What is Pentecost All About?

This article was originally published in the Huntington Beach Wave, my local paper here in HB, CA, on May 23. And while it is not primarily an apologetics piece of writing. It does aim toward the same goal that apologetics does, namely, the proclamation of the gospel. Placing articles in the local paper is one of many ways that Christians are able to make a reasoned defense for the hope that is within us as well as declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. With that in mind, you’ll also have to excuse the brief nature of the article. I only have a 430 word count. Enjoy.

pentecostThe Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, once said, “The Christian Church is a mouth-house of God.” So, whose words will the Church speak? Jesus’ words to be exact. Words like the ones Jesus gave his church at ascension.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

But how do Jesus’ words come to us? Enter the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.

The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word for “fiftieth.” In the Old Testament, Pentecost was a harvest festival, the ingathering of winter wheat (known as Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks). It began on the fiftieth day after Passover. It was also a day to celebrate Moses receiving the Law and God’s Covenant on Mt. Sinai amidst wind and fire.

In the New Testament, Acts 2 records the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Once again there was a mighty rushing wind, fire, God’s word, and a harvest. Only, this time, the fire came in flaming tongues over the disciples’ heads. God’s word was declared by St. Peter to thousands gathered in Jerusalem from around the Mediterranean. Each person heard in their own language that Jesus had died and rose for them. It was a joyous harvest – not of wheat for winter – but of people, from all nations for eternal salvation! After all, God shows no partiality or racism. Jesus died for all nations. These were the signs that the Holy Spirit had been sent to the Church as Jesus promised (John 14:15-26 and 16:12-14).

Today, Pentecost is a day for hearing that Jesus died and rose again – for you! It’s also a day for speaking this good news to others. If the Christian Church is to speak God’s word, breath is needed. No breath, no words. At Pentecost Jesus sends, or rather breathes, the Holy Spirit upon his Church.

The Holy Spirit’s job is pointing people to Jesus’ death and resurrection, calling people to faith in this gospel, and breathing faith in Jesus into your hearts. In other words, the Holy Spirit makes you holy by giving you the forgiveness of sins Jesus won for you on the cross. Pentecost is a yearly reminder that the Holy Spirit gives you ears to hear God’s word and mouths to pray, praise, and give thanks. God speaks and we hear the word of God, each in our own language: Jesus died, rose, ascended, and sends the Holy Spirit for you!

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