OUTPOURING: EXPERIENCING PENTECOST
Acts 2:1-13, 5/20/2018
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 special day on the calendar. But I wonder how many in the world recognize the importance of today? Today is Pentecost, & hardly anyone realizes it. Yet, this day is important, on this day over two thousand years ago an ancient prophecy was fulfilled.
It was on the Day of Pentecost God poured out His promised Holy Spirit upon a small group of His disciples, giving birth to the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ, of which we are a part. This morning, let’s look at the Biblical context of Pentecost and revisit that phenomenal day which changed the history of the world and find out how Pentecost impacts us today. The out pouring of the Holy Spirit has been recorded in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts.
I. PENTECOST, WHAT IS IT?
What comes to your mind when you hear the word Pentecost? Many churchgoing Christians often mistake it to the Assemblies of God Church or other Pentecostal Churches, so is it then a denomination? No, it is not a particular denomination but it is the manifestation of God’s power. It is a fulfillment of God’s promise that one day He will pour out His Holy Spirit upon all nations. What are the roots of Pentecost in the Old Testament?
II. PENTECOST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In the OT God commanded all the men of Israel to appear before him three times a year. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. Deuteronomy 16:16-17
In Exodus 19:1, we read, “On the first day of the third month after they left Egypt on that very day they came to the Desert of Sinai.” It was remembered as the moment when Israel reached the base of the Mount Sinai, where God descended in visible fiery glory. God spoke from the mountain to reveal his will to them, which is also coincided with their harvest season. In the Bible, this event is remembered as the Festival of Harvest or Weeks. In Hebrew it is called ‘Shavuot. In the Greek translation, this festival is called Pentecost (“fifty” as this festival is celebrated fifty days after Passover.) We will pick our story from here.
A brief context to the 2nd Chapter of Acts. After his resurrection Jesus met with his disciples and spoke with them about many things pertaining to the Kingdom of God for a period of forty days. “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. And he went on to say, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8
Taking this command seriously a group of 120 disciples kept meeting in an upper room in Jerusalem, waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4.
Why did Jesus choose this divine moment to pour down the Holy Spirit on His disciples? The festival of weeks required a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Luke notes, in Vs 5, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
A rushing wind comes from heaven and fills the house.” The gathered disciples see what seems to be tongues or flames of fire resting on each member of the believing community. They were all filled with the fiery presence of God, yet they are not consumed. Instead they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the utterance. They were declaring the mighty acts of God, and everyone gathered there heard them speak in their own language. That must have caused a great commotion. Many wondered asking, what does this mean?
Then Peter spoke up to the onlooking crowd from the ancient prophecy of a 9th century BC prophet named Joel. “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” Acts 2:17-18
On the day of Pentecost Jesus kicked off his world-wide preaching campaign by sending His Holy Spirit on the timid and fearful disciples. The Apostle Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit stood up along with the other eleven disciples and gave a powerful message. At the end of his sermon 3000 people got saved and were baptized in water. That was the First the church.
Let me bring a parallel between the Festival of Weeks in the OT and the Pentecost in the New Testament. In the OT the Israelites worshipped and honored God with the first fruits of their harvest. Whereas in the New Testament we see a different kind of harvest, it was the soul harvest. The people who got saved that day were the first fruits of all who would be saved.
The small Holy Spirit fire that began in Jerusalem became a wild fire as the disciples went out from there taking the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ wherever they went. As a result of what happened on that day of Pentecost, according to a new Pew research, Christianity claims to have a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people, which amounts to 2.3 billion.
Hopefully those numbers will increase as the Holy Spirit is still in the business of saving people all over the world. What does this all mean? Does Pentecost have to remain as a key date in the History of the Church so that we can visit Jerusalem or ponder about it once a year in our churches or does it have any significance for us to day?
III. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In Acts 1st chapter we read, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. And he went on to say, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This scripture tells us what happens in the life of an individual when he or she is filled with the Holy Spirit and also the purpose for which the Holy Spirit was sent, when he was sent on the day of Pentecost.
The Apostle Peter who cowardly denied Christ three times, but when he was filled with the Holy Spirit became as bold as a lion and reminded the crowd about the prophecy of Joel. When we hear about what happened to Peter and the other disciples on the day of Pentecost, you may say great, good for them, they were special people so that is why they received that power. But what about me, I am an ordinary, born again, bible believing Baptist Christian. Can I also receive that power which I so badly need in my life?
The answer is an emphatic Yes! God is no respecter of people. He has no favorites. He wants to bless all people. He wants everyone to experience such power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is what Peter said to the crowd of people who have heard his powerful message. Vs 38-39“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
As this scripture suggests, this promise of God is for you, and me and for our children and for all those whom our Lord would call unto himself. No matter who you are, the criteria to receive the power of the Holy Spirit is to repent of our sins and ask Jesus to forgive and get baptized in the name of Jesus Christ then you too will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the past I shared with you my personal journey of faith and how I have experienced the presence, the power and the inner workings of the Holy Spirit over and over in my ministry. Just this Friday again as I was driving to Maine, I began to cry out to God for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit in my life. Suddenly, I began to feel a warm sense of God’s overwhelming presence welling up from the depths of my heart. I sang my heart out and praised God.
On this Pentecost Day, are you feeling dry in your spiritual walk? How is your witnessing of Christ these days, are you feeling shy, fearful and unable to defend the claims of the gospel before your colleagues, friends and neighbors? Are you feeling a sense of defeat over dilapidating sinful habit patterns? Are you in need of a fresh start of your life? All you need to do is to appropriate that promise of God for your personal life. Some of you may need to repent and ask God for forgiveness and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And others of you, may need to recognize that you already have received that gift of the Holy Spirit, when you surrendered your life to the Lord, and now by faith you need to fan into flame that gift which is within you. By faith you need to take bold steps in witnessing to others. By faith allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into all the truth that is there in God’s word. By faith let the Holy Spirit take full control of all aspects of your life. My prayer for all of us is that may God open our eyes and ears to the truth and the innerworkings of His Holy Spirit, so that we might continue to recognize, and receive the Power of Holy Spirit and become powerful witnesses for Christ in our generation. Amen