The Meaning of Pentecost for Believers
To see what the meaning of Pentecost is for believers of Jesus Christ, we can start by looking at the word of God. The passage that explains what happened that day and gives us the meaning is in Acts 2:1-41.
The Holy Spirit is coming on the day of Pentecost. It was poured out on many people speaking different languages, and others could understand about the wonders of God they were proclaiming. In v. 12 they wondered what they meant. The work of the Holy Spirit is being declared as proclaiming the wonders of God. Yet others think they are drunk and not in their right mind.
Apostle Peter gives a sermon explaining what it is to a huge crowd. With the Holy Spirit's power, Peter testifies about Jesus, who he is and why he came, died and resurrected. Wherever we see in the Bible Jesus being proclaimed there is the work of the Holy Spirit is done.
Peter quotes the prophet Joel in 2:17. Until that time, the Spirit was only poured out and shared to a limited number of people such as prophets in the Old Testament, especially to people who had to lead and guide Israel. But what is unique about the time at Pentecost is that God will pour out the Spirit to all people. Again in v. 17-18, the recipients of the Spirit are sons, daughters, young men and old men, men and women and servants. The Holy Spirit is transcending beyond age through all the family, various social classes, and gender. It's being poured out to all. The Spirit is God coming to dwell in all manner of people. V. 19-21 shows it's not only poured out on people but wonders and signs are being shown. In v. 2 for someone who has not seen visual manifestations, this seems amazing.
The experience of the Holy Spirit entering our hearts is like a fire, burning our sin, leading us to repentance. Experiencing the power of the Spirit allows people to turn to the Lord newly and have a new heart in Jesus Christ. This burning heart and fire can be related to the work of the Holy Spirit. People attending the gathering at Pentecost in Acts 2 came from many nations. There is a list of the various localities shared. Each person spoke in their own language about the wonders of God. Faithful Jews would have understood the wonders of God to be in part the significant events of the history of Israel and also God's work from the creation of the world and everything in it. Important events in God's interaction with key figures in the Bible include God saving the world through Noah and the ark, God wishing to bless all the world through the ancestor Abraham, God rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt, God giving a land for His people to rest in, God enabling new leaders to rise and to allow the nation to reach a peak in the kingdom led by King David. Even for the Jews who were later in Babylonian captivity, they could look back and hold on to the wonders and deed God had done. The people in Jesus' time under Roman rule could still refer to these previous works.
"Pentecost" for Jews was an important festival where Jews offered to the Lord the firstfruits of new grain. It is a harvest festival. When there are provision and abundance given by God, the people of God offer to the Lord. Pentecost was a time when people from many places came to Jerusalem to celebrate. Pentecost in the biblical passage in Acts 2 came 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus.
All the walls being broken down by the Spirit allow God to come to all the world beyond the Jews to gentiles as well. At its core what is being presented is the grace God has revealed through Jesus Christ. Apostle Peter proclaims from v.22-36 about Jesus. Without Jesus having suffered, resurrected and gone to heaven, the Holy Spirit would not have come. Jesus prepared the disciples telling them that the Holy Spirit would come after he left. In this new time, the world will come to hear the testimony of the Lord before he returns. Jesus wanted this to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth and all nations so that many people could become His disciples.
In v.29 Jesus is being proclaimed as a descendant of David, linking Jesus to the history of Israel as the one who was to come. Verse 36 indicates Israelites were awaiting the Messiah who was to come and liberate them. The liberation that Jesus brought was one many were not expecting. People were burdened and were in suffering and in sin. Jesus came to heal, forgive, and reconcile us to God. He is Lord and Messiah. Verse 37 shows the impact of the Spirit as it prompts the people to be "cut to the heart." They could understand deeply about their sin and culpability. They wondered where to go from there. Things were not the same as before. Knowing our sin, where do we go? Peter's response in v.38-39 is that prior to receiving the spirit, we should repent. Before receiving God, we must change evil and wicked ways and walk in the correct way before the Lord. It also says that we should be baptized. There are the water baptism and baptism of the Holy Spirit. When John the Baptist started his ministry he proclaimed that he baptized with water but one was coming that would baptize with the Holy Spirit. We can have external change, but we must have our spirits be touched by the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus, God declares us righteous and lets us stand in his grace. Before being justified we could not stand before the Lord. Now we can be God's children as a holy family and God can dwell with us. God dwells with and in his people. Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are one, dwelling in the hearts of men.
Through the reading of the word of God, reading this passage again, may God give us new insight into what the pouring out of the Holy Spirit means to us. As Pentecost approaches, may we experience life with the Holy Spirit and gain strength to continue in God's mercy.