Monday, October 28, 2013

TRUE PENTECOST by Gary Wilkerson

In Acts 11, we read of a historic change in the church that came through unnamed, Spirit-empowered believers. These were the first to take the good news of Jesus beyond the barriers of Judaism to the Gentiles: “There were some of them . . . who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20). I love the phrase “some of them” used here. These faithful, unnamed believers had no idea of the crucial part they played in history.

Pentecost isn’t just an event that occurred 2,000 years ago but a living phenomenon still happening around the world. Somewhere at this moment small groups of people are crying out to God—and His Spirit is falling on them, empowering them to be His witnesses to an unsaved world.

Pentecost is happening right now in Varanasi, a city in northern India I visited not long ago. Less than one percent of the population had been churched when a young Christian woman arrived there a few years ago. She began leading people to Jesus one by one, and those converts began leading others to the Lord. This young woman didn’t keep Pentecost to herself and now there are thousands of dynamic believers in the region with a powerful witness for Christ. There are others just like her all over the world—Christians who cry out to the Spirit to take the Father’s love further.

On several occasions my father, David Wilkerson, told me about what grieved him most when he pastored a small Pennsylvania church in the 1950s. It was a Pentecostal church, so the services followed a certain course. Sister So-and-So played the organ and the congregation sang some traditional songs. Someone stood up and delivered a message in tongues, followed by another who provided the interpretation. Dad then preached. Afterward, he offered a prayer and people came to the altar crying for the Holy Spirit to come down. Then everyone went home.

This church had no outreach, no ministry of mercy. Very few people were brought to Christ during the few years my father pastored there. These were Christians who sought Pentecost for themselves but never knew the Pentecost God had in mind for them. My father’s heartbroken prayer said it all: “Lord, if this is Pentecost, I don’t want it. If it’s about having a ‘bless me’ club week after week, I’ll have nothing to do with it.”

It was out of his desire for true Pentecost that Dad stopped watching television and spent time praying instead. The rest is history. These decades later, his book The Cross and the Switchblade has sold multiple millions, with over 1,000 Teen Challenge Centers around the world working to rescue the lost and broken. All of these works proclaim God’s active power today through the Holy Spirit.