Acts: For the Cause of Christ #3
Pentecost Pt 1: Acts 2:1-13
A Promise Fulfilled
Prayer: “O Lord. Show me yourself within your Word. Show me myself and show me my Savior, and make the book live to me.”
We left the Apostles and the rest of the 120 disciples after they had filled the opening among the Apostles left by Judas with Matthias after prayer, specific qualifications and the use of an Old Testament process of casting lots. However they are still waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Well, now their wait is over. It has been 10 days since the Lord ascended into heaven and leaving them with the command to wait for the Holy Spirit and after that to begin proclaiming the gospel throughout the world.
1. The Coming of the Spirit v1-3
Christ had told them that the Holy Spirit would come “in a few days time”. As it turned out that few days was about 10. Pentecost or Feast of Weeks (Exod 34; Duet 16) is 50 days after Passover sabbath. It is possible, and has been thought, that Pentecost is also the anniversary of the Law being given to Moses.
The Holy Spirit came upon all 120 of them where they were gathered. The actual “place” in verse 1 (house” v2) is not known for sure. Some scholars think it is the upper room while others think it is the Temple. There is no definitive evidence given in Scripture to know for sure, however I tend to think it was the upper room since this seems to be their primary location in Jerusalem right now.
When the Holy Spirit came there were three signs given to the disciples. The baptism in tho the Holy Spirit is not a physical experience. The first sign given to the disciples was the sound of rushing wind that was filling the whole room where they were (v2). This might be an allusion to the vision Ezekiel had of preaching to the dry bones scattered in the valley and the breath of life that revived them (Ezek 37:9-14). Or this could be an allusion to Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3:8 [read passage]. Luke calls it the sound of a violently rushing wind or mighty wind. I can only guess that it sounded like the wind from tornado or hurricane. But we can’t know exactly what the disciples experienced here.
The second sign given was the sight of what looked like tongues of fire resting on each person in the room. Why fire? One reason can be that fire can represent God’s divine presence, think of the burning bush in Ex 3. I also think this was fulfilling what John the Baptist had foretold in Luke 3:16, “..He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire…”. The Greek word used there for spirit can also be translated wind. So the disciples were given to signs reminding them and showing them that they were receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I want to be clear here. Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens still today, it is a private experience that happens whenever a person in identified with Christ. This is not done externally. We do water baptism to publicly identify ourselves as Christians, showing in a physical example what has already happened within our spiritual lives. Warren Wiersbe said, “The baptism of the Spirit is that act f God by which He identified believers with the exalted Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and formed the spiritual body of Christ on earth. Historically, this took place at Pentecost; today, it takes place whenever a sinner trusts Jesus Christ and is born again” (Wiersbe, Be Dynamic p 26, © 1987). We need to remember that this was unique point in history and unique display by God to identify His church. We should not expect to see, and we do not see tongues of fire resting upon a person at their conversion, we do not hear the sound of wind at a person’s conversion. These were unique to the beginning of the church here at Pentecost.
Do you know if you have been baptized into the body of Christ? Are you able to answer yourself “yes, I have been redeemed, I have been baptized into Christ’s body, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me”? If not, there is no better time than now.
You’ll remember that I said there were three signs of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, and, if you noticed, I only mentioned two. Let’s look at our next section of verses.
2. The Filling of the Spirit v4-6
So the third sign given was that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. We need to be clear here. Being filled by the Holy Spirit and being baptized by the Holy Spirit “are two distinct experiences and they must not be confused” (Wiersbe, p27). So what is the difference? Well Christians being filled by the Spirit is experienced numerous times by New Testament Saints, even some the people here at Pentecost will experience this again (Acts 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9). Christians are commanded to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. Filling is a repeatable experience where the Holy Spirit in some form takes control of the Christian’s life for a time. Baptism is done to the Christian by God as once and for all to identify the believer with Christ. In the Old Testament, those taken of filled by the Holy Spirit would prophesy, as in Numbers 11. Here at Pentecost the prophetic utterances were given through other tongues.
What were the disciples doing? What is speaking in tongues? Speaking in tongues in the Bible is where the language or words used are either partially or completely beyond the speaker’s control and normally not a language the speaker knows how to speak. This was a very specific gift given by God to the early church to help spread the gospel. The New Testament is clear that tongues was a true spiritual gift, we find evidence of that in 1 Corinthians 12:10, 12:28-30, and 14:2-19.
Why was tongues used? This was another example of miraculous events happening at a moment of revelation from God, we see another example in the giving of the Law in Exodus 19. The disciples’ utterances here were those of praise. It is quite possible that they began speaking and praising in these various languages while they were still in the upper room, and that their praise spilled onto the streets of Jerusalem and headed toward the temple. Remember this was a feast day, and there were people from all over in the city. Luke will later reference 15 distinct language regions. It is possible that here are Pentecost God was reversing the curse of Babel. There men’s selfish desires lead God to confuse the languages and scatter the people. Here God is showing that all people can be united in the Spirit. Wiersbe has said, “ God wants to speak to every person in his or her own language and give the saving message of salvation in Jesus Christ” (Wiersbe, p28).
Those that were hearing this were amazed and confused. They found it hard to believe that 120 Galileans could each be speaking in languages from around the world, perfectly so that each them could understand that the disciples were praising God for his work. The Jews in Judea, Jerusalem all probably spoke Aramaic and Greek, but what the disciples were speaking were probably more local dialects that they would not have known. As mentioned before, there were 15 distinct language regions represented there at Jerusalem. What a better way to begin the work of the church than drawing the attention of Jews from around the world by praising God in their own language. Unfortunately not everyone saw it for what it was and being to mock the disciples by saying they were drunk from new or sweet wine. “One type of ecstasy is superficially like another” (Bruce, NICNT:The Book of the Acts, p 59, © 19). Paul even used the example of drunkenness to contrast willing of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. “The similarity lies in the control of the person by another force, either a physical intoxicant or the Holy Spirit (Kent, Homer A. Jr., Jerusalem to Rome, p30 © 1972, 2007).”
I have to leave you with a cliffhanger here, coming back next week to find out what happens next.
Have you accepted that gift of salvation? Today we have Bibles translated into almost every language on Earth. I have a Bible app on my phone that has the Bible in over 1200 different languages. They all have the same message. Humans are sinners needing salvation. Jesus Christ is the answer to the need of salvation. But accepting that gift is up to each person. So have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?
This sermon was originally preached at First Baptist Church of Brownsdale, Minn on August 5, 2018.