Why Doesn’t the Church Understand Pentecost?

devotional thought of the day….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

14  But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15  As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” 16  At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17  Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18  ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? 19  When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. 20  “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. 21  “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them. Mark 8:14-21 (NLT)

298 The faithfulness—in the service of God and souls—which I always ask you for, is not the easy type of enthusiasm. It is the enthusiasm you can acquire in the middle of the street, when you see how much there is to be done everywhere.  (1)

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the day when the church celebrates. Unfortunately what it often celebrates is the past, the anniversary of the events nearly 2000 years ago.  The Birthday of the Church some call it.  While this is true, I think that when we focus on just the event of Pentecost, isolated apart from the daily life of the church, we end up hyper-focusing like the apostles, and we miss the point of the celebration. We also don’t understand Pentecost when we reduce Pentecost to a focus on any gift, or make the case that the gifts are still operative or God the Father has directed the Holy Spirit to cease it’s work. Pentecost is not the time to argue the pros and cons of Pentecostalism, or the Charismatic movement.  Yes miracles happened, and we can argue until we turn blue about whether they still do,

When we focus in either way, we lose sight of what Pentecost is, as if we are focusing on the lack of food, and who is to blame for what is, or isn’t happening.  We go from trusting in God, to studying why we trust Him.  We go from loving God to theology, we go from experiencing is presence (what happened on Pentecost) to celebrating that the church once did know God’s presence.

I am probably stepping on toes here.  Heck I am doing the unique trick of stepping on my own toes, or at least the way I’ve talked about Pentecost in the past.  All those errors above, I’ve made them, I’ve lived them.

But Pentecost is not the past, what happened on that day hasn’t stopped happening, the work of the Holy Spirit is still going on today, this Feast, this celebration has never stopped.

The Holy Spirit is still bringing people to hear God’s promises, He is still working through those of us called into a relationship with Jesus, the same way He was working through the apostles and those that worked alongside them.  (remember there wasn’t 12 gathered, there was 120!) THe Holy Spirit is still revealing the work of Christ, and that every promise of God is fulfilled, that Christ died, rose and will come again. Pentecost is that time that St. Josemaria describes, when enthusiasm doesn’t come easy, but it comes from being in the street, seeing the work that needs to be done, and knowing the Holy Spirit is doing that work, through us.

The Holy Spirit is still cutting open man’s hearts, and replacing them with living hearts, He is still baptizing people and granting them repentance, The Holy Spirit is still a gift, living and active in each of us that trusts in Christ, a promise to our children as well – and to every person that is far from God, through us.

The Holy Spirit is at work, revealing that we are the people of God…. revealing how deep the love of God for us in Christ., revealing how the hope we have is the hope for this world.  Hope for Ethiopian Eunuchs and the person we are sitting next to at Starbucks.  Hope for the Ethiopian Jailer and the police officer that drives through our town, for people like Lydia, the seller of purple cloth, and the supermarket clerk.

We need to be people who don’t just celebrate Pentecost as a feast of the past, we need to be people who live in the reality of Pentecost, who are the ones who the Spirit is working on, or working in and through.  For this is the life we have been raised into, in Christ.

May we see thousands baptized into Christ in the days ahead, as we treasure this Pentecost, this outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His people!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1429-1431). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.



About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on June 7, 2014, in Devotions, The Furrow and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Well done Dustin.I like the way you write and pierce it together. Btw, Why do you think the church doesn’t understand Pentecost?

    • Craig,
      The easy answer is sin, but not the sin of commission, as much as omission. We fail to seek Christ, distracted by the world, or by worldly cares.
      In this day, theologians would rather study God, rather than engage in the relationship with Him. (this includes Pentacostal theologians Btw) We want to know how to be in control, to make God work for us.

      • I agree with your statement fully. I believe that a lot of pentecostalism has moved into a form of witchcraft. Name it claim it, mantras, spells and rub the bottle for the genie to do our requests. I fully believe God answers prayers, and he wants us to pray. But, he wants us to pray in relationship with him, for his glory to be manifest throughout his creation.

        On the reverse side of the coin, there are those who believe God is dead. He has no real interest in his creation. The Bible is a mythical book which has some good moral influence to draw from.

        May we all truly experience a true pentecost in knowing the living king.

  2. Craig –
    Exactly, the half empty/half full people discuss the gifts of the Spirit (or the lack thereof) ad nauseum, yet what is not seen or celebrated is the presence of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of the Holy Spirit through us.

    We don’t get the miraculous, whether it be a healing, or a baptism. Whether it being a saint dying in peace that leaves us in awe, or a child sharing their faith. Or even the gift of “administration”, or mercy. These two are miraculous things, not because they happen, but because they happen as we walk in Christ.

I love to know your thoughts on this... please respond!

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