scriptures making the same mistakes as these firemen. They involved themselves with secondary issues at the expense of not putting the fire out until it was too late.

Multiplied thousands of books and articles have been written about the events surrounding Pentecost and the overwhelming majority of them completely miss the reason for Pentecost. The most common reason given is that the birth of the New Testament church was on the Day of Pentecost. Our Pentecostal and charismatic friends focus almost entirely upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit and unknown tongues. Another group finds water baptism the high point of the story and emphasize baptism in an unhealthy way. Then there are the dispensationalists whose focus is the belief that the “church age”, the “dispensation of grace”, or the “last days” should be the important point. And, those Christians who love Bible prophesy might focus on the fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophet Joel.

All of these views have merit but none is the main reason the Bible gives for the happenings on that 50th day after Christ arose from the dead, Pentecost. The reason for Pentecost is recorded by the good doctor Luke.

“and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…..but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47,49)

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak….and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:4,41)

The central theme of Pentecost is that the Apostles and others did, and experienced, exactly what Jesus had commanded and promised. They waited on God in prayer until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to become soul winning witnesses for Christ.

After Jesus gave the disciples the great command of the great commission and promised them He would be with them, He expressly commanded them to do nothing but wait. Can you imagine they were eager to go tell others about the risen Lord? I can just see Peter chomping at the bits to go tell the whole world. No…, not yet….Jesus said WAIT. As eager as they are, as excited as they are, as much as they loved the Lord Jesus, they must wait for the Holy Spirit power necessary to do the job. If you miss this central truth of Acts, you will be like the firemen in the illustration. You will get focused on the incidentals and miss what Jesus wanted above everything else.

A good thing to keep in mind when you read the book of Acts is the word “redemption”. God is always busy with redemption. If you go down a path that is not focused on the redemption of sinners it is a good idea to come back to the main road and try again. If you get hung up on secondary themes you might miss joining God in His redemptive work.

Until next time,

Grace to you

Royce Ogle

Pentecost revisited


 

There is perhaps more sermons preached, lessons taught, and discussions about Acts chapter two than any other chapter in the Bible. I want to devote a few posts to exploring what the Bible says about the events recorded in Acts 2 and expose a myth or two that are accepted as fact but are not supported by the Scriptures.

Our English word Pentecost comes from a Greek word meaning simply 50. It originated in the Old Testament as a festival celebrating and giving thanks to God for the harvest and was celebrated after the 7th Sunday after the beginning of Passover. It is also called the Festival of Weeks. The day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 happened on the 50th day after the resurrection of Jesus. All of this is very significant and is worthy of study. You will learn from it that Pentecost, Passover, and many other holy days and festivals were shadows of the one who would come to finally take away sins forever.

The day of Pentecost in the context of Acts chapter 2 does not have much to do with the feast of Pentecost but “Pentecost” is the reference point or land mark in history to focus our thoughts on that first Century day when “the day of Pentecost had fully come”. (Acts 2:1)

I purpose to raise some questions and then attempt to answer them from the Bible. What someone said about the Bible, even if that somebody is me, is not nearly as good as the Word of God. In every encounter with the Holy Scriptures we should adopt the mindset, before we come to its pages, that it will be the final authority for both faith and practice, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about what we find there.

(It seems that for many of us the way to know the Bible is to run out to a book store and find out what brother so and so said, or go to a commentary that usually agrees with what I have already decided, or in some other way supplement the Word of God. I promise you that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible. Comparing scripture with scripture is more likely than not the best way to learn its truth. Lazy preachers are a big part of the reason churches are impotent. Lazy preachers make those in the pews lazy as well. Well, I just threw this in and it is well worth the price you paid for it. Nonetheless it is true.)

  • Was the day of Pentecost the first time Christians were indwelt by the Holy Spirit?
  • Was the day of Pentecost the first time Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit?
  • Was the day of Pentecost the birthday of the church?
  • What was the main purpose of Pentecost?
  • How does the events of that day long ago effect you, or should they?

I will post the first of this “mini series” in a few days.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

Preach Christ!


And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians  1:1-5) In these 5 verses Paul summarized his ministry to the people of the great city of Corinth. There were many disciples there as a result of his message and method of ministry. And, we find by reading the other of Paul’s epistles that where ever he preached, his message was exactly the same, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. 

I fear that in most of our churches we are busily learning the nuances of prayer, going to conferences to discover our spiritual gifts, attending lectureships to try to learn some way to do ministry in more effective ways, and in so doing neglect the simplicity of plain gospel preaching depending completely and utterly on the God of heaven for any result. Again and again I am struck by the profound, but very simple message that Peter, Paul and others preached. It was the kind of preaching that got results. When was the last time you heard of well over 3,000 baptisms in a day? I hear lots and lots of great preaching by almost any measure, but not much on Christ and Him crucified. 

You see, it is one thing to preach Him and quite another to preach about Him. It is a good thing to know about Him but a far better thing to know HIM! We often lose sight of the fact that our mission is to call men to repentance and faith in Jesus. Ours is not a mandate to bring men to church. We are not commanded to urge men to better conduct. Our only mission on earth is to make Christ known to men and women. We are to preach Him!  Paul said in chapter one of 1st Corinthians in verse 24, “Christ the power and wisdom of God” and in the last half of verse 30 he said “who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”. Do you want power in your ministry? Preach Christ! Do you want wisdom from on high when you speak? Preach Christ! Do those to whom you preach need righteousness? Preach Christ! Do they need sanctification? Preach Christ! We proudly wear the name “church of Christ” but what are we known for? You fill in the blanks. I want to be known as a man who preached Jesus Christ and everything else was to lead men and women to him.

 Power, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, eternal life, resurrection, hope, peace, love, mercy, justice, compassion, unselfishness, service, forgiveness, assurance, confidence and any other good thing you can imagine that might make a person fit for heaven and good for living on planet earth are found in the person, Jesus Christ our Lord. May we earn a reputation of being crazy about Jesus!  Grace and Peace,

Royce Ogle