A Pentecost to Remember.
Many are learning to keep the commanded & Biblical Pentecost for the first time, having heard and believed the true Gospel and there will be some again this year, having only learned some of the truth of God’s ways recently and have come into the realm of the COG. Looking at the title of this article and as Pentecost for 2018 approaches; giving that some thought, I am sure that for every true Christian, (One being properly Baptized upon genuine repentance and having the Holy Spirit now leading them) there has been one or more Pentecost’s in the past that have stood out in the memory, at least more than others. Every Pentecost is a memorial and a milestone for us today of course, as it sets the true convert one year closer to the return of Christ, and being a potential first fruit with Him and the dead in Christ, in the first resurrection. However, I do not mean that to be taken as if Christ would return on Pentecost. Some have resorted to teaching this in the last few decades, since the death of HWA. (Coming up with several of their own reasoning’s from their own private interpretations) Christ coming portrayed by Pentecost is a false teaching, (not of true Christianity and it’s doctrines,—1John 2:19—requiring focus and belief) and this teaching takes several passages out of their proper context to arrive at that conclusion, therefore having no real Scriptural support.
But now, if you have been around or in the COG long enough, having seen many Pentecost days come and go, you may even remember a time back in the 20th century when Pentecost was being kept on Monday! HWA had come to believe and taught that in the past, but came to see through council with others that it was in error and corrected that teaching, but he never understood or taught, that I am aware of, Christ would return on Pentecost. He could find no real scriptural support for any such a teaching in all of his studies and as God was revealing the steps to his master plan. Many Scriptures rightly point to Trumpets as a type of that event. I will not get into those, lest I get off track, wanting to stay focused on A Pentecost to Remember; the subject at hand. Without the Pentecost step of 31 AD, and the help of the Holy Spirit, there would be no way for any of us to move forward after accepting Christ as our Passover and then trying to come out of sin, which the days of UNLB picture. The Holy Spirit is the power that helps in time of need and opens the mind to truth.
My first Pentecost ever, and with the COG was in 1974, when Pentecost was changed for the first time in about 35 years, to the right day according to the counting method that was already so clear to me in Scripture. It was clear simply because I believed it without question or any apparent deviation from Scripture by what some man had previously taught. (No disrespected intended--Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men.” NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted.) That was also a memorable Pentecost (1974) for many of that time, in the COG. Being my first Pentecost and the fact that I was new in learning and believing truth from Scripture, it was easy for me to see how Pentecost should always be on a Sunday. It was very memorable and quite shocking for me to also learn of the COG not previously keeping it on Sunday. (See “Counting to Pentecost” for more, as well as the study on “Wave Sheaf Day”, which are very thorough.)
But enough about my first and personally most memorable day of Pentecost; what about you and your experiences or even all who have gone on before? In fact, let us go all the way back to that Pentecost in 31 AD, when the Holy Spirit was first poured out and the NT COG began. How exciting that should be for us and must have been for the few Disciples of Christ, (120-Acts 1:15) plus the thousands of witnesses gathered there that day. Let us take a closer look at the Scriptures and what they record about that day, gleaning out some specific details. Were those there that day (Sunday on the Julian calendar) all there for Pentecost, as most assume? No. When we are honest with ourselves and Scripture, knowing Christ had already admonished the disciples to beware of “The leaven or doctrines of Pharisees & Sadducees”; (Matt.16:6, 11) the Disciples of Christ were there on the right day for the right reason, but many others were not. That would make this day even more memorable for the few that were and the many that were not, for several reasons. What do I mean by this?
Going back to the “leaven of the Pharisees” and the teachings they observed; it is no secret to the many (Even those few disciples of Christ who had kept Pentecost with Him at least three other times before) that the Pharisees were counting Pentecost differently than Christ did! They kept it on a different day (most of the time) and many still do. This has also gotten others in modern day to get off in their thinking and counting. You see, that counting for them had become a tradition at some point in history that begins right after, or with the first day after, the first Holy Day Sabbath. (Being on Friday that year) It was not the day after the weekly Sabbath during the days of UNLB, as Scripture declares; saying “seven Sabbaths” was to be complete. Remember, Christ’s own words say in Matt 15:3 "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” Which tradition was He speaking of and could that word have been meant in the plural, applying to more than one thing? Now add this to that statement as a little more detail; Mark 7:13—“making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. (So, this “tradition” was passed down from generation to generation from of old, but note this last sentence which could also include their wrong approach and counting for Pentecost being a part of their “leaven or doctrine”.) “And many such things you do.” The doctrine of counting for Pentecost from the day after the first Holy Day of UNLB is a doctrine of the Pharisees that Christ condemned, along with their many other traditions. That method puts one with no actual need to count, as it will always be on the third month and sixth day, or Sivan 6; their traditional day of Pentecost. That came on Friday in 31 AD and many were there for that day, but had not yet left in travel because of the weekly Sabbath right after it. The COG organizations today do not bring this out (at least I have never heard it) but anyone who does the research can prove this out and I encourage you to do so.
Let us also remember that Christ spoke to the disciples just a few days before this event of true Pentecost and reminded them of something else. The disciples were not with all the others to observe that day of Pentecost, as you may recall, but were where Christ told them to be and on the day He told them of. (Acts 1:4-6 "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." They went back to the upper room, where they had kept Passover with Christ, (Acts1:13) and on Pentecost that morning, Scripture says they were all together in a “house”. (This could be implicating the temple or just the place where only they were congregated, and the latter seems to be the case.) Let us focus on another scene of this event for them and all other witnesses; a most memorable occasion indeed! Thinking back to John the Baptist, as Christ had mentioned and we just read, had stated something more about baptism that they most assuredly were also reminded of by Christ’s words and again that morning.
Back to the scene when John was baptizing in the Jordan river, some of these Pharisees, along with Sadducees were seen coming to the baptism, which prompted John to make this observation and comment; Matt 3:7-9 “But when he (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.'”
In other words; “don’t think you are going to ride into the kingdom on the coat-tails of those who were obedient and faithful, just because you are descended from them. You need to show your own repentance and fruits of it!” Then He told them this, as something to look forward to; Matt 3:11 John said “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize (a singular word) you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (The laying on of Hands ceremony to receive the Holy Spirit through the ministry, comes on the heels of baptism today)
Luke 3 gives some more detail to this incident, and many other things could be explained here about the assumed beliefs of the protestant belief of “Baptism of fire” but that is not my subject in this article. Many of those ideas are just ideas of men and based on private interpretation of Scripture. (Yes, this leaven of the Pharisees (private interpretation of Scripture) is still going on today and some in the differing COG groups may have gotten caught up in it on a few things as well!) The COG has been affected by various assumptions from time to time (without thorough thought process) and many have their own teaching in several areas, some of which does not match the intent of Scripture, when actually searched out. But again, that is a subject for another time.)
The fact that some of those individuals that heard this from John were most likely in the audience on Pentecost in 31 AD is something to weigh in your mind, as you read of this account. Some religious “groups” of Christ’s time, according to their tradition—based on their own private interpretation, had already kept what they thought was Pentecost, nothing this spectacular happening; but now THIS was going on!! (Acts 2:12 “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?")
There are many things to think about here, but one thing is sure by Peter’s sermon on that day, and these events just prior to it; many of the crowd was very confused and bewildered by these events they witnessed! They probably began to think back on the past few years leading up to this and what had transpired under Christ’s leadership. They knew that Christ and the religious establishments of their day were at odds on several things. Along with many other things, John’s statement must have come rushing back to some of their minds, as they witnessed the fire on the apostle’s heads and the speaking in tongues that came, evidence that the prophesied Holy Spirit had just came to only Christ’s disciples, and on that day! Many of them became believers on that day and came to know, through preaching and Peter’s sermon, they had ignored the truth all those years, even after seeing and hearing it, along with many miracles from Christ. They may have even cried out in the crowd for the crucifixion of the true Messiah, having just now realized it as Peter preached, what they had done! Now this was to them a Pentecost to remember; one that changed their lives forever as it has been for nearly two millennia now, for everyone else who is convicted and believes the truth!
We should be remembering this Pentecost and it is read about all over the world by the true servants of God—will be again, in just a few days from this writing. But how deeply do we think about the meaning in God’s plan, the many details of and about this early event; the clear and not so clear and how interconnected they are with other things of Scripture that we hardly ever think of as being connected? Though some do understand rightly that the “fire” John spoke of does come with the Holy Spirit, and it is not a separate “Baptism” as many assume and teach. (Think about this as you read those words in Scripture)
For example, have we who have witnessed the lay-on-of-hands ceremony many times over the years, ever seen fire dancing on someone’s head who may have just received the Holy Spirit? I never have—but that had to be fulfilled. Did they, just being baptized, immediately start speaking in another language? NO. Do we think about who actually gets to receive the Spirit, and why?—what it takes to really be a willing follower of Christ (Mark 8:35) and just how many REALLY are first fruits among the many COG congregations around the world today? What about the 144,000 and what little Scripture reveals of them?—then there is the various teachings, belief’s and ideas on THAT subject! Are these things properly taught by the various leaderships of various “groups” and on & on the questions could go! (You know you have some of them!) But not to be dismayed; we must learn that we can always trust the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth. That is what the Holy Spirit does! It will not lead us in error and contrary to Scriptural teaching and intent.
But again, there is one thing for sure and that we could all agree on, if we only would; Pentecost of 31 AD was most definitely a Pentecost to remember and definitely should be, as it is in Scripture for us and a major step in God’s plan! Everyone who is really converted may have their most memorable Pentecost’s, as I do and rightly so. But the Pentecost of 31 AD should be remembered by everyone every year and to count for it just like we are told in Scripture! Learning all we can about it year by year, from connecting Scripture and the many details we are given in the Bible, along with the truth of history, can be very exciting! (Not to add anything that cannot be proven or take away anything that can be proven) It is worth sharing with other believers in right fellowship, who let the Holy Spirit guide them into all truth! (John 16:13, saying; “However, when -- the Spirit of truth has come, He (IT) will guide you into all truth;”
This passage just read is one that can make ANY day of Pentecost even more important to us all, EASY TO REMEMBER as we all need and rely on the Holy Spirit working in our minds, (1Cor.2:9-14) and all it takes is simple belief, eagerness to learn while letting the Spirit lead, along with regular Bible study! Division is existent in the COG realm today because of the lukewarm compromising and “Leaven of the Pharisees & Sadducees” in differing organizations, which will have to be repented of! (Rev.3:14-21—see “Laodicea” for more)
I hope this 2018 Pentecost is a memorable one for you and that your learning is increased with the Spirit of God working with and in your mind, helping you grow as a part of the Spiritual Organism that is the one body, the true first fruits are all placed in, when chosen!
(Written by the editor of TCOGMSO)