Fifty days of Easter, then we celebrate the birthday of the Church and the coming of the Holy Spirit as revealed on Pentecost Sunday. The disciples had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost, 50 days after the Passover, as revealed in Acts 2:1-21. That day the church was born. There was an outpouring of the Spirit of God. It sounded like a rush of wind. Strange speech and under-standing left the disciples amazed. Then Peter, taking a text from Joel, preached the first Pentecost sermon: “I will pour out my Spirit … (you) shall see visions... (and) dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

The Holy Spirit identifies the church as the special place of God’s presence. The disciples gathered together in Jerusalem and waited as the Lord instructed. They prayerfully awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit into their lives (v:4-8, 12-14). The experience the church had with the Holy Spirit was unique. Never before had the Spirit infused people as his permanent dwelling. The coming of the Spirit was accompanied by physical phenomena that were intended to point out the uniqueness of the occasion. The description of the phenomena reminds us of the spectacular events that God used to convince his people of his presence in the tabernacle in the wilderness at the time of its completion. A cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night represent God’s presence in the tabernacle. On Pentecost, the sound of mighty rushing wind and the sight of tongues of fire convinced the disciples of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25) and the exercising of spirit given ministries (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) in the lives of Christians prove the church to be the special dwelling place of the Holy Spirit today.

The Holy Spirit enables the church to do God’s work. The main business of the church is evangelism. Jesus said that this primary mission of the church would begin in Jerusalem. Pentecost was the strategic time for the church to begin evangelism because thousands of pilgrims (Jews and God-fearers) from other countries were in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Many of them would believe the gospel and take the message back to their homelands as far away as Rome and Africa. In order for that to happen, the Holy Spirit enabled the Christians to speak spontaneously the language of all the people gathered in Jerusalem.

The Holy Spirit guides the church to understand scriptures. In an effort to clarify for the bewildered masses what was happening, Peter referred to a passage from the prophet Joel. He interpreted the events on the day of Pentecost to be the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Joel foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit upon both young and old to join generations together in a mighty spiritual movement during the end time. The implication is that the Holy Spirit gave Peter that insight. The most essential ingredient for correct interpretation of scripture is the illumination provided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Other guidelines for proper interpretation contribute significantly to the understanding of a passage. It is helpful to know that through the Holy Spirit, God saves and empowers us to do his work. It is absolutely necessary to have the illumination of the Holy Spirit and share that spirit with others. God is counting on you!

J.B. Morris leads the Rock Hill United Methodist Church.