I thought we would keep the Pentecost theme going this week because if there is anything I know we could all benefit from it is a generous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Church, we need another Pentecost! As I read the account of Pentecost from Acts 1 and 2, while no one could take credit for the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the miraculous ability to speak in languages that people hadn’t learned, and the 3000 souls that were saved except God Himself, I find some practices that were part of the Pentecost experience which set the stage for all that happened. Let’s look again at what took place and see what the disciples were doing on that day.
I want to point out first, that just before Pentecost, the followers of Christ were practicing obedience.
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He instructed His followers to go to Jerusalem. He told them to wait there for the “gift” the Father had promised. He was referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s Acts 1:4. The same was told to the disciples at the end of Luke. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, they went to Jerusalem, and Luke 24:53 says they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. They did as they were instructed to do.
I’ve met some believers who are interested in an experience with the Holy Spirit, but they are less interested in obedience to Christ when He speaks. You can’t have one without the other. Obeying Christ’s commands will set you up with an encounter with the Holy Spirit and disobedience to Christ will cause you to miss Divine appointments.
Jesus was able to do what He did while He was on earth because He was being led by the Spirit of God. From the very beginning of His ministry, He went where the Father told Him to go, and He did so in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know how messed up the Pentecost event would have been had the disciples not done what they were told to do? They were told in Luke 24:47 that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in Jesus’ name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. They were going to be the preachers. Pentecost was a Divine appointment for those early Christ-followers. Had they not gone to Jerusalem, they wouldn’t have been where they were going to be needed to preach in all of the languages they were miraculously gifted to preach in! Had they not waited until the Spirit was poured out upon them, and had they just started preaching, they wouldn’t have been preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. They would be preaching in their own strength, and the result would have been dramatically different. It was the Holy Spirit outpouring that enabled them to preach in the different languages that were represented in the crowded city of Jerusalem that day. The miracles of Pentecost were possible, in part, because the messengers of Pentecost were obedient to Christ.
We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can serve the Lord in miraculous ways and disobey Him at the same time. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit won’t come in power upon people who choose disobedience over discipleship. Being powerful disciples of Christ is about more than being in the right place at the right time. It means complete submission to God’s plans over ours.
Perhaps it would have been tempting for some of the disciples to just strike out and start preaching. Maybe they didn’t understand the purpose of waiting for the Holy Spirit’s coming. Maybe waiting seemed like a waste of time. I mean, they had the truth. They had witnessed the resurrected Christ. They knew what to say, but without the power of the Holy Spirit, the message wouldn’t have brought about the conviction and transformation that took place.
Would you like to see the power of Pentecost fall on our community? Let’s make sure we aren’t hindering the Spirit’s outpouring by being disobedient to the commands of Christ. Let’s practice obedience to the commands of Christ.
A second observation I will make is that the followers of Christ were practicing unity. They were on the same team. They were seeking the Lord together. They were waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit together. God dwells in power where His people dwell in unity. They were together for a reason. God wanted to use them as a group. Yes, Peter wound up proclaiming a singular message that was recorded in chapter 2, but they were all anticipating the power to proclaim the good news of the Gospel, and before his sermon, they all proclaimed the Word of God.
One way they expressed their unity was through being united in prayer. Listen to Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” There is power in agreement. When we agree with one another in prayer, when we express unity in prayer, we invite the Holy Spirit to move in power in our midst. When someone leads in prayer on our platform, you can agree with that person while he or she is praying. Whether you nod your head or say “I agree” or “amen” out loud or just agree in your spirit, when you agree in faith that God can do what we are asking Him to do you are literally paving the way for the Spirit of God to show up.
I know not everyone can make it here at 11 am on Wednesday for prayer. That’s totally OK. I’m just testifying that the Holy Spirit has knit those of us together who come together, and the Holy Spirit shows up in that Hospitality room when we gather. We are storming the gates of Hell together, as a group, to seek release for people who are captive to addiction, to confusion, to sin, and to sickness. There is Holy Spirit boldness in our unified pursuit of the Kingdom of God to be expanded on earth. The Holy Spirit leads our minds as we are praying so that we know how to pray, and as we express our faith to God through passionate prayer and agree with one another, we have a sense that God is with us in a way that we may not always experience when we pray on our own. Unity is created in prayer and prayer creates unity. As those early believers prayed together, the very act of prayer brought them closer to the Lord and to each other. You want to get close to someone? Start praying with them!
Notice as well that they all had an experience with the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t a few people who were filled with the Spirit while the rest watched and took notes. No, there was unity in that moment. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire came and rested on each of them. They would never be the same. As a group, and as individuals, they would never be the same. For the rest of their lives, they would talk about the day the sound of a rushing wind filled the room where they had gathered and where they felt the power of God infiltrate their being. They had never felt such energy. They had never had such a rush. They could never deny what had happened. They had come together, and from their togetherness, as they obeyed the Lord’s instructions, something brand-new was born in them.
The power of Pentecost, the fire of Pentecost, will bring people together. People from every nation were in Jerusalem and were brought into the experience through the miraculous gift of being able to hear about the Lord in their own language. There was incredible unity in the midst of the diversity of those languages being spoken.
The word “together” appears at least five times in the first two chapters of Acts. One thing I observe about the world in which we live is that it is full of division. There is a natural division along linguistic and geographic lines. There is division all too often along ethnic and socio-economic lines. There is great division along political lines. We are good at finding reasons to divide. The power of Pentecost is that it brings us all together in Christ. I Corinthians 12:13 says, “13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Do you understand that Jesus has made it possible for us not only to be reconciled to God, but that through His Spirit, we can be reconciled to each other! We become a Body. We become one in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh, how we need another Pentecost. We need the power of the Spirit to bond us together, especially when Satan is working overtime to try to create division everywhere we turn.
We also see the early Christ-followers practicing the proclamation of the Gospel.
When the Spirit has His way in people, they will begin to talk about Jesus. All of the believers began to declare the wonders of God. They talked about Jesus boldly as they allowed the Spirit to take over. This is what Jesus said would happen. Jesus had told them in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Talk about a fast fulfillment of that prophecy. They all began to speak about God in languages they had never learned because the Holy Spirit enabled them to do so. Can you picture the energy that would have been present? There was a whole lot of noise, but it wasn’t chaotic. The messages were clear to the hearer. This is the power of Pentecost. When we speak in the power of the Spirit, the message will be clear to all who hear.
Church, we need another Pentecost! We need a fresh Holy Spirit infilling that will get us fired up to talk about Jesus. He is the only One who can change a heart, who can direct a mind towards what is right. He is the only One who can free people from themselves and from the grasp of Satan and sin.
Acts 2:17-18- “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
We need men and women, young and old giving witness to the power of God at work in their lives. You aren’t too young to talk to someone about Jesus, and you are certainly never too old!
As they proclaimed the Gospel on that day, I don’t sense any fear in the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. No one was worried about offending anyone as they declared the wonders of God. The entire book of Acts is marked by incredible, unprecedented boldness. Brothers and Sisters, if we are afraid of the consequences for sharing about Jesus and His saving power, I wonder if we are walking in the power of Pentecost? It would seem to me that when the mighty rushing wind of the Spirit filled the disciples in that upper room, any ounce of fear left them. If we are scared to talk about Jesus, we need the power of Pentecost to proclaim the Gospel without fear.
Finally, as I evaluate what took place on that incredible day, I see the practice of receptivity to the Spirit.
After the messages were delivered in the multiple languages, Peter spoke and told everyone, from Scripture, why Jesus had come and what He had accomplished. When he finished, there was an incredible receptivity to the move of the Spirit in their midst. Look at verses 37 of chapter 2.
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
They knew something dramatic had happened. They understood that now that they had been given the truth, it called for a response. They couldn’t see what they saw and hear what they heard and remain unchanged. They weren’t indifferent. This wasn’t a “So what” moment. It was a “What now?” moment. They were cut to the heart. They were convicted of sin. They wanted it gone from their lives. They were convinced that Christ was the way to freedom. They weren’t unaffected by the Pentecost experience. They wanted to change. They wanted the power of Pentecost to infiltrate their lives.
Church, when the power of God falls, that is the moment to respond. That is the time to surrender to the work of the Spirit. Don’t quench the Spirit’s power by walking away unchanged when God is speaking and moving by His Spirit. The outpouring of the Spirit wasn’t just for those who were given the messages in the multiple languages; it was for everyone who was gathered there. Peter went on to tell them that they needed to get saved and baptized. He told them they, too, would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He explained that the promised Spirit was not only for them, but for their children and for all who were far off, verse 39. What they were getting ready to do would not just change their lives but would also change entire families and change them for generations to come. Do we realize that future generations depend on our willingness to cooperate with and respond to the Holy Spirit?
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Notice in verse 40 that Peter’s message included multiple warnings. Do you see the strong language here? He PLEADED with them to turn away from the corruption in their generation. He PLEADED with them to live counterculture. He PLEADED with them to do life with Jesus, and 3000 of them were receptive to the call to salvation AND the call to Holy Spirit infilling.
Listen, every person who is hearing this message needs to be saved and every person who is hearing this message needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how more passionately I can say it. And we need to be filled every day! We need to ask for a Holy Spirit filling every day.
There is no shortage of Holy Spirit activity in our services. We hear testimonies in this place and read testimonies of church members online about how God has moved in their lives. We have seen and heard evidence that Christ is alive and that He is calling us all to a deeper and more passionate walk with Him. We have seen and heard evidence that Christ, by His Spirit, wants to use each of us to win people who are lost. Are we responding to those experiences with a “So what” attitude or with a “What now?” desire?
We need another Pentecost. We need to be passionate about cooperating with the Holy Spirit when God is moving in our midst. Future generations hang in the balance. Oh, God, give us a “What now” attitude, a “What now” heart. Help us be responsive to the Spirit’s leading. Forgive us for the times when we have heard your Word, been cut to the heart, and the invitation has been given and our response has been, “So what” instead of “What now?”
Acts 7:51 tells us it is possible to resist the Holy Spirit. The people that were accused of doing so in this verse were told their hearts were uncircumcised. Their wills hadn’t come under the Spirit’s control. They had been exposed to the Spirit’s power and authority and chose a “So what” response over a “What now” response. And those people, those religious leaders who had resisted the Holy Spirit, yes, religious leaders, murdered Stephen for exposing their hypocrisy. I am telling you that people who resist the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives will become capable of anything. Just let that sit in your spirit for a second. Religious people who refused the work of the Holy Spirit wound up stoning Stephen to death for preaching the Gospel.
Acts 2:41 says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
You know what that verse tells me? There were 3000 people who were responsive to the Holy Spirit, but there were some who weren’t. I hate to think of what became of anyone who saw what they saw and heard what they heard and just said, “So what.” Think about what they missed and think about where they were headed. To see what they saw and to hear what they heard and to still have a “So what” response has to be the saddest response a person could render, but it happened, and it happens over and over again in worship gatherings today.
The Holy Spirit won’t impose Himself on us. We have to invite Him to possess us and empower us. Here’s the thing, when you gain the fullness of the Spirit, you not only gain boldness to witness, but you also gain the comfort you need in difficult times, you get the peace you need in turbulent times, you get the confidence you need in chaotic times, you get the discernment you need in times of decision, you get special insight that helps you to know how to navigate every circumstance. In addition, you will have the power to be transformed and to become like Jesus. The Holy Spirit will enable you to know the mind of Christ, to do the will of the Father, and to live your best possible life.
As I see it, we have a part to play in experiencing Pentecost. We need to see men and women participating in obedience to Christ’s commands. We need to see young and old engaged in worship and prayer, expressing our unity in Christ while also expressing our desire for the change the Spirit brings. We need believers to step out and speak out about the love of Christ, to practice proclamation about the forgiveness of sin and the freedom Christ offers. We need another Pentecost. We need to become a people who desire to be Spirit-led. We need to become people who are asking, “What now?” “What do you want us to do now, God, to win our community to Christ?” “What is our role in seeing families healed?” “What is the part you want us to play in being shapers of the culture?” “What can we do to offer people hope that helps them to see who Jesus is?” “What is our part in Pentecost?”