george_hancockstefanIn our traditional services, Christmas and Easter Worship Services fill our sanctuaries. Historically, the coming of the Lord at his birth was viewed by few people – the shepherds, the magi, and few neighbors that have watched what happened in the stable. The Easter event – the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is slowly being displayed – the Roman soldiers fall down as dead when Christ rose from the dead (and thus cannot be called witnesses) and slowly the witnesses come – Mary who saw the Lord, the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and in the evening the 11 disciples and a number of the women that we find at the foot of the cross when the Lord is crucified. The biggest post-resurrection event is recorded by Paul when he writes: After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:6)

The Day of Pentecost begins with about one hundred and twenty in the Upper Room and concludes with this verse: “Those who have accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41) A couple of years ago, I heard a pastor who said that the greatest attendance in our churches should be on the Day of Pentecost when we should ask the Lord to repeat the Day of Pentecost and equip thousands for the work that He called to do and also enable thousands and millions to repent, receive forgiveness and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We want to look at the promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ request for his disciples between the Resurrection and the Day of Pentecost, and the empowering of the church at Pentecost.

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will do three things in regard to the world and one thing in regard to the church: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world, now stands condemned. When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide into all truth. (John 16:8-11, 13)

This is reason for the church’s teaching that no preacher can convict anyone. The work of conversion is completely the work of the Holy Spirit. We preach, teach, counsel, and pray – conversion is God’s work. At the same time, in the church we are at different stages of truth – God is willing to reveal it to us. Apostle Paul writes that in those things that we have agreed we should walk together and in those things that we are not of the same mind, God in His own time will illumine for us.

The request that Jesus made of His disciples is for them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. In order to be witnesses Jesus tells them: “You will receive power and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and throughout the world. ” Even the Psalmist remarks that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Waiting can be a difficult time of our discipleship. Yet, whenever the work of the Church is done solely by our strength we will be defeated because it is a spiritual battle fought in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter’s explanation for the presence of the Holy Spirit is fourfold:

  1. The disciples were not drunk,

  2. What has happened was already foretold by the prophets,

  3. A summary of the ministry of Jesus Christ concluding with his current position at the right hand of God the Father in heaven,

  4. The coming of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of Christ’s promise.

As Peter is explaining the event, people were convicted of their sinfulness, convinced of their need for their Savior and asked Peter what they should do. The necessary acts for those who asked the questions was to repent of their past and to be baptized and then to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, using those gifts that they have received from God.

The apostolic church (one holy apostolic and catholic church) started in the Day of Pentecost. Three thousand were baptized and this is the miraculous beginning of the church. This could not have happened without the Holy Spirit then and could not happen without the Holy Spirit now.

My challenge for my readers and especially those who are in position of spiritual leadership is to seek the Lord and ask him to bless us on this Day of Pentecost with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we have not seen before in our congregations and our communities. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit will equip us and give us boldness to witness for Christ and live godly lives that will demonstrate the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in us.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...