We Have Something (or Someone) For Which They Longed
Pentecost Year B 2009
Rev. Canon Glenn E. Davis
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (emphasis mine) (Gal. 3:13-14 NKJV).
Overview: The Old Testament people of God yearned for intimacy with God: conscience-cleansing forgiveness of sin, power to obey the law, and life-changing experiences of His presence. The finished work of Christ on the Cross performed the work needed for us to experience all these truths and much more. What Old Testament men and women of faith hoped for and desired, we as New Covenant believers now know. We must not take these precious truths for granted. This sermon is about these great truths and how we can fully experience their power and perfection.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s presence, power, and purity: a total submergence within the person of the Holy Spirit. This individual experience is instantaneous and may (could or should) be reoccurring. The Baptism refers to the initial work of the Spirit in uniting believers to Christ as well as on-going encounters with the Spirit bringing refreshment and strengthening in the Christian life.
Question: The same day as your conversion you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Answer: Yes, it happened like this: After dinner we were moving books and furniture to another law office. The thought took possession of my mind that as soon as I was alone in the new office, I would try to pray again.
Later, I made up a good fire in an open fireplace and accompanied Squire W. to the door. As I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out, and the utterance of my heart was, I want to pour my whole soul out to God. The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray.
There was no fire there and no light; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary, it seemed to me that I saw Him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at His feet.
I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind, for it seemed to me a reality that He stood right before me, and I feel down at His feet and poured out my soul to Him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears, and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched Him, that I recollect.
[Charles G. Finney, evangelist and author: Lectures on Revival, Autobiography, and Systematic Theology.]
Five Expressions of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts
1. “Baptized”-The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s presence, power, and purity: a total submergence within the person of the Holy Spirit. This individual experience is instantaneous and may be reoccurring. The Baptism refers to the initial work of the Spirit in uniting believers to Christ as well as on-going encounters with the Spirit bringing refreshment and strengthening in the Christian life (Mark 1:8; Acts 11:16).
2. “Filled”-The phrase, “to be filled,” points to an inner penetration or pervasion of the Spirit into my whole being as a believer. Also, “release” and “infilling” are terms which express the Spirit’s work of totally, inwardly occupying a believer’s heart and life (Acts 1:4; 9:17).
It should be noted, that “baptized” and “filled” are the same event and denote the totality of the Spirit’s working both within and without in the believer’s life.
3. “Outpouring”-The outpouring of the Holy Spirit suggests an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s person and presence as well as to the idea of abundance (i.e., without limitation) (Joel 2:28-29; John 3:34; Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45).
The Holy Spirit at conversion indwells all believers, but they may not be experiencing all his presence, benefits, power, and gifts.
4. “Falling of the Spirit”-Falling connotes suddenness, forcefulness, and power (Acts 2:21; 8:16; 10:44).
5. “Coming Upon” or “Clothed With”- To be clothed with the Holy Spirit expresses an active, continuing endowment of the Spirit: possession by and investiture with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 19:6).
Baptism (with, by, or in) the Holy Spirit is the same preposition in the Greek language.
Old Testament Longing for the Personal, Inward, Presence of the Holy Spirit
1. Prophetic Longing: Moses desired that all Israelites would hear God’s voice and declare that message to the people (Numbers 11:29).
2. Prophetic Prediction: Moses yearns for a prophetic voice that would continue to share God’s word to the people. “Now God speaks of Moses as a prophet and promises a future prophet like him for Israel. In the first century A.D., Jews expected a final prophet, whom NT writers identified as Jesus.” (Deut. 18:14-22; Acts 3:22–24; 7:37).
3. Spirit Regeneration Foretold: Ezekiel prophesies that one day the Holy Spirit will come, cleanse from sin, transform hearts, and produce an obedient people (Ezek. 36:24-28).
4. Spirit Promised for Everyone: Joel declares that the Holy Spirit will be available for every believer: no matter the gender, age, or economic status (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17-21).
5. Spirit Release Foretold: The Lord fulfills the Old Testament promise that he will release the Holy Spirit. What makes the New Covenant better than the Old? The New Covenant secures the promise of an indwelling Holy Spirit who by his mighty power will produce an obedient and holy people of God. In the New Covenant, God promises that he will keep us by his divine power; therefore, we need never to fear losing our salvation. God promises in the New Covenant four truths that the Old Covenant could not deliver: forgiveness that reshapes a heart, personal experiential knowledge of God, heart-felt obedience, and Spirit-empowered living (Isa. 44:3; Gal.3:14). Jeremiah foretells a day when under the new covenant that on-going grace, inspiration for holiness, and protection from cold heartedness will prevent the people of God from rejecting God and turning away from him (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:38-41).
Word of Prophecy is spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally delivered in the believer’s own words to the church gathered. The prophetic word is intended for the building up of the people of God: comfort, strengthening, and encouragement. Prophecy can be both foretelling; insights into the future plans of God, and forthtelling; God’s word for our present circumstances. Evaluating a word of prophecy involves three elements: revelation, interpretation, and application. Revelation: Is this word genuinely from the Holy Spirit having a sense of eternity? Interpretation: What does the word mean to us? Application: What do we DO with this word?
New Testament prophecy points the Church to Christ, calls for obedience to his commands, and brings healing and restoration to the recipient(s). The gift of prophecy reminds believers of their call to holiness, their dependence on God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God’s promise. In short, the prophetic gift calls forth repentance, restoration and renewal in the Body of Christ. The prophetic gift edifies the Church in her call to be God’s witness to the world (Acts 11:27-30; 21:9-14, 1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1, 39; Heb. 2:3-4).
“True Prophets are the healers, preachers, and teachers who are "binders of wounds," because they call people to genuine transformation and repentance. True prophetic words point to sin, to what is amiss in a life or in a culture; they warn of the consequences if one fails to repent (here a predictive element can come in); they console; they encourage. They do all this in conjunction with the fundamental truth that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 12:10).”
Joel 2: 28-32
Prophethood of All Believers
Verse twenty-eight: In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was only available to corporate Israel or selected individuals in leadership: prophets, priests, or kings. Joel prophesies that the Holy Spirit’s presence, purity, and power will be available to every believer. In ancient Israel, the elder, aristocratic male was the main recipient of the Holy Spirit’s power, but under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit would be available to all. “Sons and daughters,” no gender distinctions--both male and female believers will receive the Spirit. “Old men . . . young men,” no one would be restricted by their age. Youthfulness will no longer be a disqualification for Spirit endowment.
Verse twenty-nine: “Even on my servants,” Economic status will no longer prove a hindrance to the Spirit’s supernatural power. No servant in the Old Testament ever prophesies. “I will pour out,” God’s end-time move of the Spirit will not be relegated to a few individuals. “In those days” is describing the work of the Spirit from the Day of Pentecost to the Second Advent.
Verse thirty: “Wonders in the heavens” is reference to the plagues in Egypt under Moses’ leadership. “Blood and fire” is an illusion to the ministry of Elijah and the destruction of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will pour in a time of great spiritual warfare and the church will perform signs and wonders in the mighty power of the Spirit.
Verse thirty-one: “Moon to blood,” is a prophetic declaration of the onset of war and violence. “Dreadful day of the Lord,” These events will occur before the great and final judgment.
Verse thirty-two: “Everyone who calls,” means me, means anybody, means everybody. Peter (Acts 2:21) and Paul (Rom. 10:13) cite this text as God’s promise to deliver from sin all who call upon Christ and his finished work on the Cross. “The Lord calls,” no one will be rejected for all who call upon the Lord do so because he already called them. “Mount Zion and Jerusalem,” is the place of God’s presence. These “end-time” signs are signs of redemption to all who turn to God.
Summary: Through the Spirit, Joel prophesies that the Holy Spirit will one day indwell all believers and that each believer when then have the ability to prophesy. This prophetic gifting will allow the people of God to hear the voice of God address their specific needs for their specific circumstances: every believer a prophet.
Acts 2: 1-13
From Old Covenant Longing to New Covenant Experience
Verse one: The Fruit of Calvary’s Harvest
Pentecost is the harvest of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. Pentecost is Greek for fiftieth, a pilgrimage festival by which the participants appear before the Lord with gifts and offerings. Pentecost is celebrated at the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. Note: The apostle waited as they obeyed Jesus and in prayerful unity, they watched for the promised Holy Spirit.
Verse two to three: The Fullness of God’s Presence
Wind and fire are the biblical symbols of God’s presence. These base elements symbolize a theophany of God—face-to-face encounter with his purity, power, and presence. The Spirit’s presence brings regeneration to some (Ezek. 37:1-14) and judgment to others (Deut. 4:24). Notice that the tongues of fire rested on each of them individually denoting that the Holy Spirit was now available for believer from both within and without. Now, the Spirit rests on each individual believer whereas in the Old Covenant the Spirit rested on corporate Israel. Presently, the corporate anointing arises out of gathered individuals in relationship with God.
Verse four: The Filling of God’s People
God’s presence saturates the believers’ heart, soul, mind, and spirit. “Filled” points to an interpenetration or pervasion of the Spirit for empowered witness to the world.
Verse five to six: The Fearing Hear God’s Word
“God-fearers” are Gentiles interested in Judaism but not circumcised. “Every nation” from Luke’s perspective is all the nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Xenoglossolalia is speaking in a language unknown to the speaker but known to the hearer. The gifts of tongues in verse four are known languages with no need for interpretation, which allowed the hearers to understand the message of praise. The church presented a worldwide witness on the first day of the Church’s existence. The gift of tongues served as an auditory witness of God’s presence in that one place. Holy Spirit is releasing Jewish believers from their self-absorbed ghettos.
Verse seven: The Failures Used by God
God chooses to use the backward, awkward, poor, and weak to proclaim his praise to the world.
Verse eleven to twelve: The Fabulous Declaration of God to the Gentile
God made known through praise through worship evangelism: In Worship Evangelism seeks to conjoin worship and evangelism under the idea that unbelievers can know and experience the things of God. Unbelievers will be draw to faith through witnessing genuine worship. [Illustration: Carthage, TX: Agape Force second mission trip singing on the street corner. Evangelism songs did not attract but praise and worship songs did draw the lost to inquire about our message].
In the book, Worship Evangelism, the author, Sally Morgenthaler takes exception with the current "seeker-friendly" services, which supposedly attracts the unchurched without exposing them to "church worship." Through extensive research, Morgenthaler shows the steady decline of these churches and a generation hungry for worship that inspires and ultimately reaches the unchurched.
According to Morgenthaler, effective corporate worship needs four basic essentials: (1) Nearness: a sense of God's presence; (2) Knowledge: worship centered on Christ; (3) Vulnerability: opening up to God; and (4) Interaction: participating in a relationship with God and others (1999:96-97).
Because of the presence of God in worship, the Gentiles respond by wanting to know more about the gospel desiring to experience this glorious God. Peter seizes this opportunity by preaching Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection.
Verse thirteen: The Foolish Ridicule the Worshippers
Some rejected the message and ridiculed the messengers. Tongues negate pride and works humility in the participant.
Summary: The Day of Pentecost fulfills the prophecy of a new covenant outpouring of the Holy Spirit which would transform men and women by releasing the presence, purity, and power of God into the individual life of every believer.
1. The Spirit Empowers: victory over sin, ability to serve, and strength to obey.
2. The Spirit Purifies: cleansing from sin, renewal of heart, and newness of life.
3. The Spirit Reveals: guides, directs, and teaches.
4. The Spirit Unifies: various types of people from differing ethnic groups, age groups and genders are brought together under Christ.
5. The Spirit Blesses and Withdraws: the Spirit’s activity is based on the behavior/response of the believers.
6. The Spirit Unites Us to God: the Spirit provides intimacy with the Trinity.
1. They longed for a forgiveness that reshapes a heart: we have cleansing by the Spirit of God.
2. They longed for personal experiential knowledge of God: we have intimacy by the presence of the Spirit.
3. They longed for heart-felt obedience: we have Spirit-empowered living for victory over sin.
4. They longed for Holy Spirit’s power for service: we have the spiritual gifts to equip us to do the words and perform the works of Jesus.
5. They longed for the prophethood of all believers--a fresh word from God for the people of God: we have the gift of prophecy which is available to all who seek his Spirit.
© Copyright 2009 Glenn E. Davis
 Leona Frances Choy, Powerlines: What Great Evangelicals Believed About the Holy Spirit 1850-1930 (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1990), 79.
 Leanne Payne, Heaven's Calling: A Memoir of One Soul's Steep Ascent (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 116.