Modern Pentecostalism claims to inherit its name from an historical, biblical event known as "the Pentecost". The Pentecost was part of the Jewish feast known as the "Feasts of weeks". It was during these celebrations that the Holy Spirit descended and began Its work within the infant Church. Let us read on Acts 2:1-3:
(1) "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
(2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
(3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them."
It is our intent to offer you, my dear beloved readers, a well-balanced and accurate narrative of the events occurred at Pentecost. In order to achieve this, the beloved readers must take a stand in an objective and unbiased position, free from any dogmatic influence that may undermine our purpose. Our purpose is: To make the crooked straight and to reform the distortion of Pentecostalism.
In the tradition of the Pentecostal bodies, the emphasis is made on the descent of the Holy Spirit and its miracles. Pentecostals claim, "The miracles and signs manifested by the Spirit are that which counts". The things which are emotional, visual, and supernatural entice men through sight, leading them this way astray and away from that which the Lord has granted to us in His great mercy, that is, the Eternal Gospel, which is an indispensable element in order to be able to obtain eternal life.
When speaking of visible signs, we must have prudence as our ally, for Satan succeeded in conquering the man of Eden by luring him through sight: "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes..." (Genesis 3:6). This is still Satan's favorite method of deception: "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).
It is said, and this is true, that there is no other better principle of hermeneutics and parameter than the Gospel. Being the fact that it is the Gospel the beginning and the end of redemption, let us therefore test all things according to God's salvational purpose which is in Christ, that is, to "gather together in one all things in Christ" (Ephesians 1:10). If our statement is in full accordance to the fulfilment of this primary divine purpose, then, we must accept it; but if said statement goes against it, then, we must reject it for it is not from God. By the light of this great purpose is that we will bring forth an accurate analysis of the Bible's Pentecost, and at the same time, we will uncover and refute the Pentecostal perversion of this historical event.
In order for us to discern correctly that which is truly significant and meaningful on Pentecost, it is imperative to take a look back to the past and pay heightened attention to the following facts: Let us see:
God scattered men in Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) in order to avoid them to save themselves through human methods. God achieved this by confusing their languages. Through this, God confounded and dispersed a people which pretended to achieve what is impossible: "Self-salvation".
God promised Israel deliverance, salvation and restoration. These promises were accomplished and fulfilled through the Promised Messiah. Christ is the total and absolute fulfilment of all the promises made to Israel through Abraham: "And we declare to you glad tidings-that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus..." (Acts 13:32-33).
God had promised He would speak to His Israel in other language: "For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people" (Isaiah 28:11).
Let us now continue, by the light of the statements we have already exposed unto you, to bring forth the true interpretation on regards to the Bible's Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit was passed out on the apostles. Notice this important detail: The events at Pentecost are opposite to Babel's. On Pentecost, God used once again the languages, but this time with a different purpose, that is, to gather and not to scatter. At Pentecost, God restored the proper order of things by allowing an efficient form of communication and He also gathered the Jews of the Dispersion (Acts 2:5), fulfilling this way the promises made to Israel: "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). By the way, God fulfilled the prophecy made to Isaiah which foretells that in a strange tongue He will speak to Israel.
The True Meaning of Pentecost
Let us enumerate the most notable events occurred on the Day of Pentecost by the light of Acts chapter 2. Obviously, we must stand out the following events:
The descent of the Holy Spirit
The manifestation of the gift of tongues
Peter's preaching of the Gospel
Now, let us review and analyze these events and then, we will place them in their proper order according to the significance the Holy Word of God gives them:
1) The descent of the Spirit:
The Holy Spirit has been historically acknowledged by the orthodox religions as the Third Person of the Trinity. Christ, speaking to the apostles, foretold and clearly established its function as Guide of the Church. In reference to the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus said:
(8) "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:8)
( 13) "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
(14) He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:13-14)
By the light of these biblical passages, we can conclude that Christ and His work will be the Spirit's constant message. In other words, the Spirit is in charge, as a divine agent, of teaching the Church in regards to the event of Calvary. In regards to this, the Lord says:
(26) "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (John 15:26)
At Pentecost, as soon as the Holy Spirit descended, it began its work as our guide to commend Christ as our only way to attain everlasting life. Notice that this primary work of the Spirit-which is to lead us to Christ-is accomplished the way the Lord foretold. Peter, being directed by the Holy Spirit, reproved the people of their great sin, and later he introduces them to the Anointed King and Lord of Israel as the only true way through which all men receive forgiveness, and as a result, acquittal and everlasting life (Be sure to read Acts 2:32-40).
Being the fact that the Holy Spirit is wrongly used by Pentecostalism to promote their counterfeited miracles and wonders, we are compelled to bring forth the following explanation: The only true way to acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit, is not through miracles and wonders, but through the preaching of the Gospel (the acts of Jesus). Remember that the Scripture warns us that the spirit of Satan will be identify with deceiving miracles and signs, as clearly and explicitly declared on Revelation 13:13-14 and Matthew 7:22-23. Let us read:
(13) "He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
(14) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do..." (Revelation 13:13-14)
(22) "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?
(23) And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:22-23)
However, Satan can never preach the Eternal Gospel, for such action goes against his evil goals. Therefore, by his words we fully recognize him and uncover his pretensions; let us read on Revelation 13:11 :
(11) "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon."
In conclusion, the presence of the Holy Spirit can only be verified without error through the Eternal Gospel. The apostle Paul clearly speaks on this matter: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9)-[the emphasis made on these verses is ours]. However, by saying it twice, the apostle is also calling our attention to that point. The Holy Spirit, more than a miraculous agent, which it is indeed, is the teaching agent of the Gospel.
2) The Manifestation of the Gift of Tongues:
Three things were accomplished through the gift of tongues:
The prophecy of Isaiah 28:11 was fulfilled.
The promises made to Israel were proclaimed and spread (Be sure to read Acts 2:39-41).
The tongues were an evidence of God's acceptance
of the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-47).
By the light of what we have already mentioned, we can surely conclude that the tongues fulfilled the following goals:
To communicate to the offspring the fulfilment of the promise made to their parents.
To confirm the Gentiles as legitimate members of the nation of God and fellow-participants of the promise made to Abraham.
Both goals were fully met by means of the "gift of tongues"-which was at that moment necessary, but never meant to be a permanent gift. We must be sober and see the close relationship the Word establishes between the tongues and the Gospel. It is imperative to do these things, for it is the Gospel that which determines whether a gift is from God and works on behalf of God's plan of redemption or not. If the tongues speak with intelligible sound (that is, they proclaim the Gospel), the such come from God; but if said tongues give an uncertain call (its preaching has nothing to do with the Gospel), let it be condemned!
The great truth is that when the Church was born, there were special and distinctive circumstances that made more than necessary and justifiable this gift of tongues. Such circumstances were:
The fact that most apostles were illiterate, with no academic degree (they were not polyglots).
Jews (the sons) came from every country under heaven with their respective dialects.
The need to announce God's acceptance to the Gentiles.
However Paul indicates that the gift of tongues was meant to disappear in this age. History confirmed Paul's statement, as written on 1 Corinthians 13:8, "...whether there are tongues, they will cease..." It is logical to conclude that the given gifts will cease after the necessary circumstances which made them useful ceases also. In order to summarize some ground covered on regards to the gift of tongues, we will emphasize the fact that such gift was a mean through which other things were also accomplished, but in no way does this mean that the gift is an end in itself-as Pentecostalism pretends to establish.
3) Peter's preaching of the Gospel:
On Pentecost, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's primary function is to teach the Gospel (or to bring forth the knowledge of the Gospel) to the potential Church members. Peter, in accordance to this purpose, preached the simplest, most eloquent and efficient evangelical sermon ever proclaimed. This brief preaching was so effective and successful that 3,000 souls were added to the Church in that day (Acts 2:41).
It is necessary to notice this important detail: Peter did not preach a testimony about a personal change in his life- as done in today's Pentecostal circles-on the contrary, Peter, in full harmony and accordance to God's (therefore, the Spirit's) purpose, proclaimed the wonderful works of God in Christ. By doing this, the apostle brought forth to Israel deliverance, salvation and redemption. The Gentiles, who were also listening, joined God's Israel.
Peter did not preach about personal high-powered ecstatic experiences of bodily sensations that would make him twist and jump under the mesmerizing influence of the Spirit, as claimed by Pentecostalism. This is the evident implication: The Holy Spirit, inspiring us in an extraordinarily mysterious way, allows us to comprehend the Gospel, but It will never seize or possess us by introducing itself into our bodies. It is, therefore, necessary to suspect of that seizing spirit which is now infesting the Church in our days.
The Biblical Order
When taking upon consideration how significant were the events occurred at Pentecost: First, we must be careful of not altering the specific proper arrangement of things the Word has established. We are not allowed to alter or distort reality to an extent as to exalt or emphasize on that which was intended to be just a mean or medium-as it is the case of the gift of tongues. This distortion is one of the ways to obstruct and hinder God's purpose. He who supports such misinterpretation is a heretic.
What is truly important about the day of the Pentecost is the preaching of the glorious Gospel through which God restored Israel, which is also home for the Gentiles. At Pentecost begins "the Age of the Spirit" as the educator and guide of the Church, which allow us to know our salvation in Christ (and all its implications). The signs and wonders manifested at Pentecost are not a qualified evidence that this is the Spirit's permanent "modus operandi". The Bible is clear: The only qualified sign of the Spirit is the presence and action of the Gospel. As noted earlier, these secondary signs appeared due to the given circumstances at the time.
Salvation is never attained by the Spirit's doings but by Christ's. The Holy Spirit's marvelous work does not consist of speaking in tongues or performing temporary healings, but to lead us to believe and trust on God's work in Christ on our behalf-that is, to bring forth the glad tidings that in Christ the original order which was in Eden was reestablished, and that the old things have passed away in God's eyes.
Now, let us establish by the light of everything we have exposed unto you, the proper biblical order of the events occurred at Pentecost:
God's purpose was achieved to "gather together in one all things in Christ" through the Gospel.
The promise about the Holy Spirit acting as the teaching agent of the Church and as a powerful vicar of Christ, was realized.
The tongues' temporary commitment of making possible God's purpose was accomplished. This is-and there is no other-the true primary goal of the Bible's Pentecost.
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