Pentecost2017: Encountering the Holy Spirit in a Pre-Christian Age

Many Christians today don’t seem to know the Holy Spirit nor His power.

By Deacon Keith Fournier Published on June 4, 2017

In “Pentecost2017,” Stream editors have shared personal stories of the ways their fellow believers have changed their lives. Here senior contributor Deacon Keith Fournier reflects on the baptism in the Holy Spirit that makes Christians the sort of people who can change other peoples’ lives.

On the first Pentecost, the early Christians received and manifested the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Baptized in the Holy Spirit, they changed the world. They went from being a frightened group to a band of brothers and sisters who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Yet many Christians today don’t seem to know the Holy Spirit nor His power.

The Disciples at Ephesus

The situation reminds me of Chapter 19 of Acts. It begins While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.Pentecost Logo Generic Ad Large - 400 He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They answered him, ‘We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 19: 1, 2)

Too often we act as though we did not realize there even is a Holy Spirit. Yet, there is.

And the Spirit is still pouring out gifts on the Body. Still making it possible for us to do the works of Jesus. He explained to us that is why he returned to the Father, to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:12-14). Can we live this kind of transformed Christian life in the stuff of our own daily lives? Yes, by living them in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am one of thousands whose life was changed by an encounter with the Holy Spirit decades ago. It was such an encounter with the Holy Spirit which led me home to the Catholic Church into which I was baptized as a child. The same Holy Spirit leads me to work with other Christians, across confessional lines, in evangelistic and culture-engaging missionary efforts.

Encountering the Holy Spirit

I am old enough to remember when those who had such an encounter in my Church were called “Pentecostal Catholics.” That was before the term “Charismatic” took prominence. Frankly, I do not care for any adjectival description. I am a Christian. I stand by choice in the heart of the Catholic Church, reaching out, with all Christians, into an age which needs to hear the Good News.

Sometimes, people ask me, all these years later, when they hear of my earlier identification with that movement, “What Happened to those Pentecostal/Charismatic Catholics?” I guess my life is one of many answers to that question.

My hunger for more of God and my passionate love for the Word of God, led me to continued theological studies and ordination. My heart for evangelization led me to assist in ministries and works in which I have been involved for decades.

I am often asked if I still believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for Christians today? You bet I do! I know they are. What are these gifts? Paul tells us they include wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits and the gift of tongues. (I Cor. 12).

These gifts still empower the Church for mission. In the same passage, Paul tells us the Father gives them to the Body of Christ “for the common good.” The Holy Spirit also helps us manifest the character of Jesus Christ as we grow in fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22, 23).

My experience was not about joining a movement. It was about a new way of living in the Lord. Like the early believers in the Upper Room, I was immersed in the Holy Spirit, in the Church — for the sake of the world. I do not identify with a movement, I identify with the Lord Jesus Christ. He has been raised from the dead. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on His Body, of which I am a member, and He is the Head.

New Missionary Age

What does all this mean for us right now? It is time for Christians to stop using language such as “post-Christian.” It is time to get to work, empowered by the same Holy Spirit who transformed the Christians of the First Millennium.

We need to look at our moment in His Story as pre-Christian. We are not victims. We are His seed, scattered by His pierced hands in this age. We are to grow His Kingdom, together.

The culture into which we are sent is not that different than the culture into which the disciples were sent. They needed to be baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit to do their work, and so do we. The answer for this age is the answer they offered their age: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like them, we are called to manifest a new culture, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are living in a new missionary age and the fields are ripe. We are called into the whole world to preach the Gospel in word and deed.

We need a New Pentecost! The Church needs to move in and manifest the same power with which she transformed the world of the first five centuries. She can. She will, by the power of the Holy Spirit!

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  • Patmos

    Pretty much hit the nail smack dab on the head brother Keith. For Christ is both the power of God and the wisdon of God (1 Cor. 1:24). Sometimes you just got to get out of the way and let the Spirit move. Or how about all the time. Hallelujah.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Right. “Movements are for symphonies & sonatas or less delicately put, the bathroom. The precious Spirit of the Living God was not released upon an unsuspecting cadre of sympathetic believers to start a movement. As the Deacon points out, this is much more about a life lived for God than any “movement” could hope to inspire in a thousand lifetimes. It is that which must by definition transcend any effort or utility composed by human endeavor. It is almost unthinkable & certainly unprecedented & clearly out of the ordinary, that God who choses to be in love w/us also choses to take up residence deep w/in our “earthly tent” . We are tasked w/the representation of the revelation of God’s will towards our fellow man. This is that selfsame revelation “written not w/ink but w/the Spirit of the living God .. in fleshly tables of the heart”. Sounds poetic. Yet this kind of poetry is much more than mere cadenced thought . It is rather the pulsating beat of a life affirming heart in sync w/the heart of God. That perhaps sums up the assignment the Holy Spirit has been sent to our world to officiate …

  • PilgrimGirl

    Hogwash!!

    The Lord Jesus Christ teaches His disciples, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for HE SHALL NOT SPEAK OF HIMSELF; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HE SHALL GLORIFY ME: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13 &14) (emphasis mine)

    • GPS Daddy

      That verse has nothing to do with this article. Yes, the Spirit give glory to Jesus but the Spirit also make His own presence know post Pentecost. Is not the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Jesus Himself? If we give honor to the Spirit do we not give honor to Jesus?

      If there is an unforgivable sin what is it? Claiming the work of the Spirit is the work of the devil.

      The relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is more complex than just a simple verse can portray.

      • PilgrimGirl

        It has everything to do with this article.

        The Holy Spirit does not glorify Himself, nor magnify His gifts, nor inspire men to preach and talk of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit does not lead men to believe that being baptized with the Spirit, endowed with gifts, and attaining the higher life experience is better than salvation and meeting Christ in faith. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, speaks of Christ, reveals Christ, and enables believers to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We are complete in Christ (Col. 2:9-10). What Christ has done, is doing, and will do is the theme of the Holy Spirit’s teaching. When the gospel is neglected, when Christ is not preached, when men seek gifts and healing rather than mercy, grace, and redemption in Christ, one can be certain that it is not the Holy Spirit of truth Who is speaking (I John 4:1-3).

        • GPS Daddy

          I can see that we will not agree. I’m not going to have a scriptural slugfest online with you.

  • GPS Daddy

    Part of the problem I see is the way we approach prayer. I find most Christians pray like this: “God please heal this person but if you chose not to then please give us the understanding and peace that they will continue to suffer and that there is a reason for their suffering.”

    Now I did egazerate how most Christians pray to show what the thinking behind the prayer is. You never see Jesus pray like this nor do you see the Appstles pray like this. Even the Apostle Paul did not pray like this with his “thorn”. He pleaded with God with an expectation.

    I have never seen nor heard of someone being healed by such a prayer. That does not say that God will not answer such a prayer… that’s up to Him.

    How did Jesus and the Apostles heal? They used phrases like this:

    “Get up take your bed and walk”
    “Rise, pickup your bed and go home”
    “Be clean”
    Taking a dead girl by the hand
    “Stretch out your hand”

    You may say that this was Jesus but remmber that Jesus did nothing as God. Rather He did everything as a man through the Holy Spirit.

    So, there is something missing in our prayers today and it’s not just words.

    An example from my own experience:

    A neighbor asked my wife to ask me to come and pray for her daughter. Her daughter arm has become paralyzed. She had seen several doctors including specialists. They had no answer for her. When I went over I “commanded the arm to be healed in the name of Jesus.” She felt tingling in her arm and by the next morning she had complete control over her arm. It’s never relapsed since.

    Now a caveat: I do not see this on a regular basis. I do not have this figured out yet. But I have seen several hearings of various levels none of them by the “God heal but give us peace if you do not” kind of prayers.

    • Patmos

      “Now a caveat: I do not see this on a regular basis. I do not have this figured out yet.”

      The disciples had the same problem in one instance, and Jesus told them it was because of their lack of faith, and that the kind of demon they were trying to cast out could not come out but through prayer and fasting.

      A lot could be said about that, like what causes infirmities, and what is the path towards these types of healing that come through the power of God. The one common element I see though is faith. Mark 11:23-24 shows both speaking your faith and using your authority, but also having faith in prayer and believing that you receive.

      I think mainly you have to have persistence, like Blind Bartimaeus, who when faced with rebuke of his faith cried out even louder in faith.

      • GPS Daddy

        Yep, that’s part of it.

        • Patmos

          Persistence in faith, but also persistence in his word. Desire the sincere milk of the word so that you may grow thereby, Peter wrote. For how can they believe if they have not heard?

          • Patmos

            And the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life, Jesus said. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit after being baptized by John, and it’s the same spirit anointing today, through the spirit anointed word.

    • PilgrimGirl

      You say, “You may say that this was Jesus but remmber that Jesus did nothing as God.”

      But God’s word says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

      Isaiah, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calls Christ Jesus ‘The mighty God’. I believe him.

      • GPS Daddy

        Show me one thing Jesus did in His ministry as God… then when you think you have something compare your answer to Phil 2 and John 5:19.

        In example here, who did this? Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

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