Summary: How the excitement of the Day of Pentecost can continue in the church today.
Ever see someone fall asleep in church? It can be pretty funny.
An evangelist friend of mine tells the story of an old man who fell asleep in church. The man’s mouth was wide open with his head tilted back. All of a sudden a fly flew into the man’s wide-open mouth. Naturally, this was an unexpected surprise which awoke the narcoleptic gentleman immediately. He gagged very loudly right in the middle of the preacher’s sermon and upon spitting out the fly also had the misfortune of spitting out his dentures!
That’s not the worst part of the story. Certainly this occurence by itself would disrupt any service, but the situation grew even more bizarre.
When the man’s false teeth left his mouth they landed in the center aisle of the church - which was hardwood. No carpet. Upon impact, his ivories shattered into several pieces. He jumped from his pew and began to collect the evidence of his misfortune.
I’m sure you know what affect this had on the rest of the congregation.
Church is the hardest place to keep from laughing when you get tickled and know you’re not supposed to laugh.
The man tried his best to pick up the pieces and as far as anyone knows he never fell asleep in church again!
There’s a church service recorded in scripture where I dare say it would have been hard to fall asleep.
It was on the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. Fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus and ten days after His ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit began indwelling believers just as Jesus promised.
It was an exciting occasion!
I believe church ought always to have an element of excitement! I don’t believe church has to be boring to prove the true spirituality of our worship. On the contrary. Where the Holy Spirit is, there will be genuine enthusiasm, dynamic power, and no one will fall asleep!
Let me give you at least three qualities that made the church on Pentecost a place where you wouldn’t have taken a nap. These same three qualites ought to exemplify church worship today.
1. THERE WAS "CONTROLLED COMMOTION".
From the rushing mighty wind to the tongues of fire to the multiple foreign languages being spoken, there was a lot of interesting and stirring activity!
Simon Peter had to tell some of the onlookers that the church members weren’t drunk! (v. 15) They were "under the influence" all right, but it was the influence of the Holy Spirit!
As the scripture commands us in Ephesians 5:18 - "Be not drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit."
When believers get filled with the Spirit things will get exciting!
Out of control? Never! Exciting? Yes, definitely!
What is necessary for this type of church worship?
a. Reliability on the Holy Spirit and His leadership, even if He takes us where we didn’t plan to go.
Of course the Bible teaches orderliness in the church:
But the Bible also allows for some spontaneity in our worship services. Jesus said, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)
Worship God in truth yes, but don’t neglect to worship Him in spirit. Jesus said we "must" worship God in both categories simultaneously. An imbalance to either extreme causes problems.
If you worship in "spirit" but leave out the "truth", worship becomes subjective to human whims.
But if you worship in "truth" and leave out the "spirit", worship becomes lifeless and worthless to God and man!
It doesn’t do us any good to attend church Sunday after Sunday and not have our hearts stirred as well as having our minds renewed. Worship services that instruct but don’t inspire; or inspire but don’t instruct; are both likewise incomplete and inadequate.
Also, to have a worship service of "controlled commotion"...
b. The preaching of the Word of God must be central.
Peter quoted Old Testament scriptures profusely in his sermon. It so impacted the hearers that they were asking "what shall we do?" (verse 37)
Peter’s sermon was so powerful and the atmosphere so Spirit-filled that the apostles didn’t have to give an invitation at the end of the service for folks to make a faith commitment to Jesus.
In order for this dynamic to occur there has to be a willingness on behalf of the church to let the word be proclaimed in its purity and power.
Sure we need to adapt our message to the needs of the 21st century. But the message will not be palatable to everyone.