THOUGHTS ON THE LORD’S DAY
”Pentecost, the clash of faith and culture.”
The story of Pentecost, lived out in Acts 2, is the New Testament’s version of Genesis, the beginning. As with movies and plays, the book of Acts begins with a series of dramatic events that sets the plot in motion. Main characters, conflict and themes are introduced that will drive the rest of the story. The crisis of Jesus’ death on the cross now sets the stage for the next crisis, the clash of the Gospel versus the culture.
The real purpose of Pentecost, the empowering of the Church, was not the Upper Room manifestations, cloven tongues and a rushing mighty wind. It was the activities of those power-laden early Christians spilling out of the Upper Room on to the streets of Jerusalem, indicating a new authority and power had arrived.
The entire audience in the Upper Room was Jewish, but the empowerment of Pentecost was for the nations of the world. In just ten days, this timid frightened group of Jesus’ followers would become powerful proclaimers of the Gospel—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. No longer hiding in the shadows and warming himself by the fire of denial, Peter the fisherman becomes the flaming evangelist of Pentecost.
As a result of Pentecost, Jewish converts inhabiting a tiny spec of land in the Middle East, disciples of a Galilean Messiah, find themselves traveling throughout the Roman Empire and culture introducing a new culture called, Christian.
Because of Pentecost, those original disciples not only took the message of the Cross to the borders of the Roman conquered world, but well beyond. These young Jewish converts grew up culturally disdaining the “heathen nations” now offered them the message of hope through repentance and faith in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
The original purpose of God’s people, “possessing the gates of influence,” as found in Genesis 22:17 and 24:60 has not changed. That purpose was reinforced by Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The culture of faith known as Christianity was modeled by the Son of God as He walked and lived on this earth.
What was paid for by His death on the Cross of Calvary, now empowers these new Kingdom warriors to live victoriously on the Day of Pentecost. They are now willing and able to possess those ”gates of hell” that Jesus said would not prevail.
The Holy Spirit empowered message that Jesus of Nazareth lived, died and was raised from the dead, is what changes individuals, cities and nations. It is not natural but supernatural. It was not meant to be kept private but to be made public by every believer by every means possible. A private Pentecost is an oxymoron.
The message of Pentecost changed the First Century world. It is still the only message that will change your every day world and the world—if it is proclaimed with the same power, authority and passion of those first-century evangelists. Mankind’s ingenuity and passionate efforts can change a person’s circumstances, but only the power of Pentecost can change a man’s heart and eternal destiny.