Reading Acts 2:1-4 & 14-21
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
2 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[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, 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.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Let go and Let God
Quick history recap: (and there’s a reason for this!). 3 big festivals for the Jews at this time where people expected to go to Jerusalem:
- Passover –where Israelites have the exodus from Egypt. The angel of death passes over them and they are saved because they have put the blood of a lamb sacrifice on their doorframes.
- Tabernacles –where they commemorate the time in tents (tabernacles) when Israelites lived in wilderness
- Weeks or Pentecost – that celebrated the giving of the Law from Moses at Sinai. It was called the week of weeks (7 * 7 = 49) and on the 50th day it was celebrated. Pentecost means fiftieth.
Significance? Jesus died at the Passover as the one and sufficient sacrifice for our sins. He was the new Lamb of God whose blood saves all people –not just the Israelites from Egypt.
The birth of the church at Pentecost, then the law was celebrated signified a new way that all God’s people would live –not made right with God by law but by faith –because Christ had come to fulfil all the law and prophets.
So the disciples at this point have had 40 days of a resurrected Christ on earth (with a lot of work to be done to help restore them –remember their fear and disappointment), then the ascension and now they have gone back into Jerusalem to meet, pray, praise and await the baptism of the H.S. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:5
They let go and they let God.
The let go of:
- Their own plans. This is hard to do! We don’t like being in charge of our destiny!
- Worry and fear: This is harder! It often has to be prised out of our hands. But the disciples let go of it from their hands and replaced it with trust and joy –a good lesson for us.
- Stubbornness and pride: They stopped thinking of themselves and this ongoing competition of who could be the greatest disciple (and we’re kidding ourselves if we think we don’t suffer from the same desire to seen as great). They also stopped worrying what others thought and instead worried about what God would think.
So they let go and they let God…
And 10 days later they really got God! They’re all together and the sound of violent wind comes, the tongues of fire, the speaking in tongues. They were filled/baptised with the Holy Spirit. Now that part scares us a bit –what if we were actually in church and this happened –some might go ‘yeah!’ (you know who you are!) and some might go ‘Hmmmm…’! But this incredible other-worldly aspect of the event while not being downplayed, is not what I want to concentrate on this morning because a greater miracle is about to happen, the birth of the church.
They let go and they let God and the God’s Holy Spirit gave them power, courage, words and truth. And the Holy Spirit gives you power, courage, words and truth.
Power: The disciples were given the power to be something they weren’t up to this point. Not the first time this has happened in the Bible –we know the Spirit came upon the O.T. prophets and so many others. We read that King’s Saul and David, when anointed the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon them. And the disciples were given power, abilities, strengths and gifts to do things for God. A power that is not from us doing things we can’t do. We tend to think it’s not there much because our lives don’t look like the book of Acts! But it is. The older I get the more I realise the mess I would have become without the power of God in my life. That the power of the Holy Spirit works in us to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Especially self-control!
But don’t limit the Holy Spirit! The healings, miracles and wonders of the Book of Acts still happen. And they might happen to you!
Courage: But fear can stop us doing things even when we have the power to achieve them. The Holy Spirit gives us courage to face our own fears and insecurities from within and the enemy without. The followers were few in number –around 120 people in the entire ministry of Jesus Christ –smaller than our church. Imagine if we were the only church!! But out they went, into the street, with courage to change the world.
Words: How does Peter, a fisherman, address a crowd of foreigners and locals with such words and scriptural recall from the prophet Joel that 3,000 people get baptized? How can mere words change lives? When those words come from the Holy Spirit they do. Jesus said in Luke 12 that the Holy Spirit would teach you what you should say. Those 3,000 people at Pentecost were ready to receive Christ, The Holy Spirit had already been at work in them. They just needed to hear these words from Acts 2:38 ‘Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ Maybe the Spirit has been at work in your life and it’s now time for you to hear these words ‘Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ And if it is pray it!
The Holy Spirit gives us words. I have heard ordinary Christian people say things that I know are from God (and perhaps they didn’t) and I have had people tell me that I was speaking God’s word into their lives, without me even realising. The Spirit gives us the words.
Truth: In a world of fake news, deceit and mistrust it is all too easy to end up with a fake gospel. Be nice and helpful, live and let live and, get along with others and, whatever you do, don’t upset people. That might seem the easiest way to live but it is not Jesus, it’s not the church and it’s not the Gospel. The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth. Not maybe what we want t hear but what we should hear to save our lives. Jesus before Pilate (John 18:38) said ‘the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth’
The words ‘truth’ and ‘gospel’ might as well be the same. Pilate answered Jesus dismissively ‘What is truth?’ It might not matter to many but someone does not come to Christ and live for Christ if they cannot seek the truth. This gospel truth of the Word of God must be something that Christians must testify to also –however uncomfortable and unpopular it makes us.
Power, courage, words and truth.
And finally how do you let go and let God?
1. ASK: 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
But James 2. You don’t have because you don’t ask. Perhaps we fill too much of our prayers up with specific requests –goodness knows I do! When we should just ask for the Holy Spirit.
3 of the most import words a Christian should learn to repeat are these: ‘Come Holy Spirit’. In sickness, health, danger, despair –in the midst of prosperity –‘Come Holy Spirit’.
2. GIVE IT OVER: It’s not just that we don’t ask –we don’t actually let the Holy Spirit help us when we do ask. You need to give it over to Him. We all want to be in control, some of us are too stubborn and full of pride to rely on God, others are too shy or scared of being embarrassed –or just too scared to let God in more and more. I get it! Me too! It’s hard.
But day by day take that barrier and hand it over to Christ. It’s like a brick dam holding back the living waters that should be overflowing in our lives. Right now it’s just a trickle for some of us –but it needs to flow! You know what the barriers are –take them and hand over to Christ. The dam won’t break at once but brick by brick… the trickle will flow and then (and this is the scary part!), one day it will flood.
Let go and let God.