Summary: We Pentecostals have made a mistake in the past, looking for sensationalism in our church experience. The true Pentecostal experience is that, plus a whole lot more.
October 26, 2003
Text: Acts 4:23-31
Subject: The Pentecostal Experience
Title: Living the Pentecostal Experience
103 years ago on New Years Day 1900, a group of Bible students led by Charles Parham assembled in a house in Topeka Kansas. They were seeking an “Apostolic” experience—to speak in tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance—just like the apostles did on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:4. On that 1st day of the new century, and for several days after, most of those assembled received the experience of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance. Some students left the Bible school and traveled to Houston Texas and Los Angeles California spreading the new message of “speaking in tongues is the evidence that the believer has received the infilling of the Holy Ghost” (in harmony with Acts 2:1-4). Six years later, another group assembled in a rundown former Methodist Church. They too had heard about this strange new exciting experience of “Speaking in Tongues” and sought the experience. They also received the apostolic experience of speaking in other tongues, and within a few years, this Azusa Street troupe had carried the good news of this Pentecostal phenomenon around the world. As news of Azusa Street spread people throughout the world came to the Azusa Street Mission to experience “Pentecost” for themselves. Just what is the “Pentecostal Experience”? We believe that it involves the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. We believe that the initial physical evidence of the baptism is speaking in other tongues. It is exciting. It is emotional. And unfortunately, many of today’s Pentecostals stop there. They forget the real purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Power! (Rev. Curtis W. Bond)
Power can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can. Or it can be channeled through the engine of a Datsun in a controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles. Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have lasting effect, staying power. The Holy Spirit works both ways. At Pentecost, He exploded on the scene; His presence was like "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God’s power. But He also works through the church--the institution God began to tap the Holy Spirit’s power for the long haul. Through worship, fellowship, and service, Christians are provided with staying power. How should we respond to this Pentecostal experience?
One) There is a life changing experience.
Two) There is intensified worship.
Three) There are supernatural consequences.
Four) There is obedience to what the Spirit says.
Have you experienced Pentecost? Most of us would say yes! But have you experienced it to the fullest? Let’s see what Luke tells us about Living the Pentecostal Experience.
I. Our experience is identified. (23-24a)
A. A sense of excitement. After being before the Sanhedrin (vs 5-22) to be questioned and perhaps punished, a funny thing happened. The door was opened wide, by the council, for Peter to speak. And the very thing that Jesus had prophesied to them was coming to pass. Mark 13:9, “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My sake, for a testimony to them”. Those who wished to condemn heard the gospel. Can’t you just imagine the electricity that must have been in the air as the Peter and John stood before the council and spoke, remembering the words that Jesus spoke to them? Once they were released, I am sure they could not wait to get back to the other believers to tell them what had happened. Not that they wanted to go back and lift themselves up. But they wanted to go back to encourage the others. Our Pentecostal experience should stir up an excitement in us to the point where we can’t wait to tell others about what God is doing in our lives.
B. A sense of humility. Peter and John knew what was going on and who was in control. They understood that they were just vessels being used by the Lord for Jesus had told them, “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Their purpose in returning to the brethren was to testify to the words of Jesus. The very episode that sparked their arrest – the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate – shows us the attitudes of their hearts. Acts 3:12, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we made this man to walk?” Webster’s dictionary says that humility is, “the quality of being without pride.” Humility knows that I am nothing but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Humility is saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Humility is setting aside self for the good of the whole.