This Sunday (5/27/2012) the church celebrates Pentecost. Pentecost is also known as the Feast of Weeks and takes place on the Jewish calendar 50 days after Passover. The day of Pentecost, in the book of Acts, has become eternally significant for us as followers of Jesus Christ.
Fifty days prior to the Pentecost of Acts 2, the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. He rose from the dead and spent 40 days on the earth prior to His ascension (Acts 1:3). He instructed His followers to wait in the city of Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit.
“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” (Luke 24:49 NLT)
It was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles and believers in the first century. It was on this day that the first New Covenant sermon was preached by the Apostle Peter. It was on this day that 3,000 people followed Jesus Christ and the Church was born. Please take the time to reread Acts, chapter 2 today; it is an excellent reminder of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
For centuries the Jewish people had heard from the scriptures, prophets, priests and rabbis that God would fulfill His promise and establish a New Covenant with His people through the Messiah. On this day in Acts 2 God fulfilled His promise and poured out His Spirit on His people.
The manifestation of the fulfillment of this promise caused quite a spectacle and a stir in the city of Jerusalem. We are told there was a sound like rushing wind that filled the house where the 120 believers were meeting. We are told that there appeared to them flames or tongues of fire that rested on each of them. We are told they were filled with the Holy Spirit who gave them the ability to speak languages they did not know.
This noise and commotion caused people to come and investigate what was going on. They wanted to know what was happening. “When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.” (Acts 2:6)
Some were amazed at what they were hearing. Some were confused by what they were hearing and some observers mocked the believers because of what they were hearing. It was at this moment that Peter announced what was actually taking place. Peter preached the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation and the Holy Spirit through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He preached concerning the fulfillment of God’s promise only moments after he himself had received the fulfillment of that promise and those to whom he was preaching had witnessed it. (What an amazing moment that must have been!)
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:38-39 NLT)
This promise is for you. The promise is for me. This promise is for everyone.
I spend a lot of time working with spreadsheets. In fact, a lot of my job is based on Excel. I use formulas to project and calculate financial and business performance (exciting, I know). One of the formulas I frequently use is called, “IF/Then”. It allows me create a function based on a figure meeting a certain criteria. Once the formula is in place and the conditions have been met “IF” always creates “Then.”
This stirred my heart concerning God’s faithfulness to His Word. The Bible is filled with many, many promises from God to us. Many of those promises are divine “IF/Then” statements. If you will do this, then I will do that. Once the Lord has made a promise and we meet His “IF” it always creates His “Then”
I know that God does not operate in our lives via formulas but He does operate in our lives based on His Word. There are no maybes in the promises of God. If His Word declares it, it happens and that means it will happen for you.
For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT)
I write all this to declare to us that “IF” we will repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ “Then” as God’s Word declares we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
New Testament Christianity is not a religion of ceremony. We are not Christians because we attend a church. We are not Christians because we pray. We are not Christians because we read the Bible. We are not Christians because we give money to help the poor and needy. We are not even Christians because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We are Christians because our faith in the Son of God has caused us to be born-again or born of the Spirit.
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)
The Christian life cannot be defined as merely a decision to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ or a decision to worship Jesus Christ. These are 100% a part of the Christian life but without the Spirit of God invading our lives and causing us to be spiritually alive we have not experienced Acts, chapter 2.
Our promise from God concerning the New Covenant and the gift of His Holy Spirit comes from verses like:
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT)
Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. (Joel 2:28-29 NLT)
The preaching of the gospel opens the door for the Holy Spirit to convince and convict us of our sin and need for a Savior (John 16:8). As we respond in repentance from our sin and place our faith in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit recreates our dead human spirit, making us alive unto God (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:11). We become new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The Christian life cannot be lived apart from the Christian being filled with the Holy Spirit. Our life in Christ is supernatural in nature. The Holy Spirit came to empower those who believe to live the life that God has called us to. He fills us to enable us to manifest His fruit, obey His commandments and to provide supernatural witness to His gospel.
What is Our Promise Concerning the Holy Spirit?
If we ask – we will receive.
You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. (Luke 11:11-13 NLT)
We will receive power
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NLT)
We will be led by the Spirit
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-16 NLT)
We will become more and more like Jesus
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NLT)
The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the church. It is truly the same for each of us as believers. Our new life in Christ truly begins when the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of us.
God’s promises do not falter, fade or fail. We can confidently expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit if we come to Jesus in repentance and sincere faith. My prayer for you today is that you will experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in your life each and every day.