"POWER OF PENTECOST"
TEXT: Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-21
INTRO: It is ironic that today the Baptism of the Holy Spirit divides the body of Christ and is so controversial -- in the book of Acts it came upon the believers because of their UNITY! ( "being in one accord..." ) Bring up the gifts of the Holy Spirit or the baptism of the Holy Spirit and many Christians get nervous and uncomfortable! Yet, in the New Testament there was no nervousness with the Spirit in baptism nor in the acceptance of the gifts, they were assumed to be a part of the Church and believer and that it was for all believers and Churches!
There is a new hunger for spiritual power in the Church today, and indeed, the fastest growing parts of Christianity worldwide are the Pentecostals. The Church and the believer cannot do God's work without God's Spirit. It is not insignificant that Jesus told the disciples to "wait for the promise of the Spirit" before starting ministry! If the early Church and believer NEEDED the baptism of the Holy Spirit before embarking on ministry, why would we think we don't today?
ILLUS:I want to share with you a question by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who is certainly not known as a Pentecostal preacher. When he held the great pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London as the great preacher of Reformed theology, near the end of his life -- and some say at the very pinnacle of his ministry -- he asked his congregation a question. He said, "I want to talk to you today about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You may call it what you want, but I want to know, have you experienced the fullness of the Spirit? I know all of you listening to me come as I do from a Reformed background. But it's not good enough. I know that all of you would want to say to my question about the Holy Spirit, 'Well, we got it all at conversion; there's no need for any more experience.' Well," said Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "I have only one other question to ask you. If you got it all at conversion, where in God's name is it?" -- Robert L. Roxburgh, "The Right Ambition," Preaching Today, Tape 61.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers, and that it is God's power to be witnesses to all the world, power TO BE what we can't be in our own strength.
I. PROMISE 1:4-7
A. Provision 1:4-5
1. When Jesus was about to physically leave Earth to return to heaven He understood the need His disciples had for God's Spirit dwelling in them.
a. He would leave, but the Spirit of God would come.
b. In fact, Jesus had argued earlier that this was why it was important for Him to leave ... while here in bodily form He could only be with some of them some of the time, but the Holy Spirit could be with all of them all of the time.
c. It was to their advantage that Jesus did leave so the Spirit could come in fullness.
2. How important is the Holy Spirit in the Church and the believer?
a. Absolutely critical!!!
b. We cannot live for God without the Holy Spirit's power and presence.
c. Notice Jesus' instructions to His disciples here, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised ..."
d. There is no hesitation in Jesus' statements about the importance of this baptism of the Holy Spirit!
e. He would not send them out to preach the Gospel without this gift, it was for their sake He gives this gift.
3. This gift IS NOT their salvation experience, that had already happened following Jesus' resurrection when Jesus said in John 20:22 "And with that He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
a. Jesus had already given them the Holy Spirit following His resurrection, the New Covenant was in effect then.
b. This experience in the upper room was not about conversion, it was about provision!
c. This gift was one of power, to come alongside the believer and equip for God's work.
ILLUS:In the book Healing the Masculine Soul, Gordon Dalbey says that when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, he uses a Greek word, paraclete, that was an ancient warrior's term. "Greek soldiers went into battle in pairs," says Dalbey, "so when the enemy attacked, they could draw together back-to-back, covering each other's blind side. One's battle partner was the paraclete." Our Lord does not send us to fight the good fight alone. The Holy Spirit is our battle partner who covers our blind side and fights for our well being. -- Tom Tripp, Colusa, California. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.
4. Jesus would not send us out without the Spirit's power ... when He ministered during His earthly ministry He did what He did by the power of the Spirit, He had emptied Himself of His powers as God's son so that He could set an example for us to follow. (see Phil. 2:6-8)
a. God never asks us to do a task we cannot do without His help.
b. His Spirit is necessary to do the work of His kingdom.
B. Perspective 1:6-7
1. They are hardly listening to Jesus .. they are more caught up on trying to figure out future times than realizing how important it was to be ready in the time they lived!
a. They are asking Jesus about the future ... and He is trying to equip them for the present!
b. Some things never change, bring up the baptism of the Holy Spirit today and see how fast the subject changes!!!!
2. They needed to get their focus off the future right now and look at how the Spirit of God will help them in the present.
3. The Holy Spirit's presence was to let them know that God was with them in the present, not just the future.
ILLUS:When the famous explorer Fridtjof Nansen was exploring the Arctic, he took with him a homing pigeon. When he had been gone two years and was miles from home in the desolate, frozen wastes, he tied a message to the pigeon and released it. The bird flew two thousand miles, across ice and snow, and came at last to Norway and Nansen's home. Then Nansen's wife knew that her husband was safe and well. The Holy Spirit, like a dove, assures us that in Heaven all is well. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. The purpose of the Spirit's coming was to empower them before the future arrived, hence they were focused on the wrong thing at this moment.
a. They needed to deal with the present first.
b. The immediate present need was for the Spirit's coming, not the future kingdom coming.
5. We need to realize the importance of the Holy Spirit's empowerment in our lives today!
ILLUS:There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit. -- Napoleon Bonaparte -- As quoted in Bob Phillips, Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts & Funny Sayings, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1993), p. 297.
II. POWERFUL 1:8
A. Power 1:8a
1. Jesus now shifts their attention from the coming kingdom to the coming Spirit.
a. They will receive POWER WHEN the Holy Spirit comes!
b. It wasn't just an intellectual ascent to the Spirit's reality that happened on Pentecost ... it was POWER!
c. They would KNOW that something happened to them, this power is REAL, not imagined or just accepted by faith that it had happened, they would KNOW it had happened!
ILLUS:To the church, Pentecost brought light, power, joy. There came to each illumination of mind, assurance of heart, intensity of love, fullness of power, exuberance of joy. No one needed to ask if they had received the Holy Ghost. Fire is self-evident. So is power! -- Samuel Chadwick (1832-1917) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 5806.
2. The power wasn't just to "tingle" them ... it wasn't for them to feel superior to other Christians, it wasn't meant to debate, IT WAS to give them POWER TO BE WITNESSES!
a. It was power to transform them into witnesses for Christ.
b. Their own power and abilities were NOT ENOUGH!
c. The work of evangelism DOES NOT depend on our clever programs and skills, it depends on the power of the Spirit in our lives!
3. Too often we misunderstand the purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is not just to make us feel good or give us a supernatural experience that is awesome, it is to empower us to witness for Christ in the POWER of the SPIRIT.
ILLUS:Being an extrovert isn't essential to evangelism--obedience and love are. -- Rebecca Manley Pippert, Christian author. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
a. Their obedience to wait in Jerusalem was a preliminary step in receiving ... do we wait on God in prayer long enough for Him to baptize us in the Spirit?
b. It didn't come automatically, it didn't come just because they were believers, it came because they waited on God in prayer by faith.
c. Jesus promised them this gift, but told them they would have to wait on it in prayer.
B. Proclaiming 1:8b
1. And when the power fell on them they "will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
a. This gift is not for personal blessing ... it is for proclamation!
b. It was power with purpose .. to proclaim the Savior of the world.
2. They had the words of Jesus already ... but the Word without the Spirit cannot accomplish the purposes of God, neither can the Spirit without the Word! We need both!
ILLUS:If you have the Spirit without the Word, you blow up. If you have the Word without the Spirit, you dry up. If you have both the Word and the Spirit, you grow up. -- Don Lyon, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 1.
3. Jesus had taught them much of His Word already, they needed to be complete however BEFORE embarking on ministry ... they needed the gift of the Holy Spirit, power in their lives to proclaim the Word.
4. The baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn't necessarily make us better than believers who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit, but it does make us better than ourselves!
a. It enables me TO BE a witness for Christ in a way that I couldn't be without this baptism of power.
b. It is therefore a VALUABLE GIFT ... not just an option!
5. The Church has never moved forward without the Spirit's empowerment!
III. PRACTICAL 2:1-21
A. Personal 2:1-4
1. The Holy Spirit didn't just come upon the Church which was gathered in the upper room, the tongues of fire separated and sat on EACH OF THEM.
a. Each was filled personally!
b. ALL WERE FILLED, not some, not a select group, but ALL!
2. Why some today feel that this gift was great for the early Church but not for the Church today is beyond explanation!
a. Their experience before Pentecost and after is the difference of night and day!
b. Boldness, power, courage all come to life in these baptized in the Holy Spirit believers ... they were very different after being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
3. The fire of God's Spirit took a group of hard people and shaped them into His Church, a Church of power! This fire made a difference!
ILLUS:There once was a blacksmith who had two pieces of iron which he wished to weld into one. He took them just as they were, all cold and hard, and put them on the anvil, and began to hammer with all this might, but they were still two pieces, and they would not unite. At last he remembered what he should never have forgotten. He thrust both of them into the fire, took them out red-hot, laid one on the other, and by one or two blows of the hammer they soon became one. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
4. There was little doubt that something supernatural had happened to them:
a. Sound of rushing wind
b. Tongues of fire
c. Speaking in other tongues
5. Something powerful had happened ... everyone today is happy to accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit IF it is without the mighty signs and power!!!!
a. Why tongues?
b. James said in his Epistle that the tongue is the most unruly member of the body (James 3:6) and the last to submit to God ... what makes greater sense than to have the tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit as the immediate physical evidence that someone has just been BAPTIZED (immersed) in the Holy Spirit?
c. This is the most logical and obvious initial physical evidence considering all the teaching on the corrupt nature of the tongue ... BUT it is not the ONLY evidence of the baptism of the Spirit!
d. Ongoing evidences include the fruits of the Spirit and the changed life.
e. There is certainly MORE to the baptism of the Holy Spirit than speaking in tongues, but it is not an unimportant part either.
6. Paul talks about tongues as speaking unto God even when we don't understand what we are saying, but we know that the Spirit is speaking through us according to God's will. (see Rom. 8:26)
a. Sometimes our own language is too limited to express the Spirit's thoughts!
b. God understands tongues even when we don't!
ILLUS:One day our church copier broke down. I'm not mechanically minded, but I called the repair shop to see if they could tell me what the problem was and if I could do anything about it. I quickly discovered, however, that I didn't even know how to describe what was broken. I didn't know the names of the parts or what was specifically wrong. I just knew the copy machine didn't work.
So the repair shop sent out a technician. While working on our machine, he also called the shop. Unlike me, he knew how to describe what was needed. He used words I didn't understand, but the person at the shop did, and soon the copier was repaired. My need was met because someone came and communicated to headquarters in words I could not express. The apostle Paul teaches in Romans 8 that this is also what the Holy Spirit does for us. When we don't know how to pray, the Holy Spirit knows precisely what we need and prays in a language the Father perfectly understands. -- John B. McGarvey, Cochranton, Pennsylvania. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 2.
7. They were all transformed on Pentecost Sunday ... and the Church found the power to do the work God called them to.
a. Each one of them were powerfully transformed that day, it wasn't just about the Church in general, it was a personal experience for each one of them.
b. No biblical scholar has ever debated the change that came over the disciples once they were baptized in the Holy Spirit ... it is too bad we have so much debate over the experience itself ... we ought to experience it and the rest will take care of itself!
B. Purpose 2:5-21
1. The purpose of this baptism was to equip the Church and believer to proclaim the gospel!
a. This alone makes the gift valuable!
b. Peter was completely changed by this experience ... where only days earlier he had been hiding from the Jews for fear of his life he now stands up and boldly proclaims Christ's death and resurrection ... and their need to repent and receive Christ!
2. This is NOT the same Peter after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit!
3. He has power ... he has purpose, he preaches with results.
4. The Spirit's presence in the life of a believer is what keeps us steady, God's power is a "constant" in our ability to walk with God even in the midst of shifting sands.
ILLUS:The human body is a most remarkable machine. It can maintain a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees no matter what the weather is outside. Whether a man is at the Arctic Circle or the equator, his body temperature is about the same. There is an inner mechanism that makes the difference. The Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian to achieve this kind of stabilization in terms of spiritual health. Whether we face good times or bad, whether we are tempted or receiving spiritual nourishment, the Holy Spirit keeps us stable within. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
5. Peter clearly preaches Jesus' call for repentance ... the Spirit is empowering him as he preaches.
a. The same Peter who could hardly convince anyone to follow before now witnesses over 3,000 get saved ... the difference? He has just been baptized in the Holy Spirit!
b. This was true for all the disciples and those in the upper room, their lives became legendary for their commitment for Christ and their proclamation of the Gospel!
c. They no longer feared death ... God's power and purposes were so much greater now in their lives that everything else became secondary.
6. Church ... we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit today ... we need it AS MUCH as they needed it, why would anyone NOT want this gift!?
7. God has promised to give us what we need, and He has promised to give His Holy Spirit to all who ask ... as Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
8. You need not fear this gift, nor its manifestations ... God only desires to empower us to do His work ... why ignore such a valuable gift.
CONCLUSION: Too many Christians see the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as an "option," but nowhere in Acts is it seen this way! Jesus asked ALL the disciples to "wait for the promise" -- and on the day of Pentecost they were ALL filled. At Cornelius' house they were ALL filled. (Acts 10) There is little doubt that the disciples were radically changed after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift, received by faith -- have you received since you believed?