Summary: A sermon on the Holy Spirit in the age of the church, the new Christian age (Material taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell's books, Power From On High, Chapter 5, and The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study, Chapter 3)
James Candlish says of the Old Testament era, "The general bestowal of the spirit as the source of holiness is spoken of as a thing of the future, one of the blessings of the promised reign of God over His people. In the theocracy in Israel, the spirit of God had been given to certain chosen men as leaders and rulers of the nation, but there is no indication that the mass of the nation of Israel was filled with the spirit, in the sense in which the Christian Church after the Pentecostal gift was so"
The Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was the beginning of a new age, an age that continues to this very day. The significance of Pentecost is that it was the beginning of a new work of the Spirit.
Prophecies and Promises of a New Age of the Holy Spirit
OT prophets talked about a new age of the Holy Spirit usually in terms of water being poured out like the Holy Spirit would be poured out in the new age. Don't have time to go over all of these.
The NT really did not begin until Pentecost. Several prophecies that come before Pentecost.
Matthew 3:11: I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Luke 11:13: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
During a water ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles we find this in John 7:37-39: On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Before his ascension Jesus renewed this promise, this time echoing back to the words of John the Baptist: Acts 1:4-5: Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 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.
Transition: Read 2 extended passages of Scripture
Numbers 11:16-17, 24-30
Pentecost was the beginning of the age of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Much disagreement as to the meaning of Pentecost. Some say that the main thing was the miraculous events of Pentecost, and that the new thing was the miraculous power manifested.
Common view even in Restoration Movement, especially as an interpretation of the phrase, “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Such “baptism in the Spirit” is said to be the empowerment to speak in tongues and to perform other miracles. But these would also limit the fulfillment of this promise to 2 events only: Pentecost and the conversion of Cornelius. Pentecost is the main performance; Cornelius is the one time encore.
The difference between this and the more radical view is that the radical view is that these miraculous gifts are meant for all believers throughout the Christian age.
Another view is that the main point of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was not miracles but the indwelling gift and sanctifying presence of the Spirit in believers.
How can we say that the main point of Pentecost is not miracles?
At the time of Pentecost miracles were not a new thing. Miracles were part of the ministries of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Daniel in OT times. In Numbers 11 the seventy elders chosen to assist Moses in leading the Israelites were given a miraculous ability: they prophesied. But they did not do it again. Evidently it was miraculous because Joshua was jealous for Moses. Before Pentecost, the apostles themselves were given power to work miracles in Matthew 10.
Miracles did occur on and after Pentecost, but not because of Pentecost. God simply continued to give them as needed, which He had always done. Not special to Christian age.
Why were there miracles on the Day of Pentecost, then?
A miracle is not the main event in any situation. Their main purpose is to point to and confirm a message from God; they function as evidence of the truth of the claims of God’s messengers. This is why there were miracles on Pentecost. They were pointing to Peter and the others so that the message could be delivered. They were given to confirm the truth and the reality of the main event of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit as an abiding, indwelling presence for the new age.