Pentecost 2003: Power from On High
The second chapter of Acts is exceedingly rich, and we will not be able to take all of it in. But we should be able to mark some of the more significant features. Remember that Jesus Christ has ascended into the presence of the Ancient of Days. He has been given universal authority. On the basis of this authority, He gives then Pentecostal power to His church. We must understand this rightly.
1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance . . . (Acts 2:1-47).
We should pay close attention to the details of what happened here. Pentecost is an Old Testament festival, a festival that marked the conclusion of the grain harvest. It was called the Feast of Weeks (Lev. 23:15; Deut. 16:9). But in the New Covenant, Pentecost marks the beginning of the harvest, the harvest of the world.
When that day fully arrived, the disciples were in one place, and of one mind. They were all seated. The sound of a mighty, rushing wind filled the house. The Holy Spirit filled the disciples. The disciples were sitting in the house. The tongues of fire sat on the disciples.
This is the glorified presence of the Spirit, filling His house, whose house we are. This is the Spirit, kindling the fire on the altar. Each disciple is clearly an altar with the sacrifice of praise burning on that altar. And so they began to praise God in other languages.
A REVERSAL OF BABEL
In the next section (vv. 5-12), we see a message of great hope brought into the world. Just as God scattered rebellious man away from one place by confounding their languages (Gen. 11:6-7), so God has determined to convert and gather rebellious men by reversing this miracle. In Christ (and only in Christ), the scattered sons of men can be brought back together again.
We can note in passing that the miracle was accomplished by granting the gift of language, and not granting the gift of jumbling euphoric syllables all together. The words used here are glossa and dialektos.
A BElly FULL OF WINE?
Some then asked what it all meant (v. 12). There were those with a straightforward explanation—”these guys are tanked” (v. 13). Peter stands up to answer the charges (v. 14), and he spends all of one verse on his defense (v. 15). “Get real. It is nine in the morning.”
THIS IS THAT
Having dismissed a ridiculous charge with a wave of the hand, Peter goes on to declare what this actually is. It is a fulfillment of prophecy given by the prophet Joel. Crucially, he says this is that. This is that which Joel prophecied. Now what kind of thing does he cite as coming to fulfillment (vv. 16-20)? He points to the prophesy, the visions, and the dreams. And of course, he also points to wonders in heaven and signs on earth, the sun going dark, and the moon turning to blood. What does this mean for how we read and understand Old Testament prophecy?
THE FULL GOSPEL
When Peter gets down to the business of preaching, it is important for us to note what doctrines he preaches to these people who had assembled before him (vv. 21-36). In Joel 2:32, it says that whoever calls on the name of YHWH will be saved. Here the word in translation is kurios, Lord, and is applied to Jesus (v. 21). Paul does the same thing (Rom. 10: 9, 13). Call on the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. On what basis? We cry out to God on the basis of Pentecostal truth.
First, we preach that Jesus was approved by God (v. 22). Jesus is Jehovah.
Second, we emphasize God’s complete control of all history, with particular emphasis on His control of redemptive history. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God . . .” (v. 23).
Third, we preach the cross. “Have crucified and slain” (v. 23)
Fourth, we preach that this death was because of human wickedness. “And by wicked hands” (v. 23). He was betrayed by all of us, all our hands were involved.
Fifth, we preach the resurrection of Jesus Christ in loving detail. God raised Him up (v. 24), and this was because it was not possible for Him to remain dead. Why? Because David said in the 16th Psalm that he would not be abandoned to Hades (vv. 25-28). But David died, and did see corruption. He was therefore talking of someone else, his own Lord and son (vv. 29-31).
Sixth, we preach the Ascension of Jesus Christ. After He was raised (v. 32), He was exalted to God’s right hand (v. 33). He received the promised Holy Spirit, which Jesus then poured out. David did not do this, but rather David’s Son (v. 34). We know this because in Ps. 110 God told Jesus to remain at His right hand until all His foes are conquered (vv. 34-35).
Therefore, let the house of Israel conclude that Jesus Christ, the crucified one, is both Lord and Christ.
CUT TO THE HEART
Why is it rare to see similar things today (v. 41)? Why are people not cut to the heart (v. 37)? The short answer is that we don’t conclude the way Peter did (vv. 38-40), we don’t preach what he did, we are not empowered the way he was. We make everything different and wonder why it is not the same.
The result of Pentecostal power is four-fold. The congregation was devoted to the apostolic doctrine, to fellowship, to the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer (v. 42). Outsiders were astounded (v. 43).
In a doomed city, they held all things in common (vv. 44-45). And they overflowed in gladness in their life together. And God added to their number (vv. 46-47).
SHORT CATECHISM FOR LITTLE SAINTS
Today we remember the great gift God gave to His people on Pentecost.
What is Jesus Lord over?
He is Lord of heaven and earth, and everything in them.
After Jesus sat down on His throne, what did He do?
He poured the Holy Spirit down upon our heads.