Acts 2:1-21 Pentecost

I want to examine the meaning of Pentecost under three headings: the Unique Event, the Unquestionable Emphasis and the Universal Experience.

1. The Unique Event of Pentecost
Pentecost marked the birth of the Church, born in but out of Judaism. We all have birthdays but these actually only commemorate the first birth day. So it is with Pentecost. The meaning of Pentecost will remain hidden until we note the similarities and contrasts between Moses and Jesus, between Mount Sinai and Mount of Olives, between the giving of the law and the giving of the Spirit, between the first and the second covenants. Both Moses and Jesus ascended to meet with God the Father. God's people were told to wait for their return. While Moses was absent the people disobeyed and 3000 were slain, while Jesus was absent His disciples obeyed and 3000 were saved.

The events of that first Pentecost when the Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the Church were as unique as the Day Moses brought the Law of God under the First Covenant. Not only is there a link between the two covenants, we must be careful also to note the relationship between Easter and Pentecost.

To teach that Pentecost is a continuous or repeatable event is as misguided as to teach that the Jesus is still suffering on the cross. Both events were unique but the consequences of both impact us all. You cannot separate the cross, the resurrection, or the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ from the Day of Pentecost. Without the Cross there would have been no Pentecost.

These four historical events were unique and unrepeatable. As on Good Friday when a great darkness fell over the land and the giant curtain in the Temple was torn in two, so on the Day of Pentecost there were great signs and wonders. Read 2:1-4.

Some of the bystanders initially thought the disciples were drunk. They were not. They were perfectly sober, speaking about God in known languages.

It was the supernatural ability of unschooled fisherman to speak other known languages, boldly with no fear, that aroused scepticism. Those who ridiculed the Apostles with the accusation that they were drunk, were rejecting the message of Jesus. Biblical history reveals that the manifestations associated with Pentecost were as much a sign of God's judgement as His blessing for Pentecost. As much a predicted curse upon the Jews for rejecting Jesus as a blessing on those who heard and believed in him. No wonder Isaiah who gave us such a moving picture of the Suffering Servant, also foresaw that the Day of Pentecost would be a day of decision, testing and judgement.

"Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, To whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"--but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there--so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem... So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. (Isaiah 28:11-16)

"Do and do, do and do, rule and rule" is Hebrew for gobblygook. No longer would God speak plainly in Hebrew through the prophets to the Jewish people. From now on he would use unschooled fishermen speaking foreign languages. That is why Peter could not allow people to misunderstand Jesus or misrepresent the Holy Spirit. They must understand what they had done to their Messiah. For Pentecost was a sign of great blessing but also of awesome judgement. Pentecost was a unique historical event because it was the birth day of the Church. Made possible only through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pentecost - the unique event.

2. Pentecost: The Theological Purpose
Why was the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost? Illustration of the Paraclete. Jesus gives three specific reasons why the Holy Spirit came in John 16:8-15.

2.1 To Convict the World of Sin, Righteousness & Judgment 16:8-12
The primary place in which the Holy Spirit operates is not the church but the world. Unseen, unheard yet innside the consciences of unbelievers, breaking up hard ground so that they are ready to receive the seeds of the word of God, as it is scattered. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin.

2.2 To Guide Believers into all Truth 16:13
When Christians are led into teaching or practice inconsistent with the Scriptures, one thing is clear, they are not being led by the Holy Spirit. It is as simple as that. He is the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, and guides believers into the truth.

2.3 To Glorify Jesus 16:14
The Holy Spirit's ultimate purpose is to glorify Christ (John 16:14-15). He doesn't draw attention to Himself. There is no competition for glory in the Triune God. Any individual, church or organisation that is truly filled with the Holy Spirit will turn the spotlight on Jesus not themselves, not their organisation, and even on the Holy Spirit. How do we glorify Jesus? By allowing the Holy Spirit to make us like Jesus. By sharing what we know of Jesus with those who don't.

Three reasons the Holy Spirit came - to convict the world of sin, to guide believers into the truth and to glorify Jesus. These three reasons are summarised in Jesus final words to the disciples 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."

The Holy Spirit was given primarily to bring power to our witness for Jesus. That through Christians Jesus become visible. Why? Because Jesus is the sole mediator between God and the world. The Holy Spirit came to make Jesus known so that others might come to know the Lord God, and we are His hands and feet, his ears and lips.

The gifts of the Spirit are therefore not toys to be played with or to give us ecstatic experiences. The gifts are given for service, given to equip the Church so that we can reach out to help others in practical ways. The unquestionable emphasis of Pentecost is evangelism - the proclamation of the Gospel. That is what occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

People heard the good news of Jesus Christ in their own language. After that day, those who heard returned to their own countries to share Jesus with their own people. That is why we are here today.

Pentecost : The Historical Context
Pentecost : The Theological Purpose

3. Pentecost: The Universal Experience
When ever we say in the Creed "I believe in the Holy Spirit..." we are really saying we believe in the Living God who willingly enters my human personality, heart soul and mind and makes me more like Jesus. Were the events of the Day of Pentecost a miracle? Yes. A unique miracle? In the historical sense - yes, Pentecost was unrepeatable. But experientially, no. Illustration from John Baxter... You are special because God the Father has made you, the Lord Jesus Christ died to save you, and the Holy Spirit breathed His life into you. He has a plan for your life. He wants you to be his disciple, a fisherman too. He wants you to introduce others to Jesus. There is no greater privilege. He equips you with all His good gifts to do it.

Lets use the Jesus Video Project, the men's breakfasts, the golf society, football like last Sunday, murder mystery plays, Festivals, Family Services, Carnival Capers, the Sunday school picnic, the Summer BBQ's and other special events, to make friends, build relationships and share Jesus.

No matter how insignificant we may feel, empowered by His Spirit, we can make a world changing contribution. The next time you feel small and insignificant, remember the butterfly effect, and trust God in His strength not your own. On Wednesday, God willing, I shall fly to Israel/Palestine to introduce a group of people to see what God is doing through his church in the schools, the hospitals, technical colleges and refugee camps. There are two ways to get there in an aeroplane. Over land or through the sky. Pentecost - The Unique Event, the Unquestionable Emphasis and the Universal Experience. Lets pray.

"Blessed Spirit of the Lord, forgive us for neglecting you, and grieving you by our proud self sufficiency, by resisting your influence and quenching your fire. Make our hearts tenderly impressionable, then turn us as wax to the seal, and stamp within us the image of the Son, Amen."