Summary: I preach expository messages, and this is the fourth in my series on the Book of Acts.
“What’s the Point of Pentecost?”
Acts 2:1-41 5.13.07
Lloyd John Ogilvie asks the question, “if you asked the average Christian, which of these events they could most do without: Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, or Pentecost, which do you think most would choose?” Probably Pentecost, and yet without denying the force and significance of the other three, we cannot do without Pentecost! So today, we ask, “What’s the Point of Pentecost!” If you asked the average Christ-follower that question, you might not get the right response. If we played “word association” with the word “Pentecost”, chances are we’d get “speaking in tongues” from a lot of folks. But were speaking in tongues an end in themselves? Today, some folks seem to think so. But the point of Pentecost wasn’t speaking in tongues…let’s consider what the point really was! PRAY
José Luis de Jesús Miranda (b. 1946) is the founder and leader of Growing In Grace International Ministry, Inc., a new religious movement based in Miami. Miranda claims to believe that his life and teachings supersede those of Jesus, a point which he emphasizes by referring to himself as the Antichrist and by exhibiting a "666" tattoo on his forearm. He has also previously referred to himself as "Jesus in the flesh". Most recently, followers have shown their support by getting "666" tattoos on their bodies. In early 2007, he acknowledged others’ claims that he was the Antichrist and explained that the term is true. He says it applies because people are no longer to follow Jesus, his mission having concluded with his death on the cross. (Wikipedia)
Well, aside from the resurrection, and the ascension, the work of Christ was not finished even then—and in fact, it is not finished today, for His Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and does His work!
I. Anticipating the coming of the Spirit - :1
The disciples were together again in one place, having chosen Matthias as successor to Judas, presumably praying and waiting as Jesus had instructed them to. And then, to them assembled,
II. The coming of the Spirit - :2-4a
This outpouring of the Spirit of which we’ve read took place a little over 7 weeks after Good Friday, effectively. A good bit of this time, of course, Christ was appearing to the disciples, giving proof of the resurrection, and so it isn’t long at all after the Ascension when the Spirit comes in response to the promise of Christ. And He comes “suddenly” – the Spirit isn’t on my time schedule; He cannot be summoned as a genie in a bottle; He’s not my cosmic bellhop. Notice the descriptions:
A. Sound like wind
B. Tongues like fire resting
This must have been an amazing thing to witness, don’t you think? This incredible sound, loud enough that it was heard by others in the surrounding area, maybe like the deafening sound of a tornado up close. Beyond this, apparently gently resting above the heads of each of the believers, were tongues of flame, a terrifying sight, quite frankly, something almost out of a modern-day sci-fi film. These sounds and sights were the audible and visual representation of the Holy Spirit of God, come in response to the promise of Christ. And this wasn’t only for the apostles; note the
C. Filling of each Christ-follower
This Holy Spirit filling was for everyone there. Remember that the filling of the Spirit involves the control of the Spirit, and that’s what we’re seeing here: they began
D. Speaking with other tongues as Spirit empowered
What was going on? It was a witness to others of the mighty works of God, only in tongues they’d never learned.
What is Luke’s understanding of what was going on here?
Not inebriation; during a festival such as Harvest, Jews fasted during the morning anyway
Not merely a miracle of hearing, though some have suggested this, the idea that these followers of Christ spoke in ordinary language but the hearers heard otherwise. Luke says specifically that they began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.
Not gibberish or some kind of ecstatic babbling
Supernatural ability to speak in an unlearned tongue, in a language that the speakers had never studied. There is discussion about whether or not this is the same type of tongues Paul refers to in I Corinthians 14, which some take to refer to a special prayer language, but that’s not germane to our purposes here. These were real languages spoken by real people but unlearned by those doing the speaking.
John Stott finds symbolism in each of these particular manifestations of the Spirit, as a new age is ushered in at Pentecost, and he does so by considering the typology used in the rest of the Bible for each of these things. Wind symbolizes power, fire purity (as we see in Isaiah 6), and tongues the universal nature of the church as opposed to the idea that God was God of the Jews only. Without definitively suggesting that this is what God had in mind in working this way, it is something to consider, given that the Spirit’s work does purify us from within, that He provides power for witness and service, and that the church’s message and ministry is for the whole world.