Have you ever wondered why the initial effect of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was speaking in other tongues? Could it have been that God had something really important to say to the multi-national crowd who were gathered for the festival?
It is clear from the account in Acts 2:4-11 that the disciples were not just babbling incoherently, for men from many countries heard “the wonderful works of God” being expressed in their own native languages. Indeed, the most wonderful work of God had just happened, and only a handful of uneducated Jews could tell of it, so the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them to “be His witnesses in Jerusalem,” just as their Master had said in His very last words to them:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
It was only fitting that the Holy Spirit would empower them that day to speak in languages they had never learned, so that the thousands of visitors from other countries could hear and fully comprehend the Good News. But an even greater miracle was soon to follow, as seen in their response to the message they heard that day. And it wasn’t only the fact that 3000 men were pierced to the heart and cried out to be saved…
THE GREATEST MIRACLE WAS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!
All those who believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
There is no greater demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power than a people actually living together in unity, willingly sharing all they have so that everyone’s needs are met. It actually says that all who believed were together, and all were of one heart and soul, and not one person was overlooked or neglected. It was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s original intention for His people, that “there will be no poor among you,”1 and that they will have “one heart and one way.”2 That is truly what “abundant grace” produces, and that is the true “witness to the resurrection” — the evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Helper to empower His disciples to remember and to do all that He commanded them:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
It was clear that the Helper was helping those first disciples, not just to speak in other tongues, but to make disciples out of those who heard, teaching them to obey everything the Master had taught them,3 beginning with the total surrender of their lives. Just as Peter and the other disciples had given up everything to follow Him in obedience to the gospel,4 so did those who received their word. And it was only those who obeyed the gospel who received the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Peter explained to the religious leaders in Jerusalem who were disturbed by the miracles that were taking place:
And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:32)
Obviously, the Holy Spirit had poured His love into their hearts,5 for they were now able to love one another just as the Master had loved them. They had received the greatest gift so that they could obey the greatest commandment and thereby fulfill the greatest longing of God’s heart:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
For He has always desired a people who would truly represent Him on the earth, making His name great6 by demonstrating His love in their self-sacrificing care for one another, and expressing His oneness in their self-denying unity. After all, that is what His only begotten Son prayed for on the eve of His death:
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23)
What degree of unity is there between the Father and the Son? Do they have doctrinal differences? Do they agree to disagree? Is one rich and the other poor? Or do they share all things in common?7 Don’t they have one heart and one way?
So if the Spirit of the Father and the Son is poured out in and upon those who are saved, what should be the effect? Well, what happened in the beginning? Was it a mistake? Was it only for back then? Shall we shrug our shoulders and resign ourselves to the obvious division and economic disparity among Christians today? “It’s just man’s sinful nature; it won’t change until Jesus comes back.” But what about the Apostle Paul’s conclusion:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5, NIV)
What then does the Spirit desire? We believe that He desires exactly what the Father and the Son desire: a virgin bride,8 without spot or wrinkle, made ready for her Bridegroom.9 We know that the Bridegroom will not come until His bride has made herself ready.10 That is why she needs the Helper, and the gifts and grace He gives, in order to purify herself11 and grow to full stature, becoming compatible with Him in every way, so that He can return for His bride. In fact, that is why the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given,12 and the greatest of these is Love.13
Love is not a feeling or a concept. Love is laying down your life for the object of your love. Love produces community because Love loves to love others. Love produces unity because love is not proud. Those who love one another live together in unity. They are the embodiment of Love. They are the body of the One who is Love. He laid down His life for them, so they lay down their lives for one another — every single day.14 And that is exactly how His body, His bride, is formed and perfected:
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Just as it did on the Day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago, the true outpouring of the Holy Spirit will always produce the fruit of love — a people who dwell together in unity, loving one another as their Master loved them. What else could adequately express the heart of the One whose Spirit fills them? Who else could reasonably hope to be called His bride? For that, indeed, is our hope, and we hope you will come and see why we have this hope. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”15