(Message from May 24, 2010 on Pentecost. Of course the delivery was different as this was a much earlier draft.)
Pentecost Sunday – What does this mean? What shall we do?
Today is Pentecost Sunday, there have been 50 days since the resurrection of Christ. I want to show you a little historical perspective here of what’s going on.
We have a long reading today, but powerful. You need to see what God is doing here.
In the Old Testament, you have the Israelites in slavery in Egypt and the whole Pharaoh/Moses thing going on; think Prince of Egypt. You’ve got the 10 plagues, locusts, frogs, water turning to blood, etc. but the last one was the Lord Himself killed the firstborn sons of the Egyptians (Pharaoh had a son, who was to take over after he died). The Israelites were spared from this by sacrificing a special lamb prepared for this night and painting its blood on the door posts of their doors so the angel would “pass over” their house.
““On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. ” (Exodus 12:12–13, NIV)
You know the movie; they are released from slavery and sent on their way through the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptians who were following them. Some 50 days after the Passover we have Moses at Mount Sinai giving out the Law a new covenant with His people, something that will guide their actions and shape them to be what God intended for them.
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.” (Exodus 19:16–19, NIV)
He then spoke the 10 commandments to the entire gathering of people from Egypt. People from all over and not just Egypt specifically because we read that other people joined them on their way out of Egypt.
So what? Let’s go to the New Testament and read Acts 2 and see the story unfolding in the early Christian church, on this, the day of Pentecost.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? ” (Acts 2:1–8, NIV)
“…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” ” (Acts 2:11b-12, NIV)
So here we see the many parallels to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the New Testament church. Both were the start of a new nation a new relationship with God. Both had the sounds from heaven and signs with fire. There was also a miracle of languages here in both events. The people in both cases were mixed company; in the OT you have the people that came along with the Israelites when they left Egypt and in the NT you have the mixed crowd of people who are there spending time celebrating the Passover. So Moses and the ‘loud speakers’ needed to be heard and understood by multiple languages. But the key here is that God was doing something new in His Church in both cases; a new covenant, a new relationship with His people. So let’s read on the answer to “what does this mean?”
So Peter, you remember him, the one who a little more than 50 days before denied he even knew Christ, stands up to tell them what is happening.
“These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘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. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
David said about him: “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’ “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” ” (Acts 2:15–37, NIV)
Ok stop there and let’s go back. Jesus Himself talked about this event and what would take place here.
“He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” ” (Luke 24:46–49, NIV)
“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: ” (John 16:7–8, NIV)
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” ” (Acts 1:4–5, NIV)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
So here is the first fulfillment of that instruction given to the disciples. They are being his bold witnesses to the people around them. Peter, who denied Christ, was now the most outspoken person as a witness of Christ. We got the explanation of the “What does this mean?” So now let’s get back to the “What shall we do?”
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. ” (Acts 2:37–41, NIV)
The message is the same today. You need the power of the Holy Spirit in your life; you want to be a witness for Christ but you just don’t know how. Start with the answer to what shall we do; Repent!
Many of you here have been feeling, “I’m missing something, there’s got to be more than this.” Some of you have been feeling, “Why am I not into worship like the person next to me.” Others have been feeling, “Where did that awesome boldness and excitement I had for God go?” The answer to these questions is you need a Holy Spirit revival in your life.
Just as the Law was sent to guide and mold and shape the Church so that it could be different than the rest of the world; so too the Holy Spirit is sent to empower you, individually, to guide you and shape you so that YOU can become the witness to the rest of the world, so that you will stand out.
“How can you make a difference in the world while you are trying so hard to look like it?” How can you be a witness for Jesus but don’t allow Him to change you into who He wants you to be?
The sad part is, many of you have never encountered God to realize how far off you are in your current walk as a Christian. You have the essence of Christianity, the title and most of the good habits. But you have NEVER truly encountered God. Look at this scripture:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” ” (Isaiah 6:1–8, NIV)
Isaiah had a vision of standing in front of God Himself. When he realized He was in the presence of God he cried out “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” He recognized his sin, his failure, his mess. But even here God doesn’t leave us on our own. The angel touched his lips with a hot coal and his sin was atoned for! And immediately, God said who will be my witness?
If you want to truly have the power and presence of God in your life and be empowered to live a holy lifestyle and be a bold witness to this dying world? Then you need to come into the presence of God and repent. You need to tell God that you have fallen short of where you should be and fall on your knees before Him and cry out “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Ask for forgiveness from God and then ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
You need the Holy Spirit’s power in your life if you are going to get through the troubles and trials. You don’t want to keep going up and down in your relationship with Christ. You WANT to be empowered and stop getting beaten down. You WANT the Holy Spirit to make you a bold witness for Him and He wants to do it for you.