The Holy Spirit has already come upon his Church. That day of Pentecost which we read about in Acts was the time when the Holy Spirit came to anoint the Church for ministry, just as when Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit came upon him and anointed him for his ministry. The disciples, gathered together before Pentecost, knew that Jesus had told them to wait for the Spirit to come before they did anything. They also knew that they had a task to do, that of being Jesus' witnesses everywhere, telling people all over the world about the mighty acts of God that they had seen and experienced especially in the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. They knew that as a result of their witness, other people would become Jesus' disciples and join their number. But all this depended on the Holy Spirit. When he came at Pentecost, that great mission of the Church began.
Pentecost was one of the great Jewish feasts, with thousands of visitors thronging Jerusalem to celebrate both the harvest and the anniversary of the covenant at Sinai. (The latter reason for celebration was introduced after the exile and was added to the original harvest celebration.) When the Holy Spirit came, it was to a church that was united and expectant. They were waiting for him to come, because Jesus had told them to wait. They were all together in one room. One may guess that the disciples were all together to pray, possibly for a spiritual harvest, possibly for the coming of the new covenant foretold in Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:27. If so, their prayers were answered unmistakably!
When the Holy Spirit came, it was obvious. John the Baptist had foretold that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit ('Spirit' is the same word as 'breath' and 'wind' in both Greek and Hebrew) and with fire - so when they heard the wind and saw the flames, they understood the significance. More to the point, they saw in themselves the difference - they were filled with praise, and found themselves speaking in other languages ('tongues' - Acts 2:4). The gift of praising God in an unknown language is more usually experienced in private these days (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:18,19), but then it was public, and drew a crowd. Peter used the opportunity - the Holy Spirit had transformed him into an effective witness for Jesus. The spiritual harvest had begun.
The Holy Spirit also came upon the disciples at other times. They were filled again in Acts 4:31, the Holy Spirit came upon the Samaritans in Acts 8, upon Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, and so on. These times were special times, and there were always visible effects - speaking in tongues, prophecy, praise, speaking out boldly about Jesus. Throughout the Bible, when God's people meet him, they find themselves filled not only with awe and wonder but also with love and zeal for him and his cause, and they are equipped to serve him in some way - often in a way they would not naturally choose.
Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been given to every Christian. It is by him that we are born again with a new nature, it is by him that we have a relationship with God, it is by him that we grow spiritually, it is by him that we accomplish anything in God's service. While this is our daily experience, we can also expect 'times of refreshing' to come from the Lord before Jesus returns in person (Acts 3:19) - times of special blessing from God, when the Holy Spirit comes and God's presence is more obvious. But such refreshment is not only for our personal benefit; it is also for the benefit of the mission of the Church: we are refreshed in order to serve God more effectively.
ISSUES AND QUESTIONS
1) What do we need in order to be Christ's witnesses? How can we be more effective?
2) Do we really want the Holy Spirit to come upon us, our church, our neighbourhood? How do we show our desire?
3) Should we expect to experience the same sort of things that the first disciples experienced on the day of Pentecost? Should we expect similar results to our witness?
IDEAS FOR MEETINGS
Have you had an experience of the 'supernatural'? Tell us about it.
Invite the Holy Spirit to come into your group, and then follow the guidelines of 1 Corinthians 14:26(-33).