Summary: What did it mean for God to send down his Spirit on the day of Pentecost? When the Spirit of God fills you, how do you know it?
Some kind of power came from outside; a transcendent energy.
How are we filled with the Spirit?
Reminder: Pentecost was 50 days after Easter, 10 days after the ascension. They had been told by Jesus to wait for it.
In the forty days between Easter and the Ascension Jesus had instructed them on what he had taught--brought the Kingdom of God, miracles--and what he had done--suffered, died, resurrection--and how his work continues through the disciples.
What was Pentecost already on the day that he sent the Spirit of God down? (V. 1) it was already Pentecost, a special day.
Two ways the Jews celebrated Pentecost.
Original meaning was the feast of the first fruits. About 50 days after Passover is when the first fruits were brought in and eaten to thank God--that is where we get the word Penta-cost
About 50 days after Passover is when God came down on Mount Sinai and met with Moses, giving the Law and making them a new people.
What did it mean for God to send down his Spirit on that day?
When the Spirit of God fills here is how you know it:
1. You experience the First Fruits of the future; 2. The goodness of God (His glory) and the 3. Brotherhood of the nations.
I. Experience First Fruits of the Future
Rushing wind, fire, tongues.
(V.12) what do these mean?
A new era of the Spirit had arrived.
If we allow other parts of Scripture to interpret what this new era meant, we come to understand something about the "first fruits."
This big word--eschatological--is the Greek word for end times
Everything in this world is subject to decay. The Big Bang teaches us that the world is running down. Some of you look great but you won’t be able to hold onto it.
Some of you feel great..... Some of you have a great family.... But everything is subject to decay.
Someday God’s creation will be liberated.
(Romans 8:18-23) "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
We know this because we have the first fruits of the Spirit. We have the presence of the future, an installment of the glorious future, of heaven itself. We can experience his presence, what we will have in total in heaven, right now.
It is the first fruits. We have in our church and inside ourselves what we need to stem the tide of decay in the social and emotional and cultural realm. But it still is only the first fruits.
We make two mistakes: not expecting enough, and expecting too much.
John Newton said, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I hope to be, but I am not what I used to be... ’By the grace of God I am what I am’."
II. The goodness of God (his glory)
(V. 2,3) There was wind and fire. In the Old Testament, when God shows up you get wind and fire.
Job: wind; Abraham: a burning torch; the first Pentecost at Mount Sinai God came down in a wind storm and fire. This tells us that a spirit of the transcendent is possible.
Example: Freud and Nietzsche view that Christianity is a crutch, that modern man will outgrow it. So the west stripped the miraculous out Christianity. But they were wrong. The west is hungry for the spiritual; the hunger won’t go away.
See Phil Jenkins’ The Next Christendom, p. 8.
Why are people returning to Orthodox Christianity? Without the transcendent there is no meaning. This verse tells us we can have it.
This is not electricity; it is not naked power. When they are filled they begin to talk, explaining what happened to them.
What do they talk about? They are not talking about power, gifts, miracles. They are declaring the wonders of God.
Being filled with the Spirit is having an experience of truth. It is neither rationalism, or mere experience. It is having a deeply rational experience. They are not getting "zapped." God comes and declares his name.
On Mount Sinai God came to declare His name.