On Fire: Fill Up
Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In our time together I talked about the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We discovered because of his death and resurrection there is hope and life in Jesus. So, after the events of the cross and the sepulcher what happened? If you recall, before Jesus went to the cross of Calvary, He made a declaration about his death and a promise to His disciples. He said in John 16:7 - 11, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” Jesus declares and promises to his disciples that after His death and resurrection the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in them. He was promising to fill them with the Spirit, resulting in the both the secular and religious world being turned upside down (or right side up) for the glory of God and through the Spirit dwelling in His people. He promised a Spirit-filled life which, in turn, would begin the Spirit-filled Church.
What does the Spirit-filled life and Spirit -filled church look like? How do we live a Spirit empowered life? What is the difference between a Spirit filled life and a flesh driven life? This week is the beginning of our four-week series entitled “On Fire”. In these weeks I will talk about what it means to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. The hope is that we will determine and understand that the Holy Spirit is most active in the churches where the people are most desperate for Him.
Let us dive in and see what happens when the Spirit begins to move in His people. The author writes in Acts 1:3 “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” The author, Luke, establishes early on the legitimacy and the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He writes that Jesus appeared to the Disciples on numerous occasions thus giving proof or evidence that He was and is alive. A few of these accounts are recorded Matt. 28, Luke 24, and John 20. These all give accounts of Jesus’ encounters with the disciples and also with the Mary’s. I Cor. 15:3 – 8 is in my opinion one of the most exciting statements about Jesus’ resurrection as it says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” The Apostle Paul tells us Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time, to ALL of the disciples, and He appeared to the Apostle Paul. Paul established the centrality of the resurrection in the Gospel message. 1 Cor. 15:14 continues, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
In His final visitation with his disciples Jesus made a mandate for His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and empower them and when He does, they are to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the utter most parts of the world teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
Today we are going to look specifically at the fulfillment of this mandate of Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit. In chapter one of Acts, Jesus speaks of the promise of the Holy Spirit and chapter two details fulfillment of the coming of the Holy Spirit and everything that happens after.
Acts 2:1 – 13
Vs 1: It is Ten days after the ascension of Jesus Christ; we know this because this verse tells us the celebration of Pentecost was happening in Jerusalem. Pentecost is also known as the Feast of Weeks. It is held at the beginning of June precisely fifty days after the Passover, hence the name Pentecost, which basically means fiftieth. This feast was the second of three major Jewish feasts which took place annually in Jerusalem. It was believed to be one of the most well-attended feasts since the traveling conditions were prime this time of year.
The ESV says that disciples were all together in one place which not only means they were in the same physical place, but they are also of the same mind and sharing the same passion.
Vs 2: Suddenly a sound comes from heaven like that of a great and rushing wind and it fills the house in which they were staying. There are three occurrences in this passage that are important for us to understand because there is great symbolic meaning behind this unique incidence, and it gives us insight as to what is going on.
So, what does this all mean? On this day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago God had pre-ordained this day to be the day when he would breathe his Spirit into the believer and fill him with himself (God’s presence is in the believer) thus empowering and enabling the believer to live the Spirit-filled life for his glory. It was on this day that God Himself takes up residence in the believer to be empowered by Him to do a task that brings glory to his name. This applies to us as believers today. Pentecost was not a unique one-time occurrence that will never happen again. Being filled by the Spirit is ongoing that all of us may or have experience. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ he is regenerated or born again by the Spirit of God. This is the point where we are identified with Jesus Christ and we publicly acknowledge our union with Him. It is the point where Rom 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
Vs 5: When the Jewish believers were empowered the onlookers marveled at what was happening. Those looking on were devout Jewish men, religious men, pious men and educated men from all parts of the known world at this time. They spoke various languages because they were from different parts of the world at this time. When they saw these uneducated Galilean men speaking in different languages, they could hardly believe what they were hearing.
Vs 7: They asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?” Galileans were not educated men, in fact, they were despicable men from whom nothing learned or polite was to be expected. Jesus was thought to be a Galilean, and his disciples were as well. They were considered unlearned and ignorant men. This was truly an astonishing sight for these onlookers to witness.
Vs 8: These men were not uttering unknown words but instead were speaking the language of Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians. What the onlookers heard were the Galileans praising God and His wonderful works in their own native tongue.
Vs 12: The only reasonable explanation these onlookers could come up with was that these men were drunk and didn’t really know what they were doing. Peter answers their ludicrous claims in his sermon to follow which resulted in 3,000, yes 3,000 people coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
This truly was a strange Pentecostal day, but it is important for us to recognize and to pray for in our own lives. It is important for us to understand what happened on this day. These individuals were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they were not just given the help to do something; they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do something they couldn’t possibly do in their own strength. Author and Pastor Jim Cymbala writes that this day was, “a typhoonlike visitation of the Spirit of God.” How many of us could benefit from this kind of visit by the Spirit of God? How much would our church benefit from a downpour of the Spirit of God? Pastor and author John Stott writes, “As a body without the Holy Spirit is a corpse, so the church without the Holy Spirit is dead.” Could this be the one thing that is missing in the church today? Are we depending and putting our efforts into human strength, wisdom and programs instead of the Holy Spirit? When was the last time you said, “God I am dropping my agenda and I ask that I can empty myself of me so there can be room for you in my life, my family, my work, and my church.”? It is human nature to want to be in control and when we do we often get in God’s way when He wants to do something that will completely blow our minds. Here are three keys to living a Spirit-filled life and having a Spirit-filled church…
If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Spirit of God in you? Now I don’t want you all getting weirded out and think this means you all must speak in tongues and do odd things that make you look strange. No, it is more of knowing the truth of when the Spirit dwells In you and you are emptying yourself of yourself and allowing God to empower you? May we, like the Apostles, allow God’s life-giving Spirit to empower us in a more intimate and powerful way than we have ever known? The Holy Spirit brings new life to those who believe in Jesus, and with that life comes a continuing power to those who are filled with the Spirit
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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