Pastor Chuck’s Message
Sunday, May 31,2020
Promise Delivered – The Power of God
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. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 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!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Today is Pentecost. It is the day that Jesus delivered on His promise to send the Holy Spirit into the world to indwell, seal and baptize the disciples and every believer thereafter (ref. John 14:15-31; John 15:18-27; John 16:5-16). On the day of His ascension, Jesus promised the disciples extraordinary power, power beyond that of being born again but that of being born of the Spirit through the manifestation of God’s Spirit. Keep in mind the disciples were already born again before Pentecost (Luke 10:20; John 15:3) but they needed something more.
Luke records Jesus words’ of instruction and promise in Luke 24:46-49 (ESV), “…. repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem … And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Acts 1:8 (ESV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus’ promise was astonishing! This extraordinary power was for sustaining the witness and power of Christ in His Church, life in the Spirit, which is the Christian life, the ability to walk in the Spirit in a manner worthy of the Lord and His kingdom
(Thessalonians 2:12; Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:1; 3 John 1:16) and to carry on the work of God’s kingdom into the world
“The word “power” that Jesus uses here is “dunamis” or “dynamis” in the Greek from which we get the word “dynamite.” Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come with power, a power that was able to produce power, might and strength. It was to be a supernatural manifestation of miracles, wonder and powerful deeds. The word “dunamis” (power) is used 10 times in the book of Acts and it always refers to God’s power. When the Bible uses the word “dunamis,” it never refers to our strength or ability but rather to God’s power “dunamis” in and through us. It is through His, power alone that keeps us, forms our character to be like Christ, to glorify Him and bear witness and fruit for Him.” (Lexicon of the Greek New Testament).
Jesus promises an essential and special power that is necessary for building the Church of Jesus Christ and expanding our witness to the world. It is a special power that takes us to another dimension beyond the power of salvation and into the world of God’s miraculous. It had to be a special power to penetrate the very strongholds of Satan and the world of unbelief. This is the essential power that came on the day of Pentecost. As Christians, we have the power of the Spirit - what have we done with it?
A.W. Tozer wrote, “If God were to take the Holy Spirit out of this world, much of what we’re doing in our churches would go right on and nobody would know the difference!...I do not believe in a repetition of Pentecost, but I do believe in a perpetuation of Pentecost—and there is a vast difference between the two.”
Unless we know and understand the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we are helpless to even think we can do the will of God. The work of God can only be made powerful through the Spirit of God (John 15:1-8).
Did not Jesus say, “… I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT)? If you look around at the world right now, things look pretty dark and bleak, don’t they? Our nation is in serious trouble on all fronts and I don’t need to recite the news. We are tired and anxious, frustrated and frazzled, tired and weary, fearful and worried. And from a human perspective, things don’t look exactly bright for the Church in our current state.
However, listen and have hope.
- We needed a Messiah and God gave us the power of Bethlehem by providing “Emmanuel, God with us.”
- We needed salvation and God gave us His Son on the Cross to redeem us through the shedding of His pure, holy and innocent blood.
- We need victory over death and the grave, so God gave us the resurrection and the assurance of eternal life.
- We needed a great High Priest and Intercessor before a Holy God in heaven and He gave us the ascended Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
- We needed power and God gave us the miraculous through the coming of the Holy Spirit.
What else do we need but to listen to God speak and respond to Him. If we would just get out of God’s way and get on with God’s power in our lives the possibilities would be limitless! Let me show you.
The Promise of God the Father – Pentecost
Jesus said, “… I am sending the promise of my Father upon you…” (Acts 1:8).
The promise of God’s Holy Spirit coming with power and might was made hundreds of years before by the prophet Joel. Joel spoke as God told him in Joel 2:27-29,
“You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”
Pentecost, is the Jewish Feast of Harvest (Leviticus 23:9,15-21; Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:10) and is one of the three Jewish feasts that required Jews from across the world to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. According to historians, there would have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people filling the streets of the holy city. Pentecost means “fiftieth” and it got its name because it took place 50 days after Passover.
God chose to fulfill His promise of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. This held a profound significance and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit enabled extraordinary power for witness to the world. Luke tells us in Acts 2:41 that, “Those who accepted [Peter’s] message were baptized, and about three thousand were add to their number that day.”
Think about this, 3,000 people, souls, were harvested from the kingdom of darkness, translated into the kingdom of God and given eternal life on the day of Pentecost, the Feast of Harvest. Do you see the significance? And this was only the beginning!
Where is the witness of this power in the Church today?
Author/Theologian John Piper writes, “Pentecost was the first of these great outpourings on the Christian Church, and until the task of world evangelization is completed, I believe it is our duty to pray for fresh seasons of the extraordinary outpouring of God’s Spirit—to awaken and empower the Church and to penetrate the final frontiers of world evangelization.”
Tell me, do we not need this power for the Church today?
The Posture of Pentecost
Was there a posture prior to receiving God’s power on the day of Pentecost?
Scripture tells us in Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
Acts 2:1 tells us, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” There is no substitute for Christian community! They were together praying for the promise of God!
Often, I read the results of polls which tell me that a high percentage of Americans are professing believers in Jesus Christ. Add to that the number of people who claim to have “deep spirituality,” with an overwhelming percentage of our fellow citizens who see themselves as the people of God. If this is really true, then why isn’t there a greater impact on our society and world? As I look around, I am convinced that we, the Church of Jesus Christ, are lacking the desire, the conviction and the willingness to be open, to pray to receive the fullness of the power of God’s Spirit and to continue to receive the fullness of that power.
There are four dynamics of prayer:
1. Being together in one place. You can’t go it alone in the Christian life. You need your brothers and sisters. So many people who claim spirituality are pursuing it on a Lone Ranger basis.
2. We must understand the necessity of being in a spirit of prayer. We need times alone in prayer. We need times together in prayer. We need to open our hearts to God and allow God to take our attention. Some of us are so busy running around doing things and having meetings that we haven’t taken the time to listen, to be open, to receive that divine power and energy that God wants to give us through His Spirit.
3. We must take what the Scriptures have to say, seriously, and with great importance. I’m fascinated at the fact that during these days between the ascension of Jesus and Pentecost this group of 120 close followers of Jesus heard the Scriptures taught. Peter expounded the Old Testament teachings and prophecy to them. It’s a posture of receptivity to God’s teachings and not to devotionals alone.
4. Pray expectantly. We, like those disciples, must be waiting expectantly for God to act and believing He will. Is there that dimension of waiting in your life? We live in a culture of instant gratification. If something goes wrong in our life, we automatically tend to blame God, forgetting that God can use those things that are so puzzling to us to actually get our attention.
Is it possible that during these tumultuous times God is speaking to us and saying, “Do You Hear Me Now?” “Will You Listen to Me?” Is it possible that we are so busy seeking deliverance, healing and restoration of our land (2 Chronicles 7:14) and creature comforts that we are not listening to the God who speaks to us? (John 10:27-28; Luke 4:46; Romans 7, Romans 8; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17;
1 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 6:18; Psalm 19:1-17; Job 33:14; Jeremiah 33:3)
Author John Huffman writes, “Is yours a posture of being together on a regular basis with other believers? Is yours a posture of prayer? Is yours a posture of having the Bible open before you in personal, daily meditation and in corporate teaching environments? Is yours a posture of waiting upon God, trusting Him to, in His time, fulfill His promises in a way that you do not get overly self-impressed with the victories of your life and overly discouraged at what appear to be the losses and tragedies that come your way?”
The People and the Power of God
Pentecost, the Feast of Harvest, had a historical significance in that it commemorated the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. It also had an agricultural significance in that at Passover the first omer of barley of the crop was offered to God, and at Pentecost two loaves were offered in gratitude for the completed and in-gathered harvest. No work was to be done on that day. It was a festive holiday occasion and the streets were filled with people.
The Hebrew word for spirit and wind is “ruach.” The wind had been a symbol of the Spirit for the Hebrew people throughout the generations. This wind of God was present at the creation. It was this wind of which Ezekiel spoke of in the valley of dry bones in which a dejected, defeated people would be brought back to life (Ezekiel 37). Jesus used the image of the wind for the Spirit when He was describing to Nicodemus what it is to be born-again by the Spirit (John 3). Luke tells us in Acts 2:2-4, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sifting. 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.” New thought, new energy, new vitality, new creativity, new emotion came to life by this in-filling of the Holy Spirit. God was bringing to life His people, individually and corporately. Jesus was giving birthing His Church (Selected Commentaries, refer to Resources).
Not only was the sound of a violent wind part of the event, but also tongues of fire. The text says, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” (Acts 2:2). The fire of the Holy Spirit purges, burns away the chaff, all that debilitates and prevents you and me from becoming what God created you and me to become. Not only is the chaff burned away. The Holy Spirit refines us, as does the melting process that burns off the dross, bringing out the pure metal. The Bible talks about the “refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:3) that purges us and enables us to live with the Power of God’s Spirit literally emanating from our lives. This fire of the Holy Spirit helps us to love others, being a people who are more giving, more consistent in our Christian lives, more forgiving of others.
There is a third event here, that of speaking in tongues. God’s Holy Spirit enabled these simple Galileans to speak in all the languages of the people that were in Jerusalem at that time.
Acts 2:6,11 says, “… the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language … We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Notice what they were talking about – “the wonderful works of God.” What should we be talking about and sharing with others? The wonderful works of God.
Pentecost brings the Power of God to live the Christian life in a powerless world. The Holy Spirit was given to provide us with the ability to accomplish the impossible, to experience the miraculous and to evangelize the world with the power of the Gospel. The event of Pentecost is the power of God to produce the fruit of repentance and bring the gift of God to the unsaved.
Prayer: “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me, empowering me and us to be and do all you dream of us being and doing!”
The New Readers Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Michael H. Burer, Jeffrey E. Miller
The Wonderful Holy Spirit: What His ‘Dunamis” Power Can Do in Your Life by Jared Laskey
Does God Still Speak to Us Today? By Dave Jenkins
Pentecost: Receiving God’s Power by John A. Huffman, Jr.
The Book of Acts – A Commentary by C. Peter Wagner
The Church – What We Are Meant to Be by Ken Hutcherson
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised by Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland
The NIV Application Commentary by Frank Thielman
Matthew Henry Commentary by Matthew Henry