Summary: Perhaps you think you understand the Holy Spirit. Maybe you think you’ve seen His work on Christian TV. To fully understand the Spirit’s role in the church and in your life you need to listen to this message.
Why is this significant? In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon individuals for a prescribed period of time. Here the Spirit is being poured out on everyone who believes in Jesus permanently.
The Spirit’s purpose is to bring truth to the world about Jesus Christ. To the believer He brings comfort. To the “pre-believer” He brings conviction about sin and unbelief. It is not, as we have seen all too often in the church today, a show—like a Las Vegas headliner. “Come see amazing things and people acting strangely on this very stage!” The church acts like the Holy Spirit is a captive lion who performs for our entertainment and to give us “Holy Ghost Goose Bumps.” Wrong wrong wrong!
The Spirit was given to fulfill what Jesus said in chapter 1: so that we might be His witnesses.
1 – 4
It was the “sound” of a mighty wind, not an actual wind itself. Today in the United States, people describe the mighty wind of a tornado like the sound of a freight train. In fact, in a recent tornado in the Midwest, a woman described it as a dead silence, then an instant horrendously loud noise. It was probably like that in Jerusalem that day.
This noise was not confined to the upper room apparently and became a focal point for people to gather. The word for “wind” by the way, is very similar to the word for “spirit” – and the two are alike in other ways: you can’t see the wind but you feel its effects. You can’t see the Spirit, but you see what He does.
Oh – another thing – the Jews believed a mighty wind from God would bring in the Messianic age.
So now is added a visual element: tongues of fire settling on each of them. How frightening that would be! God sent fire to confirme the validity of the Law by sending fire on Mt Sinai. Here He confirms the validity of the New Covenant by sending fire on all believers. Fire also represents purifying, as the Spirit helps believers become more like Jesus.
All present are “filled” with the Holy Spirit. This can be distinguished from being “baptized” by the Holy Spirit, which happens when a person receives Jesus Christ. We are baptized once (Acts 11:15-16, Romans 6:3, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Colossians 2:12). But we need to be filled repeatedly to do God’s work. (Acts 4:8, 31, 6:3,5, 7:55, 9:17, 13:9, 52, Galatians 5:17, Ephesians 4:30).
The Spirit gives you the power to live the life of a Christian and communicate the truth of Christ in a way that penetrates hearts. He ties our lives together in unity as the body of Christ
Add to that, they suddenly found themselves speaking in other languages. Imagine your surprise if you were to open your mouth and suddenly French came out instead of English?
This is known as Speaking in Tongues. And it has caused quite a bit of controversy in the church. I personally think that this gift of the Holy Spirit has been widely misused in the church and it has turned off many people to the gospel.
The point of this gift was to communicate the love and majesty of God to people in such a way that they would come to know Him through Jesus Christ. It, like all the gifts, is a tool for the gospel, not a trick for the believer.
5 – 13
The Feast of First Fruits, known as Pentecost because it was 50 weeks after Passover (which means “50”), was one of the three great feasts during the Jewish year. So Jews from all over the world would have come to Jerusalem to celebrate it. It was the perfect time to announce the gospel to more than just Israeli Jews. It starts, not with a message of sin and repentance, but of “the mighty works of God.” I think that is a good starting place. It is God who has brought about our salvation, not anything that we can or could do.
Plus, many Jews who had been dispersed to other nations, had moved back but now spoke other languages.
These were known languages, or dialects. So this isn’t the same as the heavenly language that some believers will utter that Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.
Luke then lists where these people came from: it moves geographically from east to south and west of the Roman Empire. After this day, surely some of these people would have returned to these lands with the gospel in their own language.
This is kind of Babel in reverse. Back in Genesis 11 God confused the language of man to keep his rebellion in check, but here God countermands that edict for a message that is so important everyone must hear it!