On the day of Pentecost we are told that Jesus’ followers were gathered and filled with the Holy -Spirit. They began declaring the wonderful things of God in languages that they previously had not known. (Acts 2:1-13) What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Is the Pentecost event to be repeated in some way? In this brief article, we tend to these questions.
It is difficult to describe what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is something you need to experience to truly comprehend. It is like trying to grasp the deliciousness of ice cream without partaking of its gooey goodness. Yes, you could describe its icy, creamy texture and sweet flavor, but can you really know how good it is without partaking? Keeping that in mind, how can such an experience be described? John Calvin said, “…the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually unites us to Himself.” All of God’s communicable attributes, his goodness, mercy, and love, his justice, righteousness, and holiness, his extraordinary power for mission, all of these are mediated to us through the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the fullness of God. At times this filling up with God’s fullness occurs episodically for the purpose of witness and mission. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost.
Yet, what about today? Should we expect similar episodic empowerments to happen again?
Though Pentecost is a one-time historic event, it does seem, at least in part, that the phenomena of Pentecost are repeatable. In Acts 4, Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and gives witness to Christ to the Jewish rulers. In Acts 7, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gives witness to the glimpse of Heaven he sees, before he is stoned to death. In Acts 10, Cornelius and other non-Jews with him are filled with the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues, and praise God.
In more recent times there were the Scottish Presbyterian Revivals of the seventeenth century; the Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, Third Great Awakening, and Azusa Street Revivals, in our own country; and the Toronto Blessing in Canada. Not all that is called revival is revival. There will always be false practitioners. However, just because a few doctors overbill insurance does not mean medicine is a sham.
Let us pray that more citizens of Tioga County be filled with the Holy Spirit for mission and witness. Pray for pockets of revival in Wellsboro, Mansfield, Lawrenceville, Westfield, Stony Fork; all of Tioga County!