Pentecost Sunday

"EFFECTIVE POWER & PRESENCE"

TEXTS: Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Lev. 9:23-24; II Chron. 7:1; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19

INTRO:

The Church was born as a Pentecostal Church! The Old Testament feast of Pentecost was all about celebrating a great harvest, and the New Testament event fulfilled this concept in that the Church becomes the great harvest of the Spirit.

The modern Church cannot afford to be anything less than a Pentecostal Church, Jesus would not let His disciples go out into the world until they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, so how could we even think to do His work today without being full of the Holy Spirit too?

ILLUS: The late Dr. A. W. Tozer, author and pastor, said, "If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference." -- Alan Redpath in "Christian Life" magazine. Christianity Today, Vol. 29, no. 18.

We cannot celebrate Pentecost without BEING Pentecostal! The believers could not do God's work until they were filled with the Spirit, we cannot do God's work with anything less that the fullness of the Spirit either!

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that it is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in us as individuals and as a Church that will impact our world, not our own power and presence.

I. NEED OF POWER Acts 1:8; 2:1-4

A. Task 1:8 1. God did not dare ask His people to do His work without giving them the ability to do it. a. This is why they were asked to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high descended upon them. b. We cannot do a heavenly job with earthly powers. 2. The Church today needs to avoid the misconception that we can adequately minister to our society today by clever programs or sophisticated materials. a. No substitute for the Holy Spirit will enable the believer or Church to accomplish God's purposes. b. No religious ceremonies can equip Christians to save the lost, it takes real power, Holy Spirit power! 3. The New Testament Church saw the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the NORMAL experience for empowering believers. a. The apostles laid hands of believers when they traveled for them to receive the Holy Spirit. b. It was expected that all believers would seek the fullness of the Spirit. 4. The Holy Spirit's power was central to the life of the Church.

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).

B. Transformation 2:1-4 1. Why the symbol of fire when the believers received the Holy Spirit? a. It is the symbol of transformation! b. Fire changes whatever it touches. 2. It took the fire of God's Spirit to unite the believers into a powerful group of people called the Church. a. So often they were at odds with one another before Pentecost. b. Only days earlier the male disciples thought the women followers crazy for believing Jesus had risen from the dead. c. After Pentecostal fire fell however, they were united as never before. d. Nothing earlier had welded them into one united force, it took the fire of God's Spirit to do this.

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)

3. It has never been programs that have dramatically transformed people's lives, it takes God's Spirit to do that. a. History is full of stories of Spirit filled people who have transformed society.

ILLUS: Rochester, New York, was dramatically transformed by [Charles Finney's] work there in 1830-31 in what has been called the greatest year of spiritual awakening in American history. Shops were closed so people could attend his meetings, and as a result of the changed hearts, the town taverns went out of business. Finney soon won international fame. -- "Charles Grandison Finney--19th Century Giant of American Revivalism," Christian History, Issue 20.

b. While Satan can stand against programs, he cannot stand against the presence of God! c. What's begun in the Spirit cannot be finished in the flesh, the Church was birthed in the power of the Holy Spirit, we cannot now depend on human power and ingenuity to accomplish the work of His kingdom. 4. Society won't be transformed until the Church is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

II. NEED OF PRESENCE Acts 2:3; Lev. 9:23-24; II Chron. 7:1; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19

A. Tabernacle Acts 2:3; Lev. 9:23-24; I Cor. 6:19 1. The fire that appeared on the heads of each believer in the upper room has a connection to the Old Testament: a. When Moses was dedicating the tabernacle, supernatural fire from the presence of God fell on the sacrifices. b. This indicated to the people that God had accepted the tabernacle as His dwelling place the proof was the supernatural fire that fell from heaven. (1. In fact, the verses that follow have a sad story of how Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu tried to bring natural fire into the tabernacle and were thus destroyed by God. (see Lev. 10:1-2) (2. For the tabernacle to hold God's presence only God's fire could suffice. c. The tabernacle was portable, capable of moving about - the Apostle Paul uses this term to indicate that under the New Covenant our bodies are the "tabernacle" of the Holy Spirit (see I Cor. 6:19 - the pronoun "you" is singular here indicating the individual) 2. On Pentecost, the individual believers had tongues of fire over them, supernatural fire from heaven once again God sent His own fire to demonstrate that from now on He would accept the "tabernacle" - the individual as His dwelling place, and indeed now the believer is a "tabernacle" of the Holy Spirit. a. As the supernatural fire fell only once on the tabernacle, it only fell once on the believers, at Pentecost - it is unnecessary for this to repeat itself as a sign. b. As in the Old Testament, instructions were given that the fire that fell from God should never be permitted to go out, it was to be attended constantly around the clock so it would never go out. c. So should the fire of the Spirit of God in our lives, it should never be allowed to go out! While God sent it, the Levites were responsible to keep it going! 3. While the power of God is vast, we must have our own individual life tapped by His power through the Holy Spirit or we won't go very far with the tasks He has given us!

ILLUS: One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas. Often, Christians neglect their spiritual maintenance, and though they are "clothed with power" (Luke 24:49) find themselves out of gas. -- Steve Blankenship, Edmond, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.

4. Are you full or are you satisfied to only be identified with God's Spirit?

B. Temple Acts 2:3; II Chron. 7:1; I Cor. 3:16 1. Before the tongues of fire appeared, the supernatural fire appeared over them all before it separated over each of them. a. This too has its roots in the Old Testament. b. The temple when dedicated by Solomon had supernatural fire fall from heaven to indicate that God accepted the permanent temple as His dwelling place, much like He had done with the smaller tablernacle. 2. These were the only two times fire fell from heaven as a sign to man that God was pleased to dwell in these places. 3. The temple of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in the New Testament Church. a. Notice in I Cor. 3:16 Paul says that "You (plural) are the temple of the Holy Spirit." - a clear reference to the Church. b. On Pentecost the supernatural fire appeared above the entire body of believers before it separated into tongues over each, clearly indicating that the body of Christ - the Church - would now become the dwelling place of God's Holy Spirit. c. As in the Old Testament this only occurred once, and so the sign of fire is not repeated after this in the New Testament either. 4. God's presence is seen in the Church, a Pentecostal Church! a. A Church without the Holy Spirit is a powerless Church, no programs can substitute for His presence! b. A Church empty of the presence of the Holy Spirit has no power, it is just a shell without real power!

ILLUS: In World War II a B-17 had been on a bombing run over a German city named Kassel. It took quite a bit of flak by Nazi antiaircraft guns but miraculously it kept flying and made it back to base. Going through the plane after it returned the airforce pilots couldn't believe their own eyes, a total of 11 shells had hit their gas tanks and yet the plane had not exploded! Taking the 11 shells carefully from the tanks they were sent down to have them defused, what they found explained their miracle. All 11 shells were empty!! One contained a note written in the Czech language that read, "This is all we can do for you now." They had no powder to put inside the shells, so they didn't destroy their enemy, they were powerless. This is the Church that fights Satan without the power of the Holy Spirit, empty shells with no power!

5. A non Pentecostal Church is no threat to Satan or society! 6. The fire on Pentecost was the symbol of God's acceptance of the Church as His dwelling place, it is this that sets the Church apart from all other organizations. a. The Church is not an organization, it is a living organism! b. Only a Church infused with the fire of God's Spirit can demonstrate the real presence of God. 7. On Pentecost they saw the fire, but after Pentecost the world felt the fire!!! 8. What is often lacking in the Church today is not money, it is not materials, it is not programs, what is lacking is the PRESENCE OF GOD! a. The Spirit of God brings both PRESENCE and POWER! b. A Spirit filled believer has both PRESENCE and POWER. c. A Spirit filled Church has both PRESENCE and POWER. d. What the world needs today is both God's PRESENCE and POWER! 9. Are we a Pentecostal Church? Are you a Pentecostal Christian? Do we dare be anything less!? 10. It was a Pentecostal Church that witnessed in power and saw scores of people saved and added to the Church. 11. It is still a Pentecostal Church that is witnessing God's power today and it is the Pentecostals that are the fastest growing segment of the Church in the world, this is no accident. 12. It is a rule of physics that where you have fire you have expansion, it is a rule of the Spirit too! 13. Let's not be Pentecostal in name only, let's be Pentecostal in experience too!

CONCLUSION: The supernatural fire of Pentecost is a message from God about 2 things: (1. The Church and believer is called to harvest souls with God's power, and (2. The Church is the habitation of the Spirit with God's presence. Pentecost celebrates the harvest, the fruit of much labor and God's blessings. Are you a Pentecostal?