From the Beginning

A STORY OF "TIME" by Trevor Topsfield


Spirituality means different things at different times.

Joel talks of one example of spirituality. (Joel Chapter 2 Verse 28)

“And afterward I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (NIV)

This is a prophecy to the Jews as it is in The Old Testament; it is a prophecy of things that will occur immediately after the return of Jesus Christ. When he returns to the earth at the end of the Jewish age, he will set up his kingdom here on earth for 1000 years. As it will begin with believers only he can pour out his Spirit on all of them.

While it is for a time that is still future, something similar has already occurred.

The Jews are aware of this prophecy as they are sticklers for their Scriptures which of course is The Old Testament. In 70 AD the 5th stage of discipline was administered to the Jews by the Romans, so God gave them one last chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

The Church’s first task was to evangelise Israel and as it began in 30 AD and it had 40 years to do so. One of the issues the Church had to overcome was the Jews had been God’s representative for 2000 years, and they thought they would continue. Therefore the Church had to convince them it has taken over their role and now it is their turn.

Ever since the Exodus generation when Israel left Egypt under Moses it was written into their rituals this time would come.

The Feast of the Harvest was included in the appointed feasts and is recorded in Leviticus 23:15-22. It was to be celebrated 50 days after the Feast of the First fruits.

The Feast of the Harvest took place at the end of the harvest which consisted of those who believed in the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Of course the harvest is dependent on his death and resurrection. However sine they had not been proclaiming him as their savior, they did not recognise him when he came. Therefore the harvest meant nothing to them, and as such it was not of one their objectives.

So much time had elapsed between the time of its instigation and its fulfillment that the people had forgotten what the Feast of the Harvest was all about.

This can be seen by the fact that they no longer called it by its name, for by the time of its fulfillment it was called the Day of Pentecost.

Pentecost is the transliteration of the Greek word πεντηκοντα (pentykonta) which means fifty. The Feast of the Harvest had deteriorated to a ritual that had to be carried out 50 days after the Feast of the First fruits. Why were they going through the ritual? Because it was written in The old Testament, and what did it mean? At that time Only God knew. Certainly the concept of celebrating the Jewish harvest for fifty days had been forgotten a long time ago.

If Acts 2:1 had been translated; this passage would read; “When the fiftieth day came”.

Jesus received his eternal body in the latter part of the day he returned from the dead and this was celebrated by the Feast of the First Fruits. Jesus was the first to receive his eternal body and because of the harvest many more will get theirs at the appropriate time. So every year they had this period to understand their responsibility to the rest of the world.

The Church began when the Holy Spirit came to Jerusalem accompanied by a very loud noise, when he arrived; Jews from different parts of the world were gathered there as they had come to Jerusalem for the Passover and stayed on. The Holy Spirit came in the form of flames of fire and rested on each of the disciples. (Acts 2:3)

This marks the beginning of the Church.

The very first function of the Church was to evangelise all the Jews by speaking to them in the language of their adopted homeland. This phenomenon is now called “speaking in tongues”. It astounded all those present for the disciples were from Galilee, and the Galileans were generally recognized as simple folk.

Not only did they speak in different languages so that all could understand what was being said, but the disciples were declaring the wonders of God.  This was the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Isaiah and recorded in Isaiah 28:10+11. Therefore it was guaranteed to be from God, so the Jewish audience could trust what was being said.

Because the disciples could not normally speak these languages, the Holy Spirit performed a miracle through them to make it possible. Therefore this was a spiritual event and the spirituality of the disciples was on display.

This was very emotional experience for the disciples so all those who were witnessing it thought they were drunk. Peter saw the reaction of the crowd and stood up to explained that they were not drunk as the crowd thought, but it was what the prophet Joel spoke of.  When Jesus returns to the earth to begin his 1000 years rule there will be a tremendous out pouring of emotion. Jesus will return as the supreme ruler with all the finery that accompanies the “KING OF KINGS” and the “LORD OF LORDS”.

At this future time it will be quite appropriate for everyone to be over joyed and their emotional response over and above any response ever experienced before.

However on the Day of Pentecost the spirituality of the disciples is not to appreciate Jesus, but to add credibility to the message they are giving.

Under normal conditions sanity is required when the Gospel is explained. This is a special situation and because the Jews are expecting such an outpouring of emotion, it has relevance for them. Because members of the Church are doing a legitimate function that is prophesied in their Scriptures the Jews can appreciate it is from God. The Jews are the only ones that can accept this “drunkenness” as an acceptable approach.

Just imagine if someone approached you who appeared drunk, would you take any notice of him?

The disciples were speaking in tongues which was a spiritual event and was current until 70 A. D. then the Jews were destroyed when the 5th stage of discipline was administered. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians explained to them that when speaking in tongues was applied outside the purpose of what it was designed for, others who heard them speaking un-intelligently considered them mad. (1 Corinthians Chapter 14, verse 23)

If this was spirituality today, Churches would appear to be a haven for the drunk and the mad.

The spirituality prophesied in Joel will occur at a later date, so what is spirituality today?

The Church at Corinth is the classic example of what is not spiritual; “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly- mere infants in Christ” (1Corinthians 3:1) (NIV)

Paul has so many issues against the Corinthians

Chapter 1; There is division within the Church with some saying they follow Paul, others follow Apollos, while others follow Cephas and others follow Christ. (Verses 10-13)

Chapter 2; The difference between human wisdom and spiritual truths (Verse 13)

Chapter 3; Paul has to feed them on milk as they have not reached the maturity to take solid foods.(Verse 2)

Chapter 4; They are proud of their position within the Church, but it is a false pride. Paul says: “We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong!” (Verse 10) (NIV) Paul demonstrates he is not beyond a little sarcasm.

Chapter 5; One of their numbers has his father’s wife which is probably his mother, so there is incest within the Church and apparently they are doing nothing about it. (Verse 1)

Chapter 6; There are disputes among them with legal action being pursued against one another. (Verses 1+2)

The problems within the Church continue with Chapter 14 being devoted to their misunderstanding of speaking in tongues and their abuse of this spiritual phenomenon.

So much for what spirituality is not; so if we want to find out what it is we will need to look somewhere else.

Remember John the Baptist when said in Matthew 3 11+12 “I baptize with water, but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit”. “Baptize” is a transliteration from the Greek word βαπτισμος (baptismos) without any effort being made to translate it. Βαπτισμος has a nautical background and was originally used for the overwhelming of a ship with water when it sinks. Its use covers the overwhelming of anything with something else, so Jesus will overwhelm believers with the Holy Spirit, and when it is applied those who are overwhelmed are said to be “filled with the Spirit”.

So what is spiritually for Christians after their initial responsibility was fulfilled to the Jews? Now to be “filled with the Spirit” as were the disciples in Acts 13:52; “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”. (NIV)

This phenomenon has certain results; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law, (Galatians 5:22+23) (NIV)

Trevor Topsfield


Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.


Comments are closed.

Post Navigation

Hit Counter provided by hit counter max