Last week we celebrated Jesus’ ascension when he was taken up to heaven to be with his Father. Just before he ascended he told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the gift that would empower them to be his witnesses to the world (Acts 1:4,8). Today we celebrated the arrival of that gift on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit arrived: this changed everything!
What does Pentecost mean to you today?
Acts 2:1-15 gives a sense of high drama and shows that something extraordinary happened when the Holy Spirit arrived. After all the waiting and praying, the disciples heard a violent noise that filled the house were they were gathered (v.3).
The Spirit had been active since the beginning of time and is talked about throughout the Old Testament (E.g. Gen 1:2, Judges 6). Here, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit comes in a new way and invades the lives of the disciples, as predicted in Joel 2:28-29 (Cf. Acts 2:16-21).
The filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the critical alteration that changed everything. He was no longer just with or accompanying the disciples: He was indwelling them.
Jesus is God with us, the Holy Spirit is God in us. This is what Pentecost confirms for those who are followers of Jesus.
The coming of the spirit featured two natural elements – wind and fire
Wind, in Greek and Hebrew, is associated with God’s breath or Spirit. As this violent wind comes and the Holy Spirit fills the disciples, it creates the idea of God breathing a new dynamic dimension into their lives.
Fire, in scripture, is often a symbol of God’s immediate presence, so the tongues of fire that the disciples saw signify God’s continuous presence with them, burning in their hearts and lives.
Pentecost marks the Holy Spirit being poured out on all people. If you are a believer today, this also applies to you – God’s immediate presence is deep within you. The Spirit indwells; God lives in you.
The disciples discovered a multilingual speaking ability, which enabled them to speak in the languages of people from all over the known world who were in Jerusalem at the time. This was undoubtedly a powerful work of the Spirit of God in their lives. When the Holy Spirit fills our lives He enables us to do incredible things, or speak out in ways, that are beyond our normal abilities.
People were amazed as they heard the disciples speaking of the greatness of God in their native languages. One of the signs of a Spirit-filled Christian or church is a tangible desire to verbally praise God: in prayer, in song, in reading, in speaking to others.
The Holy Spirit inspires praise
The people reacted in different ways to what they heard. Some were astonished, some were amazed or just didn’t get it, while others simply made fun of the disciples. This shouldn’t surprise us, since people today continue to react in these ways to Christians who stand up and speak of the wonders and goodness of God. But this didn’t stop the disciples, and it shouldn’t stop you.
As people draw attention to Jesus they will receive power from the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses.
“When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, it wasn’t dynamite, it was adynamo! Dynamite makes a loud noise, kicks up a lot of dust, and it’s over. Adynamo is a continual source of power. It builds and builds and builds, and thepower never stops flowing.” – Ken Hutcherson
You don’t have to do this in your own strength because the Holy Spirit continually empowers your witness to Christ.
On this Pentecost Sunday, let’s thank God and celebrate afresh the arrival of the Holy Spirit:
Who indwells – God living in us
Who enables – making it possible for us to do incredible things
Who inspires – stirring us to declare the greatness of God
Who empowers – is a continuous source of power in our lives