- Sermon Notes
Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit
September 4, 2022
As we come to Acts chapter 2, Jesus has now ascended to the Father and given instruction for them to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, referring to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said it was to their advantage that He goes away, so the Spirit could come.
John 16:7, But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
Remember that Jesus already breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit in John chapter 20, but here in Acts chapter 2, Jesus told them that when the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they would receive power to be His witnesses even to the remotest part of the earth.
They must have wondered how they were going to accomplish that. And so, when we move to chapter 2, we see the Holy Spirit coming upon this gathering of about 120 people gathered all together in one place.
When the Holy Spirit came upon them, suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and when this sound occurred, a multitude from the city of Jerusalem gathered together in that place and from that multitude, the church would be born.
All of this happened on the same day on which the Jews were celebrating the Feast of Pentecost. For this reason, sometimes Pentecost is referred to as the “birthday of the church.” The name Pentecost literally means “the 50th day” because it is celebrated 50 days after the Passover.
The events here in Acts 2 are very important for us to understand because the relationship we have with God our Father is because of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
It has everything to do with how we live in our relationship to God and whether we will live victoriously and whether we will grow in our faith.
As we continue studying through the rest of the New Testament, we’ll see over and over how important the Holy Spirit is to our spiritual life. God wants more than for us just to be saved, He wants us to grow in our faith and to walk in the life of God victoriously. We need the Holy Spirit.
I. The Holy Spirit is the Life of God
- The day of Pentecost is significant. The things that happen in the scriptures are not coincidental, God is revealing great truths.
A. Serve God in the life of the Spirit
- The Feast of Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, was celebrated 50 days after the Passover. Again, the Old Testament points us toward what God is doing for us through Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
- You might remember that Passover is about the day the Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt, were told to take the blood of the lamb and apply it to the doorpost of their house so that death would “pass over” them… Jesus is that Passover lamb.
- Three days after the Passover, Israel found themselves at the Red Sea, the Egyptian army pressing in behind them and the sea before them, God parted the waters, and they came through the sea… On the third day, Jesus was raised from the dead.
- This, by the way, this was also a type of baptism of the believer.
1 Corinthians 10:2, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
- Fifty days after the Passover, Israel came to Mount Sinai where they received the law, the instructions of God for how to live and how to honor Him.
- Fifty days after Jesus was crucified, the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the power of God poured out so that they might live to honor Him.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8, If the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory… how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
Romans 7:6, Now we have been released from the Law… so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
B. The joy of the Lord is our strength
- Now instead of the obligation of the law, we have the life of God Himself that ignites our soul so that we desire to honor Him.
Romans 7:7-8, I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind;
Illus – Food is a good illustration. Going hungry on a diet only makes you want it more, but eating healthy makes you feel vibrant and alive. After a while, you crave healthy things.
- Many people are spiritually empty and it’s that emptiness, loneliness, despair, and longing for love that gets people into so much trouble, because they are looking for love and life in all the wrong places.
Nehemiah 8:10, He said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
Galatians 5:22, 25, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
II. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
- Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit which would soon come upon them, saying, “Which, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
- The day of Pentecost then, is the fulfillment of what Jesus promised. But we need to look at these things carefully and understand what they mean for us today.
- There are many in the body of Christ who believe that some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased. I am not in that camp; I believe all gifts are available today.
- However, having said that, I’ve also experienced the other extreme where churches, who believe they are exercising the gifts of the Spirit do things that I don’t see in the scriptures.
A. Pentecost was a unique day
- It’s important to say it that way because many seek for another Pentecost experience, but the day of Pentecost was unique. You never read of anything like it in the rest of the scriptures.
- Jesus said they would receive ‘power’ when the Holy Spirit came upon them. That word in the Greek is dynamos from which we get the word dynamite.
- This was the explosion that set the early church in motion. The explosive power of the Holy Spirit exploded onto the scene, making a grand entrance into planet earth.
- What’s unique about Pentecost is that there was at first the noise of a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
- Also, there appeared to them “cloven tongues of fire” resting on each of them. This is also unique. The Greek word is “fire” which appeared. This would not be considered your standard Pentecostal experience.
- They also spoke with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. A multitude gathered and they were each one hearing them speak in his own dialect, or native tongue. What’s unique is that everyone in the crowd heard their own native dialect. That’s also not your standard Pentecostal experience.
- There were some mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine,” which has to be one of the lamest explanations ever heard.
Illus – I have been around many who were drunk and I can tell you that drunk people don’t speak in tongues. Can you imagine? Having one too many and then breaking out in French?
- Peter then stood up and explained that these things are the fulfillment of what was spoken through the prophet Joel.
B. Surrender to the Spirit
- Although this specific experience of Pentecost was unique, the way the Spirit chose to reveal Himself speaks of important types in our lives. Much of it points to surrendering to the Holy Spirit.
- Interestingly, Jesus referred to the Spirit as the wind and in fact, the word ‘spirit’ in Greek literally means ‘wind.’ There was the sound of a violent, rushing wind.
John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Illus. when a boat raises its sails, it catches the wind and is driven fort in the direction that the wind blows it.
- When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and surrender to his will, we move in the direction that he moves.
Romans 8:14, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
- The wind speaks of us surrendering to Him and being led by the Spirit.
- The tongues of fire reminds us of the fact that the Bible equates the Holy Spirit with fire.
- In the Old Testament, Fire represented the presence of God. It was always to burn in the temple, signifying God’s presence.
- After the veil has been torn with Jesus’ crucifixion, the presence of God does not reside in buildings made with human hands anymore but is now inside of us. We do not have to wait for something to fall on us; the Spirt of God no flows from WITHIN us if we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.
- This fire of God now signifies God’s presence, God’s passion that drives us, and God’s purifying work in us.
- They also started speaking in other tongues. Although this manifestation of the tongues in Acts 2 was a special event, we see that baptism in the Holy Spirit can coincide with people receiving the gift to Speak in unknown tongues not naturally acquired.
- I believe the reason for this is seen in James 3.
James 3:3, Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
- Speaking in tongues signifies surrendering our tongues to God for His glory. When someone speaks in an unknown tongue to God, it is not filtered through subjectivity or their own will and paradigm but speaks mysteries to God perfectly aligned with His will.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15, If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful… I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.
- From this scripture we see that both types of prayer are important. Sometimes we are led by God and know how and what to pray for with our mind. It also strengthens the faith of those we pray for and with, as they can come in agreement with us over prayer requests.
- Sometimes though, we do not know how or what to pray in a situation.
Romans 8:26, In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- The Holy Spirit knows the perfect will of God, and as such, when we pray in the Spirit, we are praying aligned with God’s perfect will.
- It is the same with singing. Sometimes it is important to sing with the mind, as faith is strengthened through song and God is exalted with our minds as we sing songs of, victory, proclamation, surrender, worship, etc.
- One can also sing in the Spirit and, although the mind is then unfruitful, our spirits align with the Spirit of God in us worshiping God.
- Having said that, we encourage those who have that gift to do so at home or small gatherings for prayer so as to keep order in the larger gatherings.
- There is also so much misunderstanding today that we would otherwise have to regularly correct those who don’t use it correctly.
- The fruit of the Spirit is love and His first and highest desire is that we love God. An expression of that relationship is our experience of God in prayer.
Jude 1:20-21, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…
C. Do Greater works
- In John 14, Jesus made the following statement.
John 14:12, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father.
- How is this possible? Jesus is the son of God, the embodiment of all that God is with all power and authority residing in Him.
- We find a clue to this conundrum in verse 17.
Verse 17 – ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…
- Jesus’ ‘limitation’ was that He was fully God, yet fully man. In other words, He could not be everywhere at once in bodily form. This is why He said that it was beneficial for Him to go away so the Holy Spirit could come.
- With the Holy Spirit being poured out on the believers, the work of Christ could be multiplied exponentially. Today, this is true of us as well. With the Holy Spirit residing in us, we can do ‘greater things’ by volume, touching lives with the power of the Holy Spirit working through us.
- We all have this exciting privilege to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to live a powerful effective life dedicated to Christ, growing in our love for God and others.
Acts 2:1-22 NASB
On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[b] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.
13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’[c]
22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[d] by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.