I invite you to turn to Acts 2 as we return back to our study in Acts after some time away. This morning, I want to speak to you about “Experiencing on the Holy Spirit.” To begin 2018, we are going to focus on the Holy Spirit.
Yet, many of us think of God the Father and we speak of Jesus Christ but little is said of the Holy Spirit. One pastor referred to this as thinking of our gall bladder. I am really now sure what my gall bladder does, but I am so glad it working properly. Or, think of your pituitary gland. Most of us are not sure what this glad does and we do not stop to think if our pituitary gland is working properly, but we know it is essential. Just as we neglect to think about our pituitary glands so we think of the Holy Spirit.
Life demands an energy from you that is not IN you. We call this “burn out.” In order to truly navigate all that life throws at you, you need a power not from within you but from the outside. This is why you need the outside power of the Holy Spirit.
1. He’s Better than Jesus
The Spirit promises to do so much in the lives of the believer. Let me show you something of the magnitude of this gift: “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). “The Helper” is another name for the Holy Spirit. Circle the word “advantage” here in your Bibles. It was to the Disciples “advantage” that Jesus go away. Did you hear what Jesus said? Pause and consider this for a moment. How many believers would like to be alive when Jesus was walking on water, healing the sick, and raising the dead? Have you ever been tempted to think, “My faith would be so much stronger if I only I were there to see Jesus in person.” When Jesus is around, the Disciples had His power near them to raise the dead, heal the sick, and walk on water. Yet, Jesus tells the Twelve Disciples it was to their “advantage” that He go away because the Helper will come. Given the immense power and abilities of Jesus, the Helper must be a substantial gift to Jesus’ followers. Can you imagine how unbelievable this sounded to the Twelve?
Having the Holy Spirit is better than if Jesus were alive and walking the earth today. In athletic competition, we often talk about “home field” advantage. But, the Holy Spirit is better than the “home field” advantage. Again, He is the outside power you need. We could say it this way: Having the Spirit in you is better than having Jesus beside you.
The Father loved you so much that He gave you two great gifts: the Son for you and the Spirit to you.
2. He’s as Real as Jesus
Keep your bookmark in Acts 2 and we’ll be there in just a moment.
2.1 The Holy Spirit is not a Force
The Holy Spirit is not a force or a thing. Many of you know this but I need to remind all of us. The Holy Spirit is a Person with all the characteristics of God the Father and God the Son. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit has intelligence (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), He has feelings (Ephesians 4:30), and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Intelligence, feelings, and a will are qualities you see in a person, not in a force. So we should never refer to the Holy Spirit as a force. We should never refer to the Spirit as “it,” we should follow the Bible’s lead by speaking of the Holy Spirit using personal pronouns such as “He” just as Jesus does (John 14:26). An example of this in India might be equating the Spirit with Shakti, or what is the Divine Energy of Hinduism. Or even the Force in the popular movies of the Star Wars series. This is a mistake for the Spirit of God is much more than a force.
Jesus tells us something encouraging about the Spirit when He says: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…” (John 14:16). Here the word is Paraclete which means Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Supporter, Adviser, Ally, and Advocate. Listen again to Jesus speak of the Paraclete: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).
A few moments ago, I spoke to you about the outside power of the Holy Spirit. It is a great gift of God that the Spirit is personal with His children. The power of this is so simple. For those of you who are parents, think of how you comfort scared children in blackness of night. You never comfort your children at night by saying, “A great force is with you.” Instead, you tell your scared children, “I am with you. Your father and your mother, we are here beside all night.” The Holy Spirit teaches, guides, comfort, and encourages you personally. A force does not comfort but a person does. Throughout the Bible’s teaching on the Spirit, we learn that the Spirit grieves, prays, gives help, speaks, forbids, teaches, guides, and leads. Because the Holy Spirit is personal, He is able to think and He is able to talk.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit has some truth He wants to teach you. The enemy will tell you that you are worthless but the Spirit will tell you many of you are God’s child and God delights in you. The best way to hear the truth of the Holy Spirit… The very best way to be taught by the Holy Spirit is to have an open Bible and ask the Spirit to speak to you.
God has not left you alone in this world; He has sent the Holy Spirit to help you battle depression. God has not left you alone in this world; He has sent the Holy Spirit to help you battle loneliness. God has not left you alone in this world; He has sent the Holy Spirit to help you battle feelings of impotence. God has not left you alone in this world; He has sent the Holy Spirit to help you battle heartbreak. Yes, the Holy Spirit has some truth He wants to teach you. Let’s pause to pray before we go any further in the message… If you’re facing something in your life and you need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit… … if you are so conscious of your life’s struggles where you say I am desperate for the Holy Spirit, stand as I pray over you.
Father, we pray that your very presence will come down on us today. We need your Spirit to make yourself known and to make us feel your authority over us. We need to sense His presence with us in this life – we are so lonely and so many people have disappointed us.
We are so weak and we need to hear your truth. But often, Lord, we confess our laziness to you when we don’t open your Word – the Bible. Other times, Lord, the words on the page feel flat. We feel like we’ve tried reading the Bible, but nothing “magical” happened. Come, Holy Spirit, make the words of the Bible come alive in front of us. Cause me to be deeply obedient to your truth and make me live by the wisdom of your truth.
Yes, cause your word to come home to us. Open our very eyes so we properly see your Word. Then, we pray that your holiness would be evident. Turn our hearts away from worthless things. Instead, turn our lives over to the very things that can give life (Psalm 119:36-37).
Lastly, make your people come alive. Amen
1. Better Than Jesus
2. As Real as Jesus
3. He Extends Jesus
The Holy Spirit is an extension of Jesus. Having the Spirit in you is better than having Jesus beside you. Everything in this part of Acts is simply setting the scene for the “Big Bang” of Pentecost in Acts 2. Remember that the band of 120 disciples prayed for 40 days before today’s story. There is so much excitement in these pages – I hope can you feel it.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” (Acts 2:1–13)
We are going to spend a few minutes in Acts in the remainder of this message. But we will also come back to this passage to explore the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the strange gift of tongues promised here. I invite you to join with me Next Sunday as we’ll answer so many of your questions about speaking in tongues.
3.1 The Phenomena of the Spirit’s Arrival
Notice the wind and the fire in verses 2 and 3: “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:2-3). It was not wind but a sound like wind, something resembling a rushing hurricane. It announced the presence of the Holy Spirit. At times the Holy Spirit makes Himself known with visible, audible, touchable manifestations. In the Old Testament there was the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. At Jesus’ baptism, there was the dove. In Acts 4, the building shakes. In Acts 6, Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel. In Acts 16, there is an earthquake. At times, the Spirit stoops to give us visible, audible, touchable demonstrations of His presence and power. Why he does this for some and not others, and at some times and not other times is part of His sovereign wisdom. He is not fire. He is not wind. He is not a dove. He is not a warm glow. So He will not use these manifestations in a way that allows us to confuse Him with them.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.” (Acts 2:4-6)
Two things happened on the church's birthday – a miracle and a milestone.
3.2 The Miracle
The miracle was everybody heard the message of God in their own language. This happened at Pentecost, which was one of the 3 major festivals of the Jewish faith. Pentecost comes from a word meaning “fifty” and it came 50 days after Passover. Jewish people from all over the world would come on their pilgrimage to this festival. Back then, Israel was bunch of farmer’s and so they celebrated the first fruits of the crops and the harvest. Look at verses 9-11 and you’ll see people from modern day Iran, modern day Turkey, Egypt, Libya, and Italy to name a few. There were fourteen different regions represented. There were different languages and even different dialects within those languages and yet when the people spoke they heard the message in their own language.
Christianity is For Everybody! It was God's way of telling the church and God's way of telling the world that the message of Jesus Christ is for everybody. This Christian faith is not just a Jewish thing, not just a Jerusalem thing, but it is a God thing! When the gospel was first preached to the world, it was preached in every language at once. Can you appreciate the significance of this? By a deliberate miracle, God made sure there was no language that has precedence over any other in the Christian faith. There is no one language or culture that has pride of place.
Compare this to Islam and the Qur’an for a moment. As far as Muslims are concerned God speaks Arabic. All original revelation was in Arabic. All the original communication of Islam to the world was in Arabic. Therefore, if you want to hear God’s Word, you must hear it or read it in Arabic. All other translations are not really translations. That’s not really God’s Word.
Because of Pentecost, Christianity doesn’t take just one language or one culture. We do believe the Word of God can be translated. If you have it in Spanish or if you have it in English, that is the Word of God in English. Or you have is the Word of God in Spanish. Yes, the gospel is for everybody! Say that with me, “The gospel is for everybody!”
3.3 The Milestone
And what is the milestone? Look at the end of verse 11: “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11b) This was intelligent communication of the facts of the gospel. Everyone was witnessing. Everyone. Everyone was talking about the same thing. Did you know there are 6,909 distinct languages spoke in the world today? And God wants the gospel proclaimed in each and every one of these languages. The first worship service, the first sermon, was preached in what language? It was preached in all of them! The gospel is how you experience the outside power of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Father, we thank you for the tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the remarkable gift of the Your great Spirit! Thank you for loving us so much that you have sent the Spirit to make your presence real to us. We pray that you would cause us to receive His counsel for our lives. We pray you would fill our lives with the Spirit’s presence. Believers, pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you, now. We pray that you would bring tremendous beauty and grace into our lives and so empower our witness for Christ that those outside of Christ are attracted to the source of this beauty: God Himself. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.