Sunday, November 10, 2013

Acts 2: The Day of Pentecost

Preached at Community Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, October 20, 2013

Acts 2:1 – 47, When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”  14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

+22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;

Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’

29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.  34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.  46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

I know that was longer than normal passage of Scripture to read at the beginning of sermon.  But, because it’s what I call a ‘package deal’ – it’s important that we read it in its entirety and prepare to examine it rather thoroughly.

Before we begin our look at the details of this text, would you allow me to do at least two things.

First of all, you need to know some things about me as your preacher.  I believe God has given this Book to me to lead me – to guide me – yes, even to DRIVE me in the direction HE would have me go.  Though, I’m certainly not perfect in my response to God’s leadership of my life through this Book – through His Spirit teaching me this Book – all in all, that is the direction I want to go with my life.  His leadership – His DRIVING me by His Spirit – through this Book – that is what I need – what I long for and must have.

But, how does that connect with you?  I mean, what difference does it make to you that that is the choice I have made?  Something else you need to know about me is that – as you Preacher – as God teaches me His will through this Book – as His Spirit drives me through this Book, that is the direction I intend to lead this flock. .. That is how I will endeavor to guide you, as God’s Spirit works through this Book to guide me.

But here are my questions for you:  Is that the direction you are willing to go?  Are you ready to go with me?  And, will you commit to praying for me and my family – regularly – seeing that, as a shepherd and a teacher – I am doubly accountable to God for how I lead you?

Secondly, this long chapter – Acts chapter 2 – is perhaps one of the most important in this part of the New Testament.  And the reasons it is are these:

It describes for us how and why the Holy Spirit was sent to the apostles.  It details for us the nuts and bolts of the very first post-Calvary, post –Resurrection Day, post Ascension of Jesus – gospel sermon, including a grand and very powerful conclusion in verse 36.  Furthermore, it sets forth for us the essence of a proper response to the gospel – verses 37, 38 and following.  And, finally, it lays out for us in beautiful fashion – the account of the Birth – the Birth Day – and earliest days – of the New Testament church – verses 41 – 47.

So, with all of that said, let’s walk down through this chapter one step at a time – and look at it closely and carefully, shall we?

First of all, let’s begin with paragraph number one – verses one through four.

Have any of you been in a tornado before?  How about a dust storm or maybe just a blinding rain and wind storm that you thought might blow you off the road?

Wind is a powerful force in God’s created realm, isn’t it?  They say that a level 5 tornado or hurricane can have wind speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.  And, we Oklahomans know about the devastation a wind storm can cause, don’t we?

How about this:  Have any of you ever been in a fire?  Ever had to dash out of a building – maybe even your own home – with just the clothes on your back – to get out alive?  Fire also can be super-powerful, can’t it?

You know something?  I think it is very interesting – almost frightening to see that wind – and fire – are two of the things God and God’s Word – associate with the work of God’s Holy Spirit.  Notice again with the text says:  (READ:  Acts 2:1 – 4).

50 days after Passover – 50 days after the beginning of the barley harvest – 50 days after Good Friday and 10 days after Jesus’ ascension – what day is it in the Jewish calendar?

Pentecost – the feast of harvest as it is in Exodus 23:16 – the second of the 3 annual festivals in which every Jewish male was commanded by Old Testament law – to appear before God at the temple in Jerusalem.

On that day, when each year the Israelites would off the first-fruits of the wheat harvest to God – in hopes – in expectation that God would prove faithful to cause the rest of the wheat to come to full maturity and be harvested – on this special day – what does God do?

Verse 2 – suddenly – yet at just the right time – when the day of Pentecost had fully come – and noisily – like the sound of a rushing, mighty wind – and then, visibly – verse 3 – like divided tongues as of fire – and, from heaven – God sends forth His Spirit – HIS Spirit – His Holy Spirit.

Why?  To be what?  Verse 4 – to fill the apostles – to empower the apostles, just like Jesus promised, to be His witnesses – and to enable those men – all of them, Galileans – to do what they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise – to speak in other languages – to address the crowds of people that had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost from places far and wide – God sent forth His Heavenly, Holy Spirit upon them – in to them – to enable to them to speak to these people – in their native dialects about Jesus, their Messiah.  Amazing, wouldn’t you say?

But, what does all of this mean?  What is God up to – here?

Ever been confused as to what is going on in a situation which broke out right before your eyes?  How about this?  Ever been amazed that something that you thought impossible was actually happening right there in front of you?  If so, then your feet would probably fit the sandals of those Jews who saw these things and heard these things – on that very memorable Day of Pentecost.  Read it again with me, will you? (READ:  Acts 2:5 – 13).

What IS God up to – here?

Anyone ever heard of the tower of Babel?  To refresh your memory, you can go back to Genesis chapter 11 – and read about how God came down and confused the languages – so as to hinder the men of that day in their attempts to worship themselves rather than Him.

And, speaking of the tower of Babel – and the origin of all the thousands of languages and dialects we now know – what does the Book of Revelation say about people groups – tribal and nation groups – and yes, language groups – each and every one of those many, many different groups?  Take a look with me, will you?  (READ:  Revelation 7:9 – 10).

What is God up to – on this very special Pentecost day?  Well, for one thing, He is starting the process – on this side of Calvary and Resurrection Day  - the process of overcoming that Tower of Babel, confusion of languages – hurdle – in order to FULFILL His promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 and Genesis 22 – where He said to Abraham – “In you – and in your seed – Jesus Christ – all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

And – and – He is starting the process of bringing to pass what He foretells – through the apostle John – in Revelation 7 – about how there will be people from every tribe, tongue, language and people – gathered around God’s throne in heaven.

My friends, do you understand what that means – for you?  It means that a way has been opened up – God has made a way for you – to have a place around His heavenly throne!  It was passages like this one – in Acts 2 – that spurred men like John Wycliffe – to translate the Bible into OUR language – even at the cost of their lives.  Why?  Acts 2, verse 11 – so that WE might be able to hear – in our OUR language – the wonderful works of God!

How is it that WE hear – in our language?  God made a way!

What is God up to – on this very special Pentecost Day?  There are a lot of things going on here – a lot of ways in which God is at work – but so many of them have to do with the gift of His Holy Spirit.

Suddenly – yet at the precise moment, when the Day of Pentecost had fully come – and yes, noisily – like the sound of a rushing, mighty wind,  - yet also visibly – appearing to be like divided tongues, as of fire – resting on each of the apostles – God’s heavenly Gift – His Holy Spirit – and this unique ‘Sign Gift’ – the miraculous and yet, very Practical supernatural ability to speak languages that were previously unknown by these men – what is God up to – here?

He is up to some very powerful and important things – for sure – things like validating His apostles and their message – things like empowering these men with insight so as to be able to explain – from the Old Testament Scriptures – what really is going on then and there – things like granting Peter and the rest of the twelve the courage to stand up and speak, when some in the crowd were laughing and scoffing – and, yes, things like this:  things that relate to you and me and our families and this church – things like reminding us that the Church – the Church – is not yours or mine or ours – but God’s!  Things like showing us that – unless we are endued with power from on high – all OUR efforts – all OUR programs – all OUR attempts to build this congregation – will FAIL – unless – unless WE are led, guided and DRIVEN by this Book!

The Day of Pentecost – Acts chapter 2 – there’s a lot more in store for us here that, the Lord-willing – we will look into next time.

But, before we close, I must tell you one more thing about myself – as your preacher.

It’s a  solemn thing – a most sobering and serious thing – Here’s what it is:  I know – I know that every time I take this Book into my hands – every time I stand in this place to open it up with you – I know that the god of this age – the devil – is working his hardest – doing what he can to try to blind your eyes and put a veil over your minds – so that you won’t understand and so that you won’t believe and obey – what this Book says.  He doesn’t want you to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ – because the minute you see that light – the minute you turn to the Lord – God starts taking the veil away!  God starts to open your eyes.

Satan doesn’t want that – and is doing all he can to keep it from happening, because if he CAN keep you blinded and veiled – he can keep you on a path way to destruction .

But, listen – Here’s the good news:  Hear it, will you?

“The [mighty] God who commanded light – to shine out of darkness …”  He is greater!  He is the greatest!  And, He is ready, willing and able to shine in your heart to give you – yes, you – the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Yes, my friends – right here – right now – that battle is raging – perhaps even in your heart.  Turn to the Lord, will you?  For in Christ – and in Him alone – will that veil and that blindness – be taken away!  Let’s pray.  (PRAYER).

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