Pentecost is not just a date on the calendar.
It’s a opportunity to be renewed in Christ.
By Presiding Bishop Doug Beacham
May 2013 (When Bishop Doug Beacham wrote this message)
May is an exciting time as students graduate, young couples prepare for summer weddings, and in the United States, people remember their mothers.
But it’s also an exciting time for those attuned to the New Testament message. This year, both the Ascension and Pentecost are celebrated in May.
Oddly, many Pentecostals do not place much emphasis on either of these days. I can understand why we might not know as much about the Ascension, but Pentecost? Thankfully there is a growing chorus across the Pentecostal/Charismatic community calling us to a greater Biblical awareness of Pentecost.
I think of the IPHC emphasis at www.iphc.org/gso on the IPHC 7 Core Values leading to Pentecost Sunday. Empowered 21 reveals a major emphasis at www.empowered21.com. I encourage you to explore both these resources. But before you click to those websites, let’s explore a little more about the Ascension and Pentecost.
The Ascension tells of the close of the 40 days that the risen Jesus met with His disciples following His resurrection (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:7-20; Luke 24:13-53; John 20:11–21:25; Acts 1:1-11). We know from 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 that Jesus appeared not only to the Twelve, the women, and the Apostle Paul during those days, but also to more than 500 at one time.
In those 40 days Jesus taught His disciples “things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Thus, His Ascension on the 40th day was His enthronement at the right hand of the Father as the faithful Son of God and as the true Ruler of the universe. His Ascension meant that He had taken His place as our Intercessor before the Father (Romans 8:34). The Ascension meant that the stage was set for the Holy Spirit to be sent 10 days later at Pentecost. The Ascension meant that Ephesians 4:8-16 was fulfilled through Christ’s victory over death and sin.
This year Ascension is on Thursday, May 9, but most Christians celebrate it on Sunday, May 12. I encourage you to take time between May 9 and May 12 to read the Scripture passages referenced earlier. Use this time to reflect on the victory and hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Pentecost is on Sunday, May 19. It marks the Old Testament Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) and is referenced in Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26; and Deuteronomy 16:10. Because it was held 50 days following Passover, Hellenistic Jews referred to it as “Pentecost,” the Greek for “fiftieth.” In Jewish tradition it was also the day when the Law was given to Moses at Sinai.
Acts 2:1-4 is the primary description of what occurred on the Day of Pentecost following Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. It’s important to note the preparation for Pentecost described in Acts 1.
First, these men and women (120 in the upper room that first Christian Pentecost) had been with the risen Lord for 40 days and had a greater understanding of Him and His mission. When a Man raised from the dead told you to go and pray for 10 days, you did it! They worshiped and prayed as they began to realize the cosmic dimensions of His life and mission (Acts 1:14).
Second, they took time to deal with some business (Acts 1:15-26). They had to replace the betrayer Judas and had to do it according to Biblical mandate. Through their worship and prayer they gained insight into the importance of divine order and structure.
Third, they were “in one accord in one place.” They were faithful to be spiritually holy before the Lord and one another. They were not told what would occur when the Holy Spirit came. But they knew what Jesus had taught them about the Holy Spirit.
I am praying that this May will be a transforming time for the global IPHC family and Christian family. I am convinced that Ascension and Pentecost remind us of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the reality of His Kingdom on this earth. This is significant as we live with hope in a world dominated by global terror, injustice and confusion. Jesus Christ really is the Lord!
1. There are IPHC congregations in Eastern Europe that follow the Orthodox calendar. Thus, Easter for these churches is May 4, Ascension is June 13, and Pentecost is June 23.