Summary: “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” Acts 2:1-4.
Theme: Send forth Your Spirit
Introduction: All this week the news has been about the 60th celebration of D-Day. Today all over Europe and America memorial services are being held to celebrate and remember what happened on that day 60 years ago when the allied forces landed on the shores of Normandy. That day signalled the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War that freed the world from the tyranny of Adolf Hitler. Definitely this day is important and needs to be celebrated. But why do we have to forget a greater and much more important event took place today 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. On that day, the day of Pentecost began the ministry of Jesus through the church. On that day men and women were freed from despair and discouragement to lead an abundant life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost simply means “fiftieth” since it fell on the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Christ. With the presence of the Holy Spirit, a veil was taken away to reveal the prophetic significance of Pentecost. The Jews suddenly saw their whole Jewish heritage in a new light. Not only were the Jewish festivals memorials of what God had done but they also pointed to something God was going to do. These festivals, instituted by Moses under direct instructions from God, are a divinely prepared Timetable of God’s Dealings with His people and mankind. They show us how God dealt with His people in the past, what He wanted them to do in the present, and how He would work with them in the future. They present and reveal an outline for the work of Jesus Christ. Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt and found its final fulfilment in the death of Christ on Calvary as the Lamb of God to free the world from slavery to sin and Satan. The feast of first fruits, the ceremony of presenting the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord, found its fulfilment in the resurrection of Christ Who “became the first fruits of them that sleep”. The Feast of weeks, held fifty days after Passover, was observed in celebration of the first ingathering of the harvest of each year. It was therefore no coincidence that on the day of Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit arrived, an amazing harvest of souls took place. The great harvest that began on the day of Pentecost, continues today, and will continue until the end of the Church age when the prophetic aspects of the remaining festivals will also be fulfilled. On the day of Pentecost Christ fulfilled His promise to send forth His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the only One Who can take the weak and make them strong as happened on the day of Pentecost. But different people have different ideas of who the Holy Spirit is? The Bible teaches that He is a person. Jesus spoke of Him as a Person saying in John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” The Holy Spirit is not a force or a thing. He is a person and the Scriptures confirm this by the personal ways in which He responds and the personal things He does. The Bible also makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is God and we rightfully speak of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is seen in the attributes that are given to Him and which are without exception, the attributes of God. He is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. We all need the Holy Spirit and whatever He did on the day of Pentecost He is still willing and able to do for all believers today. Everywhere the early Christians went they made a spiritual impact on the whole community winning many people to Christ. We also need Him to make a spiritual impact in our communities.
To understand Pentecost we need to see it in the light of Babel. At Babel, an ambitious people wanted to build a great city with a big tower but God confused their tongues and scattered them. At Pentecost, the disciples preached the good news of Jesus and all those present heard it in their own languages. Two completely opposite events - at Babel God created confusion and scattered, and at Pentecost, He created order and gathered. At Babel, the diversity of tongues brought an end to the ambitions of men. At Pentecost, a diversity of tongues marked the beginning of the preaching of the good news of Jesus to the nations of the world. At Babel the people wanted to reach to the heavens, to be famous, and to control their future destiny. They wanted to be like God, and they used their skill and know how to do it. Baked bricks and tar was the key to their fame and future, much the same way people today speak of cell phones, computers, the Internet, and genetic engineering. Today some people are using technology to be “like God,” to declare independence from God, to make a name, and to control the future. The story about the Titanic is about man’s misplaced trust in his own inventions and resourcefulness. “Not even God could sink the Titanic,” they claimed at the start of the voyage. They were so confident that they did not even carry enough life rafts to cater for all the passengers. The latest technology assured them that the ship was unsinkable. And yet, ironically, the very technology that was thought would make the Titanic "unsinkable," made her sink even faster. There is nothing wrong with technology, just as there is nothing wrong with baked bricks, tar, and tall towers. It is what we do with them and why we build them. When our faith, hope, and trust is in our capabilities, when we use our technology to reach up to the heavens, to become famous, to amass wealth and fortune, to seize control of our destiny and shake our fist at God, then we are committing idolatry. Are we today not putting our trust in technology? Technology cannot save us and bring us to heaven. It cannot secure our destiny. Only God can do that and He did this by giving us the gift of His Son and the Holy Spirit.