As an aspiring, young Bible school graduate, I went on to serve in the New York District of the Assemblies of God, one of the denominations which sparked from the Azusa Street Revival 100 years ago.
One of the sixteen “fundamental truths” boldly proclaimed by the Pentecostal movement is an experience that we were told is for all believers in Christ. With this experience, the Church would begin to see the same thing that the disciples did on the day of Pentecost, as in stated in Acts 2:43, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.”
This took place 2000 years ago because they received what had been promised by the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 24:49, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
For over eight years in full-time ministry, five of which were spent pastoring an Assemblies of God congregation, I thought that this promised gift of “power from on high” was specifically for the personal benefit of every individual believer, helping them to overcome evil and be strengthened in the Spirit. But for years I overlooked what Luke said in the next verses of Acts 2, right after he spoke of the initial result of the apostles receiving that power from on high and the fullness of the Holy Spirit:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Acts 2:44-47)
Now that must have taken power from on high — to be living together every day, sharing and gladly giving so that every need was met, and continually caring for and forgiving each other? Wow! Was this what we were experiencing in our congregation, along with all of our speaking in tongues? No. But wasn't it what we should have been experiencing, if we had truly received power from on high? Absolutely! But instead we lived our daily lives much the same as the unbelievers do, working to make our own living (some with their mortgages paid off and others not knowing where the rent was coming from each month). This totally goes against what Jesus directed his disciples:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
But besides that, please consider a much more important issue to the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you received the Holy Spirit with the evidence that you are living a life of loving your brothers and sisters, by laying down your life every day, as they began to do on the day of Pentecost?
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:16-17)
I am eternally grateful to have found true disciples that possessed this primary evidence of receiving power from on high as our Lord promised. Only then can He return for the people He gave up everything for:
… while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:13-14)
The blessed hope of Him splitting the skies to return can never happen apart from Him having a bride1 who is making herself ready by giving herself to the purifying fire of the common life His Holy Spirit established in Acts 2, where many were being added to their number daily because they were truly being saved. This process of being saved can only take place through living the life of love that results from receiving His power from on high.
This common life of love is the evidence that demands a verdict. Historical facts alone about the life of Jesus Christ can never, in and of themselves, demand a verdict that makes the world accountable, but the Holy Spirit longs to be able to convict the world through the veritable evidence of His people living out the unity for which our Master Yahshua2 fervently prayed to His Father.3 He promised the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to obey His commandments, loving one another as He had loved them, by laying down their lives for each other every day.4 Only this would provide the authenticity of their discipleship to the world, the real evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit and what He produces.
This same life is now emerging once again on the earth. After being disappointed for years by my experiences in the Pentecostal movement, I am so grateful to have personally encountered the real evidence of the same common life that began on the Day of Pentecost, almost 2000 years ago — a daily life of love and forgiveness among His gathered people. We have been together now for over 35 years, growing from one little household of wholehearted disciples into a tightly knit network of communities in the United States, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, England, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. In every place we live together, work together, worship together, and share all things in common just as the early disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2 and 4.
Come and see for yourself. If you're truly willing to do His will, you won't be disappointed.