Building the right foundation part 4
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
A gift accompanied by signs and wonders:
What really was happening on that day of Pentecost?
A number of things were happening in a particular sequence. The single most important factor in the passage is declared in the first half of verse 4.
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
This as we will discover next time was the fulfilment of the prophesy of Joel. (2:28-32) Joel promised that one day God would pour out His Spirit upon people. In regard to this day Jesus had promised that One would come who had the same qualities that He had. The coming One therefore had to be in essence the same as Jesus who was fully God. The promise made by Jesus was of God's Spirit to come and be amongst His people. In many ways this was to be a return to what it had been before the birth of Jesus when God by His Spirit dwelt amongst His people but now He would be with people from all nations and not the Israelites alone.
When the children of Israel were in the Wilderness God by His Spirit was within the pillar of flame and smoke. When they were established in the promised land He was present with them in the temple where His people worshipped. Now ever since that day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit of God is present with His people who are the church which is the gathering of all people of every nation who are saved by grace through the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.
The Holy Spirit of God is the gift to the church. It is the Holy Spirit who leads God's people to Christ for salvation and worship and continues to lead God's people into all righteousness until the time comes when they are glorified and in God's presence eternally.
The gift was in effect given on that day of Pentecost once again for all believers and for all time; therefore it is no surprise that the event comes accompanied by signs and wonders.
Before we move on to considering what the signs and wonders accompanying the coming of the Holy Spirit mean we must consider what God's gift means for us today:
- As with Jesus who was never changing so is the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit of God is never changing, He always points people to redemption found through the Son of God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever therefore what God intended to achieve through His Spirit is consistent with how He is working in the church today. His ways are the same, His power is the same and so we need not look for new things but ought to expect a continuing work of God with His people across the generations. This does not mean that we become Hamish in our ways by clinging on to the old days. God is forever relevant and His gospel preached continues to be powerful for the salvation of all who will repent. The work of the Holy Spirit is to equip the church to present gospel truth He also brings sinners to the point of repentance and empowers them to believe and trust in Jesus. That work is unchanging, what did change on that day was the group of people who would be the recipients of the gift it was from then on to be the church and no longer the nation of Israel alone.
- This point might be rather basic but we must always remember that the Holy Spirit is fully God; he is God with us. Therefore He is a person and not an it! As with the Father and the Son He is to be revered and worshipped as God almighty. We must guard against an over familiarity with God the Spirit!
- In the old order God dwelt in a particular place, cloud, tabernacle, temple etc. He did empower individuals also but He especially was amongst His people in the place of worship. Israel was a signpost to what was to be the church. Notice on that day that the Spirit came down upon individuals as they were together but that they then unitedly spoke words that were understood by all who were witnesses of the event. All of the people heard words as if they had been spoken in their own language and by one person! The work of the Spirit of God is immediately being demonstrated, the gospel is from this moment on to be for all people. No longer for one nation but for every nation.
I am surprised that the disciples never guessed on what day the gift would come:
Pentecost simply means fifty days and refers back to the Old Testament feast of weeks which signified God's Spirit coming upon His people at the time of the barley harvest. This happened fifty days after the feast of the firstfruits which was three days after the passover. Jesus died at Passover, He rose from the dead three days later as the first fruits of God's harvest. Forty days after His resurrection Jesus promised the gift of God to come to His friends. The timing should really have come as no surprise to the disciples because the pattern had been laid out in scripture in Leviticus 23, Numbers 28 and Exodus 23. It had also been part of their religious tradition all of their life to celebrate the harvest of souls in the passover and the first fruits of the harvest followed by the in-gathering of the harvest at Pentecost.