The Lord Sends His Spirit
SS Lesson for 04/14/2013
Devotional Scripture: Joel 2:28-32
The lesson examines how The Lord Jesus Sent His Spirit to His people. The study's aim is to teach that the boldness and power to proclaim the gospel comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. The study's application is to encourage believers in the Lord Jesus to boldly proclaim the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Consider the vast missionary endeavor that began at Pentecost. Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission before He ascended into heaven, but He also commanded them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The apostles obeyed by waiting, but they probably had almost no idea what to expect. Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would come with power for evangelism (Acts 1:8); but without any prior experience, they were left to wonder how this would come about. No Doppler radar warned them of the coming wind. We do not even know whether the coming of the Spirit produced a physical wind, but Luke used the only description he could think of: "Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2). The audible and visible effects Luke described are not as important as the powerful effect the coming of the Spirit had on the men and women gathered there. They began to fulfill the Great Commission on the spot, preaching the gospel in many different languages. Jerusalem was filled with Jews who had come to celebrate the feast, but a great number of them spoke the languages of the Gentile countries from which they had come. They were amazed to hear the gospel spoken perfectly in their own languages, which would have been foreign to the apostles speaking them. Pentecost was an extraordinary event, but it had a far greater purpose than just dazzling the crowd gathered there. First, Pentecost proved the power of God. The same Almighty God who had confused the languages at Babel had the power to give unlearned Galileans the miraculous ability to speak foreign languages. Though He did not promise through that event to give future missionaries the ability to miraculously speak languages they had not learned, it was still a dynamic sign that God would be with His people as they took the gospel message to the entire world. Second, the event of Pentecost was also proof of the purpose of God. He wanted His Jewish apostles to recognize that His love extended beyond Israel to the entire world. Pentecost was an object lesson of the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8: "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem,... and unto the uttermost part of the earth." God chose Israel to be a witness to the Gentiles. But instead of understanding His purpose, they became arrogant and flaunted their special relationship with Jehovah in front of the rest of the world. Then, rather than evangelize the Gentiles, they turned from God to the Gentiles' idols. The miraculous gift of tongues showed another part of God's purpose: it was evidence He would now speak to them through Gentile tongues. The text should remind us of those same two purposes of God. You serve a powerful God who will supernaturally assist us as we share the good news. In addition, you should be reminded that God wants to use your voice to speak to those of other nationalities and languages. Never become so self-centered that you forget that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16).
[Were all filled with the Holy Ghost] Were entirely under his sacred influence and power. See Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67. To be filled with anything is a phrase denoting that all the faculties are pervaded by it, engaged in it, or under its influence, Acts 3:10, "Were filled with wonder and amazement"; Acts 5:17, "Filled with indignation"; 13:45, "Filled with envy"; Acts 2:52 , "Filled with joy and the Holy Spirit."
[Began to speak with other tongues] In other languages than their native tongue. The languages which they spoke are specified in Acts 2:9-11.
[As the Spirit gave them utterance] As the Holy Spirit gave them power to speak. This language implies plainly that they were now endued with a faculty of speaking languages which they had not before learned. Their native tongue was that of Galilee, a somewhat barbarous dialect of the common language used in Judea-the Syro-Chaldaic. It is possible that some of them might have been partially acquainted with the Greek and Latin, as each of those languages was spoken among the Jews to some extent; but there is not the slightest evidence that they were acquainted with the languages of the different nations afterward specified. Various attempts have been made to account for this remarkable phenomenon without supposing it to be a miracle. But the natural and obvious meaning of the passage is, that they were endowed by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit with ability to speak foreign languages, and languages to them before unknown. It does not appear that each one had the power of speaking all the languages which are specified (Acts 2:9-11), but that this ability was among them, and that together they could speak these languages, probably some one and some another. The following remarks may perhaps throw some light on this remarkable occurrence:
(1) It was predicted in the Old Testament that what is here stated would occur in the times of the Messiah. Thus, in Isa 28:11, "With ... another tongue will he speak unto this people." Compare 1 Cor 14:21 where this passage is expressly applied to the power of speaking foreign languages under the gospel.
(2) It was promised by the Lord Jesus that they should have this power, Mark 16:17, "These signs shall follow them that believe ... they shall speak with new tongues."
(3) The ability to do it existed extensively and long in the church, 1 Cor 12:10-11, "To another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit"; Acts 2:28, "God hath set in the church ... diversities of tongues." Compare also Acts 2:30, and Acts 14:2,4-6,9,13-14; 18-19,22-23,27,39 . From this it appears that the power was well known in the church, and was not confined to the apostles. This also may show that in the case in the Acts, the ability to do this was conferred on other members of the church as well as the apostles.
(4) It was very important that they should be endowed with this power in their great work. They were going forth to preach to all nation; and though the Greek and Roman tongues were extensively spoken, yet their use was not universal, nor is it known that the apostles were skilled in those languages. To preach to all nations, it was indispensable that they should be able to understand their language. And in order that the gospel might be rapidly propagated through the earth, it was necessary that they should be endowed with ability to do this without the slow process of being compelled to learn them. It will contribute to illustrate this to remark that one of the principal hindrances in the spread of the gospel now arises from the inability to speak the languages of the nations of the earth, and that among missionaries of modern times a long time is necessarily spent in acquiring the language of a people before they are prepared to preach to them.
(5) One design was to establish the gospel by means of miracles. Yet no miracle could be more impressive than the power of conveying their sentiments at once in all the languages of the earth. When it is remembered what a slow and toilsome process it is to learn a foreign tongue, this would I be regarded by the pagan as one of the most striking miracles which could be performed, 1 Cor 14:22,24-25.
(6) The reality and certainty of this miracle is strongly attested by the early triumphs of the gospel. That the gospel was early spread over all the world, and that, too, by the apostles of Jesus Christ, is the clear testimony of all history. They preached it in Arabia, Greece, Syria, Asia, Persia, Africa, and Rome. Yet how could this have been effected without a miraculous power of speaking the languages used in all those places? Now, it requires the toil of many years to speak in foreign languages; and the recorded success of the gospel is one of the most striking attestations to the fact of the miracle that could be conceived.
(7) The corruption of language was one of the most decided effects of sin, and the source of endless embarrassments and difficulties, Gen 11: It is not to be regarded as wonderful that one of the effects of the plan of recovering people should be to show the power of God over all evil, and thus to furnish striking evidence that the gospel could meet all the crimes and calamities of people. And we may add,
(8) That from this we see the necessity now of training people who are to be missionaries to other lands. The gift of miracles is withdrawn. The apostles, by that miracle, simply were empowered to speak other languages. That power must still be had if the gospel is to be preached. But it is now to be obtained, not by miracle, but by stow and careful study and toil. If possessed, people must be taught it. And as the church is bound (Matt 28:19) to send the gospel to all nations, so it is bound to provide that the teachers who shall be sent forth shall be qualified for their work. Hence, one of the reasons of the importance of training men for the holy ministry.
Cappadocia ...... Kap-uh-doe-shuh.
Diaspora ........... Dee-as-puh-ruh.
Elamites ........... Ee-luh-mites.
Galileans .......... Gal-uh-lee-unz.
Mesopotamia ... Mes-uh-puh-tay-me-uh.
Pamphylia ........ Pam-fill-ee-uh.
Parthians .......... Par-thee-unz (th as in thin).
Phrygia ............. Frij-e-uh.
proselytes ......... Prahss-uh-lights.
Tigris ................ Tie-griss.
The concept of the major outlines came from reviewing the Scriptural Text.
They were all with one accord in one place
Unifying Holy Spirit
Everyone heard them speak in his own language
Power of the Holy Spirit
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel
Fulfillment of the Promise of the Holy Spirit
Early first-century Jerusalem was full of visitors every spring. They were Jewish pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean world who came for the great Passover celebration and stayed until Pentecost, roughly two months later. This was like a religious vacation. In the year of today’s lesson text (probably AD 30), the vacation of these visitors was disrupted. A visiting rabbi, named Jesus, was at first greeted by joyous crowds in a festive atmosphere. But things turned ugly. The visiting rabbi was in conflict with the Jewish authorities. The conflict escalated to the point that he was seized, given quick trials, and executed. It must have left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Coming seven weeks after Passover, the Feast of Pentecost was the end-event for most of these visitors. They would have begun to disperse the following week. That year, they might have left with this murderous memory weighing heavily on their hearts, a once-in-a-lifetime vacation ruined. But God, in his wisdom, did not let these pilgrims leave Jerusalem before experiencing an astounding event. The result was the birth of the church.
The ancient Jewish calendar of special days had a great sense of history to it. One of the most important days on the calendar was Passover. That was a time to remember when God’s angel of death “passed over” the Jewish households in Egypt that had been marked with the blood of a Passover lamb (Exodus 11 and 12). This feast day is connected with the exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt, from their lives of slavery. Thus, Passover had the flavor of a day of national independence, something like America’s Fourth of July. The single-day Passover celebration occurred in conjunction with the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5, 6). Thus these two came to be seen functionally as one celebration. Pentecost, also called the Festival of Weeks, came seven weeks plus one day later (compare Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9, 10). This length of time computes to 50 days, and Pentecost is a Greek word that simply means “fiftieth day.” Today’s lesson takes us to the first Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection.
In one way, our text in Acts 2:1-13 describes something entirely new and amazing. And yet what we read should not come as a complete surprise. We might compare the Pentecost event to having a birthday. You know that your birthday is coming, and that someone who loves you has a present for you. You are not sure exactly what the present is (although you’ve been told you will really like it), and you don’t know exactly when you will receive it. You know it is something good, and that it is coming soon. As we approach Luke’s description of the Pentecost event, we should do so fully aware that those who experienced it had been prepared for its arrival, even though they did not know exactly what it would be like. Let us begin by turning to Luke’s Gospel and his words regarding the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist in chapter 3, see Luke 3:15-22.
There are a couple of things that we should note from this text. The first is that John contrasts his baptism with that of Jesus. John baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and with fire. Jesus will reinforce these words, affirming what John has said. By inference, it is clear that the baptism of Jesus is vastly superior to that of John, just as Jesus is vastly superior to John. Second, we have here an account of our Lord’s baptism by John. On the one hand, Jesus identified Himself with John, his baptism, and his message. (After all, John was the prophet who designated Jesus as the promised Messiah.) On the other hand, Jesus was identifying Himself with us, mankind, and our need for a Savior.
What strikes me most about Luke’s account of our Lord’s baptism is that at our Lord’s baptism, God identified Himself with Jesus. In believers’ baptism, the one being baptized identifies himself or herself with Jesus in His saving work – His death, burial, and resurrection. The amazing and perhaps unexpected thing that happened at our Lord’s baptism was that God identified Himself with Jesus. The Father identified Jesus as His beloved Son in whom He was greatly pleased (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). The Spirit identified with Jesus by appearing as a dove who descended upon Him and remained upon Him (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). You may recall this is how God indicated to John the Baptist that Jesus was the promised Messiah (see John 1:29-34). I believe it is clear that this is the time when our Lord was endued with power from the Holy Spirit to carry out His earthly ministry. It was after His baptism that Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness and then commenced His ministry, with great power, see Luke 4:13-15. I believe that the baptism of our Lord is similar to the “baptism” of the church that occurs at Pentecost, but I will take this matter up later in this message. For now, let us observe that our Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, with the assurance that their prayers would be answered, see Luke 11:9-13). Surely we cannot help but see the connection between Pentecost and this text in Luke, in which Jesus assures His disciples that the Father will give the Spirit to those who ask for Him. Does this not explain the connection between Acts 1:12-14 and Acts 2:1-13? See Luke 24:45-63.
After His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples. He explains His death and resurrection as the good news of the gospel, for by trusting in Him men can obtain the forgiveness of sins. He tells His disciples that their mission is to be witnesses to His resurrection and to the good news of the gospel. They are to take the gospel to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. This is Luke’s Great Commission and is very similar to Acts 1:8. Jesus also tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are clothed with power from on high, which occurs at Pentecost. Finally, we are told that the disciples joyfully returned to Jerusalem after His ascension, and there they spent much time in the temple courts, praising God, see Acts 1:4-8.
We have now come to the Book of Acts and to the words which we considered in our previous lesson. Notice that Jesus once again reiterates the instruction not to leave Jerusalem until they have received what the Father promised, and what He had spoken about. I believe that by speaking of “what the Father promised,” our Lord is probably referring to those Old Testament prophecies which foretold the coming of the Spirit, especially those related to the New Covenant.4 When Jesus referred to the Spirit’s coming as that “which you heard about from Me,” I believe that He is speaking of texts such as John 14-16, where Jesus said much to His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord’s words further indicate that the promise of the Father is coming shortly, “not many days from now” (verse 5).
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.
38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
Commentary from the Life Application Notes
Christ has destroyed the barriers people build between themselves. Because these walls have been removed, we can have real unity with people who are not like us. This is true reconciliation. Because of Christ's death, we are all one (Ephes. 2:14); our hostility against each other has been put to death (Ephes. 2:16); we can all have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (Ephes. 2:18); we are no longer foreigners or aliens to God (Ephes. 2:19); and we are all being built into a holy temple with Christ as our chief cornerstone (Ephes. 2:20-21).
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them
29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."
12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.
8 But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.
3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts--
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
4 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean."
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ
20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.
15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
45 It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The account of that glorious Day of Pentecost has at least three abiding lessons for us. First, we recognize that the Holy Spirit has come to the church as part of the new covenant. The Old Testament certainly knows of God’s Holy Spirit, but there is no sense there that the Spirit is a gift given to all the people of God. The coming of the Holy Spirit was foreseen by the Old Testament prophets and was promised by Jesus (John 14:15-26). The presence of the Holy Spirit is a primary difference between the people of God in the Old Testament and New Testament eras. Second, we see that the Holy Spirit does not come passively, but with power. Many Christians today are uncomfortable talking about any sense of supernatural power from the Holy Spirit. They are missing a blessing. This doesn’t mean that every Christian should be speaking in tongues, etc. (see 1 Corinthians 12:30). But it does mean that every Christian has the blessed gift of God’s presence. Third, Peter’s bold speech shows us that the Holy Spirit empowers the preaching of the gospel. The display of tongues on the Day of Pentecost showed the diverse Jewish crowd that God was active in their midst. It set the stage for Peter to preach the entire gospel message. There is still power in the message that exceeds that of the messenger. When we share the gospel faithfully, God’s Spirit is active in the reception of the message. This is true whether preaching from a pulpit or sharing with a friend.
We sometimes hear or read about something being a pivotal event. Such an event might be described as changing the course of history in the life of a nation or, closer to home, changing the course of one's own life. A Christian is one whose life has been changed by Christ, and that certainly would qualify as pivotal! The event described in this week's lesson might not be taken seriously by the world at large. But when properly understood, it is seen to be a turning point of pivotal proportions for the world.
Pentecost had been a Jewish holiday since the time of the Exodus, but few outside Israel paid it any mind. This, however, was a new day. Pentecost would be so transformed that it would become known as the birthday of the church. Little did the disciples of Jesus who met together that day realize how their lives would be changed. As many of us look back over the time we have known Christ, we marvel at what has taken place. The adventure that began at conversion continues and will take us into eternity. What a new and pivotal day our personal Pentecost was! Suddenly, with unearthly phenomena both audible and visual, the gathered assembly of disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. Each began speaking in a different language. As the Jerusalem disciples had new speech when the Spirit came upon them, so, upon coming to Christ, blasphemers and otherwise profane people abandon swearing and other vile speech, replacing such with words of grace. A new and different vocabulary is further proof of the presence of God in the life of a believer. The sound like the rushing wind (vs. 2) was heard beyond the gathering place so that people were attracted to where the disciples were. The feast of Pentecost brought religious Jews and proselyte from much of the Roman empire to Jerusalem. Luke pointedly mentioned where they were from, underlining the presence of many different languages. One of the amazing and miraculous aspects of Pentecost was that the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in languages foreign to them so that the gospel of Christ could be heard and carried to many places. The words "language" (Acts 2:6) and "tongue" (vs. 8) translate the same Greek word, a word from which we get our word "dialect." The words they spoke were actual languages they had not learned, This was made possible only by the power of God (cf. vs. 4).
What should we take away from all this? First, God wants the good news about Jesus to be heard by all people groups, and He began the process Himself on Pentecost. Today the work of ministering to previously unreached peoples includes the deciphering of languages and resultant Scripture translation. Second, not everyone is gifted or called by God to go to different cultures and peoples, but we can speak to those of our own language group as the door is opened to us. Finally, as the disciples on Pentecost were thought to be drunk, so today's disciples are often considered strange. Forgetting what others may think, in these "last days" let us utilize the power of the Holy Spirit and proclaim God's truth.
1. The Spirit manifests Himself in the time and manner of His choosing; this may seem surprising and unnerving to us (Acts 2:1-3)
2. The Spirit will always enable us to speak of Jesus (vs. 4)
3. When the truth is proclaimed in the power of the Spirit, it gets people talking and asking questions (vs. 5-8)
4. No group is too far from God for the Spirit to reach them with the truth (vs. 9-11)
5. Even a miraculous presentation of the truth will be met with scoffing and skepticism by some (vs. 12-13)