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Pentecost

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:36
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Without the Holy Spirit there would be no church. Without the Holy Spirit we wouldn’t understand the Scriptures. We wouldn’t be able to fellowship in unity. We wouldn’t bear fruit and we couldn’t effectively witness.
So the Holy Spirit is just as essential for God’s plan of salvation now as it was back in early days of the church.
We may think the events in the book of Acts were for a special time, for a special people, and for a special purpose, and they were, but the Holy Spirit is still just as essential today and is still at work in many dramatic ways.
One of the ways the Holy Spirit works is when He dramatically gives His people patience and this is no trivial matter. And anyone who has ever been impatient knows how difficult waiting can be be without God’s help.
Hudson Taylor told those who wanted to be missionaries to China that there were three indispensable requirements for a missionary:
1. Patience
2. Patience
3. Patience
Galatians 5 says patience is a fruit of the Spirit which means it is a gift we’re given. The reason we start out emphasizing patience is the disciples had already been waiting for approximately ten days since Jesus commanded them not to leave Jerusalem. That must have been extremely difficult for them.
So, even before Pentecost we see the Holy Spirit at work. The disciples were being taught to be submissive to what God wanted. As we learned last week, they were being submissive to waiting, to Scripture, and to God’s choice of who would replace Judas.
So, that’s where we left off last week. The Holy Spirit was already working…working to instill patience within the disciples (which is no small task) while they waited for him to come in an even more dramatic way.
In this section we are going to look at three things: The coming of the holy Spirit (when did He come, what did He sound like, what did He look like), the effect of Holy Spirit, and the response to the Holy Spirit. The coming, the effect, and the response.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When did the Holy Spirit come? What did He sound like? What did He look like? The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost...
Acts 2:1 CSB
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost occurs 50 days after Passover, in fact, the name Pentecost literally means “count 50.”
Pentecost usually occurs around the first of June every year and because of the way it’s counted it always lands on a Sunday. This year it falls in a couple weeks on Sunday, June 9.
The weather in Jerusalem is usually nice in June so it is the best attended of all the Jewish Feast days. It’s also called the “feast of firstfruits” in the Old Testament because it is a time of celebration for the beginning of the harvest season. We could call it the Jewish version of our American Thanksgiving.
Since Pentecost is when farmers would begin to harvest it’s a perfect time for God to pour out his spirit on the firstfruits of an even greater harvest, his church.
During the time of Christ, Pentecost was also celebrated as the anniversary of when the law was given on Mount Sinai. Although not based upon any specific Scripture, Jewish tradition believed the giving of the law happened 50 days after the Exodus, on Pentecost.
So, on the first Pentecost the law was given but on this Pentecost in Acts something even greater, the Holy Spirit, is given which fullfills the promise of Joel 2:28...
I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity … Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
So, Holy Spirit came on Pentecost which is significant because Pentecost marks the beginning of an amazing harvest and because it also marks a contrast between external law keeping and an internal change of heart in those that are saved.
What did Holy Spirit sound like?
Acts 2:2 CSB
Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying.
What happens next, happens suddenly. There’s no count down or warning. All of a sudden there’s a sound from heaven like the sound of a hurricane or a tornado.
I’ve heard that a tornado sounds like a roaring train and I know what that sound like because we used to live near train tracks. Our whole house shook and rattled which was bad enough but imagine if the sound actually came from inside the house!
This was no gentle breeze. The greek word for spirit is pneuma, which is the same word for wind. Jesus said in John 3:8
The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going...
The Holy Spirit isn’t wind, but it is like the wind. You can’t always see it but you know it’s present. On Pentecost there was no mistaking the Holy Spirit’s presence. It didn’t come with a gentle blowing breeze but with mighty power, like the sound of a locomotive.
The Holy Spirit isn’t always visible but in this case He was. What did He look like?
Acts 2:3 CSB
They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them.
Literal tongues or flames isn’t what’s being described but something “like” them. Fire is often used as a symbol of God’s presence in the Bible.
In Exodus 3:2-4 God’s presence is like a flame of fire within a bush.
And in Exodus 24:17 we’re told as Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law
The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop.
A consuming fire isn’t a little flame. A consuming fire is one that devours everything in its path. It can’t be stopped.
Perhaps you’ve heard of prairie fires in Nebraska that happened in the 1800’s. In 1865 one was deliberately set to drive out the Native Americans. Within three days the entire Nebraska region south of the Platte River from Kearny to Denver was left blackened and desolate.

The Effect of the Holy Spirt

One of the effects of the Holy Spirit is that whatever He touches is permanently changed even more permanently than a prairie fire changes the landscape. Let’s look at verse 4 for another effect...
Acts 2:4 CSB
Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.
The Holy Spirit effects what He touches and the primary effect relates to communication. Those who were filled with the Holy Spirit began to speak in tongues!
So what exactly does it mean to speak in tongues?
Negatively, we know it doesn’t mean a drug induced kind of hallucination, because later Peter says they weren’t drunk. And we also know that the speaking in tongues wasn’t a miracle in hearing because verse 4 emphasizes speaking.
So, if they weren’t drunk, and the miracle wasn’t in the hearing but in the speaking then tongues, in this context at least, must be the supernatural ability to communicate in recognizable languages such as Aramaic, Latin, Greek, and many of the other languages from around the world.
Now, the exact nature of what it means to speak in tongues is a debated issue which I don’t intend to make a central issue. But what is clear in this passage is that the disciples were given the ability to communicate with other people and to be understood by the diversity of people present.
Understandable communication is one of the primary effects of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:5 CSB
Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven.
So, the communication is widespread. Probably every literal nation is not what is meant here. Australians and Native Americans probably weren’t present. But from Luke’s perspective every nation was represented.
And, if we study the list of nations in verses 9-11, which we won’t read right now, it doesn’t take much to see that the crowd was multi-lingual and multi-ethnic. They were all Jews but from all parts of the world. Some were ethnic Jews but others had converted to Judaism.
Present are the descendents of Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth…from the whole world. It’s interesting that at the tower of Babel the world was scattered through different languages but now the whole world is drawn together in Christ and able to hear the gospel through the communication of Holy Spirit.
Now, at some point all these people must have moved to a larger area, an area large enough to accommodate the 3000. Some speculate they were on the temple grounds when they heard the Holy Spirt come.
Acts 2:6 CSB
When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
The initial reaction is one of confusion, not because they didn’t understand but because they did. They couldn’t understand how it was happening...
Acts 2:7 CSB
They were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?
Galileans had a reputation for being uneducated and difficult to understand. They had a thick accent.
If you’ve ever been on the phone with someone in India for tech support you can probably relate. Even though the person from India speaks English very well I have a very difficult time understanding them, especially over the phone because of their accent.
So the people in Jerusalem are astounded and amazed because these are Galileans and there’s no accent! They are speaking the various languages perfectly! Skip down to verse 11...
Acts 2:11 CSB
Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the magnificent acts of God in our own tongues.”
Amazing!
But how do people respond?

The Response to the Holy Spirt

Did everyone respond the same way? No. It seems some are convinced what they are hearing is real even though they’re confused by it all. But others are skeptical and think it’s all just some elaborate hoax.
Acts 2:12–13 CSB
They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But some sneered and said, “They’re drunk on new wine.”
Those that sneered, or spoke in a mocking manner, didn’t believe anything significant was happening. They didn’t use logic or reason but believed what they wanted to. If they made fun of it they could get back to their lives all the quicker as if it never happened. So they convinced themselves they must be drunk even though that explanation makes no sense.
How could a bunch of drunk people speak intelligently with people in other languages and be understood? At best, a bunch of drunk people could just speak gibberish that no one would understand but that isn’t what occured. Remember verse 6 said...
a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
So there were two responses: there were those who didn’t believe it was real and there were those who believed even though they were astounded and perplexed about how it was possible. How will we respond? With skepticism or with faith?
As we conclude though, I want ask another question: Is what occured at Pentecost normal? Should we expect what happened at Pentecost to happen to us? Should we expect the same kind of dramatic work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Yes and No.
No, I don’t think we should expect the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself as a raging wind and a consuming fire in our day and age. I think these were one time manifestations done to accelerate the spread of the gospel and the church.
But what about being able to miraculously speak in different languages? I think that too was for a different day and time. People may claim to speak in tongues today but very few, if any, would claim to miraculously be able to speak in a known foreign language, without an accent—in a language they had never studied.
So, while there are parts of what happened at Pentecost that haven’t been repeated, nor should we expect that they ever will be, there are other parts that we should expect.
We, should still expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit. See, our task of witnessing isn’t finished so the Holy Spirit is still at work…in you!
So as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit there are at least 3 things we should still expect.
3 Slides. One for each point...
1. We should expect increased joy over our freedom in Christ.
Galatians 5 says joy is also a fruit of the Spirit. So when the Holy Spirit dwells within us we should expect to be filled with Joy!
2. The Holy Spirit should fill us with a burning desire to fellowship and worship.
It’s not by accident that Paul concludes many of his letters with an encouragement to remember the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. When we have the Holy Spirit it makes us want to be with God and with His people.
3. The Holy Spirt should make us bold.
In Acts 4, we read that the disciples prayed...
29 ...Lord, consider [our] threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness...31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.
Holy Spirit power isn’t just given to those present at Pentecost. It is also given to us! The task to reach the entire world remains unfinished so the power to speak boldly and complete the task remains!
But remember, before the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit, they first needed to patiently submit to God’s will. The power of the Holy Spirt isn’t for personal life-enhancement. It isn’t so we can be healed of all our diseases. If it was, then why was Paul and so many others sick? Why did so many die as martyrs?
No, the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was to enable people to be greater witnesses of Christ. Sometimes people were healed, sometimes not. But it was all for God’s glory and the spread of the good news.
And did you notice what was communicated when the disciples had the ability to speak in other languages?
Acts 2:11 CSB
Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the magnificent acts of God in our own tongues.”
That’s what witnessing is. It’s declaring the magnificent acts of God. Do we want more of God’s Spirit for His purposes, to be able to better declare His magnificient acts? I pray that we do.
Lord, we ask that you would give us more of your powerful Spirit. Use your Spirit to make our joy in Christ increase. Fill us with a burning desire to fellowship and worship. God make us bold in proclaiming your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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