This morning, we come together to celebrate Pentecost Sunday! I felt that this morning, the Lord wanted us to have a little less talk and a lot more action!
However, so that we can all celebrate together, we’re first going to review what Pentecost Sunday is all about.
Pentecost literally just means fiftieth. The Pentecost celebration started as the Festival of Weeks in the Old Testament and was given by God right after Moses was given the ten commandments. God had Israel count off seven weeks, or fifty days, from Passover and set it apart as a time of rejoicing during the first wheat harvest if the year. Jewish men travel from wherever they are to Jerusalem and bring two loaves of leavened bread as a wave offering to the Lord.
Although all of the Jewish feasts and festivals are good to be informed of, Paul wrote:
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Fast forward around 1,400 years and we find the reality of what this festival was looking forward to.
During Passover, Israel was to take a year old male lamb without defect and eat it in a hurry roasted over a fire with their coats and shoes on and ready to go. The blood from this lamb was to be put on the door frame of their home. The last plague that came to Egypt was the one where all firstborns died. Any house with this lamb’s blood on would be passed over, hence the festival name Passover.
The reality was that this foreshadowed was that Jesus became that perfect lamb sacrifice for us and because the blood that He shed covers us, our sins are forgiven and we escape death and have life.
Today, we celebrate the reality that occurred fifty days after Jesus died and rose again.
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 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. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Now, we turn ahead to what happened on the day of Pentecost, that fiftieth day:
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out to all of those who believed in Jesus; only 120 at that time. At this same time, as we learned earlier, Jewish people were gathered from over a dozen different regions and they all heard the wonders of God being declared out through these tongues in their own language.
Some people made fun of the believers saying that they were just drunk. Peter stands up and begins to preach. He quoted Joel prophesying that in the last days, that God would pour out His Spirit on all people and that all who call on the name of Jesus would be saved. After Peter had finished preaching, the people responded:
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The reality of Pentecost is amazing! Who would have thought that those two loaves of yeasty wheat bread was a foreshadowing to what we have the privilege to possess today! Two loaves of bread – the Jew and the Gentile coming together. Those two loaves rose together to become far greater than what they appeared to be as they were filled with air pockets from the leavening. They were transformed from the inside out and everyone could see it! Just like the first fruits of wheat that were given as an offering to the Lord, Pentecost was the day when the first followers of Jesus saw the fruits of the Holy Spirit as they gave themselves to the Lord.
The rest of the New Testament goes on to record how ordinary, common men and women received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and had their lives transformed. Coming from all different kinds of backgrounds and histories, they were united by the Holy Spirit to represent Jesus to the world around them. Jew and Gentile alike were forgive of their sins, given new life, and immersed into the Spirit of God, Himself!
They hung out together daily – eating and praying together. They devoted themselves to the teaching and fellowship with their leaders. They were filled with awe at the many signs and wonders performed amongst them. No one had any need because they all helped to provide for one another. Daily they lead others to Jesus and they were saved. This is what the church first looked like and that is what God still desires it to look like today!
The baptism of the Holy Spirit was evident to all who were present because all those who received this baptism first began to speak in other tongues. Yes, the people were praying out loud on their own will, but the Holy Spirit gave them words and utterances that were tongues of men and angels, not any language that they had been taught.
Then, these same men and women were transformed. Jesus said that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would enable us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is about experience. Through this baptism, we get to be personal, eyewitnesses to God and His great love for mankind. We get to personally experience Heaven on earth.
It was this baptism that Jesus received in Matthew chapter 3 when the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove that lit up His life. It is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Jesus, and the church alike, performs signs, wonders, and miracles. It is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Jesus, and the church alike, lay down our lives and take up our crosses. It is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Jesus, and the church alike, overcome temptation, sin, and death and embrace life to its full.
We have the opportunity this morning to also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and experience our salvation in all of its fullness. God’s kingdom is not a kingdom of mere words, it is one of power, authority, and above all else, action!
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
This morning, pay careful attention to what you have heard and do not drift away from it. Don’t ignore God’s great salvation that He is freely offering to you!
To receive the fullness of God’s salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we must simply:
1. EXPECT – to receive the promises of God
2. BELIEVE – without doubt!
3. GIVE – what we freely receive, we are to freely give
Right now, we’re going to enter into worship once again. All of us here this morning are in need. Some need to accept Christ’s salvation for the first time, some need to recommit their lives to Him. Some need healing – physical, emotional, or otherwise. Some need delivered from things that keep them down like addictions, thoughts, and perceptions.
Some are going to receive direction for their lives. Some are going to have their purpose in life defined. God is about to call some and remind others of their callings to ministry – pastors, teachers, missionaries, prophets, and evangelists.
As you worship the Lord this morning, allow Him to speak to you. Let’s all come forward in unity, just like the early believers were. We’ll pray together – fully expecting God to fulfill His promises with fullness of faith and no doubt! Don’t miss this opportunity or ignore what you feel the Lord speak to you this day!
Elevation Worship – Give Me Faith