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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 9

The True Significance of Pentecost

I believe that we cannot overstate what a major turning point Pentecost represented in the history of God’s dealings with man. All that went before was preparation, anticipation; all that has followed has been fulfillment, action. God’s people passed from mystery to revelation, from looking forward to the kingdom to living in it.

Our eternal redemption had been accomplished through Christ and He had been elevated to the throne. The devil had forever lost his ground to accuse God’s sheep. The battle of the ages had been fought at the cross unseen by natural eyes. As John later wrote of this in Revelation 12 he said, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:10-11. Notice that John included “the Kingdom of our God” in his list of things that are come.

Pentecost was one of the major Jewish feasts, taking place fifty days after the Sabbath of Passover week. It was therefore one of those times when Jews who had been scattered throughout many foreign nations over the centuries would travel to Jerusalem to join in the observance.

With so many Jews gathered together in one place it was the perfect occasion for God to speak to them. He had a spiritual harvest to gather. There was a remnant to call out and separate to Himself before judgment fell.

In the Temple

Tradition places the outpouring of the Spirit in the upper room mentioned in Acts 1:13. However, although the disciples may have lodged there, this is not the setting for Acts 2. In Luke’s first account of the ascension of Jesus to heaven (Luke 24:50-53) we read these words: “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”

Notice where they spent their time — in the temple. If they were there “continually,” where else would they have been at nine o’clock on the morning of a major Jewish feast? And where would the Jews, to whom God wished to speak, have been at that hour?

The first thing that got the people’s attention was “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” that “filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). The word “house” is used by Stephen in Acts 7:47 to refer to the temple that Solomon built.

The next thing that occurred was the appearance of a fire that separated and settled upon each of them. Verse 4 tells us what accompanied these manifestations: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

The Twelve

Another tradition about Pentecost is that verse 4 involved the 120 disciples of Acts 1:15. This is not so. Although there was a total of 120 disciples in Jerusalem at that time, the whole focus at this point was upon the apostles.

Acts 1:2 refers to the commandments Christ had given “unto the apostles whom he had chosen.” In the following verses we read, “To whom also he shewed himself alive ... being seen of them ... being assembled together with them, commanded them ... ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” This clear focus on the apostles continues with only the one passing reference to the 120.

Chapter one ends with a reference to the apostles. Notice the personal references in the following verses: “... they were all with one accord in one place ... the house where they were sitting ... there appeared unto them ... it sat upon each of them ... they were all filled with the Holy Ghost ....”

In Acts 2:14, who stood with Peter? The 120? No! “But Peter, standing up with the eleven ....” Is this not plain! Although this may seem like a technicality, I believe it is an example of tradition clouding truth.

God’s Order

There is an order to the way God does things. In establishing His kingdom He first anointed His Son, the King and Head of the Church. Then, at the appropriate time the anointing fell upon the apostles, specially chosen with a unique calling to be part of the foundation of the Church. In Ephesians 2:20 Paul refers to the household of God as “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”

There is a spirit in man that wants to believe that all men are the same, that anyone who has enough faith and dedication can be anointed to go forth and do great things. It is almost as though God has written us a “blank check” and we are in charge. This is not so. God is in charge and no man can be what he is not.

John 15:16 — Jesus speaking to the disciples — says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

The outpouring of Pentecost belonged as uniquely to the apostles as did the anointing at the Jordan river belong uniquely to Jesus. God meant to exalt them before the people not because of who they were as men or to honor them for their spiritual dedication but to fulfill His own sovereign purpose in calling them.

Man cannot alter the gifts and callings of God and he is foolish to try. The reason Christianity is in the condition it is in today is that men have brushed these things aside and walked in the vain imaginations of their own hearts all the while retaining Christ as a figurehead.

The sober warning of Matt. 7:21-23 was directed to zealous and sincere religious people who called Jesus Lord but refused to actually do the will of his Father. All of the religious efforts of such men will perish with them. Jesus is Lord. Everything that does not flow directly from His Lordship comes from some other source and is headed for the fire.

Even genuine believers may build out of wood, hay and stubble and suffer loss, yet be saved themselves. I Cor. 3:12-15. What we do must be directed from heaven or it will not last. Our zealous efforts, plans, ideas and innovations are a poor substitute for God’s will and direction. Imagine if each of the various parts of your body were to act independently of each other and, most importantly, apart from the brain: there might be a lot of movement but it would be pretty useless!

With the outpouring of the Spirit upon the apostles, everything changed! Peter, who had so recently denied the Lord in weakness and fear, now preached boldly to the very people who had killed Christ.

Prophecy Fulfilled

It is very noteworthy that Peter portrayed all that was happening as a direct fulfillment of the words of the prophets. The outpouring of God’s Spirit was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2.

He quotes David’s prophetic words about the resurrection of Christ and of God’s oath to David “that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne,” Acts 2:30. He then adds the eyewitness testimony of the apostles that Christ had indeed been raised from the dead.

What was taking place on that very occasion was directly related to the ascension of Christ to the throne. It represented the first earthly exercise of the high authority now granted to Him by the Father (Matt. 28:18). Acts 2:33 says, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”

The centerpiece of Peter’s message was the bold proclamation of the Lordship of Christ. He did not portray this Lordship as a mere theological doctrine but as a practical reality. It was not a rule confined to heaven but one that extended to earth as well. Christ had acted to interrupt an important Jewish feast, to seize their attention with the reality of who He was.

By the Spirit He anointed Peter as His earthly mouthpiece while simultaneously convicting the hearers of their sinfulness before God and of their rebellion against the One He had set upon David’s throne. All of their religious preconceptions were swept away by spiritual reality. The throne of David had been reestablished — in heaven and not on earth as they had expected. David’s Son ruled and this kingdom would never end!

What Shall We Do?

This is one gospel message in which the sinners gave the “invitation!” Convicted by the Spirit that Peter’s words were true, they asked what they should do. Listen to Peter’s inspired instruction. He gave them two things to do which would lead to two specific results.

First, they were to repent. True repentance is a total change of direction in thought, desire and action. It is something that can happen only when a sovereign God works directly with the heart (Acts 11:18). It is a change of mind and heart about the past that forever alters one’s future course. It is the unconditional surrender of a rebel cornered by a conquering King. It is abandoning the devil’s kingdom for God’s. It is a willingness to give up your life to the rightful rule of Christ that you might possess His life instead.

In the Name of Jesus Christ

The second thing they were to do was to be baptized every one in the name of Jesus Christ. Baptism is a large subject in its own right but in essence it is the outward expression of true faith and repentance. It is laying down one’s life in death. It is as though a sinner, standing before the cross, were to cast his lot with Christ, literally joining Him on the cross, turning his back on the world, dying, being buried and raised again with Him to a new life. Rom. 6:3-5. Being put under the water is a picture of burial and being lifted out of the water is a picture of resurrection. This must become a personal reality. Peter said, “... every one of you ....”

Baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ.” This is plain in every single New Testament example from Pentecost on. Many readers will immediately object and say, “What about Matt. 28:19?” Consider this: either the apostles were wrong, disregarding Christ’s command 100% of the time, or else many today have misunderstood Matt. 28:19, using it as a kind of formula. Which is it? Were the apostles wrong? I don’t think so!

“In the name of” someone means “by his authority.” Jesus Christ, by the Father given a “name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9), is the highest authority in the kingdom of God. The sceptre is in His hands and it is to Him we must bow.

The very heart of Christ’s commission from the Father was the salvation of those chosen in Him from the foundation of the world. John 17 records the prayer of Jesus as he prepared for the last leg of his earthly journey — the cross, the grave, the resurrection, the throne. His prayer began with these words: “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” John 17:1-2.

The process that translates men and women from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son is absolutely heaven-directed. Men cannot make it happen any other way no matter how zealous they may be. The Father, the ultimate authority, has given His Son both the knowledge of His will and the means to get it done.

The Son in turn carries out the Father’s will by granting various commissions to chosen men, giving to each the measure of the gift of Christ needed to fulfill their commission (John 15:16, Acts 9:15, Eph. 4:7, II Tim. 4:7). When Jesus was on earth, He yielded His vessel to the Father within, who empowered His words and actions. This joint effort — Jesus, and the Father who dwelt in Him — resulted in a genuine expression of the Father on earth, not only in word, but also in life and power.

This is why it was observed early in Christ’s ministry that “he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22. The scribes learned their religion from other men; Jesus was sent by the Father with all the authority of heaven behind him. Demons weren’t bothered in the least by the religion of the scribes but they knew who Jesus was!

For men to be saved today, someone must be sent to them just as Jesus was sent by the Father. That is why Jesus said to his disciples in John 20:21, “... Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Though individual gifts and callings vary according to the measure of the gift of Christ, the principle is ever the same.

No Volunteers

Suppose I were to decide one day that I would go to the United Nations and volunteer to represent the United States. Do you suppose they would pay any attention to me? Of course not! I might be very sincere and patriotic but the fact remains that I have not been given the authority to do that!

How much more is this true of God’s kingdom! His servants are not volunteers: they are chosen. Yet how many who are busily engaged in their religion actually have a commission from heaven? That is the central picture of Pentecost: the enthroned Christ empowering chosen men to call the elect from darkness to light by imparting to them the Spirit of truth, faith and repentance and finally the very life of the kingdom itself. In submitting to the hands of the apostles in baptism they were submitting to the hands of Christ Himself extended from the throne.

About three thousand people on that great day did the two things Peter told them to do: they repented, and they put their repentance and faith into action through baptism. What was the result? Was their baptism just something symbolic, a mere testimony, a religious ceremony?

Not according to Peter! He told them to repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38. Think of the occasion! This was the birthday of the church. Was Peter carried away with carnal enthusiasm when he gave these instructions or did Christ mean for him to say what he did? I believe he got it right!


In Isaiah 33:24, we find a prophecy concerning Zion that says, “... the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” Forgiveness of sins is a benefit of citizenship in the kingdom of God. It is not available any other way. Man loves to delude himself that he can be forgiven by God and escape his sins without truly repenting and giving up his life in total surrender.

Religion today is full of various forms of “easy-believism,” a so-called “belief” in Jesus that sidesteps true repentance and surrender. What kind of “belief” is it that stops short of that? Do you imagine that you can reach over into God’s kingdom and claim some of the benefits of heavenly citizenship while remaining a citizen of this present world in your heart? Do not be deceived!

You are either a citizen of heaven or a citizen of this world. There is no middle ground. Either Christ is your Lord and His people your eternal family or you are yet in your sins. It is 100 percent or nothing. And citizenship in heaven is not something you try for 30 days to see how it works out. It is forever.

Peter certainly didn’t water down the gospel. Christ was on the throne. Either men surrendered to Him unconditionally or they remained in rebellion. It was a “package deal.” Forgiveness of sins was part of that package.

In Us!

So was the gift of the Holy Ghost. In John 7:37-39 we read, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” Notice the clear connection between the giving of the Holy Ghost and Jesus being glorified.

Through Isaiah the Lord prophesied, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3.

Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:14 and said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

In John 14:17 where Jesus spoke of the Spirit of Truth to the disciples he said, “... he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Notice the distinction! During the years in which the disciples walked with Jesus, God’s Spirit was with them, overshadowing, setting them apart, and, as the need arose, even anointing them to perform miracles. Yet, at this point, the Spirit did not live in them. They were natural men, chosen, overshadowed and helped by God’s Spirit in preparation for what was to come. Ezekiel had prophesied, “... I will put my Spirit within you ....” Ez. 36:26.

A New Era

This is at the heart of what made Pentecost such a tremendously significant occasion. It marked the dawn of a brand new era. Now, instead of believers looking forward to a promised day of salvation, that day had come! Individual believers could now be recipients of God’s Spirit, being begotten of His very life, a life that could never die! What a promise!

The Holy Spirit is the very life and fabric of the kingdom of God, the binding and unifying factor that joins its citizens to one another and sets them apart from the kingdom of darkness. The Spirit is heaven’s seal upon the heart of every one of God’s elect, the promise that what He has begun He will finish! Eph. 1:13-14. Phil. 1:6. Heb. 12:2.

I Cor. 6:17 says, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” Eph. 4:4 says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.”

The religious world is largely the product of many other spirits at work to deceive, confuse, divide and generally to counterfeit the work of God’s Spirit. In spite of this, Christ has faithfully called and imparted the one true Spirit to the elect remnant from Pentecost until now, as Peter said: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Men may bind religious movements together with doctrines and creeds, with traditions, with organizations, with a thousand and one humanly devised instruments. However, the fact remains that “... if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Rom. 8:9. Religious conversion and salvation are two very different things.

What sets the true children of the kingdom apart from the merely religious is the reality of Christ on the inside. Men may appear righteous to other men but God looks on the heart. What we are really speaking about is the new birth, that heavenly birth that makes us new creatures in Christ Jesus. II Cor. 5:17.

The baptism Peter preached was not a private thing leading to an independent relationship with Christ in the sky. The Christ who reigned on high had now, by the Spirit, inhabited His body, the Church, and baptism vitally joined them to that body. I Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” That is why Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

The Sign of Spirit Baptism

This is the true sign of the baptism of the Spirit: it makes you one with God’s people. If you mention “Pentecost” to most in our day their mind immediately goes to “tongues.” Pentecost is not about tongues! Let me repeat that. Pentecost is not about tongues!

God used a special miracle to capture the attention of the Jews so He could speak to them. The apostles were enabled by the Spirit to speak in languages they did not know, languages that those present understood. There is no record that those who were baptised on that day spoke in tongues. Rather, the baptism of the Spirit resulted in a community of believers that enjoyed the greatest spirit of unity the world has ever seen. Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-33.

Years later when a controversy arose over Peter preaching to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile, Peter said, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.” Acts 11:15.

Why do you suppose Peter said, “as on us at the beginning?” Simply this: the manifestation of speaking in tongues was not the norm. Peter had to go all the way back to Pentecost to find a comparable experience. The reason for tongues at the house of Cornelius was that this marked a turning point in the life of the young church. It was a radical idea for Jews to embrace Gentiles as spiritual brethren and God simply bore witness in an unusual way.

Speaking in tongues is a legitimate spiritual gift, albeit a relatively minor and largely private one. I Cor. 12:14. The emphasis upon tongues in the twentieth century, an emphasis all out of proportion to the witness of scripture, has been, I am persuaded, a great device of Satan to misdirect the church. It has been a part of the flood out of the dragon’s mouth designed to carry away the “woman” — the true church. Rev. 12:15.

It has produced generations of religious sign-seekers who have no real faith, who are strangers to the new birth. It has opened up countless opportunities for religious spirits — demons — to counterfeit the true Spirit of God and to bring people into spiritual captivity.

Thank God there is also a remnant among those with this teaching, in spite of it, that really know Him, who have genuine faith towards Him that He has honored. However, God only knows how many counterfeit experiences there have been for every true one! May God help us to seek Him from the heart and be honest with the Word!

The Birthday of the Kingdom

Pentecost was the birthday of the church and the birthday of the kingdom of God for they are one and the same. God moved supernaturally to establish a community, a fellowship, based, not on culture or tradition or creed, but on a Spirit that lived in every individual member. This produced a relationship unlike any other in human history, the sharing of the very life of God Himself.

This relationship which men began to experience at Pentecost began first between the Father and His Son. Jesus said many things about his relationship with the Father during his time on earth. One of the clearest and simplest is his answer to Philip’s desire to see the Father. In John 14:9-11 he said: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet has thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”

The essence of what he said is contained in the expression, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” I would not pretend to be able to begin to plumb the depths of such an expression but I believe that we can see in their relationship something of what is meant. Words flowed from the mouth of Jesus of Nazareth, yet they were the words of His Father. Deeds flowed from the hands of Jesus, yet they were the deeds of His Father who lived inside of Him. Although they remained Father and Son, they were one in every way that mattered.

We see in them a union of two beings, one greater than the other (John 14:28, John 10:29). This union is much deeper than a mere partnership as we know it. In a human partnership two or more people join themselves together in some common cause. Each contributes something and each expects something in return. Each one retains his individuality and has a private independent life outside of the partnership.

Human nature is centered in self and what self wants. Partnerships are temporary arrangements whose purpose is to gratify self more effectively than the partners could do separately. The same self that joins men together also drives them apart as the needs of self dictate.

There is nothing temporary about the relationship between the Father and His Son. It is eternal. The common cause is the outworking of God’s eternal purpose. To that end there is a total union between Father and Son of heart, mind, will and action.

We can never say, “I had an encounter with the Father, but not with the Son,” or “with the Son, but not the Father.” There is but one Spirit. If you encounter God at all, you encounter both Father and Son in Spirit form.

Consider Romans 8:9-11. Verse 9 speaks of the “Spirit of God” dwelling in us then immediately expresses it as “having ... the Spirit of Christ.” In verse 10 it is “Christ ... in you” and “the Spirit is life.” In verse 11 it is “the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead” and, again, “his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” All of these expressions refer to the same thing — being born of God and having His Spirit residing on the inside. Remember — there is one Spirit.

In John 14:23 Jesus speaks of the Comforter that would come in these terms: “... If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” We will come! Two Persons, one Spirit, the same life, eternally joined together in a living union. This is the essence of God’s kingdom.


Properly understood, “fellowship” is a wonderful word to describe this union. We often use the word “fellowship” very casually as though fellowship were just a certain kind of activity as in, “We got together and had some fellowship.” Activity may indeed be an expression of fellowship, but fellowship is much more: it is a relationship that exists without regard to activity or the lack thereof. Proper activity between those in fellowship is certainly important to the nurture and strengthening of that relationship but the relationship exists whether they are in the same room or on opposite sides of the world!

When the Day of Pentecost dawned, a perfect fellowship existed between the Father and His Son. At about nine o’clock in the morning that fellowship was extended to embrace the apostles! They were brought in that they in turn might become instruments in its further extension.

Listen to the words of John — one who was involved that day — recorded in I John 1:3: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Do you see their role? “We’ve been brought into union with the Father and His Son and now we want you to join us!”

And so the very life of God flowed out through Peter and into the hearts of about 3000 others and by the end of the Day of Pentecost, the Kingdom had been launched with great power. Truly a nation — the “holy nation” of I Peter 2:9, the nation bringing forth the fruits of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 21:43) — had been born “at once” as Isaiah had foreseen (Isaiah 66:8) — “... as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children.”

This fellowship, this spiritual union that is the essence of the Kingdom is illustrated by Jesus himself in John 15:1-8 in terms of a vine and its branches. In this parable Jesus is the vine and his disciples are branches. A vine and its branches form a living union, sharing a common life. No part is complete and sufficient in itself. Together, the various parts form a whole greater than the mere sum of the parts.

Yet, merely gathering the parts together in one place is not enough. Only in union can the ultimate purpose be achieved — bearing fruit. The vine cannot do this by itself and neither can the branches. Independence will not do. There is an interdependence among all parts of the vine that alone produces fruit. It is the life that is in the vine flowing freely and continually into the branches that does the job.

Suppose Jesus had begun to act independently of the Father, relying on his own wisdom, working out his own plans? Suppose the disciples had ignored Christ’s instruction to wait for the Holy Spirit and had instead returned to Jerusalem to plan a campaign to “win the world for Jesus”?! Thank God they all understood where their wisdom, power, purpose and life came from and Who the Planner was and yielded their vessels accordingly. Jesus could do nothing of himself. Neither could the disciples. Neither can we!

The Body

The most prominent scriptural illustration of spiritual union is, or course, the human body. It is obvious that the various parts of our bodies — the eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc. — are not designed by our Creator to function independently of each other. Neither are they designed to be directly connected to the head yet not to each other. The function of each part of the body is unique and necessary to the completeness of the whole.

The various parts do not choose their roles: they are born to be what they are and need only maturity and exercise. An ear does not one day decide it would rather be an eye and start trying to “see”! Nor is there any school where it can take “eye” lessons.

The eye cannot get mad at the ear and and say, “You go your way and I’ll go mine!” Neither can it say, “I don’t need you.” I Cor. 12:21. Nor does the ear say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body.” I Cor. 12:16.

The fact is that none of the members of the body chose either to be what they are or the other members with which they have become associated. The various abilities are designed to complement each other and to make a whole functioning body.

These are simple and obvious things, yet trying to relate what the Word teaches about the Body of Christ to the way religion actually functions in practice is a pretty sad thing. The reality is that the “concept” of the Body of Christ is generally treated as a mere theological principle, a principle that has little bearing on how things are done in “real life.”

Was Paul’s teaching concerning the Body of Christ meant to be only a vague picture of the “invisible” or “universal” church with no practical implications or have the churches of today departed far far away from the religion of the apostles? What would happen in your church if the Lord dealt with hypocrisy as He did in the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5? Would anyone be left alive?

I believe that God mightily overshadowed the young church in its very earliest years in part as a continuation of the special witness to Israel begun through the earthly ministry of His Son. Thousands were “harvested” as a result of the anointing upon the apostles’ preaching and the miracles that were done. Perfect selfless unity prevailed. It was a special time, part of God’s sovereign purpose.

However, most of the remaining pages of the New Testament paint a very different picture of a church beset with problems. The apostles had to contend with sins of every kind, strife and division, false doctrine, false ministries and in general with a church rapidly falling away from its initial purity. What was happening?

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