Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 19 Jul 2015
1 And in the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven as borne along by the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed; and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And dwelling at Jerusalem there were Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven.
6 But this sound occurring, the multitude came together and were confounded, because they each heard them speaking in his own dialect.
7 And they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, Behold, are not these who speak all Galileans?
8 And how do we each hear in our own dialect in which we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya around Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
We read here how they were all together in one place, when the day of Pentecost had arrived. Yes, they were together physically, but much more importantly they were united spiritually. This day there were many that would repent from many different places. Later the Bible says how they were of one heart and mind (Acts 4:32). It’s so different today where there are so many schisms and party spirit. God was to fulfill His promise on this day, ‘he who thirsts let Him come to Me’ (John 7:37). The Lord had promised them a wonderful promise of the Holy Spirit. They were thirsting for that. On one occasion the Lord had said, ‘it is better that I go for your sakes, for if I go away I will send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit’ (John 16:7; 14:26). What could have been better than Jesus’ presence one might ask, as the apostles experienced when He said those words? But Jesus was speaking the truth, for then He could send the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. Then He could pour water upon the thirsty ground; that the one who thirsts come to Him. But of course the one who is not thirsty, the Lord will pass him by. Often the Lord spoke about the Holy Spirit, such as, ‘he who believes on Me as the Scriptures says, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of Living Water. And He spoke this of the Holy Spirit that they would receive’ (John 7:38-39). Indeed those who truly believe in Him experience it even as He had said. He also said that this Living Water will proceed from the belly of the one who believes on Him. It would be wonderful if everyone who believes on Him can truly say that they’ve received the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist, who was greater than anyone born of women (Matt 11:11), said, ‘I baptize with water, but He who comes after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire’ (Luke 3:16). Many when asked whether they’re Christian would produce their certificate of baptism, and is very confident of that water baptism. But if you ask them if they’ve received the Holy Spirit they begin to doubt and aren’t so sure.
Dr Edwin Orr once asked a Baptist minister and a Dutch Reformed minister to come to the front in 1954. He asked them which of them used the most water when baptizing. I thought it was a very inappropriate question for such an educated man. He had six doctorates at the time. The audience laughed for everyone knew the answer. He then went on to say that what makes him sad was that neither of the two baptized the tongue so that it’s changed. There are both Baptists and Reformed people that gossip.
If you break open a rock found in a river, it’s still dust dry in the middle. But if you put that rock in very hot fire, it will become red hot right through from the heat that penetrates it. In fact you can take any object and it will be affected by fire. So too if someone is affected by the fire of the Holy Spirit, it changes him from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet. Remember how Isaiah the prophet saw the Lord in the temple and the seraphim calling, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts’. And when Isaiah saw it he said that, ‘woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips’. And an angel took a coal from off the altar and touched his lips (Is 6:3-7).
If you receive the Holy Spirit it will penetrate every member of your body. It wouldn’t leave out an evil eye but will transform you wholly.
A certain Iranian Muslim woman’s child was sick and in desperation she called on Jesus to heal her child and he was healed. Then she sought Christians and was lead to KwaSizabantu and related her story. But her tongue was still a problem, so she held a needle to it and spoke to it that unless it stopped with gossip she would pierce it with a needle. Christianity is not a toy to be played with. If you want to be a Christian, be a true one among the crooked generation we live in.
What does Pentecost mean? Firstly it was a celebration of harvests, where the people would present of their first fruits to the Lord as an offering. That’s still the custom in some churches.
A certain rich farmer didn’t like to pay taxes. Once he brought a thin donkey to be auctioned for the church. The pastor thought he was very stingy. But when the donkey was to be auctioned, this very rich farmer placed a bid of 30,000 pounds, and because livestock were tax-free, he could reduce his income for tax-purposes for the full amount he paid for the donkey. If he donated the money instead directly to the church, he would still have had to pay tax as if his income included the 30,000 pounds. He was wise and knew how to use the tax-laws to his advantage.
If you were asked to show the souls of those you’ve won for Christ, how many would you bring? How much of a harvest have you reaped? There’s the Afrikaans song, ‘moet ek gaan met lee hande, moet ek so my Heer ontmoet?’ (must I go empty handed and meet my Lord thus?) Pentecost then firstly signifies the harvest you bring to the Lord. And indeed on the day of Pentecost 3,000 souls were brought to the Lord, from many different nations and countries. And God could inscribe His laws in their hearts, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh.
From whatever background you are from, how many are those that you have brought to the Lord, upon whose hearts God could write His laws?
That is the second meaning of Pentecost, God writing His laws upon your heart. Just as He wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone, so His law must be written on your heart. Has God’s laws been written on your heart, so that no matter what the circumstances might be, that the laws of God remain indelible on your heart?
In the Old and New Testaments we read that if you love the Lord you would joyfully obey His commandments (Ps 119:97; John 14:15). There are those who grumble and complain how difficult it is to obey God. That is true while God’s laws are not inscribed on the heart. If a chicken with her chicks come to water they won’t like to enter the water, but a duckling with her ducks enter the water effortlessly and joyfully. Are you a chicken or a duck? Do you find joy in obeying God’s commands or are they burdensome to you? Have you surrendered to the Lord, saying, ‘Lord write your laws on my heart’. Without that you will be a typical Pharisee. You might have the appearance of a Christian, but will have no true life. Often the Psalmist proclaims how much joy he finds in God’s laws. God’s laws will be difficult in your own strength but if you allow God to inscribe His laws on your heart it will become your life. To practice sin will become detestable to you. Your nature is changed to love God’s ways and hate what is evil.
The Holy Spirit came upon them like a mighty rushing wind, while they were united at Pentecost. Others who heard it came to see what was happening, and they observed tongues of fire on the heads of the disciples. The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and the people could hear them speak with tongues that were familiar to those who heard it. And they heard them speak of the marvelous works of God! The people could understand what they were saying. It wasn’t speaking with tongues that couldn’t be understood. There were those who mocked, but Peter responded and declared the works of the Lord.