Summary: Pentecost is the inauguration of a new era: the era of the Spirit, the era of the harvest, the era of awaiting the trumpet.
Assuming About Pentecost
1. A Baptist preacher and his wife decided they needed a dog. Ever mindful of their congregation, they knew the dog must also be Baptist. They visited an expensive kennel and explained their needs to the manager, who assured them he had just the dog for them.
When the dog was produced, the manager began giving it commands. "Fetch the Bible," he commanded. The dog bounced to the bookshelf, scrutinized the books, located the Bible, and brought it to the manager. The manager then said, "Find Psalms 23". The dog, showing marvelous dexterity with his paws, leafed thru the Bible, found the correct passage, and pointed to it with his paw.
Duly impressed, the preacher and his wife purchased the dog. That evening a group of parishioners came to visit. The preacher and his wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses. The visitors were amazed.
Finally, one man asked "Can the dog do normal dog tricks too?"
"Let's see" said the preacher. Pointing his finger at the dog, he commanded, "Heel!"
The dog immediately jumped up on a chair, placed one paw on the preacher's forehead and began to howl. The preacher turned to his wife in complete shock and disbelief. "We've been swindled! That manager sold us a Pentecostal dog!"
2. For almost 1900 years, Christians understood the Book of Acts as descriptive, the history of the church in the middle first century.
Hebrews 2:3-4 refers to certain spiritual gifts that were given to the first generation of believers as signs of their integrity: “… how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” [not a pattern or obligation]
3. In roughly 1900, a group of people in the U.S. decided the church had been missing the boat for over 1800 years. As a result, many religious groups formed, all claiming to restore the Gospel or bring in elements that were left out: Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, 7th Day Adventists, Church of Christ, and Pentecostals. Some of these movements were more orthodox than others.
Pentecostalism, in particular, asserted that the Book of Acts was to be understood as prescriptive, not descriptive. It did not understand Acts as primarily an account what happened in the early church and a transition book from God’s dealings with Israel to God’s dealings with a predominantly gentile church, but, rather, what was normal for the church all the time.
4. This divide in interpretation is the difference between Pentecostal denominations (Pentecostals and Assemblies of God being the best known) and everyone else. In contrast, Charismatics tend to be more moderate, taking a middle path, and transcending denominations. There are many graduations in this matter, & many sincere believers. And don’t get me wrong: there are many, many top-notch Christians in groups like the Assemblies of God or among Charismatic believers. I do believe, however, they are wrong on some points, their prescriptive view of the Book of Acts being at the crux of our differences.
5. Today's text deals with the Day of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks. A proper understanding of this event will help us sort out, to some degree, some of these issues. We should see that Acts is predominantly descriptive, not typically prescriptive.
6. In Judaism, the main feasts are described in Leviticus 23; the Spring Feasts were bundled together with an 8 day period: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. Pentecost was 50 days after Passover. The Fall Feasts (high holy days) are Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, are all within a 15 day period.
7. From our vantage points, looking at the feasts prophetically, the first three feasts have been fulfilled when Christ died and rose again; we live in the age of the 4th feast, and the final three are prophetic of the End Times.
Passover, Christ died for our sins (He died on Passover). Unleavened Bread (begins with Passover), He died to make us holy. First fruits, He rose from the dead during the feast of Unleavened bread, which overlaps with First fruits (that was Easter, firstfruits is always the Sunday after Passover). The next feast, Trumpet (Rosh Hoshana) prophesies the rapture, the Day of Atonement Israel’s repentance at the end of the Tribulation, and Tabernacles the Millennium.
8. But Pentecost is no minor festival. Its implications are enormous and relevant to every true believer.
Main Idea: Pentecost is the inauguration of a new era: the era of the Spirit, the era of the harvest, the era of awaiting the trumpet.