New AOFB Transcript: Unity and Pentecost
[This is a transcript from a new “About Our Father’s Business” video by interim president, Roy Holladay, to be posted online very soon.]
April 21, 2010
Unity and Pentecost
Good day to you all from the home office in Cincinnati.
Events continue to be very busy around here. Last Sunday the [Ambassador Bible Center] students conducted a charity auction for educational scholarships for children in East Africa. They raised about $6,500. This will mean that many young people will have an opportunity to be able to attend school and have a superior education.
Believe it or not, the Feast of Tabernacles is now about five short months away and organizational preparations are well underway here, even as we have but a few short weeks until Pentecost.
Much of our focus here locally of course is on the upcoming annual General Conference of Elders, where we are expecting around 200 ministers and their wives in but a few days.
Production of the new series for Beyond Today television programs remains in full swing, and everyone is very busy with that. Last weekend was the first weekend to show the Beyond Today television programs on commercial TV.
As we all collectively and individually prepare for the last of the spring Feasts on Pentecost, I thought we could take a moment to recall that day, for it has great meaning for all of us in the Church.
Pentecost is the day when the Church, which we have had the privilege and honor to be part of, officially began. God didn’t choose to begin the Church in the mighty capital of Rome or the intellectual powerhouse of Alexandria or the legendary city of Athens. These were all great cities of their day.
Instead, God chose to start His Church with a tiny group of Jews, both men and women patiently waiting as Christ commanded them in the politically turbulent city of Jerusalem.
Made up of about 120 people whom the Bible simply calls “believers” or “God-fearers,” the group that was to become the very first Church were “all with one accord in one place” as we read in Acts chapter two, verse one.
This tiny group had just gone through about three months of upheaval and trying times. As they followed their miraculously resurrected leader Jesus Christ during that time—Who is the eternal living head of the Church both then and now—they were rewarded for their patience and for their perseverance.
The Holy Spirit of God came upon them in a very mighty and powerful way on that day. The precious and promised Holy Spirit is with us today in the Church and it is in us today.
When the Holy Spirit works in us there exists evidence of that work, which the Bible calls “fruits.” The apostle Paul tells us specifically about evidence like this in Galatians the fifth chapter. In Galatians five he explains the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control.”
When we have that type of spiritual fruit evident in our lives, we have one very important outcome, which is unity. Unity in the Church doesn’t mean that we can’t have differences.
As I wrote in the recent member letter that you’ve received, the book of Proverbs clearly states that iron sharpens iron. Unity comes when we’re all working toward the same thing in a spirit of peace and gentleness.
When we do have our differences, whatever they are, we are to express them in a form of civility and brotherly love. When our path is clearly defined before us, then we are to lay aside our differences and work together for the good of the Church.
What happened some nineteen hundred and seventy nine years ago? As a result of the Holy Spirit working in them, the Church grew more than 2,000 percent in a single day! As the second chapter of Acts continues, the Church “continued steadfastly” and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The fruit of the Holy Spirit produces unity in the Church and God blessed it! As we approach Pentecost and observe it, I think it would be helpful to think about what we bring to the Church today.
We are rightly taught that we can’t earn our salvation, but we have our part. We are also taught to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” in the book of Philippians, chapter two and verse 12.
The two important things we bring to the Church is a willingness to serve God’s will and the desire to surrender our self-will to His perfect will. That requires action on our part.
The outcome of this action, as Paul previously noted, is to receive those gifts of the Holy Spirit. But we are also told that it is often not easy to sustain those gifts.
As it says in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, we are to “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” As verse 15 continues, “Looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
For this upcoming Pentecost, let us rededicate ourselves to the mission and purpose for which the Church was founded. We are to be examples to this dying world of love, of peace, of unity in the faith.
Let us surrender our wills to the living head of the Church Himself. Let us seek urgently to receive and sustain those precious fruits of the Spirit.
If we so yield, so shall we be blessed. Brethren, let us be about doing our Father’s business!