A classmate of mine at Dallas Theological Seminary told an interesting story in a sermon as he preached to his classmates. His dad was a pastor in a small town in North Carolina and his dad had pastored this small church of about a hundred people for over that twenty years. In those twenty years the church did not grow at all. This pastor remained faithful to praying for the lost; to equipping the saints; to preaching the Word faithfully, but this little church simply never grew; very few converts, very few disciples added. However, while my fellow student was at seminary, this church that his dad had pastored suddenly began to grow and grow at a remarkable pace. It first doubled and then it tripled, and, my classmate phoned his dad and asked him, “Dad, I am about ready to graduate from seminary and I would like to know what happened?” He was hoping to glean some wisdom so as to avoid those twenty years of barrenness and to jump right into the secret of fruitful ministry. He said, “Dad, what did you do different?” His father replied, “Son, I didn’t do anything different.” He said, “Well, how do you explain what has happened; this remarkable season of fruit-bearing these past two years?” He said, “Son, all I can say is that the wind blew. The wind blew.”
Those acquainted with Acts 2, understand the meaning behind these pastor’s words. He was referring to the Holy Spirit’s action upon his church that is both powerful and unexplainable. Zechariah, the prophet, would say (Zechariah 4:6),
“Not by might, not by power, but by but Spirit, says the Lord almighty.”
The early church had none of the things we think of as essential for success; essential for making an impact upon the world. They had no celebrities. They had no real talent. They had no money, no buildings, no political influence, no social status, and yet, this church won thousands to Jesus Christ, planted untold numbers of churches all throughout the Roman world. Indeed this church turned the world up-side-down. How? How could it? The answer is clear and the answer is found in Acts 2 and that is that the Holy Spirit God the Spirit energized this church’s ministry.
Pastor of old, Vance Habner, reminds us, “We are not going to move the world by criticism of it or by conformity to it, but by the combustion of our lives ignited by the Spirit of God.” That is absolutely true. We can’t transform our culture by sitting in judgment upon it or criticizing it. We often do that. But, that’s not going to make a difference. Nor are we going to transform our culture by becoming more like our culture in hopes that maybe if we become more like our culture then they will listen to us. No, that, too, is misguided. We need a fresh reminder that the church is effective only as God’s Spirit empowers her; only as God’s Spirit works actively to work in and through this body.
Acts 2, reminds us precisely of this truth. Let’s remember the context behind Acts 2; the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world, God become a man, He lived a perfect life of righteousness to satisfy every demand of the Law for us so that we would not have to work for our salvation – indeed, because, we could not work for our salvation. We could never fulfill the demands of the Law On our own – and this same Jesus then died upon the Cross as a perfect sacrifice so that you and I might be redeemed, bought back out of sin and slavery; we might have a sacrifice that would cover our sins. Then this same Jesus, after dying, His Disciples were absolutely depressed, discouraged, and distraught – they didn’t know what was happening. Three days later this same Jesus rose from the dead. He appeared to them over a period of forty days time and time again. He appeared to five hundred of the Disciples on one occasion.
In those forty days, Jesus would give these Disciples a commission. He said, “You are to go into all the world and make Disciples.” We see a bit of that commission in Acts 1:8, when He says,
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”
He is giving a promise, that just as He had said, prior to His crucifixion, “I am going to send you another comforter.” He is giving a promise again that this “comforter” is still coming, and when He comes, the church will be empowered, and He says, “Then, after the Holy Spirit comes and you are empowered, then you will be my witnesses, first in Jerusalem and then Judea and Samaria, in fact, through out the whole world, you are going to be my witnesses.” This story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will not be able to be contained in one city, but will spread to reach the entire world, so God will call people for Himself to be His worshipers from every tribe, every tongue, every people, and every nation.
After giving this call to His Disciples on the fortieth day after the resurrection, Jesus ascends up into heaven, and the Disciples are sitting there looking in the sky and wondering, “What’s going to happen next?” Jesus had told them that when He left, they were to go back into Jerusalem and to wait for the Holy Spirit to come, and that is exactly what they did, and they became obedient, and for the next ten days they are going to wait. They don’t know that it is ten days. For all they know it could be years that they are going to be waiting m Jerusalem, but they are back in Jerusalem now, and they are praying and they are seeking God and they are waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. That brings us to the first verse of Acts 2,
When the day of Pentecost came…
Pentecost was a feast day for the Jews. It is one of the main feasts that Jews around the world would come to Jerusalem to celebrate. It was sort of like our Thanksgiving, but rather than celebrating this harvest festival in individual homes, they would celebrate together as a people in thanks to God.
Pentecost literally means “fiftieth” because it was fifty days after Passover that is was held. In the Old Testament, as this feast is described that the Jews celebrated from the Exodus on, it was called “The Feast of Weeks,” because it was seven weeks.
There are two things that were celebrated. First was the goodness of God in providing this harvest. Second, the Jews came to began to celebrate the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai on this day. They began to hold that God had given the Law to Moses and thus to all the nation on this particular day. This is interesting because of this symbolism that we discover, that God chose this day to be the day that He would send His Spirit. First, to indicate that there is a great harvest, but it is not a physical harvest that is coming, but it is a great spiritual harvest that is coming to this world where souls are going to be gathered up to come to faith and to come to life in the name of Jesus Christ. But also, it is a great symbol and celebration just as God gave in dramatic fashion the Law, now He gives us something greater than the Law. It is the fulfillment of the New Covenant so that when the Spirit comes He comes with the Law that is written on the hearts of men, with the hearts of women, that the hearts are changed from the inside not from the outside through the tablets of stone, but now through the Spirit. God chooses this very symbolic day, this day of Pentecost to be the day in which He sends His Spirit into this world. It is not by accident that God sovereignly plans to send His Holy Spirit to His Disciples to begin new ministry on this day. This clearly is the prior plan, sovereignly ordained, timing of this event so that we all would profit from it.
Listen to the description on what happened on this incredible day, Verse 2 and following,
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
These Disciples were gathered, and most likely, this was the same one hundred and twenty Disciples, men and women, that were referred to in Chapter 1, and suddenly, out of nowhere,
…a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Furthermore, it says,
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
What does this mean? Part One: we discover two symbols that describe the work of the Holy Spirit in the world – two symbols that God gives us.
Part Two: we discover two results that follow the work of the Holy Spirit in the church – two results that happen to the people who are in that room.
First, let’s look at these two symbols – symbols that describe the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. These two symbols are, as we read in the text, first, this wind, and then this fire – fresh wind, fresh fire. Remember from Acts 2, we will learn much about the work of the Holy Spirit in that 1st Century, but we must, also, remember that the work of the Holy Spirit still continues to this day and the same Spirit that works in the first Disciples in the day of Pentecost is the same Spirit who works today. What He was He still is. That is encouragement to us.
First we see this rushing, mighty wind. It is difficult in English to see the clear connection between the Spirit of God and wind, because in English those are two completely different words. They don’t sound at all alike when I say “Spirit” and I say the word “wind.” There seems to be no connection to those two terms what-so-ever, do they? This is not true in Hebrew, the language in which the Old Testament was written. And, it is not true ill Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written. In Greek and Hebrew, the term translated “Spirit” is exactly the same term that is translated “wind” or “breath.” The Hebrew word for “Spirit,” “wind,” and “breath”, is ruah. It almost sounds like, “haaa,” like a wind, like a breath. You can’t say it without breathing, ruah. In Greek, the same term for “Spirit,” “wind,” and “breath” is pneuma. So, in these Biblical languages, you couldn’t say “wind” without also saying “Spirit.” Now do you see why God sent a wind to describe the coming of His Spirit, so that we would see the connection of, and really not be able to mistake, “Okay, now, The Holy Spirit; this is the day. Obviously, this is the day!” All of the Disciples knew it as soon as they heard this violent wind coming and filling this house.
It is crucial to our understanding of Acts 2, to know what the rest of the Bible, prior to Acts 2, says about God’s Spirit and how this symbol of wind is used to communicate that God’s Spirit is the source of life itself. Let’s consider a couple of Old Testament passages and then a New Testament one.
In Genesis 1:1, we read,
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
…the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the surface of the deep…
…the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
We might call it the “wind of God;” the “breath of God,” and the idea is these waters are moving by this wind, by this breath, by this Spirit at the very act of creation; at the beginning of created life, there is the Spirit, “The Wind of God,” moving across the waters of the earth.
Then in Genesis 2:7, God has a very special way of creating mankind.
Then God …formed the man from the dust of the ground…
this is lifeless material. Then,
(He) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Again those words are the same. He breathed into them the breath, or the Spirit, the ruah of life and
…man became a living being.
What is man apart from God, apart from His breath, apart from His Spirit, apart from His ruah? He is just dust that is all we are; we are just dead, physical material. What is man after God breathes upon him? He becomes, living being, a living soul, and an eternal creature created to be in vital relationship with the Eternal God. In order for man to have life, however, it is required that God “breathes” upon him because God is the Author, He is the Source of life, and He is Life itself. God’s breath makes man able to know Him and to be in right relationship with Him. It’s His breath.
We turn forward to the Prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 37, there is this great story, this great vision, “The Valley of Dry Bones” vision that Ezekiel has in Chapter 37:1
The hand of the Lord was upon me. He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and He set me in the middle of a valley. It was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw…man’s bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
He wants us to get the condition of these bones. These are not just merely dead carcasses out in this valley, but they are dead-dead. That is to say, that they have been dead, so dead, that the flesh is rotted off of them and they are not even “wet bones.” In other words it is not that they freshly have been corrupted, but they are “dead-dead,” they are dry bones, there is nothing in them. They are nearly just dust. That is the vision that Isaiah has given us. And then Ezekiel is asked a very important question.
Look at that in Verse 3,
“Son of Man, can these bones live?”
What would you say to that question? You are taken out to a valley and all you have are these white, parched, very dry bones. You are asked, “Is it possible for these bones to live?” The answer, of course, you bring back is, “No! It is impossible for these bones to live.” That certainly would be what I would be thinking and I think it’s what you would be thinking as well, but Ezekiel says something most profound. He says,
“0 Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
He knows that when God asks him a question, that there must be something behind that question; “Seems to me that they can’t live, but Lord, Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!'”
What is Scripture but it is God’s breath? It’s inspired; it’s breathed out form God. If these bones are to live they must have the breath of God, they must hear the word of the Lord in order for these dead, dead bones to have life. He says, “Son of man, prophesy and tell these bones the word of the Lord.”
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you…will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord. “
He goes on to talk about how he heard this noise, a rattling sound; the bones are clicking together, bone to bone, and
I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared (upon) them and skin covered them, but there was no breath.
They are still just dead carcasses.
Then He said to me…
in Verse 11,
“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off. Therefore…this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘0 my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle…in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it,’ declares the Lord. “
This is a prophesy about spiritually dead men and women. It is prophesy specifically about a dead Israel. The nation had turned away from God; was spiritually dead, and they weren’t just dead, they were dead-dead. They were not freshly dead, but they were dead. There is no opportunity for the medical team to come in with the paddles and shock them back to life. Maybe that way they could have life. “Could these dry bones live? Sovereign Lord, only you know.” The only way these bones could live is if the Source of Life breathed, and that is what God did. By His grace, He breathed and these bones came to life, giving an indication to Ezekiel that there was still opportunity to the people of Israel to receive the life of God even though they had walked away from it.
We turn ahead to John 3. Jesus is in a discussion with a man by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus comes to Him at night, and he calls Him “Good Teacher,” and immediately in John 3:3, Jesus says to this very religious and righteous, upstanding man, at least from a human standpoint,
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
That’s both born again and, also, literally, means born from above. Unless something happens from God, unless God, the source of life, brings life to you, you can’t enter the Kingdom of God. Why, because you are dead. That’s what the Scriptures are teaching in regard to your soul. You’re dead.
He goes on to say in Verse 5 through 8,
“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
What is God saying behind all of these passages? Nicodemus didn’t understand it, but he should have. He should have caught it if he knew his Old Testament. He should have caught it if he knew the Word of God. But when God speaks of pneuma, of Spirit, he is speaking of the Breath of Life come down from Heaven, and that’s the only way that the Spiritual Life can come into a man, or woman, or child, is that God breathes upon them and something supernatural happens. Just like the Valley of Dry Bones, something supernatural happened; just with that dust being fashioned and God breathing, something supernatural happened and now Jesus is applying that which was physical in Genesis 1, to that which is spiritual, in saying, “Listen, Nicodemus, you are following the Law, you are going to church every week. That’s great, but you are still ‘dead’ because life can never be wrought from man. It can never be wrought from below. It has to come from God. God must breathe on you and make a change in you, so you must be born from above. You must be born again.” You see Jesus is saying that the new life that all people need to know God, to enjoy God, is similar to the way God brought life to Adam. He breathed on him. The Spirit blew. So it is with us today.
We come now to Acts 2, and we see why it is so powerful. When the Wind blows, it blows freely. No man can hold the Wind back. No man can change the direction of the Wind, can they? It comes from God and it blows wherever God desires it to go, and if the Spirit of God is to blow across our “dust,” so that we have life, it is because God is gracious and He sends the Spirit to us. That is why we can call out to Him – that He might be gracious to us, that He might breathe upon us, and that we might have life in the name of Jesus Christ. It is only God that brings life; we can’t generate life. We can’t say, “I am going to be a spiritual man.” “I’m going to be a spiritual woman.” We can’t apart from God’s Spirit breathing – ruah.
You see why we come to Acts 2, and these guys who are steeped in understanding the Scriptures come and they hear this “blowing of a violent wind” – coming from Heaven, it says. You see how it is filled with meaning? It explains to them that Pentecost is the day in which God gives Spiritual Life to a world through Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of a brand new era; a brand new dispensation of life for all who would believe. Let me make this very personal for you. Let me ask you, “Has God breathed upon you?” Has he? I am not asking you whether you have been to church or how many Commandments you have kept in your life, or who often you read the Bible, or how kind you have been to your neighbor. I’m asking you, “Has God’s Spirit breathed upon you,” because until He does, you don’t have life, you can’t have life. You must be born again. You must be born from above.
The second symbol we find in the story is equally powerful – the symbol of fire, and in Acts 2:3, they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Wind was a symbol of God as a source of life. Fire, throughout Scripture, is a symbol of God as a source of light – light to direct His people. Again, we look at these Old Testament passages. Remember Moses in the wilderness, he is leading his people, and how are they led? They are led at night by a “pillar of fire” indicating this is the presence of God directing His people step-by-step into this place of blessing. Then we come to Mount Sinai, and God gives the Law, and what is described at the giving of the Law? This mountain is smoking and then it becomes on fire, the Scripture says, that, “The Lord descends on the mountain in fire and it shakes the ground under the feet of the people, even in the valley below,” as God gives the Law, as God reveals His precepts to this nation and to this people.
Fire does a couple of things. Fire first brings light. Those of us in the electrical age, thanks to Thomas Edison, don’t often think of fire as the source of light. We think of light as the source of light. We don’t go into our homes and ask, “Where’s a match?” We don’t ask, “Where’s the torch?” What do we do? We go flip on the switch and then there is light. We don’t think of fire as a source of light much, but prior to Thomas Edison, that was the only source of light. If you were to have light in the darkness, it was because you had fire in your hands. That became the source by which you could see in the midst of the darkness.
The Bible says, “That apart from God’s spirit, this fire, we live in absolute and utter darkness – the Spiritual Truth.” That is to say that you and I could never know who God is apart from God Spirit revealing Him to us. You and I could never know and understand what God desires from us apart from God’s Spirit explaining that to us. This explains a lot of false religion and the goofiness that’s behind much false religion. Man is just simple in the darkness, fumbling around, trying to get a picture of what reality is without any light to show them. They make all these guesses as to what spiritual truth and spiritual reality is when they have no idea and they can’t because it is utter darkness apart from God’s spirit being the fire to bring light to help us to see.
In 2 Peter, God’s Spirit is described as “moving, bearing along” the writers of Scriptures to write exactly what God intends them to write;” that, “All Scripture is God-breathed,” that the Spirit of God is behind the writing of these pages so that this isn’t “the meditations of Holy Men of old,” but these are the very “words of God,” this is the “fire of God,” the “Light that directs us.” Furthermore, not only is the Spirit active in bringing light and fire into the world by providing Scripture for us, revealing the Will of God to us through His Word, but He also illumines the pages so that when we read it, the Spirit of God becomes the “fire” so we understand what we are reading.
Last week we were looking at Acts 1, and my wife, Kimberly, asked me a question that Sunday evening as we were taking a walk. She said, “You know, I read in Acts1:20, how Peter says, ‘It’s written in the Psalms,’ and he quotes from Psalm 109 and Psalm 69. I read those Psalms and I don’t see how he understood that they were speaking about Judas, when you read it. I couldn’t understand that that was talking about Judas. How did they understand that?” That’s a great question? How did they know that when they read those Psalms, it was really talking about Judas? Well, two answers to that question. First, remember Jesus, on the road to Emmaus with these two guys, explained to them the Scripture. I think those two guys were a part of this one hundred and twenty. And part of those ten days, those two guys were saying, “Let me tell you about what Jesus taught us about what the Scripture said concerning Himself.” Maybe they went through Psalm 109 or Psalm 69.
But, also, clearly the Spirit of God is at work to illumine, to help us to see things that we otherwise wouldn’t see, that our minds would be darkened to. That is the reason why, a believer, when he opens up the Scripture, he must not rely upon our mental capabilities in order to understand it. We have to rely upon the “fire,” the “fire of God,” the “Spirit of God,” to bring light so that we might understand, spiritually, what God is teaching us through His Word.
One more thing fire does – it gives warmth. This morning I got up, again early, as my custom is on Sunday morning. About 5:30, I came down and the house was really cold and I turned the fire on the fireplace and I sat there. You know why I did that, because I was cold, and I needed some warmth. It was great. I almost fell asleep again. But, it was just great to sit in front of the fire. Let me ask you, beloved, has your heart ever grown cold for God? What do you do? What do you do when your heart grows for God? You say, “You know, I’ve got to generate some fire and try and make it on my own.” No, you go to God’s Spirit, who is the fire, the Source of life, the Source of warmth, to bring zeal and the passion and life back to cold souls.
Part two of this message is the two results that follow the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.
The first is found in Verse 4, and that’s that the believers were “filled with God’s Spirit.”
In Acts 2:4,
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
There is one sense in which Pentecost is a one-time-in-history event. This is the beginning of the church; this is the first time the Holy Spirit is given. But, there is another sense in which each one of us experiences some of what these first Disciples experienced. One of those is the “filling of God’s Spirit.” It is important to make a distinction between the baptism with the Spirit and the filling of God’s Spirit. It’s important to make that distinction, because the Scripture does. The baptism of the Spirit happens once when a person is born again. They are baptized with God’s Spirit, that is to say they are “dwelt by Him,” they are connected to Jesus Christ through God’s Spirit; it needs only happen once. You don’t baptize and then need to be re-baptized. Never in Scripture has anyone who has been baptized by God’s Spirit said to be re-baptized by God’s Spirit, and in fact, the Scripture is very clear that every believer has been baptized by God’s Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, to be baptized by the Spirit is to be born again. They are equal terms.
But then, the Scripture talks about “this filling.” The filling of God’s Spirit is to be continuous. In fact, Paul is going to say in Ephesians 5:18,
And that is present tense, be constantly, day-by-day,
…filled with (God’s) Spirit.
Believers are commanded to be filled with God’s Spirit day-by-day-by-day.
- L. Moody taught this great truth when asked by somebody who disagreed with him, said, “D. L. Moody, why do you need to be filled day-after-day-after-day?” Moody responded, “Because I leak.” Don’t you leak? I leak, and that is the reason why I need God’s Spirit’s filling day-by-day, and I am filled as I yield control of my life afresh everyday, so that everyday, in the morning, guess what the set of my heart is? The set of my heart and the set of your heart, and I know this because this is what the Scriptures says is, “I want to follow my own agenda.” So, I wake up and I say, “Ritch Boerckel, what does Ritch Boerckel want to do today?” “How can Ritch Boerckel please himself?” Unless I am filled with God’s Spirit and I come to God’s Spirit and humble myself before Him actively say, “God, I submit my life to you afresh today. I yield over to your control,” I will not be not be filled with God’s Spirit. I will not be empowered to do His will. Everyday we get up as believers, we say, “God, this is your day. This is your life. How can I serve you? How can I please you? How can I live for you?”
We know a person’s filled with God’s spirit in two ways. First, through their Christ-like life; the fruit of the Spirit is love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and gentleness, and self-control. But, secondly, through Christ-like work, the work of Christ which is primarily proclaiming effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ; being a forceful witness to Jesus Christ. This is the emphasis behind the filling of God’s Spirit all through the Book of Acts.
“…you will receive power…”
to be witnesses.
Acts 2, they
What did they do? They began to speak. We get off track on this chapter because we get so enamored with this idea that they spoke in tongues. But the fact that we need to focus on is that they were speaking. Prior to this they were silent witnesses, now they are speaking and they are bold witnesses and we see Peter going from unable to witness to a little servant girl that even knew Jesus Christ to now standing up in front of thousands and forcefully proclaiming the Message. What made the change? What made the change is that he was filled with God’s Spirit and this is what God’s Spirit does – God’s Spirit causes us to be forceful, effective, and zealous in our verbal witness. That is why there were tongues of fire that rested on each one. It described that it is going to change the way we talk. It is going to change our witness if we are going to witness for Jesus Christ when we are filled with God’s Spirit.
We read about this in the following verses; in Verses 5 through 11. It describes how each one was speaking in languages, known languages.
As an aside, in the Bible, “speaking in tongues” is always referenced to “speaking in other foreign languages.” There is no two parts to speaking in tongues: one part, here in Acts where they were clearly speaking in other languages, and then in Corinthians they were “speaking in ecstatic utterance.” This is the only passage that clearly explains what “speaking in tongues” literally is, and it is clearly speaking about these other languages that are being spoken.
Now why were people speaking, why did God have them speak in other tongues? There are a number of reasons: one to indicate to us that the Gospel is a global Gospel; it’s a universal Gospel. It is not for this Jewish sect, it is for everyone throughout the world. God had them speak in other foreign languages to indicate, “Get out there! Get into the world! Be a mission’s minded people!” in other words. God had them speak in other languages so that they would recognize the wonder of God’s work of reversing the curse of the Tower of Babel. Remember at Babel, what did God do, He made them speak in other languages so that they couldn’t get together because they were trying to exalt man. At Pentecost, He says, “No, my desire is not that men always remain separated and scattered. My desire is that men and women come together, but, it is under the submission of God’s Spirit.” He brings everybody together so that they are all speaking the language that everyone understands, and that is what Heaven is going to be like.
The Holy Spirit – He is like wind, He is like fire. Let me ask you, what happens when you put wind and fire together? Each one can be a powerful source in their own right. The hurricanes in Florida, the tornados in the mid-west tell us that about the wind. The forest fires out west tell us of the fearsome nature of fire itself. What happens when you put wind and fire together? It is an unstoppable force. It is a fire that spreads, and spreads, and spreads, and spreads and this is what God’s Spirit does when He inhabits His people, when He fills His people, when He fills the church.
The church can’t be stopped when the Holy Spirit is dominant giving life, giving power. It can’t be stopped. We look at the response of the people now at the end of Verses 12 and 13.
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this means?”
Notice the response,
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
What are they saying? They are saying, “These guys are a bunch of idiots! They are a bunch of simpletons! They are morons!” Have we seen any headlines, lately, that remind us of this when we come to God’s Values, God’s Truth? Of course we do. It is the same today as it was two thousand years ago, and as the Lord tarries, there will always be this darkness that views the Truth of God as “just a bunch of people who are too drunk with wine to make any sense at all; to disparage their mental capabilities.”
It is important for us to understand the nature of the Gospel that it will always be attacked and attacked vigorously and viciously by those who do not believe it.
A couple of encouragements in this life: first, do not quit proclaiming the Truth of God in discouragement. Know it is going to happen. Know that people are going to look at you and think you came from some other planet; that you have no more than a pre-school education; and that you are just the greatest fool on the face of the this Earth for believing those things. Know that is going to happen but don’t get discouraged, because truth is eternal. Lives are going to be destroyed. You are going to be on the side of The Truth, God’s Truth.
Second, do not shape your message to make it inoffensive. This is perhaps the great deception that the church faces in the 21st Century. It is the wrong idea “that if we just communicate God’s Truth in the ‘right way,’ people will respond positively, they will see the wisdom behind God’s Truth.” In seeking to shape the Truth in such a way that the people would see the wisdom, what happens? We begin to shave off pieces and parts, and not even intentionally, not even with a forcefulness but we begin to shave off pieces and parts there that we know the world looks at and says, “That is utter foolishness.” Thinking that if we can just get them to see the wisdom by shaping the message in someway then they will come to Christ. The truth is that the gospel that no one mocks, a gospel that no one ridicules, is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t proclaim it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will always offend the heart that is hard toward God. Continue to proclaim it knowing that it is the same Gospel that has the power of God to bring salvation to anyone and everyone who would believe it. That is what God uses.
How about you? When you hear the Gospel, how do you respond? Do you say, “This is the Gospel of life? This is worth giving my whole life over to!” Or, do you say, “That just sounds like a bunch of drunken talk. I can’t accept that.” I urge you, brothers and sisters, first, those who have come to Jesus Christ, I urge you, call upon to God’s Spirit to control your heart and your life and be filled that you might be bold in your witness; that you might know what it means to joyfully proclaim this powerful Truth to our world. I also urge you who have a struggle with this message and think, “This just sounds like the talk of people who have drunk too much sweet wine,” I urge you to consider that this is the Truth of God and you must submit to it, and, as you do so, God will bring you life, true life.
What happened in that church to cause such fruit and such a change and effectiveness? The wind blew.