Although Scriptures record of the great event of Pentecost is simple and brief, Pentecost is, nevertheless, the most significant event in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ. Of all Christian holidays it is the most glorious. Its benediction is of eternal value. Its significance is far-reaching. Without Pentecost the day of Christmas is meaningless; without it the joys of Easter are vain and the hope of the resurrection is deceptive. Undoubtedly, Christmas, Easter and the Ascension are indispensable to our salvation, yet, without Pentecost and its gift of the Holy Spirit we are yet in our sin, we are hopelessly lost. Without Pentecost all the work of Christ is as a budding flower which never blooms.
Yet, important as Pentecost is, in our day it is forgotten, if not ignored. Weeks beforehand we prepare for Christmas; and Easter cannot be passed unnoticed, but Pentecost seems of no account.
When one considers these facts he speaks very mildly by condemning the disregardance of Pentecost as very foolish. Would one plow his fields and sow therein the precious seed, and yet, in time of harvest fail to reap the gains? Would you rise up early every morning, trudge your way to work and labor in the sweat of your brow all day only to despise your due reward? Yet, this is the condition of the church and every individual Christian if there is no Pentecost. It is plowing and sowing without harvest, it is laboring without due reward, it is the cross without the crown, it is bitter strife without victory.
Pentecost is the crowning day of the Church of Jesus Christ and of every individual believer. As mighty kings and monarchs have their day of coronation in which they are crowned and arrayed with royal power, so, too, the Church of Christ has her crowning day, and that day is Pentecost. Not in the sense that the Church and each individual receives the crown and due reward for work they performed but they receive the crown of the work of Christ, the glorious fruits of all His labors of love. On Christmas day our mighty Prince of Peace entered upon the field of battle, on Golgotha the strife was at its peak; on Easter we see the Captain of our salvation as Conqueror of death and hell; with His ascension we see Him exalted in power and glory, but. . . .blessed day of Pentecost, for then every soldier in the ranks of Christ Jesus, every subject of His kingdom receives the fruits of Christ’s labors, the blessings of His conquest.
That blessing is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the crown, the glory, the life of the Church.
How, then, can we minimize the day of Pentecost? Any student of Scripture having seen the marvelous and almost unbelievable change that was wrought by the Pentecostal Spirit cannot deny the importance of the day. Before Pentecost Christ’s own disciples had not understood Him. To Peter and John, as well as to all their fellows, the cross had been a mystery. Even greater had been the mystery of the open grave, for after numerous, appearances of the risen Christ many still doubted. Was it any different when from Mount Olivet the Christ ascended to receive all power and glory in heaven and on earth? Had not their eyes been dimmed with tears because they did not understand? But on the day of Pentecost, having received the gift of the Spirit, all is changed. Then, for the first time, Peter and his fellow disciples understand Christ and His cross, the resurrection and the ascension. They had received the Spirit of truth who was able to lead in all truth.
Never before had the Church nor any individual saint received this Spirit. Not that Pentecost marks the birth or beginning of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is eternal, very God, the third Person of the blessed Trinity. Even before the day of Pentecost it was the Spirit who worked regeneration and faith in the hearts of the Old Testament saints. From the very beginning of time it was the Holy Spirit Who comforted the Church, Who bound the broken of heart. But, however true this is, there was a marked difference in the operation of this Spirit before and after the day of Pentecost. Before Pentecost the Spirit merely came with promises of salvation. In consoling the Church of the Old Dispensation the Spirit merely pointed to good things to come, things that lay in the faraway future. In temple, priest and sacrifice the Spirit brought them nothing essentially real, but only shadows, pictures of the real and true salvation that was to come. All that the Spirit ever brought in the Old Testament was promises and pledges sworn to by God while the actual fulfillment thereof lay in the future.
Why did: the Spirit in the Old Testament merely make promises? Why did He not bring the reality instead? The answer is: the reality was not yet. All that was real was sin, curse, depravity and damnation. Thousands upon thousands of animals had been slain for sin, yet. . .not one single drop of atoning blood had they brought. Never had one sin been paid for. Hence, in that sense there was no real salvation, there was no real, actual, true atonement. . . for Christ had not come. He, who alone can pay for sin, whose blood can cleanse and make us whole, had not been born, had not suffered, died and rose again.
On Pentecost, however, everything is changed. Christ had come. He had died, was buried and had risen from the dead; yea, as the mighty Conqueror of sin, death and hell He had ascended to heaven and was given all power in heaven and on earth. Then salvation was an accomplished fact. Sin had been paid for, atonement was made, therefore, the Spirt, coming to the Church on the day of Pentecost did not come with the promise of salvation, but He came with the real, full and free salvation in Christ. Beginning with Pentecost He no longer promises peace with God but He brings peace. He no longer pledges life, but He gives to every saint the resurrected life of the risen Lord. He no longer promises Christ, but He brings Christ into our very heart and life and. He makes us live Christ.
For this reason Pentecost is far more glorious than Christmas. On Christmas Christ came to us, but on Pentecost the glorious, resurrected Christ comes in us and our very life is changed from an earthly to the heavenly. No longer is the believer an orphan with the promise of a good home for on Pentecost the Father is brought to us in all His love and grace.
The priceless treasure of the gift of the Holy Spirit becomes evident when one considers in the light of Scripture the benefits which the Spirit imparts. Christ calls Him: the Comforter, who shall abide with us forever; the Spirit of Truth, the Power from on high. Of Him Scripture further testifies: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ He is none of His,” and again: “No man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” Inwe read: “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Without this Spirit the hope of life eternal is vain; Scripture emphatically says: “But if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Yet in the face of all this the Church of today continues to forget, slight or ignore the day of Pentecost. The reason, no doubt, for this attitude can only be explained from the heretical doctrine sweeping through the Church, and especially the doctrine of the freewill of man. No more than that the doctrine of Phariseeism, clinging tenaciously to the doctrine of righteousness by the works of the law, celebrates Christmas with its Christ of redemption; no more does the church which lauds man’s free will need and care for the day of Pentecost with its outpouring of the Spirit of Christ. In fact, a rigid preaching of Pentecost’s miraculous power would necessarily sound the death knell of Arminianism. While, on the other hand, rigid adherence to the doctrine of man’s free will must necessarily shut out the celebration of the day of Pentecost as it has already done in many circles.
But not only in such circles where Pentecost is not celebrated at all is the church left without the true significance of the day and its glorious comfort, there are other circles who seem to keep the day who have little more to offer the fold on this score than those who do not keep the day at all. They proclaim the Spirit to be nothing more than a divine means, method or power, and of such caliber that the reception of the Spirit is entirely dependent upon the will of man. With this doctrine, too, the glory and real comfort of Pentecost has been obliterated. It robs the very work of Christ of its crown and glory and leaves man as far from the possibility of being saved as the denial of the redemption in the blood of Christ.
The glory of Pentecost is the fact that the Spirit who was poured out into the Church is no less than God Himself, the third Person of the Trinity, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, the ever-wise and good God. He is the mighty life-giving, ever-impelling Spirit of all creation and of every creature. The Spirit who engendered; into the lifeless chaos of Genesis One the life that burst forth on mountain and plain, in valley and forest, on land and in the sea! Therefore, we are sure that He who of nothing made heaven and earth can also turn sinful man to the fear of God and instill in his dead soul a life that shall never end, the very life of the blessed covenant God. And since this Spirit raised Christ from the dead we know that he, too, shall be able to raise us with Him in a life that loves and seeks God.
No great wonder then that this Spirit came with the sign of the sound of a mighty rushing wind. For as the raging tempest is not restrained by the will and ways of man, so, too, this Spirit, mightier than the mightiest tempest, is not limited by human conditions or laws but dispenses His gifts in superb disregard of all that we are and of any condition of the heart. And sinful though we may be He assures us by the signs of the living flaming, cloven tongues of fire that He is able to burn away all filth of sin and turn our darkness into light and cause us to walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
And it is upon the Church only that this Spirit was poured out, even as Christ had said: “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” To this the apostle adds: “Because ye are sons. God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.” And that little word “because” does not reflect upon our work, but upon God’s work in His people. Therefore the apostle reminded us in the preceding verse: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law.” And why, what is the purpose? “That we might receive the adoption of sons.” Hence, it is of God to His Church, and where the grace of Christ and His atoning blood is not found there men look in you for this Spirit, But wheresoever the grace of Christ and His atoning blood has worked its marvelous deeds of redemption there He hath sent His Spirit with joy and peace untold and with life that never ends, for where the Spirit dwells there God Himself dwells and we with Him.
Thus the day of Pentecost is the crowning day, the day of our victory in Christ and even though here on earth the life which we have in Christ through the Spirit is hid we know that when He shall appear we shall appear with Him in glory. One day our tongues shall be perfectly loosed from the curse of Babel’s confusion and we shall speak the praises of God in heavenly perfection. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God.” Theirs is the inheritance eternal and: their peace shall be like a river for theirs is the victory in Christ through the Spirit of Pentecost.