The “Pentecostal” [sic.] protestant view of history is incorrect. This version does not square with the known facts; it says that the conversion of St. Constantine the Great was followed by apostasy, with the resulting loss of Apostolic faith and the power that was given at Pentecost; Tradition (liturgy, bishops, veneration of the saints, etc.) replacing Scripture; that True Christianity wasn’t restored until the Reformation, and then only partially. And that it was only in the early twentieth century, with the “Pentecostal revivals” [sic.)], that the full power of the Holy Spirit (as manifested in the Book of Acts) was at last revived in these last days before Christ’s return. This implies that the Holy Spirit was curtailed, moribund, or somehow went to sleep, for many centuries. This may well amount to that one thing unforgiveable (Mark 3:28-30) – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
We have no need for misreading history, nor for seeing the activity of the Holy Spirit in this (deluded) way. The Orthodox Church has the fullness of faith and life. Because She is truly “a new life with Christ and in Christ, guided by the Spirit” [Sergius Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988, p. 1.]. We know through study and direct personal experience that the [Orthodox] Church is the original “Pentecostal” Church, for She is the Church of the Holy Apostles upon whom the Holy Spirit descended, just as our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ promised, fifty days after His Death and Resurrection. The Holy Spirit is “the life and voice of the Holy Spirit in her midst” [Lazarus Moore, Sacred Tradition in the Orthodox Church. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Light and Life Publishing, 1984, p. 9.], as Holy Tradition is “the breathing of the Holy Spirit” [St. John of Krondstadt, My Life in Christ Jordanville, New York: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1984, p.174.]. We, as members of the household of God, the Apostle tells us, have been built upon –
the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Saint Theophan the Recluse describes the necessity for being filled with the Spirit:
The Spirit of Grace lives in Christians from the time of Baptism and Chrismation. And to participate in the Sacraments of Repentance and Communion – is not this to receive the most abundant floods of grace? To those who already have the Spirit, it obviously is appropriate to say: “Quench not the Spirit” [1 Thessalonians, 5:19. But, how can one say to such people: “Be filled with the Spirit” ([Ephesians, 5:18]? Indeed the Grace of the Holy Spirit is given to all Christians, because such is the power of the Christian Faith. But, the Holy Spirit, living in Christians, does not effect their salvation by Himself, but works together with the free actions of each individual. In this sense, the Christian can offend or extinguish the Spirit – or else he may contribute to the perceptible manifestation of the Spirit’s action within him. When this happens, the Christian feels himself to be in an extraordinary state, which expresses itself in deep, sweet, and quiet joy [. . . ]. Therefore, the commandment to be “filled with the Spirit” simply is an injunction to behave and act in such a manner as to co-operate with or allow free scope to the Holy Spirit, to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself by perceptibly touching the heart.
[Quoted in The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, translated by E. Kadloubovsky and E.M. Palmer, London: Faber and Faber, 1985, pp. 173-4.]
During every Divine Liturgy, on our behalf, the priest voices this plea:
We ask You, and pray You, and supplicate You: Send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here offered. O Lord, at the third hour You sent Your Holy Spirit upon Your apostles; do not take Him from us now, O Merciful One, but renew him in us, who pray to You [. . .] . And make this Bread the precious Body of Your Christ, and that which is in this Cup, the precious Blood of Your Christ, making the change by your Holy Spirit; that they may be to those who partake for the purification of the soul, for the forgiveness of sins, for the communion of Your Holy Spirit, for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven [.]
And Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who famously said that the true end of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, says this of Holy Pentecost :
When our Lord Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection, vouchsafed to complete the work of our salvation, He sent to his apostles that breath of life which Adam lost, and He gave the grace of the Holy Spirit back to them. On the day of Pentecost, he bestowed on them the power of the Holy Spirit, which entered them in the form of a mighty wind and in the appearance of tongues of fire, filling them with the strength of his Grace. This light-filled breath, received by the faithful on the day of their baptism, is sealed by the rite of chrism on the members of their body, so that it becomes a vessel of grace. That is why the priest accompanies the anointing of the chrism with these words: “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”. This grace is so great, so necessary and life-giving, that it is never withdrawn
[Valentine Zander, St. Seraphim of Sarov. New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1975, p. 89.]
Always we Orthodox commence our prayers, whether together in the holy Temple or daily at home, with a Pentecostal prayer:
O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who are present everywhere and fill all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us of every impurity and save our souls, O Good One.
It is in the hearts and lives of Orthodox Christians, who are recipients of the Holy Mysteries, those who are engaged in the process of sanctification, that the Holy Spirit is active, just as in the Holy Mysteries. Those who are members of Christ’s One Body, the Church, are those who are united with Christ in His death and resurrection through Holy Baptism and who are then sealed by the Holy Spirit by the sacrament Mystery of Holy Chrismation, for they “have all been made to drink of the one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13), This Spirit is the same Spirit Who anointed Jesus at His baptism, and remained upon Him in all fullness; the same spirit Who, following His Ascension into the Heavens, was poured out upon the Holy Apostles as tongues of fire. The same Holy Spirit Who eternally proceeds from the Father, Who is “one in essence with the Father and the Son, glorified with them, Who spoke through the prophets” (The Symbol of Faith).
The Church, that is the holy Orthodox Church, is truly the Pentecostal Church. Let us beseech God that all people may come to know this Truth. The prayer of Saint Silouan of Mount Athos is truly pentecostal: “I pray Thee, O Merciful Lord, for all the peoples of the world, that they may come to know Thee by the Holy Spirit”.
Amen. Amen. Amen.