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Acts #3 (chapter 2:1-13, 38-39)
The Book of Acts
The Permanent Part of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-13, 38-39
 
Chapter 2 of the book of Acts may be one of the most familiar passages in all the New Testament.  But like many other texts, I'm afraid that our familiarity with it has robbed us of the power and message it brings. And for many, the get so bogged down in the peripherals and non-essentials, they miss the main thing.  So let's read it again, as if for the very first time and see what it has to say to us. 
 
Acts 2;1-13, 38-39  
 
I don't think there is any argument among Christians that what happened at Pentecost was significant.  We understand that on the day of Pentecost, God did something amazing, something that He has never done since. And in many regards, Pentecost symbolizes all that we as a church are supposed to be and experience. 
 
However, many people seek that experience in the fringes of what happened that day and miss the most important element.  There is something about the spectacular that intrigues us, and a lot of spectacular things happened that day. There was a sound from heaven as a rushing, mighty wind. The whole building was shaken by what was going on.  There was this supernatural ability to speak in languages that weren't even known to those speaking.
 
 
 
 
And it must have been something to be there on that day and witness and participate in those things and not really understand the fullness of what was happening.  And it's easy to understand this intrigue people have had down through the years to reproduce that environment.  
 
But none of those things were the most important thing. In fact, none of those things were permanent.  Only one thing happened that day that was permanent and it wasn't the rushing mighty wind, it wasn't the cloven tongues as of fire, it wasn't the foreign languages, it wasn't even the 3,000 souls that were saved, but the significant thing about Pentecost was that for the first time in human history, the spirit of God filled a human being.
 
The greatest thing that happened on the day of Pentecost was the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, came to dwell and to fill the lives and hearts of those men and women who knew Jesus Christ as Savior.
 
That one thing is what made the difference and continues to make a difference in the world through the church.  Let me point out a couple of things about the Holy Spirit that undergird that truth. 
 
First of all, because of what happened at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is
 
1. The Abiding Possession of the Church
 
It's interesting to study what happened that day.  After the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the crowd thinks Peter and the others are drunk. They have no explanation for what they are witnessing.  Verse 12 says they were both amazed and perplexed.
In fact, that are asking each other what in the world all of this could mean. By the way, I find it interesting that nobody is asking that question of the church anymore. That could be because they don't care what it means, but I'm more prone to believe it is because they never see anything supernatural coming from the church. Everything can be explained in human terms.
 
But on that day, they were asking.  So Peter stands up and says, "You asked!" And he then preaches to them the gospel of Jesus Christ and how they have crucified their Messiah.  
 
And when he finished, those who were listening, after seeing the supernatural difference in the lives of these men, said, "We want what you've got.  So what do we need to do?", to which Peter replied,
 
verse 38
 
Notice he doesn't say you might receive it, if you pray through, if you live a good kind of life, if you become a super saint, you may, perhaps receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He says, if you repent of your sins and you acknowledge that repentance by public baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
 
And the Greek word receive is in the tense that means receive for once and for all. It is an abiding possession. It is an impossibility for a Christian to receive the Holy Spirit today and to lose Him tomorrow or to lose Him in 10 years. He said you will receive Him once and for all. Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
 
 
And keep in mind the gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself. That's the great thing about what happened at Pentecost. God gave to them the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jerusalem is to the Holy Spirit the same thing Bethlehem is to Jesus.  God's gift to us was given in those two places. 
 
That means, every time a person is saved, Pentecost is repeated because he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Every time a young boy or a young girl turns to Jesus Christ and receives Him as Savior, at that moment the Spirit of God comes to dwell in him. And that's what makes him a member of the body of Christ.
 
And because of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is the abiding possession of every child of God. But it doesn't end there.  The Holy Spirit is also  
 
2. The Activating Principle of the Church
 
Reading through the book of Acts, beginning here in chapter 2, allows you to witness an amazing transformation in the life of this followers of Christ. 
 
For instance, Peter stands up to preach to thousands, charging them with the murder of Christ.  This is the same fellow who, a few days ago, cowered and cursed and denied he knew the Lord when a little girl pointed him out. 
 
What made the difference?  Nothing other than the Holy Spirit of God now dwells in him and that Spirit has activated him and given him a boldness so that he doesn't care what anybody thinks about it.
 
 
That makes all kinds of sense when you study the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Did you realize, Scripturally speaking, every time you find the Holy Spirit, you find movement and energy? 
 
For instance, in Genesis 1, as God initiates creation, the Holy Spirit is there, hovering over the chaos as it is transformed into a cosmos. 
 
In Luke chapter 1, as the angel visited with Mary about giving birth to Jesus, she didn't understand how it could happen. But the angel said, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you." Hovering, if you will over her womb.    
 
In John chapter 19, He hovered over the grave of Joseph of Arimathea, and brought forth a glorified Jesus.
 
And here in Acts chapter 2, He came up upon a bunch of weaklings and turned them into a band of witnesses. He activated them, He changed then. He did something to them, He transformed them. And the one thing the Holy Spirit wants to do in your life is to get you up and to activate you, to fill you, to use you, to motivate you, to do what God has saved you to do.
 
The third thing is, the Holy Spirit is
 
3. The Attracting Power Of The Church
 
Do you know what the day of Pentecost was? It was a feast day. It came 50 days after Passover and it was one of the greatest festival times in all the Israelite nation. And no matter where the Jews were scattered, they wanted to come to Jerusalem for Pentecost.
 
 
Now we don't have any way of knowing for sure how many people were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, but most scholars wind up somewhere near an estimate of one million. That is a massive gathering of people
 
And verses 5 and 6 point out that most of them weren't permanent residents there. They have come from every nation under heaven. Now get this picture.  Somewhere near a million Jews have planned and saved and journeyed to make this pilgrimage to the Holy City to celebrate Pentecost. 
 
And for some reason, with everything else going on, a little group of 120 Christians gathered up somewhere in the midst of all that celebration and revelry that nobody knows about or pays any attention to, become the center of attention.
 
verse 6 
 
They had done no advertising. They didn't have any famous personality. They didn't advertise. Andy yet, when the sound of the coming of the Holy Spirit occurred, a multitude came together to investigate.  And all it took was the Holy Spirit to attract the crowd. 
 
I think God must be humiliated and embarrassed with how the church tries to draw a crowd these days. Somehow, we've become convinced that we need the techniques and strategies fo the world to get people to respond.
 
We have to use entertainers and gimmicks and sporting events and everything under the sun if we want to draw a crowd. 
 
But I find it amazing that this bunch of Christians in the book of Acts never lacked for an audience.  They always drew a crowd. Why? Because they let the Holy Spirit of God possess them and He drew the crowd. 
 
And do you know why He draws a crowd?  It is because He points people to Jesus and Jesus said if you'll just lift Me up, I'll draw men to Myself. 
 
The Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of the church.  He is the activating principle of the church.  He is the attracting power of the church and fourth,  He must be   
 
4. The Acknowledged Person in the Church
 
Now, knowing Peter, since he always thought so highly of himself, it must have been awfully tempting when this big crowd gathered up and started asking questions to say, Well, you know I've been studying with Jesus for three years. In fact, I was one of just a handful up on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus really put a lot of confidence in me.  we talked about His sheep a lot, and as you know, I am the leader of the group. . . " 
 
We'll look at the details more in depth next time, but notice his response in verse 14 and following. He says, "You have witnessed nothing other than the promise the prophet Joel recorded about the coming of God's Holy Spirit." 
 
Peter says, "It's not us, it is not anything we have done, in fact, it's nothing human at all.  And he simply acknowledged the person and power of the Holy Spirit. 
 
 
It's so simple that most of us stumble over it, but the key to living a life that please God is to simply acknowledge the person and power of the Holy Spirit in your life also. 
 
We just need to acknowledge Him. Be aware of His presence.  Carry on a conversation with Him as you drive to work or wash the dishes or mow the grass. 
 
After all, He's right there with you.  He's not going anywhere.  He'll be there when you wake up and when you go to bed. You can ask him to lead you and direct your thoughts and words. 
 
That's what it means to acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. And that one thing has the potential to change your life. 
 
When somebody comes up and says, "did you hear about so and so?" and you are tempted to listen, you can simply say, "You know, I'm trying to acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, so I'd rather not listen to gossip so I can be close to Him."
 
When you are tempted to tell an off color joke, or use some foul language, you can stop and acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit and avoid that sin. 
 
After there is no joke so funny and no gossip so juicy that it should ever be more important to us than the presence of the Holy Spirit. 
 
And that is true of any sin. When we are tempted to lie or be hateful or lazy or whatever it is, it can be addressed by acknowledging the presence of the Holy Spirit and that's the way to live in victory. 
 
See why God made this the permanent part of Pentecost? You can't always have a rushing, mighty wind when you need it. There is not always the need for the ability to speak a foreign language.  We don't always need the room to be visibly shaken around.  But we do need the indwelling, personal presence of God so we can address any need that comes our way and share our faith as we should. 
 
So what did God give us? Himself!  And through the person and work and presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the privilege of living and dwelling and serving every moment of our life with the resident power of God available.
 
And when we acknowledge that abiding presence of God, we will become active in service and draw the attention of others who need Him. 
 
We would do well to acknowledge that presence, amen?
 
Let's pray.
 
 
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