Moses is the only person in the Bible who ever went up a mountain and came back with Ten Commandments written on two stones. Noah is the only person in the Bible who ever built an ark and filled it with animals.
Some of the events recorded in the Bible are unique.
Every Jewish male is circumcised. Every believer is baptised.
Some of the events recorded in the Bible are repeated.
If something happens only once and doesn’t repeat, it’s fairly safe to presume that you won’t experience that event. If you see something that happens repeatedly, be ready.
When events are mentioned more than once in the Bible, or happen repeatedly, we see signs that they are normal. With this in mind, let’s think about Pentecost.
Today is the Christian feast of Pentecost as mentioned in Acts 2:1. ‘Pentecost’ is a Greek word (Pentēkostē) that means 50th. It is the 50th day after Jesus was crucified. You may have heard it called White Sunday.
There is a Jewish feast called Shavuot. This is the feast on which the Jewish people remember the time God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The word Shavuot means “weeks” or “oath.” There is another Jewish feast called Passover. This is the feast on which the Jewish people remember the time when God rescued them from Egypt.
The festival of Shavuot marks the completion of a seven-week counting period after Passover. This is the time it took the Hebrew slaves to journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai.
Jesus was killed on Passover and 50 days later on Shavuot, 10 days after his ascension, we have today’s event.
It is no surprise that for this holy day there were Jews from around the world staying in Jerusalem. It is no surprise that the followers of Jesus were meeting together. For one thing it is Shavuot, and for another it was what Jesus told them to do. Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.” And Luke 24:49, “Stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
The first thing that happened is that a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm filled the house.
This is not a normal thing to happen during a meeting. It happens only in this verse.
Christians should not expect meetings to be filled with the roaring of a mighty wind.
Then they saw what looked like flames or tongues of fire settle on each of them. This again is not a normal phenomenon. The Bible records it only here. There is an example of a building shaking during prayer. Acts 4:31 “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”
We should not expect flames in our prayer meetings. We should not think we have failed if we don’t have flames. The flames and tongues of fire were unique to that situation. Shaking was unique to another situation.
Next, everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages.
The first part of this, being filled with the Holy Spirit, is normal. The Bible speaks of it all the time, especially in Acts. We’ve already seen a couple of examples. Over and over, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, people are filled with the Holy Spirit. And after Pentecost it became normal to pray for all followers of Jesus to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Time after time, the Holy Spirit really came and empowered the followers of Jesus.
Read for example Acts 8:17 – “Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
We believe this really happened. You should expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You should expect to pray for others and see them filled with the Holy Spirit.
For ten days, the faithful waited. They had been incredibly encouraged by meeting with the risen Jesus during 40 days. After Jesus left this world, they waited for him to keep his promise to send the Holy Spirit. They waited for just ten days, and then there was this dramatic arrival.
When the Holy Spirit came upon them the 120 were filled with power. Peter immediately preached a sermon and about 3,000 people were converted and added to the church. On this day the church began. Peter’s first instruction was powered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38); “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
It is a promise for us. We are filled with the Holy Spirit the same way Jesus was. The kingdom of heaven has come to earth. We are living in the last days. Peter quoted the prophet Joel. ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.’ All people seems to mean all believers, as Joel also says ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’. And of course that means you and me. It means all of us who call on the name of the Lord.
When this life ends, we go where Jesus has already gone in a resurrection body.
Until that day, how do we live? Christians are meant to live in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Are we relying on the power of God’s Spirit? Are we an open channel for the Spirit’s gifts?
Are we attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Is the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) growing in our lives?
Some of us live in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, but we limit the Holy Spirit. We limit the Holy Spirit by our fear, our low expectations, and our false expectations. And we tend to be easily distracted from God’s work in us.
The church is important. Church is so very important. God can do whatever he wants. He is free to choose how to do things. God chose not to deliver the Holy Spirit like an email or a Kakao Talk message. The Holy Spirit was not sent by Jesus from heaven to one individual at a time. The Holy Spirit did not choose to descend upon solitary individuals locked away on their own in silent prayer.
The Holy Spirit came in power upon a group. The Holy Spirit comes in power when a believer prays for someone. People working, watching, waiting and praying together are how God works in this world.
Holy Spirit is multinational and multilingual. God especially loves to mix up nationalities, such as we have here today.
All people are empowered to minister regardless of their gender, age, ethnic background, or social position.
Ephesians 4:12 says that as a pastor my “responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
Today I am seeking to do this by reminding you that all of God’s people are called to minister through the power of the Spirit. Not only me, not only the worship band, but all of us.
You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is not only normal, it is necessary. Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. His followers should also be filled.
The Holy Spirit should lead you each day. The Holy Spirit should guide this church.
We should try to avoid things that block the activity of the Holy Spirit. We should always pray for others to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let me pray for you now. Let’s pray that we are all filled with Holy Spirit power. It doesn’t matter if there are flames or the sound of rushing wind. It doesn’t matter if you talk another language, or not.