Summary: The implications of the Day of Pentecost to us today
Langham/Field Dalling 30-05-04
There are, in my opinion, only three major celebrations in the Church Year.
1. Christmas when we celebrate the Birth of Christ
2. Easter when we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ and
3. Pentecost (or Whitsun - for the Anglicans!!) when we celebrate the birth of the Church as recorded in our reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles.
Today is Whitsun – Pentecost Sunday and is a time when we celebrate the grounding of the Church –as was recorded in our reading from the book of Acts this morning.
In one of the first articles that I wrote in Lynx, back in October 2001, I asked the question: Why do we have over 600 Churches directly or indirectly dedicated to an obscure Jewish carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth?
When Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday in AD 29, conventional wisdom would have said that this was not a sensible way to start a world religion. Yet a world religion it has become!
How did an obscure carpenter from Nazareth,
who never wrote a book,
who never held high office,
who never led an army and
who died an ignoble death on a Cross
become the Man who has affected civilisation as we know it today more profoundly than any other.
May I offer you an answer to that question in my final service with you?
1. Part of the reason lies in the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead – an event that we remember at Eastertide every year.
And St. Paul records that there were at least 514 men who actually witnessed Jesus’ resurrection before he ascended into heaven.
2. But another part of the reason is that - at Pentecost - God’s Holy Spirit came in power on the Church, to enable them to share preach the Gospel effectively.
I find the book of Acts (and especially Acts 2) exciting - as it tells the story of how the Early Church spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in their communities
But the power of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in Acts 2, is not just an interesting historical tale and no more.
Charismatic and Pentecostal churches have rediscovered the vitality and power of the Holy Spirit in their preaching of the Gospel today.
And interestingly these are the fastest growing Churches.
They have discovered a dynamism which is reminiscent of that first Pentecost.
Indeed one church in Seoul, South Korea has a congregation of ¾ of a million people – though they don’t all turn up to church on Sunday at one sitting. But they don’t have problems with the quota either!!!!
So what was this event at Pentecost in AD 29 so special?
Jesus gave his Church the Great Commission in
Mt. 28:19 and 20 just before he left this earth.
He told them “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you till the end of the age”
It must have been very daunting to the disciples.
Yet Jesus gave them very clear instructions how they were to go about it.
In Acts 1, 8 Jesus said
But you shall receive Power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnessses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
In other words, Jesus himself would enable them to fulfill the Great Commission.
So how did He do that?
By giving them the Power of the Holy Spirit – as was recorded in our reading from Acts 2.
There were three principles for success in
fulfilling the Great Commission and growing the Church.
1. The disciples obeyed Jesus
2. They needed the Power from on high
3. They shared the message with those around them and earthed their experience in God’s word
1. The first principle for success was that the disciples obeyed Jesus
Why, in Acts 1:8 were they told to wait before bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus? I don’t know other than because Jesus said so.
If we are going to be servants of Christ, we have to learn to do WHAT he tells us to do.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until power from on high comes upon them.
So what did they do? They spent their time in prayer – in anticipation.
In Acts 1:14 we read:
“They all joined together, constantly in prayer”
They got ready for action.
Prayer is the power house of the Christian life.
Prayer is the preparation for everything that we wish to do in Christ. It puts us in touch with HQ – with our Commander in Chief.