Summary: Pursue to build and have ‘unity in the body of Christ’ for the Holy Spirit to be work in and through our lives effectively by the operation of the ’Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ which have a profound impact on the lives of others around us.
Opening illustration: During our ministry in the Middle-East at one of the underground churches a gentleman used to walk around 5 miles to attend that worship and fellowship. He had a lowly job at a remote construction site in the wilderness and could not afford to buy a conveyance for himself. He did not know any other languages other than his mother tongue and the local language of the country. Whenever he used to attend the meeting, it would be a powerful time for all of us. I believe, more than him, we would be blessed. He brought with him the right Spirit, his heart was in the right place and carried no guile or guilt upon his life. Whenever he would praise or pray, it would be in English which was foreign to him; apparently he had no clue or idea about. He did not know a word of English. After the worship service, we would spend time fellowshipping and I would communicate with him only in the local language as that was our common ground. What was happening there? Because there was no human intervention, I could sense and comprehend that it could only be the wonderful work of God.
Introduction: The word “Pentecost” is a Greek word signifying the 50th part of a thing, or the 50th in order. Among the Jews it was applied to one of their three great feasts which began on the 50th day after the Passover. That is, 49 days, to the feast called the Feast of Pentecost, so that it occurred 50 days after the first day of the Feast of the Passover. This feast was also called the Feast of Weeks, from the circumstance that it followed a succession of weeks. It was also a harvest festival, and was accordingly called the Feast of Harvest; and it was for this reason that two loaves made of new meal were offered on this occasion as first-fruits.
There is a correspondence between the giving of the law, which is celebrated by this feast of Pentecost, together with the crucifixion of our Lord, which took place at the Passover, and this descent of the Holy Spirit, which happened at this Pentecost.
1. At the Passover, the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage: this was a type of the thralldom in which the human race was to Satan and sin.
2. At the Passover Jesus Christ, who was typified by the paschal lamb, was sacrificed for the sin of the world, and by this sacrifice redemption from sin and Satan is now procured and proclaimed.
3. On the Pentecost, God gave his law on Mount Sinai, accompanied with thundering and lightnings. On the Pentecost, God sent down his Holy Spirit, like a rushing mighty wind; and tongues of fire sat upon each disciple, in order that, by his influence, that new law of light and life might be promulgated and established. Thus, the analogy between the Egyptian bondage and the thralldom occasioned by sin - the deliverance from Egypt, and the redemption from sin - the giving of the law, with all its emblematic accompaniments, and the sending down the Holy Spirit, with its symbols of light, life, and power, has been exactly preserved.
4. At the Jewish Passover, Christ was degraded, humbled, and ignominiously put to death: at the following festival, the Pentecost, he was highly glorified; and the all conquering and ever during might of his kingdom then commenced. The Holy Spirit seems to have designed all these analogies, to show that, through all preceding ages, God had the dispensation of the Gospel continually in view; and that the old law and its ordinances were only designed as preparative’s for the new.
1. What will it take to be empowered with the Holy Spirit?
Answer: Unity in the ‘Body of Christ’ (v. 1)
We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there were strife’s among the disciples who should be the greatest; but now all these strife’s were at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing.
How can the ‘Body of Christ’ function effectively and the ‘Holy Spirit’ work in and through her when everyone with the BOC is not one in the Spirit, mind, heart and thought? Apparently they are all NOT on the same page!
It is God’s purpose for all believers to "attain to the unity of the faith." With many Christians, and especially with evangelicals, there has been a tendency to confuse faith and doctrine. We need to recognize those who are truly accepted by the Lord. Faith is not doctrine, but obedience to the Lord. It is through faith that we are saved. The Protestants, Orthodox, Catholics and their denominational break-downs are not on the same page in any way or form? How do we expect God to work when we are not doing our part of the deal for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us effectively? In Ephesians Paul said the body of Christ should strive for unity in the faith, i.e. faith denoting doctrinal understanding, and unity in the knowledge of the Son of God, i.e. unity in the knowledge of salvation through Jesus, i.e. the gospel of Christ.