Text: Acts 2
Proposition: As Christmas marks the birth of Christ, the incarnation of God in Man, Pentecost marks the birth the Holy Spirit into the Church, God in Mankind.
Introduction: It had been 50 days since the Passover, since the time in the Upper Room, the washing of the disciples feet, the breaking of Bread and the taking of the Cup. For 40 days Jesus had still been with them and then He ascended. Ten more days, not many days from now He had said, and it was Pentecost. Do you remember what Jesus said to the disciples way back on the night of Passover? It’s recorded in 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. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…”. Pentecost was that day when God introduced into mankind the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit. As Christmas marked the birth of the Son of God, the Incarnation of God in Man, so Pentecost marked the birth of the Holy Spirit into the Church, the Indwelling of God in Mankind. You celebrate Christmas and rightly so. Let me invite you to celebrate Pentecost, the day that God began to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Have a look at Acts 2.
I. As the Incarnation Was Surrounded By Symbol, So Was Pentecost.
You know what I mean when I say the Incarnation or birth of Christ was surrounded by symbol. There were symbols like the child being born in a manger, shepherds informed by angels, wise men presenting gifts of Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Every one of those things spoke about who Jesus is as One who came to save the lost and the least. The gifts spoke about who He is as our King, the star about who He is as Creator, the Incarnation was surrounded with symbol. So too as we read about Pentecost we run into symbols that speak about who the person of the Holy Spirit is and what it is He has come to do in convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. There is the symbol of the sound of a great and rushing wind. It doesn’t say that there was a feeling of wind blowing but the opposite of that, sound without feeling. That’s the sign of it. The purpose of the great noise of a rushing wind was not for the disciples gathered in that upper room, it was for the people of Jerusalem to hear and then to draw them to where they would hear truth in an unmistakeable way. The wind is a symbol of the invisible presence of God, you hear it but you cannot see it, that’s how Jesus explained it to Nicodemus in John 3. The localized sound of a violent wind coming from one building in all of Jerusalem was a compelling sound that drew people close so that they could hear the truth about sin, righteousness and judgment. There was the sign of small flames of fire flickering above each of the disciples. The Holy Spirit had appeared in the form of a dove at the Baptism of Jesus, now He appears as fire as He baptizes these Jewish disciples into the kingdom of God. John the Baptist had foretold that Jesus would baptize them with fire and now through the Holy Spirit Jesus does exactly that. Fire is a symbol of refining, a purifying that removes impurity. That will be what the Spirit does in them and through them. There was the symbol of the disciples suddenly speaking in languages they had never spoken before. Amazed they could hardly believe what was happening though they knew exactly what they were saying. They were praising God for feeding the 5000, for opening the eyes of a man born blind, for raising the dead. They proclaimed the crucified Christ, the risen Christ, calling people to repent and believe in Jesus as the only Saviour. That’s what verse 11 infers when it says, “…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” The tongues were a symbol of the reversing of Babel, when God confused the speech of man in order to make mankind disperse into the world as He had commanded them to. Pentecost is the reverse of that as language is suddenly understood, drawing in all people to Christ… “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to Myself.” (Jn 12:32) It was sign and a symbol that were unmistakeable, God was doing a miraculous thing. So they draw close and their ears and hearts are opened to receive what the Holy Spirit is about to say.
II. As the Incarnation Fulfilled Scripture So Does the Indwelling of the Spirit.
There will always be people who are so tangled up in boredom and unbelief that it literally fills them up on the inside. Being full of the world, of their own concerns and of worry there is no room for the Spirit of God to come in. That’s where the scoffers come from, the ones who accused the disciples of being drunk though it was only 9 in the morning. When the Holy Spirit has Peter speak it is to upset the fullness of self, to cause it to spill out so that there would be room for the Holy Spirit to speak. So Peter does what Jesus did, he quotes Scripture and then tells them what it means and then tells them how it relates to them right now. Jesus did that in Nazareth, telling them that the words of Isaiah about the captives set free, the blind seeing, the lame walking, were now fulfilled in their hearing. (Lk 4:18) In the same kind of way Peter reminds them of what the prophet Joel wrote, in verses 17 to 21 he describes how God will pour out His Spirit upon all people. It will cause an uproar, “your sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions, old will dream dreams…”, even the slaves will receive the Holy Spirit. In other words when God pours out His Spirit it will be upon men and women, young and old, both slave and free. But look at what Peter says next in verse 19-20, “I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.” Not only will the Holy Spirit be evidenced in people but God will use chaos in nature to catch people’s attention and all this so that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved! “The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” Peter uses these words of Joel to describe the events that happened at the crucifixion of Jesus, the sky dark as night for three hours, earthquakes, rocks being broken apart. Peter quotes Scripture, tells them that this Scripture is now being fulfilled. These were the signs and wonders now here is how it applies to them.
III. It’s About Sin, Righteousness and Judgment, It’s You and the Kingdom.
Peter lays out the facts:
1.Historically Jesus existed. He was from Nazareth, He did things that many saw and experienced. Factually Jesus exists. Factually He died, yet His death was more than the schemes of men.
2.Theologically Jesus exists. Though the godless men called the Romans put Christ to death Peter makes the inescapable point that it was only upon the insistence of the Jews and that by the predetermined plan of God. Knowing that they would crucify Him Jesus still came to Jerusalem and stayed there from Palm Sunday on.
3.Prophetically Jesus exists. Peter tells them what they have all been wondering about, he tells them about the resurrection of Jesus. For 40 days before Pentecost word had been spreading that this Jesus was alive from the dead. In fact Peter says that it was not possible for death to hold Christ. He quotes Psalm 16, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.”
4. Experientially Jesus exists. So Peter tells them, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” Because Christ ascended He now sits at the right hand of the Father and from this place He has sent the Holy Spirit whom is evidenced in these things they are experiencing.
5. Consequentially Jesus exists. All this evidence demands a verdict, the verdict is not only is Jesus who He said He was but I am a condemned man because of it. You see that’s what the Holy Spirit does, He convinces you of the reality of your sin. Then He points you to the only way you can be righteous, by the forgiveness of sin through faith in the sacrificial and atoning death of Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit convicts us of judgment, the judgment placed upon Christ for me. It is the judgment of even the angels and their captain, Satan. Judgment for us is the entry point into the kingdom of God, it’s what Christ seeks for you, it’s why He came that you would see your sin and the depth and scope of it… that you would repent from your sin and seek His righteousness…that judgment would find you safe in Christ and the kingdom of heaven will be our next point of work. They were cut to the heart when they heard this. 3000 people heard the facts and received faith and chose Christ as their Saviour that day. It was Pentecost and it’s the way the Holy Spirit still works in us today.