Across many different cultures and eras, gift-giving has been a way to show love to family and friends. A thoughtful gift from someone whom you care about is a very precious thing. How amazing is it, then, that God Themselves have prepared a gift for Their children? As an expression of God’s love for all who follow Them, God has promised an incomparable gift through the Biblical feast known as the Pentecost. The Pentecost (from the Greek πεντηκοστή meaning ‘fiftieth’) was the fiftieth day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and on that day God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to all those who had followed Christ. Through the Bible let’s see what the gift of the Holy Spirit is, and how we can receive the same gift from God in our time.
What is the gift of the Holy Spirit?
When someone whom we care about gives us a gift it is always an exciting moment. Of course, it is all the more exciting if the gift is something that we really want or need. Likewise, to properly appreciate what it means that God has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to Their children, we should understand what exactly that gift entails. Through the Bible let’s see what comes from the Holy Spirit:
1 Co 12:4-11 (NIV) “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
Through the Holy Spirit, God gives a myriad of gifts to Their people: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, discernment, and even miraculous powers, prophecy, and the ability to speak in other languages. The Spirit also helps God’s people to be renewed inwardly, becoming able to overcome sin and walk in a way pleasing to God.
Gal 5:22-25 (NIV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Can so many different gifts really all come from the same source? Some of these things may sound outright impossible. And yet, these really are the gifts that God gives to Their children. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit (1 Co 2:10-11), and if God lets their Spirit dwell within you, even formerly impossible feats can be accomplished with ease.
How could anyone possibly receive such an amazing gift? Let’s find the answer through the lives of the apostles 200o years ago.
Receiving the Holy Spirit through the Pentecost
One of the things which makes the gift of the Holy Spirit so precious is that no human could possibly receive it on their own. There is nowhere you could go to build or buy the Holy Spirit. It can only be given by God. Then, when and how does God give the Holy Spirit to Their people? Let’s see the example given in the Bible:
Act 2:1-12 (NIV) ‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”‘
The apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, after praying earnestly for 10 days following Jesus’ ascension (Act 1:3, 14). As a result, they gained the ability to preach in other languages, and were even able to lead 3000 people to baptism in a single day (Act 2:41). If we want to receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit that the apostles received 2000 years ago, then let’s celebrate the Pentecost just as they did. Unfortunately, in today’s world, many churches teach that celebrating the Pentecost is not necessary and that the Holy Spirit will automatically be given to anyone who claims to believe in God. The apostle Peter, however, made it clear that we should make more effort:
Act 5:32 (NIV) “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
To receive the Holy Spirit, we must obey God’s commands, one of which is the Pentecost which Jesus instructed the apostles to observe. Even the apostle Paul adjusted his travel plans in order to celebrate the Pentecost in a gracious manner:
Act 20:16 (NIV) “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.”
If you would like to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from God, following in the footsteps of apostles Peter and Paul, then come and join us in celebrating the Pentecost soon.