You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. (Acts 1:8).

The Acts of the Apostles is a history of Pentecost[1] (Lk 24:49). The greatest need of the Church today ‘in an age of inherited and often nominal church membership’[2] is a renewal of the power of Pentecost. The church must be saved to save the world. Pentecost as means of renewal begins with individuals to save the home, the church and the world. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement had a Pentecost – Holy Spirit moment often referred to as his “Aldersgate warmed-heart experience” that happened on May 24, 1738.[3] On Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1738, Charles Wesley had a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit three days before his brother, John. In his journal, Charles reports experiencing “a strange palpitation of heart” that caused him to exclaim, “I believe, I believe! … I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ.” Without Pentecost there is no genuine peace, joy, or love.

We can only think and hope of renewing our home, marriage, ministry, church, theology, leadership, and the face of the earth if we are renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit.[4] It is in our infilling with the Holy Spirit that we can transform the family, home, marriage, nations and the world with God’s truth and love. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Love not only brought unity to the world, the Church was born.  The people of all nation heard the message of Peter proclaimed in their own language when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles (Acts 2).

Charles in one of his hymns invites the Holy Ghost to strengthen and renew us to live our faith daily.

Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire, let us thine influence prove;
source of the old prophetic fire, fountain of life and love.

Charles prayerfully in the second verse of “Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire,” asks the Holy Ghost to reveal God’s word to us.

Come, Holy Ghost (for moved by thee the prophets wrote and spoke),
unlock the truth, thyself the key, unseal the sacred book.

On the Day of Pentecost the Church grew from 120 to 3,000 and the people were baptised. The people humbled themselves for renewal and the Holy Spirit through Peter’s preaching enlightened their docile minds. Their hearts were cut to the quick and they repented of their sins. To repent means a change, agreeing with God about the sinfulness of our sin and ‘looking in faith to Jesus—and enter the church through the covenant sign and seal of baptism.’ Repentance and baptism in faith delivers us from judgement thereby marking us ‘as citizens of God’s new-covenant community and receive all the blessings God promised, including forgiveness and the gift of the indwelling Spirit.’ Holy Spirit works upon every converted sinner’s heart, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, or righteousness and of judgement” (Jn 16:8). The Holy Spirit’s main role with respect to promoting the message of Christ is to “convict the world.” The Holy Spirit exposes sin and unbelief in order to awaken in an individual a consciousness of guilt and a need for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit makes people aware of God’s present judgement of the world and the future judgement of the entire human race, including each individual’s personal accountability to God (Rom 1:18-32, Mat 16:27, Act 17:31; 24:25; Rom 14:10; 1Cor 6:2; 2Cor 5:10, Jude 1:14). Any minister or church that is afraid to expose sin and call for repentance and godly living is not directed by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 14:24-25).

The tongues of fire that came upon the apostles not only remind us of the presence of God in the Scripture, it also resonates with the ‘picture of 18th century Methodists in Scunthorpe and Skegness falling down in ecstasy during worship and frothing at the mouth.’[5] With Pentecost as a means of renewal, God’s presence is always enlightening, purifying, and cleansing.  The Holy Spirit as a purifying agent that enlightens us in the truth brings about the forgiveness of sins. The same Holy Spirit either renew or judge us of our ignorance and sin.

Rev Tom Stuckey in one of his books Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: The Future of the Church in Britain, A Methodist Perspective made a reference to the dream that lay behind his Presidential Address delivered in 2005 to the Representative Session of Conference meeting in Torquay. The dream was about a ravaged landscape like a desecrated graveyard with ‘a voice repeating, ‘Can these bone live? Can these bones live? Stuckey asked, “Was my dream with its promise of Pentecost a delusion or was it really a prophetic vision? Did the Conference Address of 2005 fall on deaf ears? Was it all empty rhetoric? As churches continue to crumble I have come to see that Pentecost is about judgement as well as renewal. I spoke of repentance then. I speak of it now.”[6] According to Stuckey, ‘something is very wrong with our church. Somehow we’ve managed to pour water on the burning bush and all we have left is wet ashes. Has the Spirit abandoned us? Is the Church in Britain finished? I think not.’ Pentecost as means of renewal or judgement points to Stuckey’s word. He said “Churches rise and fall as Christians in a multiplicity of contexts respond or fail to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” Our responses individually and corporately to the Holy Spirit determines our rising or falling, renewal or judgement.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter quotes Prophet Joel’s words of blessing and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He also spoke of judgement – signs of blood and fire and smoke, of the sun being turned into darkness and the moon into blood (Acts 2:16-21). The dream that lay behind Stuckey’s Presidential Address of a ravaged landscape with littered remains of bodies in a desecrated graveyard and a voice repeating, ‘Can these bones live?’ points to people who have not yet experience grace. Pentecost is about God’s gathering in the first-fruits of His Spirit, that is, recipients of God’s grace in this age. Pentecost warns us that God’s redemption at Christ’s expense, (grace), goes hand in hand with judgement. To avoid God’s judgement, Pentecost calls us to strive to obey Jesus as we live and remain faithful. The Bible says, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1Pet 4:16-19). Holy Spirit passes judgement upon the Church by pushing us in new missional directions thereby ‘disturb our complacency. Drive away our fears. Remind us of the faith we have forgotten.’[7]

[1] Chadwick, Samuel, The Way to Pentecost (Sheffield: Cliff College Publishing, 1996), pp. 25-29, 13-15

[2] Okegbile, Deji, Revival of Preaching: ‘Juvenility’ to Maturity of Faith and Preachers (London: SADL Print, 2018) p. 15-16.

[3] Okegbile, Deji, In the Spirit of ‘Aldersgate’: Praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ (London: SADL Print, 2018), pp. 4-5, 19

[4] Okegbile, Deji, Stop the Funeral: Reverse Methodist Decline (London: Supertec Design, 2017), pp. 6-7

[5] Stuckey, Tom, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: THe Future of the Church in Britain, A Methodist Perspective (Suffolk: Church in the Market Place, 2017), p. vi

[6] Stuckey, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land:, p. vii

[7] Stuckey, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land:, p. 151