Acts Lesson 6 - The Last Pentecost
Have we bought into the truth that the Holy Spirit really did descend? Do we really believe that the third Person of the Trinity really does permanently indwell every believer? And does it show in the way we live?
The Last Pentecost
More than 3 million people jammed the streets and alley ways of Jerusalem. It was Jewish law that required all males who lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem to attend - ordinary labor was prohibited and during this national holiday, all shops were closed.
Many Jews had traveled from many other nations to stay for the Passover and pentecost, and their vacation was about to end. Within days, there would be a great exodus from the city when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims would begin their journey home.
Unowing to them, according to the plan of God this was the last Pentecost. The dawning of a new dispensation was only hours away - when the third person of the Godhead would make His electrifying descent from the throne of heaven above.
Acts chapter two is the story of that descent.
In order to re-enter the drama of this incredible day and appreciate it’s significance, we first need to understand some background.
First - This Last Pentecost was the result of Christ’s promise
You may remember that Jesus Christ promised the Spirit would come - in Acts chapter 1:5 we read “But you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now - v. 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses. . .
You need to understand the changing role of the Holy Spirit:
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit’s role in a persons life was
temporary (He came upon Saul and we read that He left Saul)
In the N.T. His role is permanent - “He will abide with you forever” (John 14:16)
In the O.T. His presence was referred to as an anointing in order to fulfill special tasks. Samson is an example of this as the Spirit empowered him and then abandoned Him. David prayed in the Psalms, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” This is not the prayer of a N.T. believer but an Old Testament believer who was afraid that God would remove the anointing Holy Spirit which allowed David to fulfill his kingly tasks.
In the N.T. the Holy Spirit does not temporarily anoint, but permanently indwell. Jesus promised in John 14 that the Spirit was with them but He shall be in you.
The Spirit had been with the disicples - in the future the Spirit would indwell them - not just for special tasks but for every activity of life.
In fact, let’s make some theological application for today:
the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a future blessing for faithful believers
Paul wrote to the most carnal, divisive church in the first century - the church at Corinth - I Cor. 12:13 - you were all baptized into one body. Past tense - at the moment of conversion you - you didn’t have to wait for Him to come.
I like the way one author wrote it: TONY EVANS The Promise; p 38
Theological application #2 - the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a special priviledge for spiritual people
In fact, according to Romans 8:9, if you do not have the Spirit indwelling you, you do not have a claim to Christianity. So anyone who tells you “you haven’t been baptized by the Holy Spirit” is saying you are not saved. All Christians are Spirit baptized.
The Holy Spirit is not some treat for the spiritual elite. (you actually pay me to come up with stuff like that! Kinda scary!)
I tell my kids, “Listen, if you behave your mother today and you don’t drive her to the brink of distraction; if you do your chores and treat each other and the dog with civility, after supper tonight, I’ll take you out to Goodberries for a milkshake.
Now parenting experts say you’re not supposed to bribe your kids. I’m not bribing them - I’m just telling them - you behave - we go to Goodberries - you misbehave - you’re going to bed!
Parenting experts need to learn the power of icecream.
Fortunately, God doesn’t do that with His Holy Spirit - you don’t get saved, and then, if you’re good you get the Holy Spirit.
“If you pray long and hard - if you tarry and weep; if you behave, I’ll give you a taste of the Holy Spirit.” You and I are never commanded anywhere in the Bible to be seek the baptism of the Spirit - to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
No, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the once for all experience of every believer as God takes the new believer and by means of the Holy Spirit, immerses us into the body of Christ.
Paul wrote to Titus, “You have been saved, not by works or deeds, but by the washing of regeneration and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
You and I are no more deserving of the Holy Spirit than we are Jesus Christ - we receive Jesus Christ not by merit or works, and we receive the Holy Spirit also, not by works or deeds, but by means of salvation.
So we don’t pray for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us, or fall upon us, or come from heaven with power - He’s standing here tapping His fingers saying, “Excuse me - I’ve been down here now for 2,000 years - where’ve you been?”
Everyone of you who have recieved Christ as your own personal Savior have recieved the baptism and indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit.
There’s something else I want you to know about the Last Pentecost.
The last Pentecost was the fulfillment of the Jewish celebration.
You need to understand the significance of Jewish chronology and feasts.
Jesus Christ was led as a lamb to die in order to deliver men and women from the bondage of sin - that happened during the same time Israel was celebrating the passover - when they took the lives of lambs and ate them in rememberance of their deliverance from Egypt.
Paul declared in I Cor. 15:7, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”
It was during the feast of Firstfruits that the nation celebrated the first crops brought in from harvest - the priest waved a sheaf of grain before the Lord - the seed that had died and born fruit - it was the firstfuits from their crops that they gave to God in celebration of life. It was during the Feast of Firstfuits that Jesus Christ rose from the dead - the one Paul referred to in I Cor. 15:20 as “The one who has been raised from the dead, the first fuits of those who are asleep.”
Don’t think for a moment that the crucifixion and burial and resurrection fo Jesus Christ coincidentally occured during these special feast days - the events of His life and death, fulfilled those feast days. He was pictured in those days - I can’t help but be moved to consider the histroical fact that as Jesus Christ came riding into the city of Jerusalem on the donkey - it was that very day that temple shepherds would be herding the sheep from the outlying regions into the city for their sacrificial death.
Josephus, the first century Jewish historian writes that 256,000 lambs were killed during the first century Passover. You can imagine that sheep and young lambs are filling the streets as The Lamb of God, who had also entered the city to die, had come. Here he comes, the final sacrifice, the fulfillment of Passover, surrounded by thousands of sacrificail lambs.
And now, it is 50 days after the feast of Firstfruits, the Bible reads, ACTS 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost had come (literally, was fullfilled) they
were all together in one place.
Israel had also been celebrating Pentecost for centuries. Pentecost literally means 50th. It occured 50 days after the Feast of Firstfuits. One of the primary functions of Pentecost was to celebrate the giving of the Law. In the Old Testament you had the rumblings of the earthquake as Moses ascended Mt. Sinai. You had fire and smoke as God supernaturally communicated onto tablets of stone the law.
Now, here in the last Pentecost - you have the loud rumblings as of a mighty wind, you have fire and you have God, supernaturally communicating through the lips of his Apostles the message of grace.
At the first pentecost, on Mt. Sinai, God gave His Holy law. And the law would produce a national conscience.
At the last Pentecost, God will give His Holy Spirit. And the Spirit will produce an international church.
To pray for Pentecost to happen again is to ignore the simple fact that it was an historical event, prophecyed centuries earlier, with un-repeatable action - you might as well pray for Passover or Firstfuits to happen again.
We can’t duplicate Pentecost any more than we can duplicate Bethlehem or Calvary.
To pray for Pentecost to happen in the church would be like praying for America to become independent of England. It’s already happened. No one today prays for the revolution - it happened and today every American enjoys the benfits of freedom and independence becuase of the ongoing effects of that historical event called the American Revolution. While early Americans waited for independence, we are born independent.
Likewise - these Apostles waited for the Holy Spirit to descend and indwell them and baptise them into the body of Christ - the church - we, as soon as we are born again - are immediately indwelt by the Spirit and baptized into the body of Christ. We benefit immediately.
And we receive all of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead at once.
The Last Pentecost marked the creation of the New Testament Church
Paul says, “C’mon, wake up! Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which you have from God - you no longer belong to yourself - you are the sanctuary of God.”
Collectively we come together and create the ekklesia - the local New Testament Church - a body that moves and functions and serves - we’ll talk more of this later . . . but for now, the coming of the Spirit created a new temple for Holy God and a new organism called the church.
Alright, that’s my sermon introduction for this morning - now let’s go and look on as the Holy Spirit descends.
Three things happened as the Holy Spirit Descended:
Look at Acts, chapter 2, verse 1, “And when the day of Pentecost had come,” - literally, when the day of Pentecost as being fulfilled! “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” You need to understand that a “wind” did not come rushing in. Look at it again, “there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind”. Please note that it wasn’t a rushing might wind that came and tore at their clothes - it was a noise that sounded like a violent rushing wind - like a tornado or a hurricane. I’ve never heard such a sound like the wind from this past hurricane - like the lag of a jet plane. It must have been somewhat frightening for this sound to begin inside that upper room.
Something audible happened.
Then, something visible happened
Look at verse 3, “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.” Notice again, it’s not literal fire but it looks like it could be fire. That’s the only way that he could describe it.
Read in Revelation and John writes, “I saw something like . . . .” He’s trying to find something in the Greek language to explain the unexplainable.
Here’s an unexplainable event when, all of a sudden, this noise begins to build in the room and then, perhaps, through the wall or from a the ceiling, comes this flickering wisp like flame. And then it divides and it goes separately to each individual and rests on them.
No more reference is made to this flame like appearance - evidently this was indeed that baptism of the Holy Spirit. To the jew, fire had always been the symbol of the Divine presence.
Then something verbal took place - look at verse 4
By the way - to the neo-Pentecostal, charismatic claim for Pentecost experience - may I remind you that it was more than speaking with languages previously unlearned - it included something audible and something visible. Perhaps we could test their claims of the Spirit’
Look at verse 4, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”
The word “tongue,” comes from the Greek word which gives us the transliterated word “glossary.” Later in verse 6 the word is changed to the greek word, “dialektns” from which we get our word ? dialect.
This was a known language consisting not of babbling or simple consonant vowel consanant vowel of an infant child - but of vocabulary and grammar and order.
So something audible happened, something visible happened, and something verbal.
Which leads me to another critical point about Pentecost
Pentecost is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy
Turn to Isaiah 28:11
Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, “here is rest, give rest to the weary,” and, “here is repose,” but they would not listen.
This passage was fulfilled with the Babylonian captivity - yet the Apostle Paul quotes this verse in reference to the phenomena of speaking in tongues - Paul remeinded them, it was sign to the unbeleiving nation that they had indeed rejected the true Messiah.
When Peter and the others stood and declared in foreign tongues the truth of God’s plan through Jesus Christ - every Rabbi who had Isaiah tucked away in his heart - every Jewish leader who knew the scroll of Isaiah their great prophet - every one of them must have shuddered with the thought - could this be the sign that we crucified the wrong man? The God-man - and paul clears away any doubt as he writes in I Corinthains “Yes - tongues was the sign to the unbeleiving Jew - Christ was the true Messiah!”
Now let’s go back to Acts and notice how the Jews responded!
As we read their respons, my question to you is, “Do you see yourself in their response???!!”
How are you responding today to the descent of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the dispensation of grace?
Look at verses 5 and 6, “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered”. Evidently, this sound wasn’t confined to the room. For all we know, it may have filled most of Jerusalem. When everybody heard it, they were bewildered and they came,
Look at what happened, verse 7, “And they were amazed and marveled, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?”
Let me give you, for the purpose of your notes, the Three Responses or reactions from the crowd. The first one is amazement. I wish I could have seen this. They were so amazed because these are uneducated Galileans. How are uneducated Galileans speaking fluently in another language?”
And the list of languages was impressive: v. 8. And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” Notice the list: “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs - we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Imagine that! Everything from African to Italian dialects.
But there was also great confusion - that’s the second response. v. 12, “And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity saying to one another, “What does this mean?” “What in the world is going on?”
There was amazement and confusion and, thirdly, there was ridicule or rejection. “But others were mocking and saying, ‘They are full of sweet wine”
What are they saying? They’re saying that the temple is filled with drunk men. Well, when do drunk men speak fluently in another language?
Bob Ingersoll used to stand on a platform, at the turn of the century, and he’d take out his stopwatch. And he’d gather a crowd because, at that time, you never said anything against God; at least publicly! And he would say, “If there is a God, I want Him to strike me dead within the next thirty seconds.” He’d dramatically hold his stopwatch in the air. And he’d count down the seconds. And the crowd would gasp. Ladies would faint. “Oh, God’s going to strike him dead!” And he’d just count down, “Five, four, three, two, one. I’m still alive! You see, I told God to strike me dead - He didn’t - He doesn’t exist.”
Since when has God been obligated to obey anyone?
There are skeptics who tday, look at you and what God has done in your life. And when they can’t explain it, when they can’t come up with something tangible, all they know is you’ve been transformed, you’re a different person; they’re either going to be amazed, or confused, or they’re going to ridicule and reject the evidence.
Two Present Day Questions from this Past Tense Event:
- Do you have all of the Holy Spirit?
In other words, have you been born again? And at the moment of your conversion, you were by the Lord’s own grace baptized by means of the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. You did receive all of the Holy Spirit. Have you become a Christian?
- Does the Holy Spirit have all of You?
My friend, the person of the Holy Spirit was not given to you so that you might have some unusual experience - He was given to you so that you would have the Helper - in order that you might obey the leadership of the Living God.
I like the funny little story that actually happened. A fifth grade Sunday school class recite at the beginning of each class a creed. Each child had one line to learn and each class they each contributed their one line until all the creed was spoken. The teacher had hoped that the students would absorb not just their one line but the entire creed. All went well until one Sunday, about four months into the experiment the class began. The first girl as usual recited her line flawlessly, “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.” The second, a boy stood up and said his sentence, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord.” But then silence descended over the class. Finally, one girl, who discovered the problem spoke up and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit is absent today.”
I wonder . . . is that our problem? Have we really bought into the truth that the Holy Spirit really did descend on this Last Pentecost - the fulfiller of that Old Testament feast had indeed come and and that He really does now permanently indwell every believer.
Do we really believe it - then if we do, the way we talk and walk, the way we dress the temple of the Spirit - the places we carry Him to - the activity we put Him through - do we really believe He came down, and went in.
Every time you say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit” - I believe Acts chapter 2 really happened - you are saying, “I believe God is committed to changing me and shaping me and empowering me to stand as a witness before the jury of the world - and in the process He is passionate in His promise to conform us into the likeness of His only Son.”
God does not have baptism “halfway houses,” nor does He baptize on the installment plan. There’s no such thing as a layaway baptism where you make a down payment up front, pay on it each month, and then after enough time as a Christian you get to take your baptism out of layaway and enjoy the whole deal. No. All of the Holy Spirit you are ever going to get as a believer, you recieved when Jesus baptized you by means of the Spirit into His body at your salvation. So the question in the Christian life is not, “How much of the Holy Spirit do you have?” but, “How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?”
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