PENTECOST AND MISSIONS

Acts 2, Genesis 1

(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg


Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine..."

Verse 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Message:

12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

Peter's speech gives the answer to their perplexed question, "What does this mean?

He told them that they were not drunk.  Rather this was

  1. Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy, he quotes from Joel 2:28f   17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

  2. The convincing evidence that Jesus Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father where he has been exalted as Lord and given the Spirit that he might give his gifts of kingship abroad to his followers.

If we were to ask with an overview of the entire scriptures - what is the meaning of Pentecost, one answer that would get at the essence of Pentecost would go something like this:    Pentecost is the internalization of what in the Old Testament was only external.

What in the OLD Testament was a shadow, in Pentecost became a reality within the lives of God's people.

Let's take some illustrations from our passage this morning.

  1. Salvation:  In the Old Testament, Salvation is pictured for us "externally", Israel is rescued from Egypt, they are given freedom from very real physical enemies and they conquer very real physical enemies like the Philistines and the Canaanites as they enter into the promised land.  In the New Testament however, Salvation is pictured more individualistically and internally.  No longer is the nation of Israel delivered from their physical enemies (the Romans).  Rather individuals are rescued from disease and brokenness, they are rescued from sin, and they come to a realization by the Spirit of God that they are children of God, and participation in the new life that the Lord promises in a valley of dry bones.  Deserts become springs of water, spiritually speaking, hearts that have cried out for God at last have their thirst quenched.

  2. Lordship:  In the Old Testament, Lordship is pictured externally.  The Lord rules over his people through kings, prophets, judges and priests.  In the New Testament, the Lordship of Jesus Christ is concretely realized through the reign of his spirit in their lives. That's why Peter could say with such conviction in verse 36 of our chapter Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!  What at one time had been external, through the Spirit became internal at Pentecost.

  3. Law:  The Law is another illustration of how the Spirit made internal what at one time was external. In the Old Testament, the Law was external, written on tablets of stone to be read, memorized and obeyed.  In the New Testament we see the law being obeyed in its essence without mention of the law itself.  The converts on Pentecost day are loving God with heart, soul and mind  and they love their neighbour as themselves.  They demonstrate this by being (vs 42) "devoted to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  What before Pentecost was an external rule or command, after Pentecost became very much the nature of God's people.

One of the clearest ways that this is demonstrated in the book of Acts is specifically in the area of missions.

Jesus Christ gave the church the great commission, he told them to "Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the close of the age."

When the disciples first heard it, it was still an external command.

Even though the disciples had been with the master for over three years, they had heard all his teachings, they had come to know discipleship through the best discipler that ever was, they still did not go out and immediately respond to his command to go out. It remained external, they seemed powerless to go out and do as the Lord commanded.

But when the Spirit came at Pentecost, that command that Jesus gave them became their very nature. Throughout the whole book of Acts, we never see mention of the great commission, yet the disciples, and their converts are doing it on every page.

The difference that Pentecost made to missions is that the Holy spirit made the command to go out and witness the very nature of the church. What once was external became internal - part of them.

Because of Pentecost, God's command to go out and witness to what he has done in Jesus Christ becomes very much like the cultural mandate of the new Testament church.

The cultural mandate in the Old Testament is hard to put your finger on as to exactly what it is. It's phrased like a command, but it looks like a blessing.  Let me read it for you.  God said

"Be fruitful, and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over everything in it."   When we hear this, it would seem to be a contradiction in terms for this to be a command. Any healthy human being, by his very nature wants to do exactly what the Lord commands. The human race very naturally multiplies, something which in the past 100 years has become a problem. The human race very naturally subdues the earth, very naturally has dominion over it, sometimes to the point of where we abuse the earth in our dominion, we pollute the earth rather than take care of it.

But the point is that the command of the cultural mandate is not an external law to man, rather it is a law of his being.  To be a human is to obey and fulfill the cultural mandate, it is part of the very constitution of humanity, it is our purpose.

The drive to missions, obeying the great commission, for the Christian after Pentecost is no longer an external law, it is a law that makes us who we are, a law of our constitution, it is our purpose...

Notice in Acts 1:8, the very last promise that Jesus Christ gives to his church before he ascends to heaven is the promise concerning the Holy Spirit. Jesus says: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."

Notice especially that little word `be'!   It does not say:  When the spirit comes upon you, you will be told to go out and witness, or you will be encouraged to go out and take evangelism training.  This command says that once the Holy Spirit has come upon a child of God she will be a witness for Jesus Christ.

Pentecost created a new race of people where the law of their being is to go forth and multiply, to create spiritual children who worship the same Lord and Christ as the parents do.

The Spirit of Pentecost creates missionaries of everyone who has the Spirit. The spirit of Pentecost burns and purifies individuals so that they might be transformed into people who reflect accurately the love of God to this world.   The Spirit of Pentecost, who is the witnessing Spirit, always desiring to witness to the world what Christ has done, moves the children of God into the world so that through his power, they might tell others about Jesus Christ who now sits at the right hand of the father in Glory and power.  Children of God born of the spirit find witness spontaneous, the most natural thing to do because by doing so, they are going forth and multiplying and obeying the law of their nature.

That's exactly what the Early church did.  On the first day, 3000 new members were added to the church.  Trust me, it took more than 12 disciples to witness to so many people.  

Last verse "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."  Then in Acts 5:14 we discover more and more believers were added to the church.  By multitudes they came to belief and were healed.  It seemed every one who came into the church became a missionary and the number of Christians simply multiplied. When the church was persecuted after the death of Stephen, church members were scattered throughout the entire world, and chapter 8:1 says that they took the gospel with them, thus the church began its foreign missions because of persecution. Every member was a missionary, it was not a command to be obeyed, it was the law of their being. And on that basis the gospel, according to Acts, went from Judea, Samaria, and then to all the ends of the earth, even all the way to Rome.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

If there is one thing that I would like you to carry home this morning, it's the realization that the Spirit of God within you wants to speak to this world through you.   The flaming tongues of the Spirit came to purify our lives so that we might faithfully reflect the love and the righteousness of god to others.   The spoken tongues of Pentecost came to reveal to the church that the good news of the gospel was not just for one group of people, it was not just for the Jews, it was for Dutchmen, Canadians, Africans, the gospel is for every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

The spirit of Pentecost has come into our lives so that we might be changed, everyone of us, into missionaries;   missionaries at school so that we can reflect the love of God to our fellow students, even when the peer pressure to conform to the standards of this world are very great, missionaries at home with guests or chatting with our neighbors while we work on opposite sides of the same bush, missionaries at work in contact with other employees, or customers, our job might be to sell a product, but we exist in this world to communicate the love and the words of Jesus Christ, missionaries at church -through involvement with outreach programs such as VBS, supporting those who come into the church by giving of ourselves in love, and by supporting mission programs that bring missionaries to different cities and countries in the effort of bringing the Gospel.

We are not asked by scripture or the spirit to go out and witness.  Scripture simply states that we are witnesses, we are missionaries, we are evangelists in everything that we do. We are priests and prophets in everything that we do.  If physical muliplication is the law of our being in the Creation (cultural) Mandate, then spiritual multiplicatin is the law of our being in the New Creation (mission) Mandate.  Pentecost happened so that the mission of God to this world might go on, that the disciples of Jesus Christ might do even greater things than he did, that they might bring the reality of his salvation to the whole world.


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Back to Sermon Index Page

Let me know if this message was helpful.