Acts 2:1-24, 36-41
John 14:1-11

Have you ever read the Book of Acts and wondered why we don’t see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the church today like it was in those early days of the church?

Have you ever read the Book of Acts and wondered why we don’t see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the church today like it was in those early days of the church?

Some Bible scholars explain the apparent difference between then and now by saying that it was necessary to give the early church a jump start, so God gave the apostles the power to do miraculous signs that attracted many folks. But as the church quickly grew by leaps and bounds and the NT came into being, God no longer needed to work His miraculous power in order to reach people. And so the prevalence of signs and wonders diminished over time. In other words, Christ’s disciples haven’t changed that much, rather God did.

Others cite Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” and therefore insist that our churches today should resemble the early church. And the reason it doesn’t, they would say, is that the people of God have become complacent, or grown cold, or . . . you get the picture. In other words, God hasn’t changed; we have.

I believe there’s merit to both views. But it is not my intention to debate them, but rather to share four Biblical ideas that are important about Pentecost Power, which when taken seriously will enable us to resemble an Acts 2 church.

The first has to do with the PEOPLE of Pentecost Power.

Many Christians read Acts 2:4 ‘they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ and suddenly they could speak Swahili and since I don’t . . . I must not have the Holy Spirit.

If that is true for you, let me be perfectly clear. Anyone who is in Christ, anyone who has repented of their sin and turned to Christ to receive forgiveness of sin, HAS RECEIVED THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Now before you think dementia is creeping on this old man, I know I mentioned this last Sunday. Last week I quoted Paul in Romans 8:10-11:

And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Similarly, Paul also writes the Christians in Corinth, ‘Surely you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you’ (3:16).

If Paul cannot convince you, how about Jesus?

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you’ (John 14:16-17).

And let’s not forget today’s text:

Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away; all who have been called by the Lord our God (Acts 2:38-39).

In other words, if the Day of Pentecost is going to be reproduced in our church today, it is going to be reproduced through people like you and me, who have come to a firm conclusion about faith in Christ for forgiveness and who therefore HAVE received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, I want to share a certain PERSPECTIVE on Pentecost Power?

Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses.”

As I hinted at in my opening remarks, I believe that many Christians doubt whether they have the spirit because they don’t think the power of the Spirit is at work in them causing them to witness or even serve the Lord.

But I say we don’t need the power to serve or witness. We only need the resolve to obey the command of our Lord to do so. In other words, the power of the Holy Spirit is not meant to motivate to serve and witness. The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested when we DO serve and witness. That’s when the Spirit takes our words and our deeds and begins to apply them to the heart of the person we are serving or witnessing to. The Spirit will use our witness to reach into that other person’s heart and do His will in that persons’ life. But the Spirit cannot work until we obey!

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Jesus linked the work of the Spirit to our obedience twice in John chapter 14:

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit (15-16).

Then in vs. 23:

All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make our home with each of them.

In an on-line article that I received in my in-box Friday titled I Never Knew the Holy Spirit Until I Moved to New England Pastor Josh Presley (no relation to Elvis) writes, and I quote: “Our job is to get our agenda out of the way and to simply be obedient to how He wants to use us in exalting the love of the Father and the glory of the Son.” 1

So I need to say very clearly, if you are waiting on the Spirit to kick you in the butt so that you get out there to be a witness or a servant, it’s not going to happen. Pentecost Power is manifested through people who are obedient to Christ’s commands.

When we are, then the PURPOSE of Pentecost Power is fulfilled.

To illustrate what is not the Spirit’s purpose I’ll relay a brief anecdote: One Sunday after worship a woman said to her pastor, “That was a good sermon today.”
Her pastor replied, “I give all the credit to the Holy Spirit.”
She said, “It wasn’t that good.”

What I am trying to say is that it is not the role of the Holy Spirit to bring attention to any human being, pastor or otherwise.

Make no mistake about it, the Holy Spirit always glorifies Jesus. Jesus told His disciples in the upper room, “He, the Holy Spirit will bring Me glory” (John 16:13).

One of the modern era’s most insightful theologian, James Packer, in a devotional book, Your Father Loves You, writes,

I remember walking to church one winter evening to preach on the words, ‘He will glorify me’ (John 16:14), seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my message needed. When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are placed so that you do not see them. What you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. This perfectly illustrated the Spirit’s role. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior. Or think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder on to Jesus who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message to us is never, ‘Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me,’ but always, ‘Look at Him, and see His glory; listen to Him and hear His word; go to Him and receive life; get to know Him and taste His gift of joy and peace.” 2

I like to think about the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this way: the Holy Spirit comes in and the life of Jesus goes out. Jesus walked this earth and ministered His grace wherever He went, but as a man, He was limited in where He could go and what He could do. But beginning on the day of Pentecost, He is no longer limited in time and space. Now Jesus can continue to minister His grace in the power of His Holy Spirit working through His people wherever they go.

The reason He sent His Spirit into people like you and I was so that people like you and I could reproduce the life of Christ and thereby bring Him glory.

To be sure, the role of the Spirit in our lives is sanctification; that is, to make us more Christ-like. And in this series we are going to talk about being filled and led by the Spirit in connection with walking in the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit and employing the gifts of the Spirit. But the overall role of the third person of the Trinity is to glorify the second person of the Trinity. And that happens through us!

All of this serves to remind us of the fourth ‘P’ of Pentecostal Power: the wonderful PRIVILEGE available to us.

And that privilege is that each and every one of us has a role to play in the incredible challenge to build God’s Kingdom one life at a time!

Those of you who respond to the invitation to be a Bible School facilitator next week will enjoy this awesome privilege! As we share the word of God with the children who attend, God, the Holy Spirit will get involved to apply His word to their lives to do His will! What an awesome privilege!

A. J. Gordon, one of the founders of Gordon-Conwell Divinity School, told about being out for a walk and looking across a field at a house where he saw what looked like a man furiously pumping an outside hand water pump. As Gordon watched from across the field, he saw that the man continued to pump at a tremendous rate; he seemed tireless, pumping on and on, up and down, without ever slowing down in the slightest, much less stopping. Gordon was so taken by the sight of this strong man that he decided to meet him and so started toward the man. When he got close enough, he realized it wasn’t a man after all, but a wooden figure painted to look like a man. The arm that was pumping so furiously was hinged at the elbow and the hand was wired to the pump handle. The water was pouring forth; but not because the figure was pumping it but because it was an artesian well and the water was pumping the man. 3

Reminds me of something Jesus said recorded by John: “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink and rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” And then John adds: When He said ‘living water,’ He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. (John 7:38-39).

Anyway, that artesian well pumping the man; what a wonderful illustration of the Holy Spirit at work within us. When we offer ourselves to witness and serve, the Holy Spirit begins to pump that life-giving water through us to the person we are ministering to.

We are being invited to be a Pentecostal church and I am not talking a denomination. As we become more obedient to Christ’s call upon our lives to witness and serve, His Spirit will empower us to more closely resemble an Acts 2 church. We will see more and more people’s lives touched by God’s grace. We will see more and more genuine love for one another. We will see the fire fall . . . and the people of God rise up.



2 Packer, James. Your Father Loves You. [Wheaton, Il., Harold Shaw Publishers, © 1986] page for February 1st.

3 Green, Michael, P. ed. Illustrations for Biblical Preaching. [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, © 1982] page 190.