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Holy Spirit brings the increase

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Acts 2:14-41

Devotional text:

Ephesians 1:13-14

Last week, we began the celebration of the Day of Pentecost by looking at the introductory scripture leading up to this important day in the life of the church. We started with Jesus breathing on his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:21-22. Before he left them to ascend into heaven, in Acts 1:1-2, we read that Jesus taught his Apostles and gave them instructions “through the Holy Spirit.”

These scriptures let us know that before the Day of Pentecost the chosen Apostles, 11 at that time, received the Holy Spirit before Pentecost.

In Acts 1:4b-5, Jesus told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit.

Did Jesus give to his Apostles the Holy Spirit twice? Or, did Jesus know that on Pentecost a special power of the Holy Spirit would descend on the believers in order to reach as many people as possible with the good news of salvation?

Let’s continue with Acts 2 and see what happens.

In Acts 2, we begin right away with the power of the Holy Spirit alighting on the disciples. Take notice that it does not say the Apostles were the only ones receiving the tongues of fire, nor does it say where exactly the group was. In verse 1, we learn they (the believers) were all together in one place. Verse 2b tells us that the wind “filled the whole house where they were sitting.”

Acts 2 also tells us it was on the Day of Pentecost. This would be the day that Jewish Pentecost believers (of the harvest festival) would go to the temple in the early morning to worship God.

In the gospel of Luke 24:53, we learn that the disciples of Jesus, upon returning to Jerusalem, “ … stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

Now, we need to look at the word house. Again, some traditions place the house as the Upper Room where the disciples were staying. As we have seen in Acts 2, there is no mention of the Upper Room, only a house. But, isn’t it interesting that the Jewish Temple is also called The House of God or The House of the Lord throughout Old and New Testaments?

It is in the Old Testament where we find God speaking to Nathan about the request for a house to be built for God (2 Samuel 7:1-7). However, the actual House of the Lord did not come into fruition under King David, but was built by his son, King Solomon (1 Kings 6). From that time on, the temple was also referred to as The House of the Lord.

So, let’s put this altogether. The believers numbered about 120. They were meeting in the temple, or House of the Lord, daily to praise God. On the Day of Pentecost for the Jews, thousands of people from many nations descended on the temple courts for early morning worship.

Doesn’t it make sense that the believers were sitting at the temple praising God? Even Acts 2:41 tells us that the visitors heard the gospel in their own language. Would they have heard it any place else? Doesn’t Acts 2:15 tell us this all took place at 9 a.m., the time for morning worship?

As we read the scripture, not allowing for what tradition says, it makes perfect sense that the disciples of Jesus were in God’s house (the temple) when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them.

People from 16 nations are listed in Acts 2. Of the thousands who were there witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit, hearing the good news of salvation, 3,000 chose to become believers.

Acts 2:41 also tells us that those new believers were baptized that day. Where were they baptized?

This gives us another clue to the actual place all of this scripture happened. Along the southern entrance to the temple were situated ritual baths for the purpose of ceremonious cleansing. Right there was enough water to baptize the new members as Jesus had directed in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Finally, my friends, we come to Ephesians 1:13-14. These are the words of Paul to the believers in Ephesus that speak equally as well to us today: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.”

The wonderful event of Pentecost, celebrated each year by the Christian church, was the beginning of the promise that all believers would receive the Holy Spirit when they chose to believe in Jesus. No longer was the Spirit just for the empowerment of the chosen few, like the prophets and other particular men and women of God found throughout the Bible. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit became a part of our lives, to dwell within us and to help us, always.

It is the Holy Spirit living within us who nudges us along the paths of doing what is good and right in the world. The same Holy Spirit guides us in times of troubles and comforts us.

Pentecost was the beginning of God’s gifting of the Holy Spirit to everyone who has come to believe in salvation through Jesus. It is the same Spirit who helps us to live the new life in Christ that we are born into as we believe.