"That's when Peter stood up and, backed up by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency.’Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people are not drunk as some of you suspect. They haven't had time to get drunk - it's only nine o'clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen.'"
"In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people...'" Acts 2:14-15 (The Message).
What made the sceptics think that the followers of Jesus were drunk? Were they staggering, slurring, speaking incoherently or lacking in judgment or without inhibitions? Were they outrageously joyful, perhaps dancing, singing and shouting? What were the critics saying about them?
They had certainly not lost control, like people drunk on alcohol. Those who witnessed their behaviour commented on one phenomenon -- these people were communicating amazing things in their own languages. Drunken people don't do that! Drunken people can hardly speak their own language coherently.
Although one of the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of speaking unlearned languages, this event was unique because it was the counterpart of the God's proposal of "marriage" at Mount Sinai when He came down on the mountain with all the accompanying words and practices of a Hebrew wedding. At Pentecost they affirmed His proposal and the church - the Bride of Christ - was born.
It is not necessary for us to try to recreate Pentecost because it was a once-off event which inaugurated the church era. The Holy Spirit has never been withdrawn. According to Paul, we can grieve Him and we can quench Him, we can blaspheme Him but we cannot remove Him from the world. He has been given to mankind to implement the work of Jesus on earth and will continue to do so until Jesus comes.
The Holy Spirit's ministry is threefold: He convinces the unbeliever of sin and draws him to Jesus; He convinces the believer of righteousness, teaching us about Jesus and reminding us of our standing in Him; He convinces the devil of judgement because he was judged at the cross.
Every facet of His work in the believer is related to our standing before God. The apostle Paul called Him "the Spirit of sonship". "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:15-16 (NIV).
There is a phrase that is bandied about in certain circles of the church to distinguish between "ordinary" believers and those who have had a special "experience", making them a cut above the rest. Christians are categorised by either being "born-again" believers, as though there are believers who are not "born-again", or "born-again and Spirit-filled" believers, making them a little bit better than the rest!
Nowhere in the Bible do we find this distinction made. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and took up residence in the hearts of believers. No one can be a believer without Him. The issue is: not how much of Him we have but how much of us does He have. He came for and on every kind of people.
The plea of the New Testament writers is not "beg God to fill you with His Spirit" but 'be filled with the Spirit" and "walk in the Spirit" and "be led by the Spirit" which puts the ball in our court. The key word is submission. The Holy Spirit is not primarily about gifts or goose bumps but about living and acting like sons of God because that's who Jesus is and we are to be imitators of Him. Everything else follows according to the Holy Spirit's initiative.
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