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The Promise of The Holy Spirit

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the bedrock of Christianity and gives credence and validity to our faith. After He rose and until the day Jesus was taken up, He commanded the apostles to not embark on their evangelistic mission without the Holy Spirit, knowing that the Holy Spirit's enabling was critical to the success of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). The Kingdom of God in the hearts of believers could only be effectively preached, taught and expressed through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." This was the Ascension day promise as they anticipated the Day of Pentecost and describes the coming of the Holy Spirit as being 'baptized with the Holy Spirit' (Acts 1:5). This experience is distinct from that described in John 20:22 when shortly after Jesus rose from the tomb and before His Ascension, He breathed on the Disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit", signifying His work in the New Birth as promised in John 3:3-5. In contrast, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which was to follow, would empower the believers in mission as He promised in Luke 24:49; "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” In fact Jesus declared His ascension to be to "your advantage" that unless He went to the Father, the Holy Spirit could not come (John 16:7).

It follows then that after Jesus' Ascension and as the disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the annual Jewish Festival of Pentecost, (also known as the 'Feast of Weeks' or the 'Day of First Fruits') they waited in eager anticipation of The Promise. Pentecost is derived from the Greek word 'penteokostos' - which means fifty, highlighting the feast that would be celebrated fifty days after Passover. Fifty also signifies Jubilee and a time of celebration! The account in Acts 2:1-4 tells us that 'As the Day of Pentecost came, suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind (v2) which filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire (v3), sitting upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.' These spoken human languages unknown to the speakers but known to those who heard them is a distinct practise of the Holy Spirit which continues as a manifestation of the Spirit's Fullness, and as one of the gifts in the church today for prayer, worship and for private devotional expression (1 Cor.12: 10; 14:1,2,4,5, 15, 26-33, 39-40).

The significance of the Promise of the Holy Spirit and His supernatural Power must continue to remain central in the life of every believer and not just a 'spiritual few' (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28-32) or those simply 'seeking an experience'. The Power of the Holy Spirit working through the community of believers demonstrates what it means to live and walk with Jesus and also how God functions in the church and the world today. As we prepare to embrace Pentecost once again, be encouraged to have a posture of quiet reflection on your spiritual walk with Jesus and through prayer ask God for forgiveness of sins as you wait on Him for a vibrant and fresh outpouring of His promised Holy Spirit. Through Him, we have a full and abundant life in Christ.

Beloved, be encouraged!

Afua Richardson-Parry 1/05/24

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