2018-01-28 – Acts 2:1-13 – Church is Born

2018-01-28 – Acts 2:1-13 – Church is Born (The Coming of the Holy Spirit)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.

Last week in our Acts chapter one verses, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the Apostles decided they should select somebody to replace Judas after he chose to take his own life. They identified a couple men that had been with them all along, then they prayed over the selection and eventually drew lots for the decision which fell upon Matthias. The message last week was entitled A Lost Disciple as we talked about Judas and the fact that amongst their inner circle was a deceiver. The concluding thought was that, as there was deception in their ranks then, there could also be deception within our church and families as well. But God knows.. Everyone say “God knows”. And right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told the Disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come; and that leads us to the event and topic of today’s message called Church is Born.

Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 2:1, pg 119 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with prayer.

So one day I was working on an island in the South China seas, in a beach city called Sanya, when a man was introduced to me as being a Christian. I could tell right off that he had the Holy Spirit in him, and we attempted to talk with one another. The problem was, at the time I spoke no Chinese and he unfortunately didn’t speak a lick of English, I mean not even “Hello”. We tried and tried but we just couldn’t understand each other, it was frustrating even though we had the best of intentions. Kind of reminds me of the tower of Babel where God confused the peoples languages so as to humble them a little, whereby we believe, the different languages got their start. Well today we are going to see the opposite of those Babel dynamics occur in our text. Instead of confusion, God brought people together with languages “or tongues” through a miracle at Pentecost.

Before we read the text, you should know that Jesus was crucified during the Passover time, which was a traditional holy day for the Jews. Then He subsequently rose from the grave three days later. He stayed with believers until the 40th day after his crucifixion, then He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit power to come right before he ascended into heaven. At this point in this
His-Story lesson, they had been waiting for ten days for the Holy Spirit to come. And that brings us to our scripture verses we have here in chapter 2 of Acts.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues as of fire appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Let’s begin by reflecting upon verse 1 of Acts 2 here with the word “Pentecost”: “When the day of Pentecost had come..” Why did Jesus choose the day of Pentecost when He would pour out the Spirit on the disciples? Well on this Jewish holiday there would be a lot of pilgrims in Jerusalem from across the known world. It was one of the three Jewish feasts that called for a pilgrimage to the Holy City. Pentecost (which means fiftieth) from the fact that it was 50 days after Passover. Jews still celebrate Passover, where the children were spared the Plague of death that God sent over Egypt some 3,000 years ago, so as to gain their release from slavery. So again, Pentecost means 50 days after Passover.

This Pentecost event also occurred during the Jewish feast of harvest, also called the feast of weeks. And what a great harvest it was as we will see that 3,000 people were harvested for God and given eternal life on that day.

Now I am going to talk a little about the Holy Spirit. You should know that we frequently use the word Trinity to describe the three persons of God; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I am not going to propose that I got God all figured out, because I don’t. But where there is a gap in my understanding, it is filled with faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I got faith in the Holy Spirit.

So I call your attention to verse 2 and notice the “suddenly” was used: “And suddenly a sound came from heaven.” I want to focus on this word to drive home the point that the Holy Spirit is free and sovereign, and not bound to anyone’s timing or technique. Again, the Holy Spirit is God, and as we see in these verses, when the Holy Spirit comes, He comes suddenly, when He is inspired to do so.

Dwight L. Moody, who founded the Moody church and college in Chicago, had a great example of how the Holy Spirit worked in his life. In the summer of 1871, he said two women of his congregation felt an unusual burden to pray for Moody “that the Lord would give him the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire.” Moody would see them praying in the front row of his church and he was irritated.
But soon he gave in, and in September began to pray with them every Friday afternoon. Then on November 24, 1871, Moody’s church building was destroyed in the great Chicago fire. So he went to New York to seek financial help. Day and night he would walk the streets desperate for the touch of God’s power in his life. Then “suddenly”, as Moody explains:

One day, in the city of New York—oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name . . . I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. (W. R. Moody, The Life of D. L. Moody)

So just like our Disciples did in this first chapter of Acts, Moody prayed and he obeyed and he waited. But also notice he did not make the Spirit come. The Holy Spirit came suddenly, and when He came, it was Pentecostal—not in the experience of tongues, but in the harvest. The point is, when the Holy Spirit comes in power, He comes suddenly—on His own terms and in His own timing.

Next in our text, notice the wind and the fire in verses 2 and 3, it says: “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.” Our Bible says that sometimes the Holy Spirit makes himself known with visible, audible, and even touchable manifestations. Recall in the Old Testament the Israelites were guided by a pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire; that by was the Holy Spirit. And at Jesus’s baptism the Holy Spirit came like a dove; that was by the Holy Spirt. In Acts 4 we will see in the weeks ahead, the buildings will shake. In chapter 6 it says Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel. And in chapter 16 there is an earthquake. At times the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to us and provides visible, audible, and even touchable demonstrations of His presence and power.

But the point is, He is not the fire; He is not the wind; He is not a dove; and He is not a warm glow. But He used these manifestations in a way that allows us to recognize that He is active in their lives and our lives as well. When the Disciples saw the tongues of fire and heard the violent wind that day of Pentecost, it filled them with an overwhelming sense of the presence of God.  Our verses continue:

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

God utterly transformed their faith and knowledge of His presence into a great experience of God’s presence through the extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The “tongues of fire” fire may not have burned their heads but it begins to burn in their hearts and in their mouths. And the sound of the wind surrounded them and enveloped them, and they were simply overwhelmed with the greatness of God, and it began to spill out in praise. The Disciples are almost undone by worship—so much so that some people even think they are drunk.

They said, “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Dr. Luke, who wrote this book of Acts also says, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

The speaking in tongues here at Pentecost had a very definite roll to play that day. It’s directly connected to the presence of people from all the nations who wanted and needed to understand the great things the disciples were saying. In other words the miracle of tongues was a demonstration of God’s sovereign power, and it showed that this power, as was promised in Acts 1:8 with the Great Commission, really was intended to advance the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. It was a sure sign that God means for all people to understand His greatness and that He is even willing to do miracles to make His glory known among the nations. The Holy Spirit gave them a gift that day. Our verses say that  “All were amazed and perplexed as they were speaking about God’s deeds of power.” That same Holy Spirit will also empower you and I as we speak “about God’s deeds of power”. I have experienced this myself as I in fear step out in faith to tell people of the Good News. It is an amazing experience and witness.
And if any of you are ever interested in stepping out into the streets or at events to share God’s Gospel message, please don’t hesitate to call on me to join you.
I would consider it a blessing to share that experience with you.

However, the big question that many people ask about tongues is do I believe there is such a thing? The answer from my perspective is emphatically yes.
In this particular event we see people being understood in foreign languages. Each person heard the Gospel proclaimed in their own language. It was indeed a miracle. However, Paul also says that he speaks the “language of the Angels”, and I believe him. Let me ask this question to you, what language do you think the Angels speak? Some might think, well of course they speak English, lol. We don’t know what the native language of the Angels is. But Paul addresses this directly in 1 Corinthians 14, Let us read that now together: (page 175)

Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of a sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. 15 What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you;
19 nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults. 21 In the law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people; yet even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord. 22 Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all. 25 After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”

26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, 33 for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.  SKIP DOWN TO V.37

(As in all the churches of the saints, 34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?)

37 Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. 38 Anyone who does not recognize this is not to be recognized. 39 So, my friends, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; 40 but all things should be done decently and in order.

So Tongues in summary are real. Tongues are languages, languages of people and Angels. Different churches have different opinions about tongues and that is okay. Don’t let that be a stumbling block for you in spreading God’s Good News.

Church is Born, is the title of this message today,
But what really is the Church in the first place?

Answer: Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church families in cities, Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians—not a church building, but a body of believers.

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost that we read about today, until Christ’s return.

The Universal Church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ regardless of their denomination. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”. Effectively anyone who believes and accepts Jesus as their personal savior is part of the body of Christ and has received the Holy Spirit as evidence.

The word translated “church” comes from two Greek words that together mean “called out from the world for God.” The word is used throughout the Bible to refer to all those who have been born again (John 3:3) through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9–10). The word church, when used to reference all believers everywhere, is synonymous with the term Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18).

The word church first appears in Matthew 16 when Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (verse 18). The “rock” here is based on the statement Peter had made, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 16). That truth about Jesus is the foundation “cornerstone” of the church that has flourished for over two thousand years.

This book of Acts details the beginning of the church and its miraculous spread through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our church family was birthed at Pentecost. And for that I am thankful. I love my church family and I hope to grow old with you all at my side. What a blessing you all are to me. Thank You Jesus!

In conclusion, please know that church is really not a building or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—meaning all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. And local churches like ours are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members come together to fully apply the Godly principles of encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 12)

At the start today, I told you about the challenge I had with the Chinese Christian fellow, and that of our language barrier. Well the Holy Spirit inspired me that day as we were struggling to communicate with each other. I started singing a song that I thought maybe he might recognize the tune. So right there in the middle of the Chinese Island city of Sanya, I started singing, “Jesus loves me this I know”. My friends eyes opened up with glad surprise and he responded in Chinese, “For the Bible tells me so”. And together we joyously sang in our different languages.
Would you stand, and as we sing together this song, please consider..