FAITH FOLLOWED PENTECOST
What an exciting time it must have been at the first Christian Pentecost recorded in Acts of the Apostles chapter two. A hundred and twenty people clothed in fire and smoke, bursting forth from an upper room in direct opposition to the strict instructions of the Jewish religious leaders and the imperious concurrence of their Roman overlords. All making a rousing noise; speaking defiantly about the recently crucified Jesus all being well understood by the people of the different cultural groups in the crowd. 17 different languages being bellowed out at the same time; Smoke and fire everywhere; a raucous melee governed by a sensational atmosphere generated thru’ an unmistakably evident Holy Spirit presence.
The usual sceptics were there ‘Argh, their all drunk and it’s only nine O’clock in the morning (Acts 2:13)
The Holy Spirit brought about what Jesus had promised that day: Baptism in the Holy Spirit! 3,000 men repented and confirmed it by being immersed in water, declaring Jesus as lord of their lives.
Jesus said He would build His Church (Matt. 16: 18). It was born that day!
THERE IS ALWAYS EXCITEMENT AT ANY BIRTH
Even on regular television when there is horses or dogs involved and a foal or a puppy being born there is a lot of ‘oohs,’ ‘aahs’ and ‘isn’t it wonderful’ from the viewers. It’s even much more notable when a human baby is born, especially if it’s the first one in a family. Every one gets driven mad with all the photo’s and is obliged to comment on how beautiful the baby is (even if it’s still covered in afterbirth and is not beautiful at all). But everyone is excited. Who does the child take after? Is it’s mother , father or the grand parents?
Now comes an interesting time as the child is expected to grow. When it begins to crawl, walk, talk and have birthdays they are all notable events.
What happened when the Church was born?
It started out as a mess. Every one failing to understand what was going on. But the promised Holy Spirit knew what the phenomenon was about and who would follow its leadings. The Church quickly spread right across the then known world.
For the next three centuries it would be a persecuted minority, Chased hunted and maltreated throughout the entire Roman Empire.
Observing the average western church in the second millennium of its existence it would seem to be a squabbling bunch of people arguing about correct intellectual dogma. Most meetings became boring liturgies of stark sameness, broken only by an exposed blunder of a leader or two. A well organised lifeless body, a far cry from the exciting chaos of the early Church.
At the beginning of the 20th century there was a recovery of the spiritual nature of the Church. Over the years many of the leaders of the Church had discovered and practised the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the attendant speaking in tongues plus the spiritual gifts mentioned in Acts, First Corinthians 1 & 12 – 14 as well as other places. People such as Martin Luther, john Calvin, John Wesley William Booth were individually involved. The difference now was it was all forged together and promulgated in a new doctrine of “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” The 20th and 21st centuries have brought forth the largest world-wide growth in the Church since the original Pentecost with the largest congregations ever seen, some in the millions, in the third world developing countries.
Unfortunately, some of the western Pentecostal Churches have looked to sociological attributes for growth and the worldly accoutrements of secular society to attract followers instead of the tried spiritual principles of their origins.
THE EARLY CHURCH…
…quickly became like its elder brother Jesus – full of faith.
Right on the heels of Jesus ascension (Acts 1: 9 – 11) and the reality of Pentecost (Acts 2) the early Apostles set to and continued His work (Acts 3).
There was a lame beggar sitting outside the entrance to the Jerusalem Temple endeavouring to make a living by pleading for finance from those passing by (Acts 3: 2). He claimed the attention of the Apostles Peter & John, who exclaimed to him: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God (Vv.6 – 8) When Peter observed the amazed resaction of the people around he responded: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go (Vv. 11 & 12). And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all (v. 16).
In the 11th century it was reputed that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and its principal theologian, Thomas Aquinas stood together in the Vatican Treasury. The Pope declared: “Well now Thomas, no longer can we say ‘silver and gold have I none.’” To which Aquinus replied: “yes, and no longer can we say rise up and walk!”
In stark contravention, while Kim and I were ministering in Indonesia we met Pak Sukiman (pak is a shortened form of bapak which merely means Mr.). Our first meeting occurred while we were pastoring in Solo, Central Java. Pak Suki came into one of our evening services. He was accompanied by a lady. At the close of the meeting the attendant woman slid him out over the tiled floor to the front of the congregation. She explained to Ibu (Mrs) Dina, my assistant pastor/translator, that he had had a stroke and now couldn’t walk or talk but somehow communicated to her that if she could get him to our Church he would be healed. (How he worked out any of this we still do not know). After prayer and the laying on of hands he walked back to his seat under his own power talking to himself as he went. Pak Suki became an active part of our congregation still there when we left Java years later.
Clearly, he knew nothing of the Pope/Aquinas conversation he just trusted the Word of God and The Holy Spirit.
We have been privileged to witness many miracles, wrought by the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, in many places in the world. Eg. India, U.S.A., South America as well as Indonesia and many states of Australia. We must all: –
LEARN TO SPEAK FAITH
Love is a fruit – faith is a gift
God is a faith personality – it’s a part of His nature.
God is our Father — creator of the world – the world was formed by faith.
Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (which is given thru’ grace)
Ephesians 5; 1 “Therefore be imitators of God.”
“Imitator” = mimic – (from Greek µιµιτης). A child mimics its parents. We should mimic Father God as Jesus did.
Jesus said(John 14: 12): “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Believe (Greek: πιστις) = Faith
Believe in Him – NOT believe in belief
Cultivate anointing – hear from your spirit NOT hear from your soul.
I have seen many legs healed here in Australia but not when the person couldn’t walk at all. Not as dramatic as Pak Suki.
Mark 16: 14 – 20 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
If a person doesn’t get healed they are no worse off than they were before.
When I was a small boy, before the advent of television in Australia, I would sometimes hear the noted evangelist, Charles E. Fuller present his radio programme “The Old Time Gospel Hour”. Fuller was a very effective voice for Gospel in America and beyond. To keep his work going and even expand it by using other people, he established “The Charles E. Fuller Evangelistic Association. Eventually he decided that more people should be trained from an earlier age to become evangelists so he commenced The Fuller Theological Seminary. Now, well after his passing, it is the largest interdenominational seminary in the world. The Evangelistic Association and the Seminary are legally independent but associated in the common task of presenting the Gospel to the world.
I had the privilege of studying at Fuller Seminary. At the time, John Wimber was the leader of Fuller Evangelistic association. Thru’ the courtesy of C. Peter Wagner, I had the privilege of sitting in lectures given by John Wimber.
The Fuller Evangelistic Association was a conservative body that ministered to all of the conservative denominations in America. John Wimber was its prime evangelist with access to most of the churches in U.S.A. While carrying out his evangelical duties he was often challenged by the fact that as Jesus ministered to people of his day, He often healed them of their ailments. So Wimber tried to do the same but with no success. No matter how hard he prayed there seemed no result. After 8 months of pursuing this course of action someone was healed; then followed many more healings which now upset his conservative ministry base. Ultimately, Wimber formed his own denomination: “The Vineyard,” still carrying on after his passing.
The moral of the story is if we believe God wants to heal people and we stick at it we will see it happen. If we can learn to pray in the Spirit as a united congregation then the power of God can bring the same healing here. We have already seen it happen in this town before.