Today is Pentecost Sunday. Or if you are a baptist, Sunday.
Throughout most of my years of ministry, I have observed this day just like any other – Sunday.
Last year that changed. From here on, we are going to observe Pentecost Sunday by celebrating the great and glorious gift of the Holy Spirit.
This year we are going to start in Acts 1:4-5.
Do not leave Jerusalem . . .
Consider what the disciples had at this point in time.
They had Jesus’ teachings, they had his example, they had been taught in the school of prayer, they had been given power and real time experience in ministry, now they had the experience of the Resurrection.
What else could they need?
Wait for the promise of the father . . .
What’s the promise of the father? Peter will tell us in chapter 2, it’s the promise of the Spirit in Joel 2.
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
The promise is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is the nearness of God. And it is for all people.
The emphasis is undeniable – everyone.
Irrespective of gender, age, social status, ethnicity or nationality. It is a gift for everyone.
Which you have heard me speak about. . .
Jesus himself spoke about the promise of the Spirit on several occasions.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
The promise of the Spirit is a promise of transformation. From a state of dryness and dependence to one of fulness and freedom.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—
John 14:16 (14-16)
The promise of the Spirit is a promise of presence and relationship.
It’s a promise of a personal guide. An advocate to be with you and in you, to guide you into truth, to convict the world of guilt and tell you what is to come.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 2 records what happened when the promise was fulfilled in Jerusalem.
The sound of a violent wind. The sight of tongues of fire. The sound of the praises of God shouted out in a multitude of languages unlearned by the human mind.
The effect of the promise . . .
The same disciples who were cowering in fear, whose leader had denied Jesus three times in order to save his own life openly proclaiming Christ in Jerusalem, defying authorities with extraordinary boldness and authority.
With the Spirit came . . .
Power. Boldness. Joy. Unity. Growth.
The benefits of the promise . . .
- A sense of the presence and glory of God (Acts 2:11, 10:46)
- The assurance of the love of God to us in Jesus (Romans 5:5, Romans 8:16)
- An experience of fellowship and companionship (Jn 14:16, 2 Cor. 13:14)
- Joy and gladness (Luke 10:21, acts 2:46, 1 Peter 1:8)
- Peace and hope (Romans 15:13)
- Light and understanding (John 14:26)
- Boldness and confidence (2 Timothy 1:7)
- Power and gifts for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:7)
The writers of the New Testament wrote of the Holy Spirit in terms of real, lived experience.
What does this mean for us today?
The extraordinary promise of the Spirit was tied to the extraordinary nature of the Great Commission – the global spread of the gospel to all nations.
The great problem today is that many Christians have bypassed Jerusalem.
They are trying to live a life that is humanly impossible.
Here’s how Ian Thomas describes the problem
“There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!
Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at rituals, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!
They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life – God’s life!
There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!”
Friend, are you living in the fulness of the Holy Spirit?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown