Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost Sunday which commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the first time and the birth of the New Testament Church. The disciples and other believers, a total of 120, were gathered in an upper room praying and waiting, compliant with the last instruction Jesus had given them. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the HolySpirit.”
This happened on the Day of Pentecost which was a celebration the Israelites commemorated every year, 50 days after Passover called “The Feast of Weeks” in the Old Testament. It was commemorated in celebration of the end of harvest, fifty days after Passover. The word “Pentecost,” simply means “fifty.”
Acts 2 tells how they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues.” Acts 2:4. People visiting Jerusalem who heard them were amazed because they heard them speaking in their own native languages. A total of 16 languages are listed. Their reaction was, “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” Their explanation was that these people were drunk, although it was only 9 o’clock in the morning.
Peter stood up to give them the explanation. It was the fulfillment of what was prophesied by the prophet Joel that God’s Spirit would be poured out in the last days. Peter went on to preach a powerful sermon (Acts 2:14-39) and ended with this: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
“For all whom the Lord our God will call.” That statement shows there is no limit upon who can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is still calling people to himself and will continue doing so until Jesus comes back.
I grew up in a church that believes that statement, that all who decide to follow Jesus can be baptized with the Holy Spirit; that, that promise has never been rescinded and is still relevant today. I received Jesus into my life at a very young age, so young that I don’t remember a specific date. As far back as I can remember I was taught about Jesus, attended church regularly, believed Jesus was my savior and began teaching little children about Jesus when I was still very young. When I was about 12, there was a move of the Holy Spirit in the church that my family was attending. Without any special program or promotion, people began receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
It was the custom in those days for the pastor or speaker to end the service by saying, “The altars are open for prayer.” People who desired to pray would go forward and kneel at the altar. One evening I, along with some other young people, went forward and knelt. The presence of the Lord was so powerful, and I was moved to tears. I asked the Lord to baptize me in His Holy Spirit. I immediately felt conviction in my heart, as the Holy Spirit pointed to the enmity I had against the girl who was kneeling next to me. I don’t remember why I had bad feelings against her, but I do remember repenting of those feelings. Then I began having stammering lips, and in a few minutes, I was speaking words in another language.
That experience has been a stabilizing factor in my life. During my teen years, I was not tempted to stop following the Lord but sought Him for guidance in my life. Many times I have depended upon the Holy Spirit to pray through me for serious situations: when my oldest son got involved in drugs and walked away from the Lord; when my second son was involved in a serious car accident with a head injury and doctors didn’t think he was going to make it; when my third son was given a diagnosis of cancer in his spinal column; when son number four was tempted to wander away from the Lord. When I didn’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prayed through me. Rom. 8:26
Paul said that if we speak in a tongue we edify ourselves. (I Cor. 14:4) I am so thankful that all through my life I have been able to depend upon the Holy Spirit to pray through me, to pray with my spirit but also pray with my mind. I Cor. 14: 15.
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”