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Summary: What can we learn from Pentecost?
Summary: What can we learn from Pentecost?
What can we learn from the Experience of Pentecost?
Story: The son of a wealthy man expected to receive a sports car for his graduation.
Instead his Dad called him into his study told him that he loved him and handed him a wrapped-up present.
When he opened it, he found it to be a box containing leather bound Bible, with his name inscribed on the spine.
Angrily the young man tossed the box on his father’s desk and stormed out saying: with “With all your money, all you can give me is a Bible!”
And they never spoke again, despite the fact that the young man’s father tried hard to contact him.
Years later, he got a call to say his Dad had died, leaving him everything.
As he was going through his father’s belongings, he found that Bible still in its box.
Curious, he took the Bible out of the box and opened it. The page fell open at a passage his father had marked. And as he looked at the page, he noticed that his Dad had underlined ,
“ If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father give what is good to those who ask Him. “
And as he read it, a car key fell from inside the Bible.
It had a tag with the dealer’s name on it – for the sports car that he had wanted years earlier.
On the tag beside his graduation date we the words: “Paid in full love Dad.” (Word for Today sat Sept. 7th 2002).
Pentecost is the season when we remember God’s great gift to us following the death of his Son in our place on the Cross. It is the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Yet so many Christians reject the gift of the Holy Spirit – for fear often of being “happy clappy” - missing out on a wonderful gift from God himself to invigorate our lives and our ministry.
But the power of the Holy Spirit, given to the Church at Pentecost is more than simply an emotional form of Worship. It is the power given to the Church to fulfil the Great Commission
There are, in my opinion, only three major celebrations in the Church Year.
1. Christmas when we celebrate the Birth of Christ
2. Easter when we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ and
3. Pentecost (or Whitsun - for us Anglicans!!) when we celebrate the birth of the Church as recorded in our reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles
You might be wondering – how on earth can this spectacular Event have given birth to the Church?
So what was this event at Pentecost in AD 29 or 30 all about?
It might help to start with considering what PENTECOST was.
Pentecost was the second major festival of the Jewish year – after Passover.
(And you will recall what significant event occurred at Passover that year – the Death and Resuurection of Jesus)
The name was derived from the Greek Pentecostos meaning 50 and was fifty days after the Passover.
It was the time of offering the first fruits of the Wheat Harvest to God.
Question: But you might still ask – well how does have anything to do with the birth of the Church?
Jesus gave his Church the Great Commission in
-20 just before he left this earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
He told them “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you till the end of the age”
It must have been very daunting to the disciples.
Yet Jesus gave them very clear instructions how they were to go about it. In He said
But you shall receive Power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnessses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. ( )
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
In other words, Jesus himself would enable them to fulfil the Great Commission – how by giving them the Power of the Holy Spirit
In our reading from the Book of Acts, we can see three principles for success in growing the Church.
1. The disciples obeyed Jesus
2. They needed the Power from on high
3. They earthed their message in God’s word
1. The first principle for success was that the disciples obeyed Jesus
Why, in were they told to wait before bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus? Simply because Jesus said so.
If we are going to be servants of Christ, we have to learn to do WHAT he tells us to do.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high comes upon them.
So what did they do?
They spent their time in prayer – in anticipation. In we read:
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
“They all joined together, constantly in prayer”
They got ready for action. Prayer is the power house of the Christian life.
Prayer is the preparation for everything that we wish to do in Christ. It puts us in touch with HQ – with our Commander in Chief.
2. The second principle for success was the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Power from on high needed to preach the Gospel.
God asks us to be willing – but we don’t have to preach the Gosepl in our own strength.
The Church isn’t our worry – it’s God’s worry.
Maddy has a wonderful expression when I worry:
“Why pray when you can worry!!”
If we are going to do God’s work, we need to do it in HIS strength and not our own.
The experience made the disciples changed people.
Let us look at the change that happened in Peter.
i) Before the Experience
I am sure you all recall how Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice: One of these denials was recorded in Luke as follows:
Then a maid seeing him (Peter) as he sat in the light and gazing at him said "This man was also with Him" But he (Peter) denied it saying "Woman, I do not know Him". ()
And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”
Peter didn’t have the power to stand up for Jesus in front of a maid of the High Priest.
ii) After the Experience
However after the experience we see a transformed St. Peter.
In , we see Peter who was scared to proclaim Christ in front of the High Priest’s maid. Now we see him proclaiming Jesus in front of the High Priest himself. After Peter had spoken, St Luke records the effect it had on the Jewish Counicl in front of whom he was speaking:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated common men, they wondered.
What was the result of the Pentecost experience in .
The believers were given a boldness to witness to what they had experienced. How did the crowds react: St. Luke records
And they were all amazed and wondered saying" Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?..
( vv.7- 12)
7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
3. The third principle for success in preaching the Gospel is that the disciples earthed their message in the Scriptures
The only Scriptures that St. Peter has was the Old Testament. The New Testament hadn’t been written. Yet Peter was well versed in it. His quotation from Joel shows that he knew his Bible well.
He was able to earth his experience and the experience of the other believers in Scripture.
Many of the Sects get away with their false teaching becasue folk don’t know the Word of God. God has revealed himself in the Scriptures and any genuine Christian experience will be biblically based.
Peter quotes the book Joel () a book that had been written over 800 years earlier.
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.
What is happening here Peter says conforms to Scripture. Joel prophesied it.
I find it of great comfort to know that growth in our churches is not my worry. It’s God’s worry.
However, we are called to work with God in spreading the Good News and so we have responsibilities.
1. We need to hear what God is saying to us and obey. The disciples were told to wait in – and that is what they did. This enabled God to release his power for them.
The disciples spent a lot of time in prayer – How did they know the will of God – they spent a lot of time in prayer.
2. If we are going to preach the Gospel, we need to ask for strength and boldness.
3. If we are going to preach the Gospel successfully, we need to be earthed in Scripture and we need to earth our message in God’s Word