Grant Swank
Personal Pentecost
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By Grant Swank
March 30, 2009

A four-liner goes like this:
It's a very odd thing —
As odd as can be,
That whatever Miss T. eats
Turns into Miss T.

Compare this now with the intake of the soul. It is one thing to know academically the doctrine of holiness; it is quite another thing to "eat in" the food of the Spirit.

It is necessary to make exact theology come to life. It is imperative that there be much more than orthodoxy; that orthodoxy must become a personal Pentecost.

If we eat only exact doctrine divorced from life, then we will be full in the head but empty in the heart. If we eat both biblical theology and daily infillings with the Spirit, then we will be whole, and satisfied.

The personal Pentecost comes when we surrender our self-centeredness to His will. It is the singing of the enlightened spirit: "Make me captive, Lord / And then I shall be free. / Force me to render up my sword / And I shall conq'ror be."

Even in the born again soul there is a fight. The war is waged between the human spirit and the divine spirit. The saved person wrestles with God before experiencing sanctified control by the Holy Spirit. But when that human will yields fully — daily — to the molding of the Creator, then the peace treaty is signed and personal Pentecost is realized.

It takes the giving over of self-centeredness into God-centeredness.

The crisis is the initial moment of surrender. The continuing then follows on a moment-by-moment fellowship in the Spirit. The harvest then comes in the lifetime of holiness till death brings forth the face-to-face, pure encounter with the presently invisible Companion.

Admiral Peary said about the north pole: "For more than a score of years that point on the earth's surface had been the object of my every effort. To attain it my whole being, physical, mental, and moral, had been dedicated."

It is with such zeal of consecration that the Christian enters into personal Pentecost. Having put self-centeredness out of the way by the fiery presence of the burning Spirit, the sanctified soul climbs to the heights gained from a lifetime of commitment to the divine plan.

The biblical truth of "without sin" (Romans 6) becomes personalized. The controlling companionship of the Holy Spirit is the key. It is what Paul meant when he stated forthrightly that he did not live, but Christ lived within him.

On one occasion, after an exceptionally moving rehearsal when the entire orchestra rose in applause for their conductor, Toscanini responded in embarrassment by stating, "You see, gentlemen, it is not me. . .It's Beethoven!"

Toscanini could not take the credit for the excellence; in fact, he had to point to the musical power that flowed through him.

Likewise the sanctified Christian knows that he deserves no praise for righteousness; all glory goes to the source, the Holy Spirit in control. The person of the Holy Ghost resides upon the yielded human spirit in Pentecost.

Samuel Shoemaker told his congregation that "sooner or later every Christian must choose between two pains: the pain of a divided mind or the pain of the crucified self."

Leighton Ford preached that "there is no detour to holiness. Jesus came to the Resurrection through the Cross, not around it." Implied is that the route is the same for us — the crucified self given over to the Easter morning pure light in Christ.

There is a price that must be paid for the personal Pentecost, but who would trade it for the reward of clean conscience and the power of purity? "The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God," wrote Blaise Pascal.

Leonard Ravenhill said that "the greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into the unholy word and keep him holy in it."

Dr. Theodore Parker Ferris preached to his Trinity Church in Boston on "The Battle Against Sin"; then he concluded the message with this prayer: '"Help us, O God, as we fight against those things which hold us back from the goal. Purify our lives, clarify our thinking and strengthen our wills, that as we love Him who loved us we may grow to be more like Him. Amen."

Pentecost is more than a Sunday celebrated once a year. It is more than a reading in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter two. It is much more than the symbol of a dove tacked to one's lapel.

Pentecost is to be realized personally by the purging presence of the Spirit of Almighty God. Once and for all? No. Once entered into, yes. But then on a daily basis — moment-by-moment — it is the continuing: perfect, and yet ever being made perfect; sanctified, and yet ever being sanctified; yielded, and yet ever yielding; purged, and yet ever being purged, till death opens up the eternal holiness in the very dwelling of the divine.

© Grant Swank

 

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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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