Pentecost Sunday

"TO BE OR NOT 'TO BE'!"

 

TEXT:         Acts 1:8;  2:1-41

 

INTRO:       When people hear the term "Pentecostal" they usually think of speaking in tongues or emotional worship services with the gifts of the Spirit operating.  While this may be a part of Pentecostal worship, it is not what defines a Pentecostal biblically!

 

Pentecost has more to do with CHARACTER than it does with CHARISMATA!   The most profound thing about Pentecost wasn't the tongues, that just got the Jewish audience attention, it was the profound change in the disciples that really grabbed their attention!

 

The power of Pentecost then was the "POWER TO BE"  (see Acts 1:8) ... not just the power to manifest something.  "TO BE" suggests a transformation, and this is where the Baptism of the Holy Spirit finds its direction.  Jesus promised them power after the Holy Ghost came upon them, power TO BE witnesses.  True Pentecostals are evangelists transformed men and women with a transforming message!

 

We cannot do the work of God without the Holy Spirit's power ... or if we try we will find out that we go nowhere!

 

ILLUS:     A garage man in Mangum, Oklahoma, answered the distress call of a woman motorist, whose car had stalled. He examined the car and informed her that it was out of gas. "Will it hurt," she asked, "if I drive it home with the gas tank empty?" -- Donald Grey Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate (Fleming H. Revell, 1967), p. 45.

 

The good news of Pentecost is that we have been promised the power to be what God calls us to be!

 

PROP. SENT:       The Bible teaches us that we have the power available to be what God calls us to be, we only need to receive it.

 

I.      PROVISION    Acts 1:8a;  2:1-13

 

A.   The Power    1:8a;   2:1-4

1.   Verse 8 sets the blueprint for the book of Acts and the life of the Pentecostal Church!

a.  Jesus had asked them to wait until God had given them the gift of the Holy Spirit before they go out into ministry.

b.  Jesus had already "breathed on them" and told them to "receive the Holy Spirit" in John 20:22

c.  They needed "power" as well as the "presence" of the Holy Spirit.

2.   Though born again by Jesus breathing on them they were still in need of transforming their fears and weaknesses.

a.  They needed to be full of the Spirit so as to empty their fears!

 

ILLUS:      A man who drank heavily was converted to Christ and lived victoriously for several weeks.  One day as he passed the open door of a tavern, the pungent odor drifting out aroused his old appetite for liquor.  Just then he saw this sign in the window of a nearby cafe: "All the buttermilk you can drink -- 25 cents!" Dashing inside, he ordered one glass, then another, and still another.  After finishing the third he walked past the saloon and was no longer tempted.  He was so full of buttermilk that he had no room for that which would be injurious to him.     The lesson is clear:  to be victorious over our evil desires, we must leave no opportunity for them to repossess us.   Source Unknown

 

b.  There was little doubt about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit coming on them in power!

(1.  The place was shaken with the sound of a mighty rushing wind.

(2.  Fire filled the room and then over each head.

(3.  They spoke in languages or tongues they did not know.

(4.  There was no doubt something powerful and supernatural had happened!

3.   While this "power" catches our attention as well as the unusual phenomena that take place, the real power is not in the phenomena that takes place ... that gets everyone's attention, the real power was the transformation of these individuals once they were filled with the Spirit.

4.   God provides the power they need ... and society will provide the pressure to test them! ... this is still true!

 

B.   The Pressure!   2:5-13

1.   Immediately the crowd that is now noticing the supernatural phenomena starts to mock these believers.

2.   Some were "amazed and perplexed," others were making fun of them and accusing them of being drunk in the morning!

a.  Strict Jews drank wine with flesh which was consumed in the evenings according to Moses statements in Ex. 16:8, bread was eaten in the mornings without wine ... hence Peter's statement later about how ridiculous their accusation was since it was only 9 in the morning ... no good Jews drank at that time of the day!

b.  Pentecostals have always been the brunt of criticism because of the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit.

3.   The question the crowd asks however has merit:  "WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?"

a.  The pressure was on to define the meaning of being Pentecostal!

b.  What is the focus of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

c.  Would Peter spend time defending the manifestations?

d.  What is the point?

 

II.    POSITION    1:8b;  2:14-41

 

A.   The Point!   1:8b;  2:14-36

1.   The emphasis on the coming of the Holy Spirit according to Jesus' own words is on the "power TO BE," not the manifestations!

a.  Jesus said that after the power of the Holy Spirit came on them they WOULD BE witnesses for Him.

b.  The Holy Spirit's power is not to just "tickle," it is to "TRANSFORM"!

2.   Too often the emphasis goes on the manifestations and not on the transformation.

3.   Power that does not make us different has little value to others or the Kingdom of God!

 

ILLUS:    In an article on China in Eternity Magazine, the writer records a story of Christian love and kindness.  "A Chinese cook was put into prison one night.  It was bitterly cold.  About 26 degrees below zero. He had on his padded clothes and a big fur coat.  But a heathen man who was later thrown in with him had no wraps at all.  The Christian man began to pray that God would get him out of prison. While he was praying, it seemed God spoke to him.  'I won't hear your prayer until you've taken off your fur coat and given it to this man who had none.'  'But if I do that, I'll be frozen to death by morning,' the man thought.  'Well, if you don't,' he seemed to hear God's reply, 'this man will be dead before morning.'  So he took off his fur coat and gave it to the man and his life was saved.   Later on at a Christian gathering in Communist China, the heathen man who had received the coat got up and gave his testimony. "I am here today because a man shared his coat with me in prison."  People are in need.  People are suffering.  The winning of souls to Christ could well depend on how willing we are to share our coat.  Source Unknown

 

4.   These disciples who had already received the Holy Spirit needed this "baptism of the Holy Spirit" to make them bold with God's power.

a.  This is still true for us today!

b.  This power in the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a power "TO BE"

c.  It is transforming power, not just interesting manifestations!

5.   Note how Peter deals with the attraction of the crowd to the unusual manifestations of tongues and the fire and wind...

a.  He first appeals to their good sense ... it was only 9 in the morning, they couldn't be drunk he dimissed their accusation that this was only natural manifestations!

b.  Next he acknowledges the validity of the phenomena by basing it in Scripture ... this is always a safe way to defend supernatural manifestations!

(1.  He defends the manifestations as having Scriptural basis for them.

(2.  He defends the supernatural manifestations as part of what God will be doing in the last days.

c.  Next he takes the focus off the sensational and puts it on salvation!  He preaches the Gospel!

(1.  You will note that this became the priority ... preaching, not manifestations!

(2.  Delivering the Word of God never took a back seat to the other stuff going on.

6.   The power of the Spirit on Peter gave him boldness to proclaim the message of salvation to a large audience and to call them to make a commitment.

a.  Isn't this exactly what Jesus said the power would help them TO BE ... witnesses!

b.  Peter was a changed man ... not frightened anymore, not overcome by fear ... he was a bold witness for Christ ... and he preached with power!

 

B.   The Plea    2:37-41

1.   Peter gives the invitation ... and they ask what they must do to be saved!

a.  Power was at work here, God's power!

b.  All those years with Jesus with such little results to show, but now things would be different!

c.  Peter tells them to repent and be baptized, and that this same promise that they received was theirs and the future generations to come!

2.   Peter then pleads with them "save yourselves from this corrupt generation"   2:40

a.  This would require the same transforming power of God's Spirit in their lives as that of the disciples!

b.  3,000 got saved!

c.  The power of Peter's transformed life and his message got results!

 

III.   PLACEMENT    1:8c

 

A.   The Program    1:8c

1.   Jesus tells them that once this power has come on them and made them TO BE witnesses that the message would begin to spread out!

a.  It would start locally, and move outward in God's power and through transformed lives.

b.  The Church cannot be satisfied to simply exist, it must be evangelizing!

 

ILLUS:    An elderly woman was being conducted through a great cathedral in Europe.  The guide spoke of its beauty of design, calling attention to the statues and paintings.  The woman was unimpressed.  At the conclusion of the tour she asked the guide, "How many souls have been saved here this year?  How many people have drawn near to God here?"  "My dear lady," said the embarrassed guide, "this is a cathedral, not a chapel."  That's the trouble.  Unfortunately we have too may cathedrals and too few chapels where the warmth of the Spirit of God is felt, conducive to a spiritual life that enhances our knowledge of God.   -- Illustrations of Bible Truths, AMG, 1995, p. 31.

 

2.   The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was not an end, it was a beginning!

a.  It energized the believers

b.  It empowered the Church

c.  We still need it!

3.   The Church cannot accomplish the mission God has given it without the power of Pentecost!

a.  This is why our motto in the Assemblies of God comes from Zech. 4:6 ... 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."

b.  The normal passion of the Church should be to reach the lost.  Too many Churches have moved from being "fishers of men" to "keepers of the aquarium"!

 

B.   The Process

1.   The whole book of Acts shows the process of what happens to a Pentecostal Church, it reaches into the whole world that was known at that time!

2.   It is still Pentecostals that are the largest segment of evangelism in the world today, they are the fastest growing group in Christianity worldwide, is this a surprise NO!

3.   God give us a passion and His power again to reach the world!

 

ILLUS:    One thousand eighty-four people made first-time professions of faith in Christ during Easter services at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.  Pastor Rick Warren preached at seven services; three on Saturday and four on Sunday and a youth pastor preached a sunrise service.  Some 104 out-of-town relatives invited by their families made decisions to become Christians. Hundreds of others rededicated their lives to Christ or decided to join the church or be baptized.  Attendance totaled 21,988. Warren's sermons described Jesus' trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. "Jesus is still on trial in the minds of many of you," he told the audience, saying he was turning the auditorium into a courtroom, impaneling them as jurors and calling witnesses.  "And then you must come to a verdict." Saddleback members invited an estimated 8,500 non-Christians to the services.  Warren had told congregation members not to attend on Easter unless they brought at least one unchurched person.  It was Saddleback's first Easter in its own building, which was recently constructed on a 74-acre campus.  The church was founded on Easter in 1980 and had used 89 different facilities in five cities, including schools, country clubs, warehouses, tents, and mental hospitals.   -- National & International Religion Report, April 29, 1996, p. 2.

 

4.   "To be" or not "to be"... that is the question!!

 

CONCLUSION:    Pentecost is much more than just supernatural manifestations, it is the supernatural transformation of 120 men and women by God's Spirit and the resulting harvest of that power "TO BE" something they weren't before!  God give us a baptism of the Holy Spirit that makes us "TO BE" witnesses for Him.  We need Pentecost!  Do it again Lord!!