THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME AT PENTECOST
Acts 2:1-13 Key Verse: 4
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
During each hurricane season, we are shocked as winds of more than 100 miles an hour, threaten to destroy what we have built. Sure, we see the wind’s effects like flags flapping, but we cannot see the wind itself. In a sense, this is also true of the Holy Spirit. In today’s passage, the wind and the fire was a tangible demonstration to those early Christians that the unseen Spirit was at work in their lives. He still works in our lives today!
The Holy Spirit bears fruit in your life (Gal5:22-23), forms believers into one body (1Cor12:13), and assures you of God’s presence (1Jn3:24). The Holy Spirit is a powerful Person in our lives, even though we cannot see Him. Today may God bless us to know the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and enable us to be powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ!
Part I: The day of Pentecost (1-3).
Look at verse 1: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” What do you know about “Pentecost”? In the Old Testament, Pentecost was celebrated in the late spring during the Hebrew month of Sivan, seven weeks after Passover. Pentecost is also known as the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Harvest. Pentecost was one of the three annual festivals; all the Israelites throughout the world had to appear to God in the temple in Jerusalem. So all the Jews had traveled from wherever they were, and gathered in Jerusalem.
As the day of Pentecost was kicked off, international audiences were pouring in from many other countries. As the people arrived and settled, they found Jerusalem as a noisy city from the recent events concerning Jesus. The news about Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven were quickly spread, and they began to ask each other; “What will happen next?” The disciples were in one place waiting for the promised Holy Spirit, praying. Then, something marvelous happened. Look at verse 2: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”
While the disciples were praying, they heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind like a hurricane or a tornado (shiiing!). In amazement and awe, when they lifted up their heads, they realized that the whole house was filled with that sound (Woongg!). The ceiling was vibrating, and the walls were shaking. It seemed that the house was about to collapse. But before a word came out from their mouths, what did they see? Look at verse 3; “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” They saw something like tongues of fire in the air that separated, and came to rest on each of them. It was the fire of the Holy Spirit! Suddenly they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly as they opened their mouths, some strange language that they had not known, poured out from their mouths! Amazingly, they could understand what other people were talking about it. Verse 11 says that they were declaring the wonders of God; Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was an amazing and powerful event. The Holy Spirit enabled them to speak foreign language fluently, proclaiming the wonders of God powerfully. This event happened about 2,000 years ago. It was a very remarkable event in human history. This was called the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This was the entry scene of the Holy Spirit into human society.
It was powerful and energetic. As you know well, the entry scene of God the Father is in the book of Exodus. In front of all Israel people, God descended on the Mount Sinai with thick clouds, with lightning and thunder, with ever increasing trumpet blast. When God’s presence touched the top of the Mountain, the rocks were melted. Billows of smoke rose like the smoke from a furnace. Because of God’s awesome glory, the whole mountain trembled violently (Ex19:18). On top of the mountain, God’s glory looked like a consuming fire. Our God is an awesome God.
The entry scene of God the Son was so quiet and peaceful because he had come to the world in the form of a tiny baby laid in a manger. But in the eyes of the angels, it was indeed glorious because the Creator God whom they had worshiped in heaven lowered himself to the point of being a tiny baby. It was glory to God in the highest (Lk2:14). But now the entry scene of God the Holy Spirit was powerful and energetic, very practical.
In the past, the people of Israel had kept the Feast of Weeks called Pentecost year after year. They did not know what it was about. Its real meaning was about the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit into human society, especially into the believers of Jesus Christ. As Jesus had promised, the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Here, we must understand the meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of water is for the forgiveness of our sins. The baptism of water shows that our old men in sin died and do not exist anymore, but new men in Christ now live. Then, what is the meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? It means that the Holy Spirit comes into us to live in us.
Right before Jesus’ arrest, Jesus tried to comfort his disciples who were distressed at the thought of losing their loving Master. So Jesus talked to them about the Holy Spirit, another Counselor. John 14:17 says, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” During their three years’ life together with Jesus, the disciples learned from him and grew in him. They fell in love with him and followed him. They believed that he was the promised Messiah. They had the vision of establishing the Messianic Kingdom. They enjoyed a new life in Jesus.
At that time, the Holy Spirit was with them, helping them, and protecting them. But at that time, they were not perfect; they were still worldly, power-hungry, and humanistic. But Jesus said to them that later, the Holy Spirit would be in them, and his promise was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit was poured out on them at Pentecost. Literally, the Holy Spirit visited the disciples and entered into them; it was not conceptual, but very substantial and practical as we see in verse 2; his coming was with a sound like the blowing of a violent wind, and something that looked like tongues of fire in the air separated and rested on each of the disciples and entered into them.
When we are born again by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, our spirits are alive; we can enjoy spiritual fellowship with God who is Spirit, talking to him in prayer, hearing from him, understanding and learning his words, repenting of our sins and struggling to live according to God’s plan. Such a life is blessed and glorious. It is indeed glorious to live before God and together with God and in God. We can grow up as wholesome children of God like Abraham, David, and Peter...
Now in this new blessed era called the New Testament age, Jesus Christ wants to bless us more by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon us so that the Holy Spirit, our God, can dwell in us, having life together with us in our soul and in our mind and in our body. You know that two are better than one, especially when the other Person is God Almighty. When the Holy Spirit lives in us, then, our body literally becomes God’s temple, God’s dwelling place.
1Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” This is really fantastic – having God in us, literally two persons; our own person, and another Person, the Holy Spirit living in us, and working together to fulfill one purpose, that is, to bring the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth. What can happen when God, the Holy Spirit, lives in us, sharing Jesus’ Spirit with us? Surely all kinds of wonderful things can happen without limit, because God Almighty lives in us.
Part II: Speak in other tongues (4-13).
What happened to the disciples when the Holy Spirit came on them? Let us read verse 4; “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” In the past, they were fearful; in an oppressive and threatening environment of Jerusalem, they were not able to do the work of God. But when the Holy Spirit came on them, all of them became very bold; they picked up such complete confidence of God and His kingdom. Now they knew what to do with their lives. They began to proclaim the wonders of God in Christ Jesus in other tongues – in foreign languages.
Look at verses 5-8; “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 them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” What did the Holy Spirit enable them to do? Yes! The Holy Spirit enabled them to speak foreign languages. This is very unique, and this shows us the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Why did the Holy Spirit enable them to speak in foreign languages? It was because during Pentecost, there were many foreign languages speaking people, who had come to worship God in Jerusalem. They came from all over the world. The 15 regions in verses 9-11 covered the whole known world in those days. Look at verses 9-11: “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Among all the people of the known world in those days, all those who feared God and had spiritual desire for God had come and were staying in Jerusalem at the Pentecost. The Holy Spirit’s plan was obvious. He wanted to start God’s world salvation work in 15 major metropolitan areas, beginning from Jerusalem by enabling the 120 disciples to preach the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection in their respective languages.
There are many people who are so fascinated at the idea of being empowered by the Holy Spirit; they dream about performing great miracles in front of so many people such as healing the sick or driving out demons or even raising the dead. Sorry! They totally miss the point. The Holy Spirit comes and empowers Jesus’ disciples not to enjoy some fantastic and miraculous things, but to do the work of God very powerfully and effectively. The Holy Spirit empowers Jesus’ disciples in a way that they can do God’s work effectively in any given situation.
For example, in Africa where still so many people are under the power of darkness and demons, the Holy Spirit empowers our missionaries to drive out demons. As a result, great spiritual battle is going on in Africa. In Islam world where Christianity is heavily persecuted, the Holy Spirit enables our missionaries to perform many miraculous healings; when this undeniable power of God revealed to them, many people turn to God in Jesus, even if it means for them to lose their social status or even their life. In China where believing in Jesus is illegal, still Christianity is spreading powerfully through underground churches.
Several missionaries went to Ukraine. But after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, many of them went back to their own country, because life in Ukraine was too hard. But one missionary, Dr. Peter Kim decided to lay down his life for God’s flock in Ukraine. His family suffered financially, and his wife suffered miscarriage three times. But God was pleased with sacrificial life, and the Holy Spirit enabled them to heal the sick. In Ukraine, because of the nuclear accident, still so many people suffer from disease, especially, cancer. These sick people came to our missionaries, and when they prayed for them, cancer patients were healed, and his ministry grows powerfully. Even they sent Ukraine Bible teachers to Turkey as missionaries.
May God pour out the Holy Spirit when we study the book of Acts so that we may participate in fishing and 1:1 bible more powerfully and effectively! I am very thankful to the families of Dr. Gideon and Shepherd Jeremy who have faithfully participate in the work of God, co-working with my family in spite of my many shortcomings and weaknesses. I am very thankful to Matthew Monroe, Matt Cizek, Philip Chang, Isaac Bahn who have served God’s ministry through their gifts and their labor of love. Especially, I am very thankful to the Holy Spirit who always empowers us to pioneer campuses beginning from the College of DuPage. May the Holy Spirit be with Matt and I when we go out fishing at Elmhurst College from this coming week.
*Conclusion: Today, Jesus wants to empower us by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon us. Today, the Holy Spirit wants to come into us so that he may live in us. May we all accept God’s will upon us so that we may live as witnesses of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth! May God bless us to sell our bible house and buy a building for our church and enable us to restart our campus pioneering more powerfully and effectively this year!