What Is Pentecost? Pentecost Is a Celebration of a Significant Day for the Early Church
In Acts 2, we are told the story of Pentecost and the birth of the early church. Already gathered together in order to celebrate the feast, the Apostles heard a “mighty rushing” wind come from heaven and fill the house where they were assembled. Next they saw what appeared to be tongues of fire rest on each one of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages they did not know. The combination of the wind and the different languages being spoken drew a “multitude” who stood amazed as the apostles told them of the wonders of God, in their own native tongues.
Next, Peter gets up and explains what is happening in the context of Scripture. He recites a passage from the book of Joel which explains how God is going to send the Holy Spirit and pour it out on all flesh—men and women, Jews and Gentiles, old and young. Then he talks about Jesus, who recently died and rose again. Again using Scripture the crowd would have been familiar with (passages from the Psalms of David), he shows how God’s word foretold Jesus’s coming to earth, his death, and his resurrection. About 3,000 people received Peter’s words and were baptized that day.
This speech of Peter’s is the first example we are given of an early-church sermon inviting others to join the Kingdom of God. While the Holy Spirit has shown up in times previous in the Old Testament and while Jesus walked the earth in human form, this is the first time we see the Holy Spirit dwell inside people. We are to assume that prior to this equipping of the Holy Spirit, a harvest of this magnitude would not have been possible. Pentecost is to remind us that the Holy Spirit supernaturally equips us to reach the lost.
Following the original intent of the feast of Pentecost, which was to offer to God the first-fruits of the harvest, the Apostles offered the first-fruits of their ministry that day. They would go on to lead many more to Christ—in other nations and among other tribes and tongues. Their work would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for the supernatural equipping of the Holy Spirit.
What Is Pentecost? Pentecost Is a Season of Holy-Spirit Empowerment and Church Unity
A few things stick out about the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2.
The church was equipped with the Holy Spirit
The church was equipped to reach people from many traditions and languages
The Spirit fell when believers were gathered together
These three points remind us modern-day Christians that we need to be active, participating members of Christ’s body. Imagine if you were a part of the group gathered “together in one place” (v. 1), but had decided to stay home that day. We are equipped when we are together! Additionally, it has been a part of the Church’s DNA from day one to reach those of different tribes, tongues, and traditions. And finally, we can’t do it without the supernatural equipping of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for his gift of the Spirit!
Fuller has put together a beautiful video that employs the words of Scripture describing the events of Pentecost along with images of nature. This video would make an excellent addition to your sermon or teaching on Pentecost.
May you be supernaturally equipped by the Holy Spirit to deliver the message and hope of Pentecost this weekend and always.