Summary: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a scriptural experience, comes as an answer to prayer, and is the work of God’s Spirit in us.
"When The Day of Pentecost Came ..."
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
In the Gospels Jesus foretold the coming of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Strengthener, the Paraclete - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Promise of the Father. Jesus taught that spiritual power would accompany the Spirit’s indwelling. He said we would be taught by an inner Teacher who would illumine life and give spiritual insight. Jesus promised abundant life and rivers of life abounding from within as a result of the Spirit’s descent upon the Church.
But when we read the book of Acts of those first days after Jesus’ ascent into heaven, it appears that those first seeking to be filled with this spiritual dunamis, had little idea of what to expect in the way of details when this blessed event occurred. But as soon as the Spirit descended they immediately recognized what had transpired.
Isaiah and Mark make references to stammering lips and speaking in tongues as the Spirit filled the lives of believer’s. Isaiah referred to the languages which would be spoken by Israel’s foreign captors in a day of judgement. As a secondary meaning we see in the prophet’s words an inference to Spirit-inspired tongues. Jesus’ mention of tongues in the last chapter of Mark is clear enough, but it doesn’t seem that He spent much time talking about speaking in tongues. So I don’t think the first Christians had much of an idea of what to expect when they received the Holy Spirit.
With that in mind, think of what they experienced. Remember, this is sight-unseen. This is a first-hand report. Cold-turkey they are thrust into a full-blown Pentecostal experience. There is no history; no prior experience. This has never happened before. Here they are, sitting in church, fasting and praying, seeking God, when all of the sudden the room was filled with sound. It was the noise of a powerful gale-force wind. It sounded like it ripped from one end of the room to the other. That’s an attention-getter! When everyone looked up, flames flickered above the head of everyone in the room. A sensation of the Divine presence overcame them. And all 120 of them, simultaneously, began to speak in languages they had not learned. They experienced all of this in less time than it took to tell. And some folks today think they’ve seen something special if a few saints bob, shake, fall down and speak in tongues. Novices!
Those first Spirit-baptized saints may not have known what to expect, but when the day of Pentecost came they knew what it was and what it did for them.
When the Day of Pentecost Came... They Recognized Their Experience As Scriptural
16 (Peter said) ... this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 "‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’"
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything in prophecy about little flames of fire on peoples’ heads, or tornado sounds. And only a quick mention of foreign languages. Yet when these things did happen Peter was quick to equate these events with the Holy Spirit’s coming as promised by Jesus. Somehow, he made a connection between what happened that morning and what he had read in the prophecy of Joel. I believe it was quickened by the Spirit. Somehow he recognized the upper room experience of the 120 as the Holy Spirit being poured out on Israel’s sons and daughters, on their servants and handmaidens. Mentally he sized up what he had read in Joel with what he saw in the Upper room and said "this is that." They saw their experience as Biblical.
When the Day of Pentecost Came ... They Knew It Was An Answer to Prayer
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (1:14) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. (2:1)
They were expecting something to happen. They may not have known what, but they were willing to accept whatever the Lord brought on them. Details were irrelevant. What He did and how He brought it about was not as important to them as the fervent hope that He did it. They were "tarrying" (waiting) in obedience to Christ’s command. They were praying together for the outpouring of the Spirit. And when it happened they saw the baptism in the Spirit as an answer to prayer.