Summary: To be all that God has called us to be, we must proclaim Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fern Hansen’s mother was taking her turn cleaning the church, when she heard some boys outside throwing snowballs too close to the building. Rapping on the window pane, she shook her head, causing the white scarf she was wearing to swing from side to side.
Alarmed, one boy asked the other who that was.
Convinced he'd seen the real thing, his friend answered, “The Holy Ghost!” (Fern Hansen, Onawa, Iowa, Christian Reader, “Lite Fare”; www.PreachingToday.com)
We laugh at that, but I wonder what would happen if the Holy Spirit really showed up in church today? What would happen if the Holy Spirit really came into this building right now? Oh, we know He’s already here, because God is everywhere, but what would happen if He decided right now, in this moment, to reveal Himself?
I’m sure most of us would be scared spitless, but I’m also sure some strange and wonderful things would happen.
Acts 2:1-11 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (ESV)
When the Holy Spirit came down upon that first group of believers, they spoke in other languages. From the list given in vs.9-11, they were speaking Italian and Arabic, Greek and Egyptian, and a whole host of other languages. The crowd couldn’t figure it out.
Acts 2:12-13 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” (ESV)
Some mocked, but most of the people marveled. And that’s what happens when the Holy Spirit shows up. He causes people to marvel, to be amazed, to wonder at who He is and what He is doing.
Does that mean we’ll all speak in other languages every time the Holy Spirit shows up? No. That certainly didn’t happen every time the Holy Spirit showed up in the Book of Acts. Almost every chapter in the book of Acts speaks of the Holy Spirit, but in only two other chapters do people speak in tongues when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (in Acts, chapter 10 and Acts, chapter 19).
The Holy Spirit does not work the same way every time. 1 Corinthians 12 makes it very clear: Not every believer speaks in tongues, even though every believer has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not work the same way, every time, with every believer.
On the contrary, when the Holy Spirit does work, about the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. When the Holy Spirit shows up, people are “amazed and perplexed” (vs.12). People marvel.
It happened several years ago in Carriere, Mississippi. According to the May 9, 2000 issue of Christianity Today, “What started as a special presentation by the Pearl River Central High School's Fellowship of Christian Athletes turned into a full-fledged revival that transformed the Carriere, Mississippi, school and left school administrators astounded.
“It was the most incredible thing I've seen in all my years as an educator,” said Pearl River principal Lolita Lee. “The meeting couldn't be stopped. You could tell something spiritual was happening in the lives of those students.”
The revival started during a special program sponsored by the school's FCA and attended by nearly 90 percent of the school's 670 students. The program was originally scheduled for one hour, but when the bell rang, Lee said there were more than 100 students standing in line to pray and make spiritual decisions.
So Lee did something that she said probably doesn't happen in normal public school settings—she let the service continue. And continue it did, for more than four hours. Through three class periods and lunch, students wept, prayed, sang, and made amends with one another.