The Book of Acts (Part 4)

The Book of Acts (Chapter 2:1-13) (Part 4)

When the Lord Jesus was about to ascend to His Father He said to His disciples; “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) and He also said to them; “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Enlisted and empowered

The disciples had been enlisted into the ranks of the LORD’s army and were now waiting for their spiritual weapons and armour. They were under the orders of their Commander in Chief the Lord Jesus Christ and were now ready to go into the entire world to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. They were to begin in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to take the good news to the remotest part of the earth. It was a huge mission they were to undertake for their Commander in Chief the Lord Jesus Christ.  They would need a supernatural power far beyond their own human capabilities. Even though they had been in fulltime Bible School for three and a half years with the best Bible teacher ever they were still not equipped adequately for the task of evangelism and discipleship. Their training by the Lord Jesus had been the very best in ‘hands on training’ and a very practical course in how to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of sinners. Humanly speaking many would say that they were now ready. But were they?

The final qualification

Today we have many theological institutions and Bible colleges and seminaries of one sort or another with all kinds of subjects and courses to choose from. In most Bible colleges those going into ministry have to have at least a degree in theology. Those going to the Mission field have had the very best schooling available in cross-cultural ministry. Undoubtedly some have been commissioned through the laying on of hands by the elders and are ready to go. However, there is one final qualification any man or women going into ministry needs. They may be well trained and equipped from their studies but have they received Power from on High?

The One touch they need

The well-known evangelist and Bible teacher R.A.Torrey whom, God used mightily, at one time said about his fellow Bible teachers; “They are good teachers, they are wonderful teachers but why will they not see that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is just the one touch they themselves need?” Torrey, like many others whom God raised up and used mightily, were men who were baptized with the Spirit and with Power. It was something more, something further than being born again by the Spirit. These men had discovered from a careful and prayerful study of the Word of God that there is a difference between the Spirit indwelling and the Spirit outpoured. Even though they were gifted men and had been in the ministry and were in the calling that God had revealed to them they knew that they lacked real spiritual power in their ministry. Torrey knew this to be true and so did D L Moody and many others as well.

Theologically qualified?

Today Bible College training is an advantage to a person going into ministry and service for the LORD and as they say knowledge is power. However, in spiritual ministry just knowing the Bible or being theologically trained is not enough. There must be an impartation of Power from on High if there is to be a really effective ministry undertaken. Many do well up to a point but if they really want to see God move they need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with power. Their need of spiritual power in no way indicates that they are spiritually immature or infants in spiritual matters, however, without the Baptism with the Holy Spirit they will never reach the full potential for their ministry to which God has called them. If the Lord Jesus was anointed with the Spirit and with power for His ministry and if the disciples were anointed with the Spirit and with power for their ministry who are we to undertake any ministry for the LORD until we to have been anointed with the Spirit and with power for the work to which God has called us?

The genuine anointing

In these last Days because of the spiritual deception sweeping through the Church we need spiritual power more than ever but we need the genuine anointing as taught in the Bible and not according to the traditions of man. There are many counterfeit anointings, signs, miracles and wonders being done in the name of Jesus that He has nothing to do with. Without the mighty Baptism with the Holy Spirit we will not have the spiritual weapons and armour we need to completely fulfil the avenue and ministry of service to which God has called us. Now let’s see what happened next.

(V.1)  “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”

When God moves He sweeps away every obstacle in His path and the Day of Pentecost was no exception. The Holy Spirit fell in power upon those 120 believers gathered in the upper room. The Feast of weeks or Pentecost was the Jewish feast day that celebrated the ingathering of the grain harvest. It happened 50 days after the feast of the first fruits on the Jewish calendar. During the feast of the first fruits the first grains of wheat were harvested and these “first fruits” were the harbinger of the harvest to come 50 days later. The Lord Jesus had risen from the dead on the feast of first fruits signifying the “first fruits” of the resurrection and that He was the harbinger of the spiritual harvest to come and a guarantee of the resurrection of His followers to come at His Second Coming.

Fifty days after He had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven after 40 days the spiritual harvest came 10 days after that. This feast of Pentecost also corresponded with the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai when the nutritious grain of God’s Word was given to the people. On the Day of Pentecost David’s fallen tabernacle was spiritually restored! It was a harbinger of the restoration of the nation as a whole to come at the inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom.

Notice that “they were all together in one place.” They were of one mind and there were no divisions or disunity among any of them. They were saved mean and women but not yet empowered to fulfil the task of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. They had been staying behind closed doors. They were praying and waiting on the Lord Jesus to baptize then with the Holy Spirit as He had promised to do. Fifty days after Jesus resurrection the Spirit of God fell on this small group of 120 believers. There was nothing vague or uncertain about what happened to them. Suddenly they were empowered to testify and to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a great revival that resulted in a harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God. It was the sudden spiritual wind storm of the mighty Spirit of God! They would never be the same again.

(Vs. 2) And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

There is a difference between the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit from His empowering work. There is a difference between the Spirit indwelling and the Spirit outpoured. In John chapter three the Lord Jesus spoke about the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing about the new birth. It was the gentle wind of the Spirit that brought about this spiritual inner transformation of the heart and soul. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it will and so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” When a person is born again they are inwardly changed from a Christ hating, Christ rejecting way of life to a Christ loving, Christ accepting way of life. It is the direct work of the Holy Spirit to the soul and the spirit of a man or woman. As we will see when a sinner is convicted of their sin of unbelief in Jesus they suddenly become aware of their need to be changed as we will see.

On the Day of Pentecost the Spirit came like the sound of a mighty wind storm and it filled every part of the upper room. Suddenly fear, anxiety, apprehension and the fear of man were swept away by the LORD’s mighty spiritual wind storm. Suddenly they were all filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God and He began to speak through them. Every part of that room was filled with that mighty rushing wind signifying that every part of those believers inwardly was now completely under the control of the Holy Spirit and especially their tongues! When a believer is baptized or filled with the Spirit of God they will be turned into another person as it were. Where there was timidity and shyness in spiritual matters there will now be boldness and confidence in testifying to the Lord Jesus and His resurrection and testifying to His power to save sinners and to sanctify saints! Notice that “they were sitting.” They were not attempting to do anything until they were empowered to witness.

Sadly these days many churches are trying to bring about a revival. They are using all kinds of plans, programmes, music, and even courses in evangelism but there are still little or no results from their labours. They may see a few saved here and there over a year or maybe more than that but generally speaking there is a famine for the nutritious grain of God’s Word especially in the Western democracies today. Instead we have hype, Charismania, the purpose driven agenda and the Alpha course. The question remains has there been souls genuinely saved or church growth by church transfer? Have these programmes really changed society for the better?

In England, the home of the Alpha course there are more Mosques being built today than there are churches! In the days of John Wesley, George Whitfield and William Booth society was radically transformed by the preaching of the Gospel and often under the pressure of persecution and suffering. One of the anomalies in the western church today in the free world is the lack of persecution, but this will change. When you read the book of Acts the believers were often opposed and persecuted primarily at first by the religious leaders. Persecution came into full swing under the Emperors of Rome that really started in around 68 AD under the emperor Nero. During his reign both Peter and Paul were martyred. If there ever was a type of the Antichrist to come it was Nero!

(V.3)   “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.”

In the Old Testament it was only when the whole sacrifice was laid on the altar with no part held back that the fire fell from heaven to consume that sacrifice. Likewise it is only when a believer’s life is laid down without reservation and with no part of their life held back that the fire of the Holy Spirit will fall upon the altar of their heart. When the Holy Spirit anointed the Lord Jesus He descended upon Him like a dove because He was without sin and His heart was pure and undefiled. However, when the same Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 120 in the upper room He came down as tongues of fire resting on all of them. They needed pure hearts filled with the love and power of God and on that day God poured out His love into their hearts by the Holy Spirit purifying their hearts through their faith. Not only were they made Holy in their hearts but received purity and passion in their words. Out of the abundance of their hearts they spoke and the power of the Holy Spirit went to work. Holiness of heart and power in witness and testimony go together. The Holy Spirit is holy and those who are filled with Him are holy as He is holy!

When a believer is being constantly filled with the Spirit moment by moment the devil has a hard time and is hard pressed getting that believer into the flesh and ultimately into committing sin. Often we make the Baptism or Filling with the Spirit an individual matter and it is that but it is always connected to the Body of the Messiah as a whole. In most cases where believers were filled with the Spirit of God they were filled as a group and not primarily as individuals. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are commanded to be constantly and continuously filled with the Spirit and it is not only for the individual believer but also in relationship to other believers with whom we are in fellowship. So then the baptism with the Holy Spirit will result in a pure heart and a powerful testimony to the saving and sanctifying power of the Lord Jesus Christ! And so we read…

(Vs.4)   “…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

When a believer is filled with the power of God the first thing that the Holy Spirit gets control of is their tongue. We are told in the Bible that the power of life and death resides in the tongue and that the words we speak show what is in our heart in abundance. If our hearts are controlled by the love of God and under the control of the Spirit then what comes out of our mouth will bring healing and even conviction if necessary to those to whom we are witnessing. Only words spoken by the Holy Spirit will have any lasting effect spiritually.

On the Day of Pentecost the overflow of the Spirit came up out from their hearts and flowed out through their mouths to engage the hearers. According to text they were speaking languages that most of them had never learned, languages supernaturally imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. What they were saying was understood by those who heard them. Others actually thought they were drunk with wine. There was an obvious and conspicuous outward change in the believers that caught people’s attention. When believers are really filled to overflowing with the Spirit’s power they will find it hard to sit still and others will find it hard to ignore them.  The one thing we also notice that it was the Spirit that gave them utterance. They did not suddenly start to speak in other languages by their own will power.

There are those who insist that when a believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit that they will speak in another language or tongue and we see this happening in the book of Acts. However, when you read the letter of 1 Corinthians regarding spiritual gifts it clearly states that they will differ in those who are baptized and filled with the Spirit. Some will and some won’t but in every case there will be a spiritual gift imparted to empower that believer to do the will of God. It is interesting that when we see believers’ speaking in tongues that they were speaking as a group and not as individuals. We see this in the case of the 120 and in the case of the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius and in the case of the disciples from Ephesus that Paul met. It is only in the letter of 1 Corinthians that we see the gift of speaking in an unknown tongue something that can be done by an individual believer. Whenever it is done publically it must be understood by those listening to it.

Privately, in our prayer time, we can speak to God and if our heart is right and our tongue yielded to the Holy Spirit then whether we speak in a known or an unknown tongue it is acceptable to the LORD as the Holy Spirit groans within us at times when words fail. At such times speaking in the language given by the Spirit can be powerful and effective spiritually for us personally and for others for whom we are praying. (We deal with this whole subject in our series of studies on the Holy Spirit on this website.)  The one thing that is clear is that if a believer is really Baptized or Filled with the Holy Spirit then they will be empowered to witness and to work for the Lord Jesus Christ that is for sure!

In every case in the book of Acts when the gift of tongues was given publically it was understood by those who were witnessing it. Furthermore, not everyone who is baptized with the Holy Spirit will speak in another language as there are other gifts of the Spirit which are given according to His will and not ours. He is sovereign in this matter. However, one thing is certain is that if you are a saved and born again believer and have been genuinely baptized or Filled with the Holy Spirit you will have a powerful testimony to others in witnessing for the Lord Jesus and testifying unashamedly to His resurrection from the dead! If this is not your case then you need to ask yourself the question have you ever really been baptized or Filled with the Holy Spirit? As we will now see when the gift of tongues was given it was understood by the hearers even though the speakers by enlarge did not know the languages they were speaking. The real miracle was not in the speaking but in the understanding of those who heard it.

(Vs. 5-10)  “Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—“ we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”  

Isaiah the prophet had a revelation from the Spirit of God about this event. God was speaking through His prophet. “Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue” (Isaiah 28:11). The Apostle Paul also picked up on this prophecy and applied it to the public use of languages spoken by the power of the Holy Spirit primarily to unbelievers. He writes; “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers” (1 Corinthians14:20-22).

On the Day of Pentecost this is precisely what happened. The 120 were speaking in other languages as they were inspired by the direct communication of the Holy Spirit with their spirits. Out of their innermost being there flowed rivers of the living water of the Spirit and many were brought under conviction of sin and subsequently saved as a result. The miracle was not so much that the 120 spoke in languages they had never learnt but in the hearing of the message. The blessed Holy Spirit took hold of the 120 and spoke through them to the unbelieving Jews gathered there that day from many regions outside of Israel.

Today with binary codes and modern methods of interpretation and linguistic study the Gospel of the Kingdom is being preached in many languages today that are understood by the hearers. This is not to undermine the genuine gift of speaking in an unknown language by the direct communication of the Holy Spirit in a certain situation where there is a language barrier. The Apostle allows for this when the fellowship comes together, furthermore, he also recognized that a believer can speak by the Holy Spirit in an unknown language and be edified by it in personal life, however, when exercised publically it must be understood or interpreted. On the Day of Pentecost it was primarily manifested to arrest the attention of the hearers, however, it was not the supernatural manifestation that saved the hearers but Peter’s sermon in a language they all understood.

Whenever we see signs, miracles and wonders they always follow the preaching of the Word of God and are never a substitute for the preaching of the Word. The signs following the preaching of the Word were the pattern of the Lord Jesus ministry and the pattern of the Apostles’ ministry and the pattern for those first century believers. This is very clearly seen in the book of Acts. Notice also that the 120 were not preaching the Gospel but we read they were “speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” They were praising the LORD and magnifying His name and His works. This will always be the pattern of those baptized or Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The blessed Holy Spirit will always point others to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the LORD Himself and not to those doing the speaking. The blessed Holy Spirit will never uplift Himself or His gifts or those exercising His gifts. The Holy Spirit will always glorify and uplift the LORD and especially the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 16:13-15)

(Vs. 12-13)  And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

It would seem that the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon the 120 was so powerful that they could not keep still. They must have been quite animated when speaking out loudly the mighty works of God. We are not talking about uncontrolled or unbridled behaviour but men and women so filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit that their very demeanour shone with the glory of the LORD and those observing this were astonished at what they saw and more so by what they heard. Once again the focus was not on the manifestation itself but on what was heard and understood. Here were these Galileans, mostly uneducated and unlearned men and women, praising and worshipping the LORD in languages that they had never learned. Quite a sight to behold not to mention the tongues of fire resting on each one of them!

Now there will always be sceptics and those who do not understand spiritual matters especially when the Holy Spirit is at work. There were some of these in the crowd that day. What they saw and more so what they heard astonished them but also frightened them and their natural instinct was to criticize that which they did not understand. This is the way most unsaved people think when they are confronted with the supernatural power of God, not religion! However, once Peter had preached the Gospel message in a common language they all understood clearly 3,000 got saved on the same day. It was not the signs and wonders that turned the tide but the preaching of God’s Word under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, something rarely seen today in most churches. As we will see what happened on the Day of Pentecost would happen down through history and especially in the very Last Days before the Lord Jesus returns in great power and splendour.

Go to part 5