The Book of ACTS
James J. Barker
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
- One hundred years ago, Dr. A.C. Gaebelein wrote these words about Acts chapter 2 -- "A chapter of great importance is before us. Never was its closest and prayerful study so needed as in our days. Most of God's people are ignorant of that which God in His Grace did on the day of Pentecost; they know little of the exact meaning of the great event, which took place and their share and part in it as believers" (The Acts of the Apostles).
- Our Lord had told the disciples to tarry in the city of Jerusalem, "until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49; cf. Acts 1:8).
- That enduement of power from on high came on the Day of Pentecost.
THE PROPHECY OF PENTECOST
- Leviticus 23:1, 2 says, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts."
- The Passover (Lev. 23:5) was the first of Israel's annual feasts. Passover pointed to the cross of Christ. Exodus 12:13 says, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." First Corinthians 5:7 says, "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."
- The second feast was the feast of Unleavened Bread (23:6), which lasted for seven days. In Scripture, leaven symbolizes evil, and so this feast typified the believer's communion with Christ and his walk in separation from evil.
- Firstfruits was the third feast (23:10), a type of the resurrection of Christ. First Corinthians 15:23 says, "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
- This feast was followed fifty days later by the feast of Pentecost (23:16). That is why Acts 2:1 says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come..."
- John Phillips says, "The day of Pentecost had come fifteen hundred times before. Now it was fully come. It had come and gone, come and gone, ever since Moses instituted the feast. Now it had come to stay" (Exploring Acts).
- It is important to understand that the power of Pentecost is here to stay. Our Lord said in John 14:16, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
- The Holy Spirit is here but many Christians are not filled with the Spirit and that is the problem. Oswald J. Smith said, "The Holy Spirit is able to make the Word as successful now as in the days of the apostles. He can bring in souls by hundreds and thousands as well as by ones and twos. The reason why we are no more prosperous is that we have not the Holy Spirit with us in might and power as in early times" (The Revival We Need).
- Dispensationally, Pentecost marked the beginning of a new age. The book of Acts records the growth and the development of the New Testament church, beginning in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
- Our Lord made several prophecies about the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14--16). These were fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
THE POWER OF PENTECOST
- The power of Pentecost was the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
- This is our fourth message in this series in the book of Acts. In our first message, I quoted Dr. A.T. Pierson who referred to the book of Acts as "the Acts of the Holy Spirit."
- I have pointed out that there is a distinction between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
- The disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4, 5, 8). Once they received this baptism they never needed it again (cf. Acts 11:15-17).
- This initial indwelling happens instantaneously to believers the moment they are saved. Romans 8:9 says, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
- The disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). This filling was repeated (cf. 4:8, 31; 6:3-5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52).
- Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." This is essential.
- W. Graham Scroggie said we are made Christians by the baptism of the Holy Spirit; but we are made Christ-like by the filling of the Holy Spirit (The Acts of the Apostles).
- Charles Ryrie says, "Pentecostal power is simply the unhindered working of the Spirit in any life at any time" (The Acts of the Apostles).
- The power of Pentecost was manifested by wind, fire, and tongues (2:2-4). The Lord Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the mysterious moving of the wind in John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
- In Scripture, fire is the symbol of the presence and power of God. Hebrews 12:29 says, "For our God is a consuming fire."
- The tongues were languages as verses 5-11 clearly teach.
- Jews from various parts of the Roman Empire were gathered in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost. Hundreds of thousands of Jews crowded into the city. Verse 6 says each man understood "in his own language" (cf. 2:8, 11).
- At first the people "were all amazed and marvelled" (2:7), and were "in doubt" (2:8-12), i.e. they were perplexed (Scofield margin).
- "Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine" (2:13).
THE PREACHING OF PENTECOST
- Peter said they could not be drunk since it was "but the third hour of the day" (2:15), i.e., 9:00 AM.
- Peter went on to quote Joel 2:28-32. Joel's prophecy will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom.
- Peter did not say what was happening was a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. He said, "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel."
- Compare this to other Scriptures which clearly say an Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled (cf. Acts 1:16; 3:18).
- Peter's message deals with the great historical facts of the Gospel (2:22-24).
- This was the thrust of apostolic preaching, and it should be ours as well. If we want to see apostolic results, we need apostolic preaching (2:41).
- We also need apostolic praying (cf. Acts 4:31). Missionary to China Jonathan Goforth said, "If we all had faith to wait upon God in intense believing prayer there would be genuine Holy Ghost revival, and the living God would get all the glory."
- When we preach our aim is for believers to be edified, encouraged, and equipped.
- We also aim for sinners to be saved (Acts 2:21).