A Message to the Heart of Worship Church,
City of Industry, Ca
Pentecost Day, May 19, 2013
When Jesus’ earthly ministry and Mission were fulfilled, He ascended to heaven leaving His community of believers in Jerusalem (Lk. 24:52; Ac. 1:12; 2:46). The believers waited in prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus Christ (Ac.1:8; 2).
So on Pentecost day (The Day of Pentecost is a Jewish feast celebrated fifty days after the Passover (Lev. 23:15-21). Seven Sabbaths plus one day equals fifty.), most probably Sunday, the Holy Spirit came with power and filled the community of believers.
Here the coming of the Spirit symbolizes the beginning of mission that crosses geographical and racial boundaries to be launched by the Spirit-filled Church which has just been instituted. The Spirit has empowered the Church to begin her work as a witness for Christ into all parts of the globe.
Indeed, the Church was so powerful (Ac. 2:43; 4:33), as Bishop Arichea explains, because of her dependence on the Holy Spirit: “The early Christians were “filled” with the Holy Spirit. . . meaning “controlled” by the Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the early Christians were enabled to proclaim the message boldly” (Ac. 4:23-31).
However, the Holy Spirit was not only empowered the Church, but also appointed the presbyters of the church (Ac. 20:28). This means that He cares for the order of the church since the presbyters were completely under His direction. The Holy Spirit also strengthened and encouraged the community of believers so that the church grew in numbers (Ac. 9:31).
The Spirit led Philip in evangelism, telling him to “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Philip obeyed the Spirit’s command and met the Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. The eunuch was reading the scroll of Isaiah but could not understand the meaning of what he was reading. Philip arrived at the right time to explain about Jesus, and consequently, the eunuch was converted and baptized (Ac. 8:26-40).
The book of Acts chapter 10 narrates how the Holy Spirit enlightened and guided the Apostle Peter. The Holy Spirit through a vision helped Peter to understand that the Lord does not discriminate against Gentiles. Then the Spirit sent Peter to preach the Gospel to Cornelius and to his relative and friends. Further, while Peter was still speaking before that large gathering of people, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. This outpouring of the Spirit to the Gentiles means that the mission is opened for them to participate.
Again the Holy Spirit chose Barnabas and Paul for another work (Ac. 13:1-5). This reveals that the early missionaries were indeed consulting and obeying the Holy Spirit before going to the mission field. That is why they were so successful in their ministries (Ac. 13:48; 14:1, 21).
One should not overlook the fact that the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to heal and do miracles (Ac. 3:1-10; 8:13; 19:11-20), or rather the Holy Spirit healed and did miracles through the disciples. Because of these extraordinary miracles, God’s Mission marvelously spread in every nation to which the apostles and believers went. Some Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is still moving today in this way. They seem to believe that the power of the Spirit is diminished or depleted.
Moreover, Paul confesses that he has been regenerated by the Spirit. Indeed, the Spirit regenerates the sinner who is dead in his transgressions and frees him from the law of sin by imparting to him power to live (Rom. 8:2). Not only that, the Spirit gives saving grace to those who are yet to believe (Eph. 2:4-10; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 10:29). Further, He consecrates men, purging them of worldly uncleanness, as a temple holy to God (I Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:2). Thus, the Holy Spirit gives saving grace, regenerating and sanctifying man. This means that the Holy Spirit has a major role in man’s spiritual salvation. Further, He goes ahead of the missionaries on the mission field. He prepares the people’s hearts for Jesus’ disciples to witness. Thus, He opens the door for Mission.
In summary, the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and also by the Son (Jn. 16:7; Gal. 4:6; I Pet. 1:12) to cooperate with the extension of the Kingdom of God on earth. There is no growth of the Kingdom if the power of the Holy Spirit is missing or not operating.
As discussed above, the Spirit empowers the Church. He gives her manifold gifts in order for her to participate in Mission. He did manifold miracles through the apostles. He led the missionaries to the “right soil.” He helped the church to grow. He enlightened the church and did much more. Indeed, if the Spirit had been missing in the early church up until now, perhaps, there would be no church today.
However, the work of the Spirit is not limited to the early church. Until this present generation, the Spirit has been working through the churches, within the churches, and before the church even goes out in mission.
1. Take as an example the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early Methodists. The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, after years as an earnest but nominal Christian priest, was wonderfully born again with a clear assurance of salvation on May 24, 1738, in a Moravian service on Aldersgate Street in London. After ten years of struggle he had found peace. Later that same year he began to long for a still deeper experience. On January 1, 1739, he, his brother Charles, George Whitefield and some sixty others were continuing in prayer. About 3 o’clock in the morning God poured out His Spirit on them in a tremendous empowering, anointing, and infilling of the Spirit. Many cried out with exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground (called by some slain by the Spirit).
That infilling drove Wesley and his people to preach the Gospel across the British Isles and in the American colonies. The Holy Spirit continued to manifest His power through John Wesley until his death on March 2, 1791. Wesley left millions of Methodists and Wesleyans around the world (Wesley Duewel, Ablaze for God).
2. Many people around the world are amazed by the Korean church’s rapid growth. Six out of the twenty largest churches in the world today are in South Korea. According to 1993 statistics, Yoido Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul has about 700,000 members, the Yong Nak Presbyterian Church has about 50,000 members, the Kwang Lim Methodist Church has 63,460 members, and the Kumran Methodist Church has about 50,000 members, and the Sung Rak Baptist Church has 73,235 members. Further, according to the 1993 Christian Almanac, now there are 61 Presbyterian denominations with 25,331 churches and 7,771,665 members; there are 4 Methodist denominations with 4,564 churches and 1,369,092 members; there are 8 Pentecostal denominations with 1,429 churches and 1,252,535 members; there are 2 Evangelical Holiness denominations with 2,542 churches and 1,067,534 members; and there are 5 Baptist denominations with 1,910 churches and 850,384 members. There are 41,256 male ministers and 10,311 female ministers in 1993.
Why is the Korean church growing so amazingly? Is it because the Koreans are more religious or pious than others? Perhaps, but one should not overlook the massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907.
Actually the preparation for the Great Revival of 1907 was in 1903. A certain Dr. R. A. Hardie, a medical missionary to Korea, preached on prayer in different places, especially Bible conferences in Korea. The Koreans were moved to pray diligently; and during 1904, ten thousand Koreans turned to God. Since then the Korean church has been producing a unique kind of Christianity–a Christianity which is characterized by prayer.
In June 1907, a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the churches began. In one church, while attending the worship service in the usual way many commenced weeping and confessing their sins. A pastor-witness said he had never met with anything so strange, and he announced a hymn, hoping to check the wave of emotion which was sweeping over the audience. He tried several times, but in vain, and in awe he realized that Another (the Holy Spirit) was managing that meeting.
In another Korean church, the members were also praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, the leading elder of the church stood up and said: “I am a sinner. God can’t bless this church because of me. About a year ago a friend of mine, when dying, called me to his home and said, `Elder, I am about to pass away; I want you to manage my affairs; my wife is unable.’ I said, `Rest your heart, I will do it.’ I did manage that widow’s estate, but I managed also to put one hundred dollars of her money into my own pocket. I have hindered God, I am going to give that one hundred dollars back to that widow tomorrow morning.”
Instantly they realized that the barriers had fallen and that the Holy Spirit had come. Conviction of sin swept over the people. The service commenced at 7 o’clock Sunday evening, but did not end until 2 o’clock Monday morning. And during all that time dozens were standing, weeping, and waiting their turn to confess their sins. Day after day the people assembled, and it was always manifested that the Refiner was in His temple.
3. In Western India in 1905, Pandita Ramabai organized special prayer circles at Mukti Mission. One day while she was expounding John chapter eight, her audience began to pray aloud. They were stricken by conviction of sin, and the school became a vast inquiry room for the penitents. Conviction was followed by confession because of the moving of the Holy Spirit. Because of that miraculous outpouring, hundreds were converted. The revival spread which resulted in more conversions. Statistics show that during the decade of revival the Christian constituency of India had increased by 69.9 percent as compared with 16.3 percent for Moslems, and 4.6 percent for Hindus (Hedlund).
These are some examples that support my contention that the Holy Spirit has been working since Pentecost (It does not follow, of course, that He was not working before the Pentecost.). John Vaughan, a professor of Church Growth at Southeast Baptist University (Missouri), concludes after studying the different factors influencing the twenty largest churches in the world today:
The dynamic of prayer and recognition of the Holy Spirit as the energizer for growth by these churches is significant. Faith, as the biblical ability to see the unseen, is nurtured in the basic love for and saturation in the Bible, prayer, and reliance upon the guiding work of the Holy Spirit (italics supplied).