ON FIRE FOR GOD
THEME: This action by Jesus was the final act in His “official mission” to the world, and gave us the Comforter that He promised, as well as initiated the beginnings of the worldwide church that will one day become His bride. It also fulfilled the implicit promise that God never calls us to do any task without giving us the ability, means, or equipment we need to accomplish that task.
Scripture: Acts 2: 1-13
I. The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
A. How did this happen?
1. This is the “end act” of the mission which God through Jesus gave to disciples.
2. God never gives us a mission without the tools we need to do it.
3. 1st, the mission God gave us:(Luke 24: 47) “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
4. 2nd, the empowering so we can do the mission: (John 14: 16-20, 23) “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor know him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. . . you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
5. After the Ascension, the disciples stayed together and prayed for this event. (Acts 1: 14) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
6. They were expecting it to happen quickly, and it did – about 10 days after Jesus ascended back to heaven, and only 49 days after the Resurrection.
a. Pentecost was 50 days after the Sabbath immediately following Passover.
B. The coming of the Holy Spirit was in 3 steps, or phases, or events:
1. FIRST a sudden, loud noise LIKE a strong wind.
a. Think of what you’ve heard from tornado reports and things like that: “It sounded like a locomotive coming through!”
b. That is the type of loud sound that came in and from the house or room where they were all praying.
c. This loud sound was what drew people from that whole area of Jerusalem out of curiosity to see what had caused the sound.
d. This sound like a violent wind surely symbolizes POWER. (Acts 1: 8) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
2. SECOND comes what looks like fire that splits off little parts of the flames and each of these little parts of what appears to be flames goes to each of the 120 disciples and “sits” on top of each one of them.
3. This appearance of fire and flames would have caused them to remember John the Baptist’s prophesy about Jesus: (Luke 3: 16) “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
4. The fire undoubtedly symbolizes that each person was now pure. PURITY. (Isaiah 6: 6-7) “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
5. THIRD is all of the 120 speaking in foreign languages all of a sudden.
a. We know that it is the 120 and not the 12 who are affected because the list in vv. 9-11 contains at least 15 different languages.
6. This “other tongues” surely symbolizes the UNIVERSALITY of the now formed Christian church.
7. Another symbology surely intended by the “speaking in tongues” sends us back to (Genesis 11: 1-9) “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. . .The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. . . That is why it was called Babel [Babylon] – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
8. The giving of the Holy Spirit through “speaking in tongues” was the blessing of Pentecost as a deliberate and dramatic reversal of the curse of Babel.
a. At Babel, human languages were confused and nations scattered. In Jerusalem (God’s Holy City) the language barrier was supernaturally overcome as a sign that the nations would now be gathered together in Christ, prefiguring that great day when the redeemed will be drawn per (Revelation 7: 9) “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.”
b. God had created different languages to keep mankind from doing its own desires and plans. Now He gives man the ability to communicate HIS PLAN to all mankind so they can do HIS WILL and HIS DESIRES.
C. I have given you only a very summarized account of the giving of the Holy Spirit and only the main meanings of this great gift.
1. The most important thing about it all is to understand and remember that:
NO MATTER HOW GREAT OR SMALL A MISSION GOD GIVES YOU, HE WILL ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE ABILITY AND TOOLS TO ACCOMPLISH THAT MISSION.
2. There are no such words as “I can’t” in God’s Kingdom for the disciple.
II. What does Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit mean to us today?
A. 1st, it means that we are called to a mission by God Himself. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE THE CALL FROM SALVATION OR FROM THE GIVING OF THE SPIRIT. If you are not willing to follow His call, how can you say you have put your trust in Him? (John 14: 23) “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” And the teaching is very explicit: (Matthew 28: 19-20) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
1. This is about as clear as it gets. It does NOT say “if you are called to preach, then go and make disciples.” No – ALL OF US are commanded to go and make disciples and teach.
2. And, like the Apostles of old, we start right at home, right where we live and work each day.
3. The call is as universal as the gift of the Holy Spirit, as universal as the church itself.
B. 2nd, it means that we have the power to do the mission.
1. Just as the noise like a violent wind drew a crowd for Peter to preach to, God will give each one of us the power to witness to the people we need to be concerned about: our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends.
2. Before the giving of the Spirit, the Apostles had scattered like a covey of quail at the first sign of danger the night of Christ’s arrest.
3. After the giving of the Spirit, they stood in front of the Sanhedrin (like the Supreme Court today) and told them in no uncertain terms that they were going to do Christ’s mission and not the Sanhedrin’s mission – no matter what happened.
4. You have that courage, too, if you will just use it.
5. Peter was given the message to speak to the crowd: Do you think a fisherman from “hickville” Galilee has the message in Acts 2 that persuaded a crowd of 3,000 to believe? Or the message in Acts 10 that would convince a crowd of pagan Roman soldiers to believe?
a. As God gave Peter the power to speak to 3,000, He’ll give you the power to speak to your grandchild or your neighbor or your co-worker – or a crowd of 10,000 if you are called in that direction.
6. The more you use that power, the more you’ll be comfortable with it, and in turn more able to absorb more power to do a better job – or a harder job for Jesus.
C. 3rd, it means that we are purified by the presence of the Holy Spirit Himself is in us, that Jesus Himself is in us, that God the Father Himself is in us today.
1. That one fact – that we are indwelt/reinforced by the whole Trinity should be inspiration to jump into the mission Christ gave us “with both feet.”
2. God still gives the disciples of today the tools to do what He needs us to do. If you need to know a foreign language, He’ll either give it to you miraculously, or give you the ability and where-with-all to learn it at school.
3. But we don’t need a foreign language – we just need to open our mouths for Him.
People around here can understand us just fine.
4. And they can also understand us as we live our lives in front of them.
5. They can see that Christ has made a difference in us – or that we live just like everyone else. The difference is very clear.
6. We are made pure by His great Gift of the Lord Jesus on the cross, and by our faith in Him to save us and turn our lives into something that will glorify Him by the way we live and act.
7. The mission is universal, but maybe you aren’t called to go to Zimbabwe or Argentina or Singapore or Germany, but we are all called to go “across the street” and “next door” and to our own families.
8. Our neighbors may be illegal aliens from Mexico, but we are still called to make disciples of them. Our neighbors may be of a different color, a different nationality, a different social status, or a different economic status. But they are still our neighbor – and as such, we are called to make disciples of them.
9. Every human being is called to become one of God’s children, not just us because our families have been here for a long time.
D. Lastly, it is not a mission just for preachers – it is for all of us.
1. It is also not a mission that calls us to “huddle” in our churches for one hour a week – and that’s the extent of it.
2. God’s mission is a mission to be carried out:
a. 24 hours every day
b. 7 days every week
c. Every week of every year of our lives.
d. There is no retirement from this mission.
e. Just because you taught 5 year old children in Sunday School 20 years ago does not mean you’re through with God’s mission.
f. It is a mission to your home and to your family.
g. It is a mission to your neighborhood, your community, and your county and your whole country.
h. It is a mission to the grocery store where you shop and the place where you work.
3. It only finishes for us when we take up residence out here (point to cemetery).
4. It only ends when we see His Face, whether in death or His Second Coming.
5. It ends when God can say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”