Pentecost: Obedience at Any Cost 6/4/00

Acts 2:1-8

JESUS CHRIST established heaven’s beachhead on the shores of time and space when He was born in Bethlehem. Forty days after His resurrection, as the feast of Pentecost was being celebrated, a new beachhead was established. On that day the Holy Spirt Holy secured His beachhead. After His resurrection Jesus went to Heaven. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from heaven as Christ’s vice regent.

The Holy Spirit filled life is one of the least understood aspects of being a Christian. It summarily means being controlled by Christ’s Spirit.

Our misconception of ourselves adds to this confusion. We think of ourselves as human beings having a spiritual experience. In reality we are spirit beings having a human experience.

The Jews of the era celebrated the first of their three great holidays, Passover, to commemorate the deliverance of their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. The second holiday commemorated the end of the harvest. It was celebrated each year 50 days after Passover and was called Pentecost. PENTE meaning 50 days.

Over a period of 40 days after Christ’s resurrection He made a number of appearances to His followers. It had now been 10 days since an appearance and 120 of His anxious followers assembled. They were united in their belief and spirit, HOMOTHUADON,”one accord.”

As they were praying a once in all history happening occurred. “CLOVEN TONGUES OF FIRE,” means tongues of flames accompanied by a mighty rushing wind settled over them (Vs. 3). Our concept of such flames is like candle lights. Instead of going up, individual flames came down over 120 heads. There was one fire and 120 extensions. The one large flame first let down individual extensions above the head of each believer.

WIND was the audible evidence of the Spirit.

FIRE was the visual evidence.

“FILLED WITH,” is third person plural, passive voice. Thus, it is revealed “they”, the 120, were being acted upon. A force from outside themselves was invading.

That great philosopher\theologian, Winnie-the Pooh, speaking of “poetry and hums” made a comment that is applicable. Pooh said, “Poetry and hums aren’t things which you get, they are things which get you. And all you do is go where they find you.”

The active force was the HOLY SPIRIT, He is the Spirit of Christ (II Cor. 3:17). “The Lord is the Spirit.”

Jesus said He would send the Comforter. He referred to Him as “another”, meaning One of the same kind.

There has been much confusion among Christians about this experience for years. That confusion has led to certain Christian groups going to extremes and others ignoring this happening all together. Neither is right.

We have a tendency to misread or to read in more than we should. We are like the child whose mother saw him opening a pack of animal crackers, pour them out, and start sorting through them. She inquired what he was doing. He replied, “I am looking for the seal.” “Why?” she asked. “Because it says right on the box ‘Do not eat if the seal is broken.’”

The expression “Other Tongues” translates the Greek HETERAIS GLOSSAIS meaning dialects or languages other than their own. Thus, these untutored and unsophisticated Galileans miraculously spoke languages they had never studied. Acts 2: 9 – 11 even lists the languages.

There were 17 nationalities noted as being present (Vss. 9-11). The Jewish community scattered by Alexander the Great had returned to celebrate Pentecost. They had learned the language of the countries of their exile.

What the foreigners heard amazed them and they said, “are not these that speak Galileans?” (Vs. 7). If we confuse the issue by thinking the gift of speaking in unlearned languages was the event of the day, we miss the meaning of all this. The gift that made them charismatic was not tongues but the Spirit Himself. To think otherwise is to miss the importance of the event.

“UTTERANCE” comes from a verb meaning to speak or proclaim. They began to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection to all nationalities present.

WHY THIS PHENOMENON? I Cor. 14:22 explains, “…for a sign…to them that believe not.”

The early church was just getting started. The 120 were all Jews from the region. For the gospel to be spread it had to be communicated in different languages. For this reason the gift.

The Holy Spirit can only fill empty places and people. Christ’s execution had excavated an empty place in their lives. For 40 days after Christ’s resurrection He had made appearances to His followers. Now 10 days had passed since His ascension. It is a terrible thing to have a passion without power. They qualified.

Four words express the emptiness of Christ’s followers prior to Pentecost:

A. Discouraged. Ten days is a long time to wait when the frail thread of hope is about to break. Discouragement causes emptiness. Are you discouraged? I had the joy of sharing with our school children recently. Using a visual I wrote the word “courage” on the board. Then using a different color marker I added the prefix “dis” making it discourage. Explaining God has a big eraser I removed the prefix “dis” and added a new one “en,” changing the word to “encourage.” That is what God did in their lives and what He wants to do in ours. Be encouraged by His Holy Spirit being available to you right now to help.

B. Dejected. Life was limp. They had form without force. Too many Christians are thus described. They live between Passover and Pentecost. A realization of Christ’s Spirit with us projects us to do our duty with delight.

C. Disability. A vision without vitality reveals and ridicules our disability. They had a challenge but no capacity. The Holy Spirit bridges that enormous gap between what we can do and what the Lord wants to do through us.

D. Depression. This grew out of a desperate feeling that they could not be what they were called to be.

We become Christians when we trust Christ as Savior. We become Christ-like Christians when out of a sense of our own inability, brokenness, and failure we realize our emptiness. Then we realize the truth in Christ’s words, “Without me you can do nothing.” It is at this point one becomes ready to say, “Christ, I surrender, I want you to live your life through me. I am your empty vessel to be filled as you will.”

When a believer reaches this point and it may occur many times in life then certain things happen.
The Holy Spirit:

  1. PURIFIES. What happens to each believer is described by Matthew: “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12)

This passage not only describes what happens to non-believers, but what happens IN believers. The gathering of the wheat is a depiction of salvation. The burning out of the chaff is a description of getting out the impurities. He burns out the chaff in our lives. Spiritual chaff is any ungodly thing. It is things such as false loyalty, habits that make slaves of us, memories of past failures, and principally self-centeredness.

  1. GALVANIZES – The word means to shock into action. The filling of Christ’s Spirit shocks us into an attitude of praise.

We have come to think of praise principally as singing and shouting, even bopping around. That may or may not be praise. Praise is a seasoning that isn’t an end in itself but a flavoring for all things in life. It gives savoriness to all of life like salt does to all food.

Praise is the antidote for pride. It causes us to focus on someone other than our self, Christ.

Praise unlocks further power. If we praise God for His blessings, the Spirit heightens our joy.

Praise is surrender. The Holy Spirit can’t be contained. He will always break out in praise.

We overlook much for which we should praise Him. A husband and wife were getting ready to go to a memorial service for the son of a friend killed in the war. The parents of the deceased had given $50,000 for a stained glass to memorialize their son. As they dressed the wife said to her husband, “What are we going to give?” Astonished the husband said, “Give, what do you mean? We don’t need to give anything our son came home alive.” “That’s what I mean,” she said. “They lost a son, and they gave a gift of thanks, a memorial to his life. We got our son back, and we don’t give anything.”

We have received so much we often forget to praise the Lord.

  1. EVANGELIZES – Joel prophesied 400 years before this that God would “…pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” This was to happen “in the last days.” The result was to be “they shall prophesy.” They did. The word translated prophecy does not mean to foretell future events. It means to foretell, that is, clearly proclaim truth, to witness.

Having been instructed by our Lord to be fishers of men we have instead become keepers of the aquarium adapt at swapping fish.

70% of Southern Baptist churches have plateaued or are declining. Of all churches the percent is even higher: 81%.

Christianity is now in one of its most critical times in history. It is a time of both hostility and harvest. We are good about telling of overcoming some personal emotional crisis, but fail to tell people where there is still water, green pastures, and the path of righteousness.

Have we quit praying for spiritual awakening in America or even a great movement of the Spirit in our life and this church.

In 1930 folks around Charlotte, North Carolina wanted to have an area revival but the pastors weren’t interested. Vernon Patterson got a group of 30 men to commit to gather and pray. He asked his friend Franklin if they could meet at his farm and pray. They gathered in his hay field and prayed for God to send forth a man who would speak to the nation and world for Christ.

In 1934 they invited evangelist Mordecai Fowler Hamm to preach a revival. During that meeting the son of Franklin Graham, Billy Graham, was called by God in answer to that prayer. Let’s not quit praying. That is what was happening in the upper room when the 120 were visited by the Holy Spirit.

When He fills us we bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). This second chapter of Acts ends triumphantly. As a result of sharing in the resurrection victory it is recorded:

“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

They so loved and shared the love of Christ that by the time the Book of Romans was written Paul sent greetings to those in the household of Caesar. They had put out the altar fires in the temples of Diana and lit the gospel torch in the palace of Caesar.

The same is needed in America today. Many individuals and our culture in general needs saving today. Political proficiency can’t save us or Rome would not have fallen.

Commerce can’t save us or ancient Tyre would not have fallen.

Military might can’t save us or Germany would not have fallen.

Treachery can’t save us or Japan would not have fallen.

Religious ceremony can’t save us or ancient Israel would not have fallen.

Our Lord offers us our only hope and it is quite sufficient.

They had to be empty before they could be filled. The same is true of us. Reflect on their condition that left them empty. They were: DISCOURAGED, DEJECTED, DISABLED, AND DEPRESSED. Is that the emptying process now going on in your life?


We human beings have a mind, will, emotions, and a physical body. To be filled means for the Holy Spirit to take control of every facet, function, and facility of our being. The Spirit’s entry was through their conscious self. When that happened the tissues of their brains were empowered, which made possible the proper emotional response, and energized their entire bodies, producing a physical radiance and energetic action.

They were infused with the power of God.

Jesus said the purpose of the Spirit’s coming was to bear witness of Him:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15: 26, 27).