Empowered to Reap

Posted: May 13, 2018 in Acts, Uncategorized

Acts 2:1-13, “Empowered to Reap”

Birthdays are exciting days! Not just birthday celebrations (which are often a lot of fun), but the actual day of birth. Sometimes they are stressful, sometimes painful, sometimes even frightening – but they are always exciting. Mothers know this better than anyone. (Which is appropriate on a Mother’s Day Sunday!) Although the previous 9 months are often filled with anxiety and discomfort, and the process of labor can be truly painful – all of it vanishes when the mom holds her newborn infant in her arms, and the baby’s cry is the most beautiful sound in the world.

All things have a birthday of sorts. After all, everything has a moment when it first comes into existence, even the church. Just like local church congregations can point back to a day of founding (for us, Thanksgiving Sunday 2004), so can the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ. THE Church was born on Pentecost, exactly 50 days after Jesus was risen from the dead. And that day was exciting, indeed!

Keep the timeframe in mind: again, this was a mere 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. Not yet three full months had passed since Jesus’ glorious arrival in Jerusalem, His public debates with the Jewish authorities, His secret arrest and trials by the same, and His awful torturous execution by the Romans. The whole city had come together for the feast of Passover, with the population swelling from Jews who travelled far & wide to be there, and among them all, no one was ignorant of the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth. They were neither ignorant of His death, nor ignorant of His resurrection (as Peter will point out to them later in Chapter 2).

Once Jesus rose from the dead, He spent the next 40 days proving His real, physical life, and teaching His disciples how the Scriptures had foretold it (among other things). Basically, He was preparing them to be witnesses of His resurrection to all the world. In fact, that was His last command to them prior to His ascension. After all this teaching, they were to go back to Jerusalem and wait. Wait for what? The baptism of the Holy Spirit: Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” By this point, the disciples had everything they needed in order to testify of Jesus – all expect one major component: power. At the time, the disciples had knowledge; they needed ability. They needed the God-given strength in order to do a God-given task.

So the disciples went back and waited. They didn’t have to wait long…only 10 days. During the time, they continually prayed, trusting God to lead them. God did, as He directed the unified group of disciples to replace the apostolic office abandoned by Judas Iscariot. Matthias took his place among the apostles, and they went back to waiting.

With the 12 apostles restored and the larger group of disciples in ongoing unified prayer, things were ready for the next step. There was another feast of Israel on the near horizon, and God would use it to give birth to Jesus’ church. This is the moment the Christians were to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and they would now be empowered to go out and reap a harvest of souls.

Fair warning: we’re going to tackle some controversial subjects in these Scriptures. At first glance, you might wonder why verses 1-13 need to be handled on their own, when Peter starts preaching in verse 14, and doesn’t even get to the gospel until verse 22. It’s because what takes place at the beginning is confusing for many. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and first use of the gift of tongues in the Bible has led to a lot of debate, and we need to take a few moments on that before we can move on. After all, we need to understand what happened (Spirit baptism & tongues), if we are to understand why it happened (the gospel).

In it all, we see this: If we want to do God’s work, we need to do it God’s way, by God’s power. And there’s good news for all Christians: we can do God’s work – in fact, we are invited & commanded to be a part of it. Be filled with the Spirit, and be empowered!

Acts 2:1–13

  • Baptism of the Spirit (2:1-4)

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

  1. Before we get too far, we need a bit of background on Pentecost, as other than it being the day when the church was baptized with the Holy Spirit, Christians typically do not know too much about it. If you do a search for the word “Pentecost” in the Old Testament, you won’t find it, as it’s a Greek word. The Hebrew feast is actually known as the Feast of Weeks, sometimes referred to as Shavuot. It is one of the three major feasts of Israel, when all of the nation was commanded to assemble before the Lord and worship Him. Leviticus 23:15–16, “(15) ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. (16) Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.” The “fifty days” is where the Greek name of the feast originated: 5 = “pente”; 50 = “pentekonta.” Thus to the Hellenistic (Greek-speaking) Jews of the day, Shavuot/Feast of Weeks became known as Pentecost, as it was 50 days post-Passover (the 7th Sabbath).
  2. Question: How exactly does a harvest festival relate to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church? After all, if Jesus being crucified on Passover is the fulfillment of Jesus being the Passover lamb, and His resurrection is the fulfillment of Firstfruits because Jesus is the firstfruits of those risen from the dead, then how is the Feast of Weeks/Shavuot/Pentecost fulfilled here? Technically, there is a harvest that takes place this day, as we’ll see later in Chapter 2 when 3000 people are saved after Peter preaches the gospel. That sort of harvest (and many others like it) would have been absolutely impossible without the power imparted by the Holy Spirit. But more than that is the rabbinical tradition with Pentecost that associated it with the original reception of the law upon Mt. Sinai. Remember that although the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, they didn’t need to wait nearly that long after leaving Egypt in order to receive the Law (Torah) from God. Exodus 19:1–2, “(1) In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. (2) For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain.” To count 50 days after the original Passover, that would place Israel at Mt. Sinai sometime “in the third month.” Because of this, the rabbis believed that the Feast of Weeks was not only celebratory of the harvest, but also the reception of the Mosaic law. From the Babylonian Talmud regarding Shavuot, “it is the day on which the Torah was given and there is a mitzva to demonstrate one’s joy on that day,” (Pesachim 68b). So put it all together… 50 days after a substitutionary death that purchased freedom for the Hebrews, they had a birthday as a nation when they received the Law of God. Fast forward in history, and 50 days after the substitutionary death of Christ that purchased freedom for those who believe, His disciples had a birthday as the Church when they received the Spirit of God. Just as fire, smoke, and sound descended upon Mt. Sinai when the Hebrews received the Law, so did something like fire and wind descend upon the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit. Truly, Pentecost is the fulfillment of all of what was celebrated on Shavuot/the Feast of Weeks!
    1. FYI: There is a fulfillment of every feast of Israel within Jesus’ work among His Church. The festivals in the first half of the calendar year are fulfilled in Jesus’ 1st coming (His death, burial, resurrection, and gift of the Holy Spirit); the feasts in the 2nd half of the year are fulfilled in conjunction with His 2nd coming (rapture, tribulation, Millennial Kingdom).
  3. This is a lot of background information with which to begin, but it helps set the expectations. The disciples had been told by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem, and He had ascended 40 days after His resurrection. Although they wouldn’t have known for certain, they were likely very expectant of something big happening on Pentecost. They had gathered for unified prayer on a regular basis, but it comes as no surprise that they were all gathered together again in one place on the day of Pentecost for more prayer. This wasn’t a day to be out in the temple or elsewhere in the streets; this was potentially a day of great things from the Lord. (And it was!)

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

  1. The first thing that came was a “” Note, it wasn’t a hurricane force wind, but a sound, as if it was “a rushing mighty wind.” Luke describes it as violent and forcible, propelled throughout the house. A tornado did not blow through the gathering room, but it sure sounded like it!
  2. The sound was appropriate for the occasion, because the Holy Spirit was often likened to the wind. (I.e. Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus – Jn 3) In both Greek and Hebrew, the common words for wind/breath/spirit are all the same (though a slightly modified version is used here). This sound was the first indication something big was happening, but it wasn’t the only thing.

3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

  1. First there was an audible supernatural sign, now there was a visible one. As with the sound of the wind, this wasn’t actual fire, but something that looked to be like fire. “Divided tongues,” or individual divided flames appeared in the midst of the disciples and each person there received a flame for him/herself.
  2. Just like wind was often a picture of the Holy Spirit, so was fire often a picture of God’s presence and glory. God is a consuming fire (Dt 4:24, Heb 12:29), and the angelic creatures that surround His throne are called “Seraphim,” or “burning ones,” (Isa 6:2). Put these two ideas together, and we get the common picture of God’s glory in smoke & fire among His people. His presence descended on Mt. Sinai in smoke & fire. God’s presence led His people through the wilderness via cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. And perhaps most interesting in relation to Pentecost, what was seen when the original tabernacle and temple were dedicated? God’s presence was seen with fire and smoke! With the tabernacle, the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed the offerings on the altar (Lev 9:24); with the temple, the priests were not able even to minister because the cloud of God’s glory filled the house (1 Kng 8:11). Who are we as the Church? We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, both corporately and individually (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19). We are filled with the presence and person of God in much the same way as the original structures!
  3. Who was it that was filled? “Each of them.” None among those gathered was left out; all received. If this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (which it was, as it evident by the next verse), then note that no one missed being baptized. If they were there (presumably all being believers in the Resurrected Lord Jesus), they were baptized. This simple fact becomes highly controversial today, because the question then becomes: if it happened like this for the original disciples, is this what we ought to expect as present-day disciples. First things first: this was a unique point in Church history. Just like there was only one crucifixion, one resurrection, and one ascension, there was only one Pentecost. Although audible tongues are repeated throughout the New Testament, visible tongues of fire are not. This was a unique event that happened to the initial disciples on this one day. Thus, some change is expected. How much change is the question. People ask: should all Christians expect to receive the Holy Spirit? Do all Christians receive the Holy Spirit at the same time? What’s involved with this baptism of the Holy Spirit? Please note that good scholars come to different conclusions. We come to the best conclusions possible, and hold our convictions with charity. That said, there are a few things on the issue that are absolutely clear:
    1. All Christians have the Holy Spirit. There is more than one ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, one of them (perhaps the most important) is that of His indwelling & sealing. This is what take place the moment someone is “born-again.” Jesus that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” (Jn 3:5) Without this spiritual birth, no one is saved, and this spiritual birth is what takes place when we believe upon Jesus as the only begotten Son of God given for our sin. The moment we trusted in Jesus, we were (according to Paul) “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance,” (Eph 1:13-14). This takes place with all believers, and without which, we cannot be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    2. All Christians are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Initially, we see that the disciples were automatically filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of their baptism, but there are other instances in the Book of Acts when the disciples are filled again. (Acts 4:8, 4:31, etc.) Paul even writes of it as a command: Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” If the filling is automatic, why would Christians be commanded to receive it? 
    3. The point? These are two different aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is a moment in which He makes us born-again Christians (the indwelling), and there is a series of times in which He empowers us as Jesus’ witnesses (the filling). Even for the original disciples, this initial work of the Spirit’s indwelling was shown as a separate, distinct act from the Spirit’s baptism. Prior to Jesus’ ascension, He breathed upon the disciples, telling them to receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22). Why would He say & do that, yet still tell them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, if the Spirit wasn’t truly given? This is a different (yet crucial!) work.
    4. So which is it that takes place in Acts 2? The filling. Again, they had already received the indwelling of the Spirit before Jesus ascended to heaven. This was their empowerment, or rather, the moment of their first The baptism happened once; the filling would take place time & time again. – As for us, when does baptism take place? Again, good scholars disagree. The bottom line is whenever you believe you were first baptized with the Holy Spirit, there is no question that you still need His power today! If you’ve never asked for the power of the Holy Spirit, you need to ask – whether you receive it for the 1st time (knowingly) or the 1000th time.
  4. BTW – Notice again how the symbolic fire is described: “divided tongues.” This is the first of two types of tongues in Acts 2, both which use exactly the same word (γλῶσσα). In one case, the tongue was visible; in another, it was audible. The visible tongues set up the way for the audible tongues to follow.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

  1. To this point, all the action had been outside the disciples. The sound had filled the room, and the tongues of fire had appeared and sat upon the Christians. But now things changed, as the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak.” What had been external became internal – what had been passively done to them, they now actively participated. At this point, they were now baptized with the Holy Spirit, filled with His power (being the initial filling they ever received), and there was an amazing response that took place. The disciples each spoke in languages they had previously never known, all under the direction and empowerment of God the Holy Spirit.
  2. This brings us to our 2nd major controversy. Several issues are at work: (1) Who/What is the Holy Spirit? (2) What are spoken tongues? (3) Who speaks in tongues & how are they spoken?
    1. Who is the Holy Spirit? This first question is properly a who; not a what. Although we often refer to the Spirit in the 3rd person, the Spirit is a “He” not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is not the energy of God, nor the force generated by God, nor a mere characteristic or attribute of God. The Holy Spirit is God, the 3rd Person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the very person of God Himself. The Spirit speaks, moves, has emotions, has a will, interacts with others, and more. He is the Spirit, and He is the One who empowers Christians to be witnesses of Christ Jesus.
    2. What are spoken tongues? Simply put, they are languages. The word itself can be used for either the physical organ in our mouths, or languages spoken by others. The type of language is not implied at all by the word; only the fact that it is indeed some kind of language. Contextually in New Testament, these are languages that are otherwise unknown to the speaker. That brings us to the 3rd question…
    3. Who speaks in tongues / How are tongues spoken? Acts 2:4 tells us specifically: “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The only way that true supernatural tongues are possible is via a supernatural move of God the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, this was not something the disciples generated for themselves or were somehow trained to do. They were miraculously empowered and directed by God the Holy Spirit to speak in such a way.
  3. All of this seems rather straightforward. Miraculous, yes, but straightforward. Why then, is there so much controversy on the subject? I suggest three main causes: (1) denial of the gift, (2) abuse of the gift, (3) misunderstanding of the gift.
    1. First, there are those who deny that the gift of tongues exists for the church today. They say that this was a sign gift used for the Church’s launch, but soon passed from history with the death of the original apostolic generation. Many good, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, Spirit-indwelt teachers hold this position, but the weight of the Scripture is against them. The single place in the Bible that speaks of the gift of tongues ceasing also speaks of knowledge vanishing (1 Cor 13:8). If one went, the other would be expected to go too. The context of that verse is speaking of heaven and the end of the age; not the end of the original apostles in the 2nd Additionally, in the very next chapter, Paul expressly commands the church not to forbid the speaking of tongues (1 Cor 14:39). If anything, the record of the New Testament is not the vanishing of the gift, but the regulation of it. The Scripture exhorts us to use it properly. That takes us to the next point…
    2. There are many who abuse the gift. They believe that the gift of tongues is the primary evidence of a person’s salvation, and the result is that people invent the use of them when the Holy Spirit hasn’t given them. In some churches, new Christians are even “trained” to speak in tongues through the practice of babbling and ecstatic speaking, something never once commanded nor demonstrated in Scripture. In the New Testament, Christians either spoke in tongues, or they didn’t – no training was required. As a result of this unbiblical practice, many well-meaning Christians believe to have spoken in tongues, when they have not – or are unable to recognize the true gift of tongues when it is actually used. Once again, the teaching of the Bible is against this abuse. Paul makes it clear that there are many varieties of gifts given by the Spirit, and not all people speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30). In fact, tongues is not even the best of all gifts, as it is not used to edify others (1 Cor 14:5).
    3. At the core of all this is a misunderstanding of the gift. As is clear from the next several verses in Chapter 2 (which provides the one example in all the Bible of any form of interpretation of tongues), the purpose of tongues is to praise God; not to preach to men. On one hand, some believe tongues can only be used to preach the gospel to people of a foreign language – but that simply is not the Biblical record. On the other hand, some believe tongues are used to pray over one another in the church, declaring the prophecies of God – but that isn’t the Biblical record either. Biblically, tongues are one of several gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the only one used exclusively for the personal praise of God. Tongues might be used to get someone’s attention, but it is only the proclamation of the gospel in an understood language that will bring someone to salvation. That’s why Paul to write: 1 Corinthians 14:18–19, “(18) I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; (19) yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Five words in the church could minister to a fellow Christian – five words in the street could preach the gospel; 10,000 words in an unknown language might be a wonderful worship experience, but no more.
  4. This all becomes clear in the next several verses as this first-ever use of the gift of tongues is overheard by others in Jerusalem. It got their attention, and it set the stage for the gospel to be preached.
  • Tongues with the crowd (2:5-13)

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

  1. The disciples of Jesus were in a house when the Holy Spirit came upon them, but apparently the house wasn’t far removed from a larger crowd. From the later description of 3000 people responding to the gospel preached by Peter, it would seem that the house was likely near the temple, where such a large gathering of Jewish pilgrims would be. For Luke to write that the men had come “from every nation under heaven” is simply for him to say that they had come from all over the Roman empire. When the Jews were first taken into Babylonian captivity, they were scattered all over the known world, and only a relatively small number returned to Israel in order to rebuild their nation. By the time of the Romans, there were pockets of Jews everywhere – which made it natural for the later missionary journeys of Paul, as he would start preaching to the Jews before he went to the Gentiles.
  2. In any case, when the Holy Spirit fell on the believers, they started speaking in tongues & they apparently didn’t remain indoors while they did it. This wasn’t a quiet inside prayer meeting; this was loud enough in order to attract attention. Of course, if the sound of the wind was as loud as the text implies, that may have been enough to first catch some ears, but the sound of the voices was what really did it. The amazing thing was that all of these Jews from so many different nations from around the world all heard their own native tongue being spoken.

7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

  1. To be a Galilean was to have a distinct accent. It’s one of the reasons that Peter was so easily identified by the crowd outside the house of Caiaphas while Jesus was on trial. When the disciples started speaking, their accent probably gave them away, and it was quickly evident that these were not normally the sorts of people that spoke the various languages that they heard. Understandably, the people in the crowd were “amazed and marveled.” They weren’t sure what was happening, but they knew something special was going on. Although it’s possible that a handful of people might have known a few languages (Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, perhaps), it was highly unlikely that too many people would have been fluent in the languages that were spoken. 
  2. BTW – Elsewhere in the New Testament, when the gift of tongues is taught, so is the gift of interpretation. In the particular case of Pentecost (and only in the case of Pentecost in the Book of Acts; nowhere else when tongues are displayed), the tongues that were spoken had no need of a supernatural interpretation, because the people who were present were able to interpret it for themselves. Interestingly, the word translated “language” is διάλεκτος (~ dialect). These were languages that were then known & used throughout the Roman empire. A summary of the various languages follows…

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

  1. Although many have tried to determine some sort of pattern and meaning to the list, the basic idea is clear: name the representative country, and it was spoken. If there was a Jew present from a region of the Roman empire, than among the 120 disciples of Jesus, there was some person who was praising God in that language. No region was left out – this was a comprehensive sweep of the empire, thus a symbolic sweep of the world and a wonderful reversal/restoration of what went wrong at the ancient Tower of Babel. There, God confused the languages to confound the rebellion of men; in Jerusalem, God gave the languages to help them hear of His glories.
  2. The most important part isn’t the various countries and languages; it’s the content of what the people heard in their languages: “the wonderful works of God.” Remember that this is the one example in the entire New Testament that any kind of interpretation/translation is provided of any example of the spiritual gift of tongues. What were the disciples doing? Praising God. They weren’t preaching the gospel, nor were they exhorting one another – they were giving God the glory for the things He has done. In the Hebrew mindset, praise is public – it is something that is proclaimed. There’s a reason why the psalms of praise read the way they do. These were not things that could (or should) be kept locked up in the hearts of the faithful; they were meant to be declared. Psalm 145:4–7, “(4) One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (5) I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. (6) Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness. (7) They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness.” This is the sort of praise that was familiar to the Jews, and doubtless, this was the sort of praise proclaimed by the Pentecost Christians. What exactly it was they said was not recorded, but the heart of what they said was: their declaration of the wonderful works of God.
    1. This is affirmed in Paul’s corrections that he gives to the Corinthian church regarding their abuse and/or confusion with the spiritual gifts (particularly tongues): 1 Corinthians 14:1–4, “(1) Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (2) For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (3) But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. (4) He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” To whom is a prophecy spoken? To whom are tongues spoken? God. This gives us a fantastic clue as to when a real Spirit-given tongue is practiced: when it is done in praise to God, giving Him glory, honoring the Son. A supposed tongue that is interpreted as a message to men is not a tongue at all, nor is a bunch of speech that simply calls attention to itself (and the speaker).
  3. As for the Jews during Pentecost, their attention was put directly upon the Lord God, and that caused them to search for an explanation.

12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

  1. All heard the disciples praising God; several refused to follow them into praise. Some thought the disciples were crazy (1 Cor 14:23), or more to the case, drunk. It was a festival, after all – perhaps these men and women had broke open the booze. They were accused of being “full of new wine,” or the super-sweet wine that was still in the process of fermenting. (γλεῦκος ~ glucose) The truth was exactly the opposite. Like Paul wrote to the Ephesians, these disciples were not filled with wine, but with the Holy Spirit! (Eph 5:18)
  2. Question: What made them mock? Why did the scoffers scoff? The same reason anyone does today: it’s easier to mock Christians than to accept a miracle of Christ. If the skeptics among the Jews recognized a true work of God taking place, then it would mean they would have to respond to that work. Keep in mind that miracles are never done for show or simple entertainment (though they are often treated that way); they are done to authenticate the message of God. That’s exactly what takes place here, and where Peter will pick up with the first evangelistic sermon of the Church Age.

Conclusion:

50 days after Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, His disciples were baptized with God the Holy Spirit. The first made the Church possible (via forgiveness of sin); the second gave the Church birth and power (via the filling of the presence of God). It was an amazing day, and it was only the beginning! Peter was about to launch into the first revival message ever preached, and it would have incredible results. On that festival day celebrating the harvest and the Law of God, the Church was empowered to reap a wonderful harvest as they were filled and baptized with the Spirit of God.

In retrospect, it’s sad that such a joyful day in church history has become such a point of controversy among Christians. It’s not that anyone doubts the facts of what took place that day; it’s that they disagree about how it applies to this day.

Can the day of Pentecost be repeated? No. That was a unique day in history, just like Jesus’ one crucifixion and one resurrection. It can be celebrated and remembered (May 20, 2018!), but we should not expect the sound of wind and visible tongues of fire. We can expect the Spirit’s presence and His power. We can expect to be filled with the Spirit and His gifts. Not all Christians have the same gifts, but all Christians have some gift. Whatever gift you have, it is to be used for the glory of God.

The operative word here is “used.” The gift of tongues that day, however incredible, isn’t the main point. That wasn’t even what the disciples were waiting for. The disciples had been waiting for the Holy Spirit, and they were used by the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit who filled them, and the Spirit who gave them utterance. It was the Spirit of God who used them for the glory of God. That is something that every Christian should desire! Whatever someone happens to believe about the various Biblical gifts, to be used by God’s Spirit for God’s glory is wonderful!

That’s something that God desires for all of us. We can be a part of the work of God, but only when we are empowered by Him and directed by Him. Too much of the controversies surrounding these things today exist (1) because people are focusing on gifts, rather than the Giver, (2) people try to force these things for themselves rather than being directed by God, and sometimes sadly (3) people are seeking their own glory rather than the Lord’s. 

Let us, as Bible-believing Christians, be done with that! There is far too much work to do for us to be caught up in such a mess. As Jesus said, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. How can we be workers? When we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. And yes, this is what God desires for you.

Christian, when was the last time you asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Have you even ever thought to ask?

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