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What happened after the Day of Pentecost?

By Kenneth D. Barney

The Day of Pentecost impacted Jerusalem. Jesus’ enemies thought they were rid of Him. Suddenly their dreams were shattered as the Holy Spirit brought a fresh revelation of a risen Lord.

Apostate religious leaders and heathen government officials realized they had a new force on their hands. An insignificant group of 120 suddenly grew to 3,120. All were declaring Jesus was alive.

Joel prophesied of the Spirit’s ministry, “It shall come to pass” (Joel 3:18, KJV). Now it had come to pass. Jesus promised, “When he is come” (John 16:8). Now He had come. He had come to live in Christ’s followers, not merely to empower them for a brief mission. “Another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” — that is what Jesus said (John 14:16).

What adjective can do justice to the events of those hours?

But what about the next day, the day after Pentecost? Was everything over with the sunset? Did the revival subside in a few hours? Was the tremendous spiritual surge followed by a receding tide that never returned? No. The true quality of Pentecost was demonstrated by what happened the next day, and the weeks, months and years following.

Let the record speak for itself: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46,47).

What value can be placed on a Pentecost that has nothing left after the first thrill has subsided? Pentecost is not a one-shot spiritual high. It is not a euphoria that exhausts itself without leaving permanent effects.

What remains after the high makes Pentecost what God intended it to be. As we follow the Early Church’s ministry in the Book of Acts, qualities emerge that show the permanence of the Pentecostal experience. What was true then is a pattern for the church today. It must be if we are to fulfill our calling and mission.

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Pentecost brought a level of spiritual life unattainable by human effort. Acts 9:31 says Jesus’ followers were “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” This was the norm now, not the exception. Spirit-filled believers found a new way to walk. No longer did they strain to obey a Law inscribed in stone. The Spirit brought the Law to the interior of every life, and the world saw the results daily.

I remember the first Pentecostal service I attended. I had been saved for several years, yet in that little country congregation I felt spiritual vigor. I recognized the source of what I felt was the uninhibited flow of the Spirit through those Christians.

People would speak of “being in Pentecost.” Someone would ask, “How long have you been in Pentecost?” The answer might be, “I’ve been in Pentecost 10 years,” or “I’ve been in Pentecost nearly all my life.” Obviously they weren’t talking about a denomination; they were describing a way of life.

Pentecost brought the operation of the spiritual gifts. These must not be confused with natural abilities and talents. The Spirit’s gifts are His supernatural operations through individuals to meet needs.

Paul compared the church to a human body. Each part has a function to perform for the well-being of the whole. Hands reach out to perform the activities. Feet provide mobility. Eyes and ears gather information and transmit it to the brain for evaluation. These members also detect danger.

The gifts of the Spirit have much the same function in the church. The church needs knowledge and direction, awareness of danger and protection from enemies. The church must distinguish between what is deadly and what is wholesome, between the false and the true. It must understand God’s plan and purpose.

Although we see manifestations of gifts in the Old Testament (healings, miracles and prophecy), they were usually associated with chosen individuals. Most were prophets.

Only after Pentecost did the whole range of spiritual gifts begin to be exercised through all of God’s people who were baptized in the Spirit. Paul said these manifestations are “given to every man,” referring to every Spirit-filled believer (1 Corinthians 12:7).

In the Book of Acts, we observe needs arising in the church’s life after Pentecost. We also note how the Spirit’s timely exercise of the appropriate gifts met those needs. This is a vital part of the permanent effects of Pentecost. In these days of fierce spiritual conflict they must be among the church’s weapons.

Pentecost energized the church into a dynamic force. Christ’s followers did not merely react when the world acted. The opposite was true. After Pentecost the world knew the church was in town. Everyone was familiar with religion, but something new had burst on the scene. The sharp distinction between the church and its surroundings always stuck in the world’s face. They had a problem on their hands too big to handle.

Someone has said the early Christians preached like people who had just seen the risen Christ. A few of them had seen Him; the majority had not. Yet the Spirit had made Him just as real to them.

Today’s society needs to hear from Christians who live and speak as if they have just come from an audience with the risen Lord. The Spirit’s presence and power will make us a people who leave that kind of impression on the world.

Pentecost must become to all of us more than just a past experience to which we pay lip service. That experience must be an unbroken reality that intensifies rather than fades with the passing of time. Then our world will know the church is alive in this world.

Kenneth D. Barney, an Assemblies of God minister, was adult editor in the Sunday School Curriculum and Literature Department at the Assemblies of God Headquarters before his retirement. He passed away May 13, 2004.

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