The apostles must have been consumed with grief. Their best friend, Saviour, and King, had gone up into heaven (Acts 1:9) and there they are left alone wondering what on earth to do. The fear that they must have felt would have been extreme. What’s interesting is how they choose to respond: they all gather together constantly in prayer (Acts 1:14). Instead of stressing and worrying, they press in with prayer, not on their own, but together.

The early church was birthed in this place. It wasn’t a strong army of people with all the answers, it was a young band of folk who were more hungry and desperate for God more than for anything else. And most importantly; they knew they were nothing and could do nothing without Him.

The Spirit’s arrival was not just any old day; it was specifically chosen and ordained by God to be the Day of Pentecost. This day was set apart as a Jewish harvest festival to celebrate the grain harvest, taking place 50 days after Passover (when harvesting traditionally began). The Lord was not just bringing in a material harvest but a spiritual one too – 3,000 souls were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41), the first fruits of the Christian mission” and it was only the beginning!

"The early church was no strong army of people with all the answers, but folk more hungry and desperate for God than anything else."

The Holy Spirit comes down at Pentecost (Acts 2). The counsellor, convictor, truth teller – the One who would bring glory to Jesus by taking from what is His and making it known to us” (John 16:5 – 16). The key to us knowing God more was released powerfully upon His children: Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2 – 4). Wow!

The Spirit fills the space and then fills the apostles. This is not just an outward experience, but an inward one too. It is also something that they hear and they see, and it didn’t just happen to a couple of them in the room; it was every single one of them sitting there.


This power that comes visibly and audibly is not dependent on status or position, but devotion to Jesus. The hugely encouraging thing is that this same power is available to all of us today. Whatever our background, God invites us to keep coming to be filled, and refilled, with His promised Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, when we have gathered in large groups we have also, like the disciples, invited the Holy Spirit to come and move among us all. We have imagined the day of Pentecost and asked the Lord to do more of that, so that we are transformed and empowered for service.

It is not that we haven’t received the Holy Spirit at conversion, it is that the Lord longs to keep filling us afresh. The danger is when we assume that everyone’s experience of the Spirit should (or will be) the same as ours and we end up creating a system, process or methodology by which being filled with the Spirit comes about. There is no magic formula but just the reality that God wants to empower his people for his mission.

One of our most prominent memories was when we were running the youth programme at the New Wine summer conference. Everyone was worshipping and lifting their hands to the music, completely sold out in praise. The atmosphere in the room was electric, the Presence of God; palpable. As we continued to get lost in wonder and adoration before our King there began to be a small commotion in the middle of the crowd. Eventually it began to feel like a distraction so we carefully drew a couple of the chattering individuals out to the back of the venue. Filled with joy and excitement they began to explain what had just miraculously happened to their friend. She had self-tattooed the word Worthless’ on her forearm with a pen knife and been going through agony over how she viewed herself. As we were mid worship proclaiming who our Lord is, celebrating how He saw us and receiving His love and power into our hearts and lives, something incredible ensued: her arm was completely healed. No one prayed or moved or made it happen, the Lord just touched her and erased not only the word but the scarring right down her arm. Her friends were literally leaping and jumping and praising God!

May we be more hungry for God than anything else

Our God is desperate to encounter his children by the power of the Spirit, not just over 2,000 years ago but here and now too. He is interested in every one of us, the Holy Spirit is not limited to working through any particular personality type. The question is are we waiting for Him? Seeking Him? Longing for more? Expecting Him to move?

The last words Jesus speaks before he ascends into heaven are: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). Then Jesus is taken up before their eyes (1:9). Why would he make these words his last? Perhaps because it was so important for the believers to hear them and take them seriously. Maybe because in order for the gospel to go right out to the four corners of the earth; the Holy Spirit was absolutely vital – it was not something they could tackle alone.

And so it began back then, over 2,000 years ago and the mandate still remains today. The question is where is our Jerusalem? Are we headed there? Are we watching and waiting and praying? Are we aware of the Spirit’s empowering and being witnesses in the places He has called us to be?

As we celebrate this Pentecost, let’s go for it again!

This article is based on an extract from Unleashed: The Acts church today by Gavin and Anne Calver. Join us for as little as £3 a month by becoming a member of the Evangelical Alliance and get a free copy of the book. Join us today as together we make Jesus known.