Acts 2: 1-6; 38-41
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 their own language being spoken….
…. Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, 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 baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
In Acts 1 we read that Jesus instructed the disciples to remain in Jerusalem for the promised power that they will receive when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them. As we begin Acts 2 this is now ten days later.
We’re told it was the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish Festival which took place 50 days after Passover. It was one of the three main festivals in the Jewish calendar: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Every Jewish male was expected to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate and make an offering to the Lord.
At Passover the offering was traditionally a lamb. Jesus had infused the Jewish Passover with a new significance. He himself became the lamb of God, who gave up his life and took the sins of the whole world upon himself.
Pentecost was the festival which celebrated the beginning of the wheat harvest. God’s people would descend upon Jerusalem and make an offering of 2 loaves of wheat bread to the priest. It was giving back to God a portion of what He had given you in gratitude for His goodness.
Once again God is going to infuse this Pentecost harvest festival with incredible new meaning and significance. A bountiful harvest will begin on this day with 3000 people entering the Kingdom. This harvest has continued for 2000 years and included millions and millions of lives changed by the Gospel across all ages and nations.
On this Pentecost day in Acts 2 the disciples are gathered as one, praying in the Upper Room. Suddenly there’s a noise. It’s like a wind getting louder and louder and closer and closer. Then flames starts appearing up above everyone. Big flames that split into little flames and come and land on their heads. Just as the wind and flames start to fade, everyone in the room starts to speak in a foreign language – languages they have never learned.
This is the birth of the church, the body and bride of Christ, initiated by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people. This same Spirit propels them out of the building, into the streets, where they declare and demonstrate the power of the living, risen Jesus. From this one outpouring in Jerusalem the message of the Kingdom spreads throughout the world.
Without the same supernatural power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and being poured out upon us, we simply cannot live the Christian life. We cannot do the works of Jesus. We cannot experience the miraculous or impossible. We cannot be transformed into the likeness of Christ. We cannot bring life, light or hope to a hurting world.
We need to be continually re-filled, refreshed and renewed by the Spirit. Otherwise all we are left with is dry, dead, lifeless religion. As Bono from U2 once said, “Religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building.”
The same Spirit ‘clothes us with power from on high’ (Lk 24: 49) and sends us out into our streets, factories, offices, schools, sports clubs, shops – and into the nations - to carry His presence, goodness, healing and life. The mission is expressed in the well-known words of Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour... (1-2)
'10,000 Hours' is a great opportunity to bring life to our city throughout the month of July. You can register here today at: https://10000.causewaycoastvineyard.com