- Sermon Notes
Empowered to Proclaim
As we open to Acts chapter 2 we understand that in the previous chapter Jesus had ascended to heaven and prior to His ascension had given instructions to His disciples of a promise from of the Father that would soon be fulfilled. Specifically, Jesus spoke to the disciples about the coming baptism with the Holy Spirit that would come not many days from then, but they would need to wait in Jerusalem until the promise was fulfilled.
In verse 8, Jesus gave more details about what would come when the Holy Spirit comes upon them; they would receive power and would be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth. We also know from Matthew 28 that after Jesus’ resurrection the disciples were given the commission, they were told that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him, and commissioned them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…”
This would only be possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It was the power of the Spirit they were to wait for, but after Acts chapter 2 they are to wait no more, rather they receive the Holy Spirit and are empowered to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all nations.
This is important for us to see because the Holy Spirit was poured out on that day and has been given to those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior from that day forward and will empower us to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, just as on that day.
There is much to understand here and like many of our studies, I will approach it with three questions in mind: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?
Proceed in the Power of the Spirit
Acts 2:1, When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
The Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost, which was an annual feast celebrated on “the day after the seventh Sabbath” after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). Seven Sabbaths means seven complete Sabbaths, or weeks (also called Feast of Weeks). The days after the seventh Sabbath from Passover, so, fifty days.
Pentecost was one of three major annual feasts celebrated by the Jews. The other two were Passover (50 days earlier) and the Feast of Tabernacles (about four months later).
That the Holy Spirit is given on the day of Pentecost is a significant fact to consider. The things that happen in the scriptures are not coincidental.
The day of Pentecost was an annual feast celebrated 50 days after the Passover. Passover is about the day the Israelites, when those who were slaves in Egypt, were told to take the blood of the lamb and apply it to the doorpost of their house so that death would “pass over” them… Jesus is our Passover lamb.
From Acts 1 we learn that Jesus presented Himself alive after His resurrection with many convincing proofs for forty days and then ascended to Heaven. Here we see in Acts 2 that the Holy Spirit is poured out 10 days after Jesus’ ascension, so it’s the 50th day after Jesus’ resurrection.
Fifty days after the Passover, Israel’s arrival at Mount Sinai, where they received the law, was celebrated each year. They celebrated the instructions of God for how to live and how to honor Him.
Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the power of God poured out so that they might live to honor Him.
So, it is the day of Pentecost and we read that “they were all together in one place.” Those gathered together were the 120 believers mentioned in Acts 1:15.
While they are there, waiting in Jerusalem as Jesus had directed them, everyone present in the room is baptized with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit fills them, and they are empowered to be Jesus witnesses in an amazing way.
What does it say?
Acts 2:2-4, Suddenly a noise like a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And tongues that looked like fire appeared to them, distributing themselves, and a tongue rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.
Three things are experienced in that room, wind, fire, and speech. Each are notable, and they happened suddenly.
First, they heard a noise like a violent rushing wind. Notice, they did not feel wind, the verbiage specifically is “like,” or other translations say “as a” violent rushing wind.
Historically, the Holy Spirit in Scripture, prior to Pentecost had an association with the wind.
The same word in both Hebrew and Greek can mean either “wind,” “spirit,” or “breath” depending on the context.
John 3:8, The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.
Next what we see in verse 3, are tongues that looked like fire appeared and distributed themselves rest on each person in the room. That is an oddly interesting description to picture in our minds. Especially difficult to understand accurately being that we weren’t there in the room.
There are times throughout Scripture where fire is used as a symbol of God’s presence.
This event would also fulfill the words of John the Baptist when he spoke of a coming baptism with the Holy Spirt and with fire (Matthew 3:11).
Exodus 3: God speaks through a burning bush. Exodus 13:20-22: The children of Israel led by a pillar of fire by night.
Pentecost came 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and that the Israelites celebrated the giving of the law at Pentecost. Interestingly, when the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, the Lord descended on Mount Sinai in the form of fire.
Exodus 19:18, All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire.
At Mount Sinai God presence descended on one place, and at Pentecost God’s presence descended on all the people who believed in Jesus.
Here the Holy Spirit descends upon the 120 people gathered in the upper room, and we see tongues of fire descend upon the people on the day of Pentecost. The presence of the Lord was there and given to them all!
Acts 2:4, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with different tongues, as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.
So, the tongues given in Acts chapter 2 were languages, and everyone began to speak with a different tongue, or language as the Holy Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out.
In Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, there were people from all over the known world, they are drawn to the upper room, and they hear those in the room speaking their native language.
Aren’t all these people Galileans? How is it that we are hearing them speak in our own language to which we were born?
This is the day of Pentecost, the people in the room are hearing their native tongue or language.
That is what it says, and in their own tongues, they hear the people speaking the mighty deeds of God.
Illus. We asked: “what does it say?” Now we will ask: “what does it mean?” And “what does it mean to you and me?”
Acts 1:8, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.
Surely Acts 1:8 gives us a wonderful outline to the book of Acts as we see the gospel message go forth in Judea, Samaria, and to the remotest parts of the earth.
For those in the room, the promises of Acts 1 were given, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, they were given power, given the ability to speak in tongues and the gift of tongues on that day, was used to witness to those in Jerusalem from throughout the known world.
I will say that the day of Pentecost was unique in that, you never read of it being replicated in rest of Scripture.
And as we look at this fulfillment, it is important for us to seek to understand what it all means, but also, what they it means for us today.
The Spirit Will Gift and Guide
When we studied Acts 1, we looked at some terms associated with the Holy Spirit, specifically, baptism with the Holy Spirit, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Both are fulfilled at Pentecost.
Those in Christ have the Holy Spirit living in them, they are indwelt, incorporated into the body of Christ when they receive Him as Lord and Savior, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
There are also, subsequent fillings, or empowerments that come upon people. We see that throughout the book of Acts (See Notes from Acts 1:8-11).
We are also gifted for service and worship, here in Acts 2, one of the gifts on the biblical gifts of the Spirit list is happening.
When it comes to the beginning of Acts chapter 2, often tongues are what get all the attention, all the press. But if you look at the theme of the chapter, it is clearly the proclamation of the gospel message and pointing people to Jesus Christ.
With that said, there are spiritual gifts, referred to in Scripture as the “gifts of Spirit.”
I believe that all are active and available gifts that are given by the Holy Spirt, have been seen throughout history and are available today.
1 Corinthians 14:41, All things must be done decently and in order.
When it comes to denominations there are some who would look at that Scripture and say “all things must be done!” and then on the other side, “decently and in order!”
I fall in the place of all things being done decently and in order. I believe it is important to seek balance and allow God’s word to guide.
1 Thessalonians 5:21, Tells us to examine everything, hold fast to that which is good.
There are three lists of spiritual gifts in Scripture and they can be found in:
Romans 12:6-8: Prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11: Words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28: Miracles, healings, helps, administration, tongues.
These gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, they do not come from people, or a person. They come from the Lord and are gifts given in a way that it is evident they are only from the Lord.
Since the gift of tongues is seen in Acts chapter 2, I want to talk specifically about the spiritual gift of tongues as seen in Scripture and outline how the Bible directs us to use, or not use this gift.
Tongues is seen in a couple of different ways in Scripture. The first is here in Acts chapter 2.
Those residing in Jerusalem for Pentecost from every nation under heaven, and they hear the people in the upper room speaking in their native language, speaking of the mighty deeds of God.
But this is not the way tongues are always seen other times in Scripture and it seems to me they are prominently referred to differently.
In 1 Corinthians 14 tongues are detailed as that which is personal and private between a person and God.
In that chapter we are also given many specifics about what they are, their use, and application both personally and corporately.
1 Corinthians 14:2-5
From 1 Corinthians 14 we know that tongues are typically for personal edification unless interpreted so that understandable interpretation can been given for corporate edification.
Paul tells us there that those who speak in tongues are praying personally and to God.
It is not preaching the gospel in a known language in 1 Corinthians 14, but identified as praying to God for personal strengthening, edification, and building up.
Jude 1:20-21, But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…
1 Corinthians 14:14-15, If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful… I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.
So, this type of tongues is beyond understanding, it is not spoken to people, but to God.
With that said, 1 Corinthians 14 Paul also gives parameters on their use corporately, if or when room is made in a gathering.
1 Corinthians 14:23-25, If the whole church gathers together and all the people speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are insane?
Why would they think this? Because it is a language not even the person speaking understands.
Paul goes onto say that all things are to be done corporately in the church so that the church may receive edification of others. Edification is the building up and strengthening.
1 Corinthians 14:12, So you too, since you are eager to possess spiritual gifts, strive to excel for the edification of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19, I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I prefer to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:27, If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two or at the most three, and each one in turn, and one is to interpret.
1 Corinthians 14:40, All things must be done properly and in order.
It is important that we surrender it all to the Lord and trust the Holy Spirit in the Spiritual gifts given, but also allow the Spirit to guide those gifts in accordance with the Word the Holy Spirit inspired.
I want to note there were various responses from the unbelievers who heard what was happening in the upper room at Pentecost, one of which was doubt.
Acts 2:12-13, And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were jeering and saying, “They are full of sweet wine!”
Peter will address this, but it is important for us to see, and to apply the words about tongues in Scripture and understand there are parameters both personally and corporately.
The Apostle Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 12 to desire the gifts but noted that not everyone has every gift. 1 Corinthians 12 ends with Paul saying he would show a far better way…
1 Corinthians 13:1, If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
While there are many gifts, and lists of gifts given, we must be reminded of the greatest gift. Love.
John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends.
Remember Jesus’ Call in it All
And it is there that Peter stands up and points them back to God’s Word.
The people were perplexed, they wondered what was happening, were these people drunk?
And as the questions came, Peter pointed them back to God’s word.
He says that these things will happen in the last days. Peter told the people they are in the last days, he said that 2,000 years ago.
The last days include all the days between Jesus’ first and second coming. And part of what He quoted from the book of Joel will happen at Jesus’ second coming.
In other words, He is telling them the Messiah had come, they were now in the last days.
And on this day, the day the church was born, in the delivery room of the Holy Spirit, we will see later in this chapter that 3,000 people are delivered into salvation in Christ.
They will understand that Jesus Christ is Lord and will give their lives to Him.
Jesus gave power to proclaim the good news. They would receive power and would be Jesus’ witnesses. Let us not miss this.
Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
John 15:26-27, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, namely, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you are testifying as well, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Revelation 22:12, Behold, I am coming quickly.
Revelation 22:17, The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’