Summary: “When the day of Pentecost had fully come...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: The gift of the Spirit
Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day that Jesus Christ began His ministry through the Church with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost simply means “fiftieth” and the presence of the Holy Spirit removed the veil to reveal its prophetic significance. Both the Law and the Holy Spirit were given at Pentecost. The giving of the Law and the giving of the Holy Spirit led to completely different results. The giving of the Law resulted in death, the death of 3000 Israelites. The Law points us to sin and that no one, apart from Christ, was capable of keeping the Law. The giving of the Holy Spirit resulted in life, the life of 3,000 people. The Holy Spirit results from the grace of God and leads to life. The gift of the Holy Spirit continues to give life today and the harvest that began on the day of Pentecost, continues today, and will continue until the end of the Church age.
The Holy Spirit, the agent of Pentecost, is a person. He is not a force or a thing as some believe. 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. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual life so that we can relate to God. God is Spirit and we can only worship God in spirit and in truth. We all need the Holy Spirit and whatever He did on the day of Pentecost He is still willing and able to do today.
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 high tower reaching to the heavens 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 introduction of different languages or tongues brought an end to the ambitions of men. At Pentecost, the introduction of one language or tongue 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 are using technology to be “like God,” to declare independence from God, to make a name, and to control the future. There is nothing wrong with technology, just as there is nothing wrong with baked bricks, tar, and high 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. Today are we not putting our trust in technology? Technology cannot save us and bring us to heaven. It cannot secure our destiny. Only Christ can do that by giving us eternal life.
The purpose of Pentecost is to confirm God’s acceptance of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. The presence of the Holy Spirit is proof that Christ had arrived in glory at the Father’s right hand. The presence of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and glorify Christ. He is the One who enables the believer to understand the revelations of His perfect sacrifice. He reveals what His sacrifice has made available to all believers. The Holy Spirit empowers the believer to witness and to serve. We constantly need His power if we are to serve God effectively. With the presence of the Holy Spirit the scattering of the people, which began with the building of the tower of Babel, is reversed and God begins to gather His people into one household. At Pentecost it was not human beings but God who was at work and at the centre of attention. The disciples did not preach about themselves and their own accomplishments, but about God and what He had accomplished in His Son Jesus Christ. When the disciples were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, they understood the plan of God and the ministry of Jesus far better than they had ever understood it before. They had been very slow and limited in their understanding, but the moment the Holy Spirit came, they had a totally different understanding of the ministry and the message of Christ. They were also empowered and became extremely bold. Before they had lived in fear, even after the resurrection of Christ, hiding behind locked doors and not willing to stand up to preach and proclaim the truth. They made very little impact on the people and Jerusalem was hardly changed or affected by the death and resurrection of Christ. The moment the Holy Spirit came, however, that changed. Peter boldly told the Jewish people in Jerusalem the whole story of Jesus and the part they played in His crucifixion. The whole of Jerusalem immediately felt the impact. Within a short time of His arrival, many thousands had gathered and before the day ended, 3000 unbelievers had been converted, baptised and added to the Church. The Holy Spirit did not come to the Church on Pentecost to make us feel better about ourselves, but to send us into the entire world with the Gospel. God has saved us to be a blessing and the greatest blessing in life is to lead another person to Christ. This is the reason for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ has fulfilled His promise to His followers by sending the Holy Spirit. The gift has been delivered. It is up to us to receive Him if He is to be of benefit to us.