A) Without “the gift” that arrived on Pentecost, there would be no celebration of Christmas, Good Friday or Easter–we wouldn’t want to celebrate Jesus without the Holy Spirit’s influence!
- The Holy Spirit produced sudden outward signs of His Presence
- Wind – whirling on the inside of the room rather than where you would expect it to be. (an outward sign of an inward work) The sound of the Spirit reminds us of the Spirit hovering over the earth during creation–signals a new creation.
- Fire – a consistent sign throughout the Old Testament – used by God to show man He was near.
- Empowerment for the task of Proclaiming God’s Greatness – the filling of the Spirit led immediately to the verbal testimony concerning Jesus–“you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
Q: What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit?” Is this the same as being baptized in the Spirit, or indwelt by the Spirit or empowered?
A) We might be spending too much time thinking and trying to make distinctions that the New Testament writers didn’t intend and not enough time relishing the gift!
In John 15, Jesus states that He is the vine; and followers are the branches. “The branch remains fully open to the life of the vine flowing through it, quietly yielding to that which sustains its very existence. Only this produces fruit.
The best way to understand what “being filled” means …is to look at what it’s contrasted with (Ephesians 5:18)–drunkenness. What is Paul trying to illustrate through this seemingly offensive metaphor?
Controlled might be the best word for it. When someone is drunk, he’s being controlled by alcohol, dominated by something foreign to him. Consequently he does that which, when sober, he would never do. Being filled with the Spirit essentially means being yielded to a foreign influence–heaven’s divine intoxicant, the Holy Spirit, who causes us to be inebriated with the Person of Christ and His glory so that we do things that are foreign to our natural being.” (Dwight Edwards, Revolution Within, Waterbrook Press, 145)
Truth: From the moment of your commitment to trust Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you and abides with you forever for the purpose of furthering the ministry of Christ in you and through you!
“As human beings they (followers of Jesus) had minds, brians, wills, emotions and physical bodies. To be filled to the full as the Greek implies, means that the Spirit invaded every facet, function, and facility of their nature. The entry was through their spirits, the conscious self. Then the tissues of their brains were engendered with the Spirit, which made possible an emotional response, and their bodies were energized, producing a physical radiance and energetic movements. Their minds were captured by the truth of the Spirit, with every part of the body responding in unity and oneness. All that they were was infused by the all-powerful Spirit of the Lord. Praise was the undeniable evidence.” (Lloyd Ogilvie, Acts, Word Publishing, 62)
Truth: Following this initial “baptism” or “indwelling”, believers experience on-going episodic times of “filling” “enabling” or “empowering” for ministry.
Application: If I am asked to lead a VBS class and respond immediately, “Oh, I can’t do that–I’m no teacher!” My response is evidence that I not only do not understand the gift that I have been given in the Holy Spirit but it is a guarantee that I will live a limp, powerless life. It is an adventure of faith to be asked to do something beyond our abilities–to feel overwhelmed and then in conversation with God ask Him for help–to rely on Him to come upon you with what is needed for the task. This is what faith looks like– a step out, relying on the Holy Spirit to come and sustain us and enable us to do what we know we cannot do alone! This account in Acts allows us to observe what that looks like in a life–previously passive men are now passionate and bold — ready to be witnesses to the greatness of God! He does not give empowerment before it is needed–there is a space where faith grows stronger as we say, “Yes” and then wait, like the disciples for a fresh filling of power. He promises to equip those who are called to minister in His name!
(Acts 2:14-36) Peter’s Great Sermon
Q: What’s up with those quotes from the Old Testament?
- Peter wanted the crowd to make the connection between what they were witnessing and what God had promised through the prophet Joel.
- The Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit was the fulfillment of “I will pour out my Spirit on all (meaning all types) people.” (Joel 2:28-32)
- Rooting the event in Scripture teaches us that we have an historic faith not an imagined one–one that assumes that God’s Word is true and reliable.
- Rooting his sermon in familiar texts was an invitation for the hearers to rethink their interpretation in light of what had happened to Jesus.
- Main points are not about what Jesus said but what he did–crucified, dead and buried, on the third day He arose!
- He asks his audience to consider the implication of the fact that death did not hold Jesus in the tomb. (2:24)
- He cites the authority of trusted David whom he says also spoke of resurrection–the quote from the Psalm asked the hearers to ask, “Who is the only one that we know was not abandoned to the grave? Who is the only one that did not see decay?” His quote pressed them to answer –Jesus is the Holy One!
- It is easy for a hearer to say at this point in the sermon–“So what?” “How does the resurrection impact me?”
- Peter presses on that point by proclaiming that Jesus is still alive and still working from His exalted place–sitting at the right hand of the Father–that is a ruling position.
- He quotes David again as his authority to the truth that Jesus is not just a good teacher, an ethical man, a positive role model — He is Lord of the Universe and Christ the Anointed One–the anticipated one.
Q: If Peter is right and Jesus is the Living Lord of all, what do I need to do to make sure I am not an enemy but a loyal member of His kingdom?
- “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgivenenss of your sins. (hostile rebellion against the King) And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…(the gift that is the power to respond appropriately to King Jesus” (verse 38)
Isn’t that too marvelous for words?
We, along with those who listened to Peter that day have pursued our own kingdoms–we have loved being on the throne of our own lives and sought to disown our Creator. Rather than destroying us for this wickedness–the Resurrected King Jesus comes and says, “I have a gift that is perfectly suited to your real need–the gift is my powerful Spirit to be in you and with you forever. My gift will assure you of my love and forgiveness. My gift will be there when you need an added measure of strength and faith. My gift will create in you new affections for holiness and wean you from destructive pursuits. I will never leave or forsake you.”
The question that Acts 2 and Peter leave us with is, “Have you received the gift?”
Why don’t we begin to celebrate Pentecost?!?