Acts 2:1-41 – By the Spirit We Are Filled
What did you learn about the Holy Spirit?
- The Holy Spirit rests on and fills the whole crowd of followers of Jesus (2:3-4).
What did you learn about the Spirit-filled community?
- The community is given the ability to preach “the mighty deeds of God” and be understood by all the nations of people in Jerusalem (2:4-11).
- The Spirit-filled community is full of people who believe in Jesus and are baptized (2:41).
Notes from Pastor Mark
Pentecost was a time of great celebration going back to the time of Moses. It occurred 50 days from the first Sabbath following Passover. Of course, as Christians, what is the other name we have for the first Sunday after Passover? Easter! In Jewish tradition, Pentecost came to be celebrated as the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai. In other words, it represented the birth of the nation of Israel. Tragically, when Moses came down from Sinai with the Ten Commandments, he discovered that many in his camp had begun to worship a Golden Calf. You will recall that 3,000 of them died in judgment for that idolatry (Exodus 32:28).
It’s impossible not to notice the parallels with the “Second Pentecost” that we find in Acts 2. Like at Sinai, the Holy Spirit comes down in power. Like at Sinai, it is the birth of the Church, the New Israel. But in this case, God welcomes people of every race, tongue and background. And in contrast to the first Pentecost, this time 3,000 people come to life (Acts 2:41)! I love how Acts completes the work that was started in Exodus.
And by the way, BECAUSE the disciples were obedient (see last week’s blog) and stayed in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them in power, the thousands of listeners from many different countries who spoke many different languages all understood miraculously what Peter was saying. Remember how Jesus told the apostles they would be witnesses to “the ends of the earth?” Well, because of their obedience, the Holy Spirit brought “the ends of the earth” to them on that Pentecost… and the gospel tsunami that would cover the globe was launched!
It is interesting, however, that Pentecost, which was intended to be a moment when cultural walls of separation were torn down, has become a point of division in the Christian Church. Some think that unless every person receives a “second” baptism of the Holy Spirit, complete with speaking in tongues, then that person isn’t really saved. On the other end are those who believe that all of the “sign” gifts like tongues have ceased; we don’t need them any more since we have the Bible to tell us what God wants us to do.
So…what do we believe? Well, we are in the middle on this. We absolutely believe that the same Holy Spirit is at work today and can and does do the same miraculous stuff He did 2,000 years ago. It is happening all around the world. On the other hand, based upon the teaching of Paul himself (see I Corinthians 12: 27-31), we do not believe that the sign gifts, “speaking in tongues” especially, are a necessary evidence of true Christian faith. They are simply some of many gifts that the Holy Spirit sprinkles throughout the Church. Why does He do it that way? Because, if not everyone has all of the gifts, it means that we need each other in order to be “complete” in our work for Jesus.
Here is what is absolutely clear and essential: every single person who is a believer in Jesus is so ONLY because they have been filled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). When we invite Christ into our lives, it is His Spirit that comes to dwell within us, fill us, give us gifts, change us from the inside out and guide us throughout life. One of the regular prayers of a believer ought to be directed to the Holy Spirit, asking Him (note…the Holy Spirit is NEVER an IT!) to fill us with Himself. In fact, when Paul commanded the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), that word form literally means, “be CONTINUALLY filled with the Spirit!” Not just once or twice… but again and again. Paul urges, ask Jesus to fill us with His Spirit so that we might be equipped, encouraged and inspired to do what He calls us to do every single day.
Why not pause right now and offer this prayer: “Holy Spirit, thank you for living within me. Thank you for washing away my sins and making me new. Please fill me right now… fill me to overflowing so that I might spill you onto the lives of everyone I meet today. Amen.”