… wait for the gift my Father promised… in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:4,, 5, 8 Pentecost – the festival, the experience, or the name displacing Trinity for all those Sundays from Whitsun to Advent – has become an emotive word inviting quite distinct responses. It is, therefore, very good that we have this commanding prophecy by Jesus that offers us a control over our understanding of Pentecost, its value and purpose. Father’s Gift. Acts 1:4; 2:33, 34 The Holy Spirit is a gift promised to Jesus’ followers by the Father. Although Jesus, exalted to God’s right hand, has the authority to pour out the Holy Spirit, the gift itself originates from God the Father. The Triune God acts on behalf of his people and, as they experience the grace and goodness of each person of the Godhead, awe and wonder quickens their worship and thanksgiving. Son’s Empowerment Acts 2:1-4; 17-21; Joel 2:28-32 It is empowerment that baptism in the Holy Spirit accomplishes. The signs accompanying the gift are reflected upon by Peter in his Pentecost sermon. He finds in them an extraordinary fulfilment of Joel’s foretelling: the violent sound of wind, the tongues of fire, the speaking so as to be heard in other languages. Yet Jesus had indicated that the power is primarily for witness. His disciples are to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. And here were Peter and the others already making a start at Jerusalem. People from disparate countries hear with amazement the wonders of God declared in at least fifteen tongues and Peter so preaching Christ that three thousand were baptised, repenting their sins. (Acts 2:1-12; 36-41) Spirit’s Witness So the empowerment by the Holy Spirit is for public witness, whether under duress before rulers and authorities or responding to God’s call out into the marketplaces of the world, or over its airways, or into its shantyeities or to its remote areas, from wherever home is to the ends of the earth the church is to give open, public witness.
Privatising of the Spirit’s power is, consequently, suspect, especially as the temptation recurs to play a Corinthian church game of trivial pursuits, where leader is lauded over leader and gift over gift (1Cor 1:10-17 12:12-30) The Spirit’s power is not bestowed for personal enjoyment within and inner circle of the like-minded, but for reaching out through eve-widening circles. In this divine strategy His gifts and graces bear true testimony to the universal Lordship of Christ crucified, risen and ascended, and salvation through His name alone.
Bishop Howell Davies