7 Bible Verses to Celebrate Pentecost

It’s time to wish the church “Happy Birthday!”

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Posted in , May 23, 2022

Rick Hamlin

One spring Sunday, when I was living in Europe, a French friend startled me by wishing me (in French), “Happy Pentecost!” It wasn’t that I misunderstood her—I knew enough French—but I couldn’t imagine anyone saying the same thing back home.

“Happy Pentecost!” Why did we never greet each other like that in English, sharing the good news the way we did with Christmas and Easter? That’s too bad, I thought. Because Pentecost is a holiday that deserves much celebration. It’s often thought of as the birthday of the church (more on that). Let’s look at the Biblical record:

1)  When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1) Jesus had ascended into heaven and His followers were trying to figure out what was next. What did they do? They gathered “together in one place.” Things can happen when believers congregate.

2)  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2) God is big, beyond our comprehension. Just when we think we have figured things out, we can be startled out of our boots!

3)  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. (Acts 2:3) Not just the ability to speak a foreign language but a visual symbol as well, “tongues, as of fire.” I’ll never forget the Sunday when the preacher, in his enthusiasm, suggested we eat special foods to honor Pentecost. “Shall we eat tongue?” whispered a friend. A Pentecost birthday cake!

4)  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:4) Take note that in their humility, the disciples gave credit where credit was due. Their linguistic powers were heaven-sent.

5)  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?” (Acts 2:7-8) As the poet W.H. Auden pointed out, the astounding gifts of Pentecost weren’t just in speech but also in understanding. Isn’t that precisely where we could all use the Spirit’s help?

6)  Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) Pentecost means “50,” coming as it did 50 days after Easter. Back then, on Good Friday, Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Not now. Not going forward. He can offer the gifts of the Holy Spirit because he has received them. He changed like we, too, can be changed.

7)  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) It happened just as Jesus predicted, and it continues to this day. No wonder that French friend could say, “Happy Pentecost!” It’s like wishing a happy birthday to the church.

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