Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Day of Pentecost

Today I read Acts 2 which covers the events on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Apostles and they preached and over 3000 men, and I assume women, joined the church through baptism. I have always found this story interesting because it has always been my understanding that the Apostles are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost at this point, and it's not just a matter of the Holy Ghost's influence being poured out upon them, but rather they are being given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, entitling them to His constant companionship if they remain worthy of it.

The reason I find it interesting is it is one of the few instances in history that we know of, where the Gift of the Holy Ghost is given without the laying on of hands. The only other person in all the scriptures that I know of, is Adam, the first man. He was baptized by the spirit, according to the Pearl of Great Price, and had the Gift of the Holy Ghost given to him in much the same way we are reading about the Apostles being given it here in this chapter, it is poured out upon him. Every other person in history, that we know of, are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, as prescribed in modern revelation.

But however it happened, everyone agrees that the Holy Ghost was poured out upon them and those in attendance saw cloven tongues of flame above their heads. What a sight that must have been! Once it had happened, the 12 Apostles started to teach those in attendance and were given the gift of tongues. Each man in attendance was hearing them speak in their own native tongue. Interestingly enough, those who were not believers claimed the Apostles were "full of new wine", or drunk. What a silly thing to think when there were literally thousands of people there stating that they were hearing their native tongue. But non-believers have often grasped at straws and come up with the most ridiculous explanations for miraculous events.

Like a good missionary, Peter takes advantage of the Spirit's strong presence and speaks to all those in attendance and proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, the promised Christ. He teaches them that salvation is only through Him and that they must be baptized in order to receive salvation. After he makes that invitation, 3000 souls go into the waters of baptism and are received into the church. This event really reminds me of my mission. I remember when I was still a relatively young missionary, out only about 13 months or so, I became a senior companion and was given a missionary who had only been out for 4 months but still knew relatively little in the way of missionary work and the language. So I was suddenly required to shoulder the majority of the work which was not a problem, but it was a change as I had prior to that had mostly companions who like to be in charge so I was regulated to a kind of secondary role. During this first transfer as a senior companion, we taught many people and were able to help 3 individuals enter the waters of baptism and we committed 2 others for baptism at a later date.

I bring all this up because the 2 that we committed to be baptized were 2 that when we were teaching them, although the Spirit was present, they did not really seem to be too enthused with the message we were sharing so I had some reservations about inviting them to be baptized. But I did in both cases and to my real surprise, both of them accepted. That was when I learned to not be afraid of rejection when sharing the Gospel and, at least as a missionary, to always invite for baptism unless the Spirit prompts you otherwise. As a non-missionary, I would say always invite friends to hear the missionary lessons from the full time missionaries unless you feel the Spirit telling you otherwise. The Spirit can quite literally work miracles on a person and you will be amazed at what the Spirit can do if you just act as it's mouthpiece and are bold in declaring the truth.

As members of the church we have covenanted with God to stand as a witness for Christ at all times and in all places. If we let fear of rejection overcome stop us from testifying of the truth, then we are not being faithful to that covenant. We can only expect blessings from God when we do our part. They may come otherwise as He deems fit to bless us, but we can count on them when we live up to our end of the bargain. God truthfully asks so little of us. How can we not do as He asks? We will be glad we did but I promise that if we do not, we will regret it for all eternity. Until tomorrow.

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