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What Happened On Pentecost?

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We celebrate the birth of Jesus & all the world pauses to celebrate Christmas with us. We celebrate His resurrection, & most of the world recognizes Easter as a very special day on the calendar. But then comes Pentecost, & hardly anyone realizes it. It’s an important day because Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, & God has given us the wonderful opportunity of being a part of it.
About Pentecost -
The major festivals of Old Testament Israel were, in calendar order, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths
Firstfruits. The offering of firstfruits took place at the beginning of the harvest and signified Israel’s gratitude to and dependence on God (Lev. 23:9–14). The word “firstfruits” translates both reʾsûɩ̂t qāṣɩ̂r (“beginning of harvest”)
1 Corinthians 15:20–23 NKJV
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). The Feast of Weeks occurred seven full weeks after the wave offering of the Firstfruits at Passover (Lev. 23:15; Deut. 16:9). It celebrated the end of the grain harvest. Because of the fifty-day interval, it is also known by the Greek name “Pentecost.”
It is in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts we read about the beginning of the Church. The first chapter tells us of Jesus meeting with the apostles on the Mt. of Olives & telling them that they are to be His witnesses to all the world. He also tells them that they are to wait in Jerusalem until they receive power from on high. Then He ascends out of their sight. So they go to Jerusalem to wait & pray. And now I want to read our passage:
Acts 2:1–16 NKJV
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
Acts 2:22–24 NKJV
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
Acts 2:36–41 NKJV
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
It’s interesting that some of the people who were there thought that the apostles were drunk, because it tells us something of the excitement & joy that day.
I like the story about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had, & decided, "We’ve a really good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it." So they each took a vow to keep it secret.
Then they headed for town to file their claims & get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, & headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them.
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
Then there is the story that is told about a little boy at church with his mother. He was a good little boy, quiet & well behaved. He didn’t cause any problems. But every once in a while he would stand up in the pew, turn around, look at the people behind him & smile at them.
His smile was infectious, & soon everybody behind him was starting to smile back at him, too. It was all going fine until the mother realized what the little boy was doing. When she did, she grabbed him by his ear & twisted it a bit, told him to sit down & remember that he was in church.
Then he started sniffling & crying, & she turned to him & said, "That’s better." It’s kind of sad, isn’t it, that some have the impression that when we come to church that it is all gloom & doom, & that there is nothing here to really bring joy into our lives?
But Pentecost says that the early Christians discovered joy unspeakable. Again & again, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always, & again I say, Rejoice!”
Pentecost was a once in-history event, when the Church was born. So let me share with you three things that we learn from "Pentecost."
First, we see that on Pentecost,

The Church was created by God.

The Church is immortal. From the beginning of time, before the foundation of the world, God had in His mind the Church. And He promised that even the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.
So Jesus came into the world, & after His death & burial & resurrection, the Church is formed. The Church comes into reality on the Day of Pentecost.
Sometimes we act as if we think that Simon Peter called a meeting of the apostles & said to them, "Now we are here today to talk about whether or not we ought to start a Church." They discuss that for a while, & then James makes a motion that they start a Church. John seconds the motion, & they vote to start a Church. So they start a Church in Jerusalem.
It didn’t happen that way! Did you hear what the Word said? It said, "Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from. . ." Where? "From heaven." God started the Church! God created the Church. God brought the Church into being, & it is His Church, not ours. We are just a part of it. It is essential for us to realize that.
Secondly, we see that on Pentecost,

The Church is to communicate the love of God to a lost/dying world.

The theme of Pentecost, believe it or not, is communication. It’s really a shame that the whole idea of speaking in tongues has become such a controversial issue. When you read about Pentecost, the truth that comes to the surface is that God gave the gift of tongues to the apostles for one purpose, & that was for the purpose of communication.
They had a problem with communication because people had come from many different nations. And when you read the long list of nations, you realize that a language barrier existed. Because God wanted each of them to hear the message in his own language, He performed a miracle, & He gave the apostles the gift of tongues so that they could communicate His message.
The mission of the Church is to communicate the message. Now if God wants to give us a miracle to do that, praise Him for it. But you see, today, we are having to grind it out. We’re translating the Scriptures into different languages, & we’re trying to win converts from different countries, & sending them back as missionaries to their own people.
We have to do whatever we can do, but the mission has never changed, & the moment you become a Christian, the moment I become a Christian, God commissions us to share this simple message with our little section of the world.
Have you ever heard of “Rockin’ Rollin” Stewart? Let me ask you another question. How many of you have ever watched a sporting event, a Super Bowl or Monday night football game, & have seen the giant sign saying "John 3:16?" How many of you have seen that? That’s amazing!
Rockin’ Rollin Stewart is responsible for that happening. "Rockin’" is a nick name. His name is Rollin Stewart. His story appeared in Peoples Magazine a few years ago, & it is a fascinating story.
Rollin Stewart was a drunk, an alcoholic. He met Jesus, accepted Him as his Savior, became a Christian, & God healed him of his alcoholism. One day, the idea struck him that if he could just get into major sporting events & put the Word of God before the people, it would be seen by hundreds of thousands, & maybe even millions of people.
So for a number of years Rockin’ Rollin Stewart & his wife, Margaret, & a friend named William James, lived a very sporting life. They averaged driving 55,000 miles a year in an old beat up van, telling their story, & using the money they collected to buy tickets for major sporting events to hang out a sheet saying, "John 3:16."
I wonder how many tens of thousands have turned to John 3:16 & read, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" because of Rockin’ Rollin Stewart?
Now that may not be your thing. But the point is, here is a man who heard God’s command to tell the world. You see, when you & I are saved by the blood of Jesus, & added to His family, then God commissions us to communicate that message to a lost & dying world. That is the mission of the Church.
Thirdly, we see that on Pentecost,

The Church became a place of fellowship and family

Can’t you see these early Christians after they first hear the good news about Jesus? On the Day of Pentecost there are 3,000 new converts, & they suddenly share something that has never been shared before.
All of them know that they are guilty, that they have crucified Christ with their sins. But now they have repented of their sins. They’ve been redeemed, & they’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, they are part of a new family. They’ve come out of a world of selfishness & greed & dishonesty.
Now they’re part of a new fellowship where they can share things about themselves with others whom they know will listen & be kind & compassionate toward them. Suddenly a whole different atmosphere prevailed because here were 3,000 changed people that God had made different & new. They were "born again."
No wonder their number quickly grew to 5,000, & then into multitudes as the Church spread throughout Jerusalem. More & more people were attracted to them. It was different from anything else in all the world.
The Church must always be that. Most institutions are only interested in what they can get from you, but the Church wants to give. Many will take advantage of you, but the Church is where you can come & hear the truth, & be ministered to, & needs will be met in your life.
We are to be a different people, a different culture. An oasis in the midst of a desert, a shade tree on a summer day, a cup of cool water when you are thirsty, a place to come & to know that you won’t be rejected, that you’ll be accepted & loved.
Pentecost tells us that. The world changed after Pentecost because God gave birth to the church that day. And more and more people are coming to faith in Christ and becoming apart of the Church.
This morning, if you’re lonely, or tired, or feel taken advantage of, then know that within these walls there are people just like you.
So we can come without pretending. We can just be ourselves with all of our warts & blemishes & scrapes & scratches, & find love & acceptance, because that is what the Church is to be, the family of God.
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