THE BOOK OF ACTS
God Establishes His Church in the World
The Birthday of the Church
Jerry A Collins
What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
What role do tongues play in the beginning of the church?
What effect does the Holy Spirit have on us today?
We have always made a special point of celebrating birthdays in our family. Each year we have six of them and each one is marked with special emphasis and activity. They are special moments of remembrance for us when God brought ourselves and our children in the world. So we celebrate the marvelous sovereignty of God who brought all of us together in our family. We had nothing to do with the families we were born into. As long as we celebrate these birthdays though, they will never compare to the birthday of the church. Acts 2 marks a turning point in the history of Godís kingdom. A new phase of His redemptive plan unfolds as the church is born. In Chapter I disciples waiting for coming of HS. In Chapter 2 He comes. In Chp 1 they were equipped and in chp 2 were empowered. In chp 1 they were held back and in chp 2 sent out. In chp 1 Jesus ascends and in chp 2 Spirit descends. In chp 1 promises given and in chp 2 promises fulfilled. This passage describes the birth of the church by the coming of the HS on the Day of Pentecost.
1. THE COMING OF THE HS IS UNMISTAKABLE 2:1-4
Like the events in Jesus life, death and resurrection, out in the open for all to see and observe, so, too, is the birth of the church. It did not begin in an obscure manner but itís birth was a startling, dramatic event in the very heart of Jerusalem.
(1) On the Day of Pentecost. All together Godís sovereign timetable called for the Spirit to descend. So the Spirit was not induced into coming by their prayer, waiting or fulfilling certain spiritual conditions. Pentecost means †fiftieth †and was celebrated 50 days after Passover. The killing of the Passover lamb pictured death of Christ who was ultimate Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7). 50 days afterward Feast of Pentecost celebrated (Lev 23:15ff). The Spiritís coming on that day signaled the first fruits of our spiritual inheritance. All of this following pattern of Lev 23.
(2) A sudden sound of rushing wind vs. 2. The use of suddenly emphasizes element of surprise. The noise emanating from heaven identifies this as a supernatural action. It was no weather phenomenon. The supernatural activity of God is so extraordinary that biblical writers employed simile to describe its manifestation to us. The wind is apt picture of the Spirit, invisible yet known by its effects. We can see it bend the trees, even as the Spirit bends stubborn souls to the will of God. A rushing wind is one that carries things. So from this day the Spirit has carried Godís servants all over the world spreading the gospel. We can resist His desire to carry us as we cling to things of earth but better to let go of earthly roots and be borne along by divine will. A wind may carry short or long. So we may be borne to ministry near at hand or across the world.
(3) The Spiritís presence filled only the whole house where believers were sitting. He lives in every member of His family. They alone received the promised HS. Fact that they were sitting suggests unexpectedness since not kneeling or standing.
(4) Tongues of fire appeared on them vs. 3. Not literal fire or wind but like that. He tongues resting on each of them shows all present received the Spirit at that moment. A uniform work of God and at this point all made into one spiritual body. Fire spreads and so too this one as they immediately go out and preach and witness. A kindled tongue comes from a burning heart.
(5) They were filled with the Spirit vs. 4. The filling of the Spirit is distinct from Baptism of HS yet related. This baptism is placing believers into His body (Rom 6; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:27). We are never commanded to seek baptism of HS. It is a sovereign, single, unrepeatable act on Godís part. No more an experience than is justification or adoption. It is invisible, unseen, unfelt completely supernatural. Being filled with HS, however, is commanded for us (Eph 5:18), and should be continuous. Being filled with HS is being under His influence. We need to seek that daily and continuously† because†† we can be influenced† otherwise† in†† this† world. Peter was filled again in Acts 4:8 Paul in Acts 9:17 & 13:9. (6) They spoke in other languages vs. 4. The purpose for speaking in† other languages was a sign to unbelieving Jews about this new work of God (1 Cor 14:21-22). These tongues in Acts a link to reveal that Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans all equal in this new work of God. First the Jews in Acts 2. Second the Samariatans received the HS in Acts 8:14-19. Third, Gentiles received the HS in Acts 10:44-47. Fourth John Baptistís disciples, last remnants of OT saints coming to faith received HS Acts 19:1-7. Each case describes unique historical transition taking place. It was the Spirit who gave them utterance and He was in total control. The use of these languages revealed that the work of God was now spreading worldwide and was no longer defined by or limited as Jewish or Israel. 2. THE EVIDENCE OF THE HS MINISTRY EVOKES ASTONISHMENT 2:5-11 We have Jews in Jerusalem who have went to the trouble to make this pilgrimage for these feasts and were obviously devout men. They were from many territories and nations here Jews had been dispersed. When they had heard the sound, not the tongues, they gathered and arrived astonished each one hearing his own language being spoken. The supernatural signs had their effect and† attention of these Jews riveted on Peter. What amazed them most was that all speaking were Galileans viewed as ignorant, uneducated (Jn 1:45-46; 7:52). This site raised their question in vs. 8. This supernatural communication was known human languages not ecstatic speech. The countries represented encompass the Middle East, Asia Minor, Egypt, North Africa, Crete and Rome. The content of these languages were the mighty deeds of God just like much of the OT (Ex 15:11;Psa 40:5; 77:11). Languages originated in dispersion of the nations at tower of Babel. Jewish race, exhibiting same pride and self will as nations of Gen 11 similarly dispersed when Jerusalem like Babylon destroyed in 586bc and 70ad. To this day Israelís babel-like dispersion (actually initiated by Babylon) continues and Jews of the world still found speaking many tongues of the nations. 3. THE HS USE OF GODíS TRUTH IS ACCEPTED AND REJECTED 2:12-13 As is regularly the case when Godís truth is presented, some crowd accepted it, while others rejected it. On the one hand some are amazed, perplexed wanting to know what all of this means vs. 12. They would soon understand when Peter proclaimed the gospel later. We never know who the real seekers of truth are until we begin to speak about the work and truth of God. The filling of the HS allowed these men to be free from inhibition making them bold for God. Like the Pharisees who heard Jesusí claims and saw confirming miracles but concluded He was of the devil (Mt 12:24ff), these scoffers vs. 13 rejected the evidence that this was a work of God. They tried to explain away this miracle of languages as a drunken stupor. Wrong yet right! These were full of new wine of the Spirit freshly poured from heaven. We ourselves are too often full of other things beside the Word or our hearts ae like empty, lifeless waterpots. Filled with the Word, the touch of God can make us full of the new wine of heaven. Our witness may evoke astonishment or ridicule as well. (1) Godís work in our lives brings clear decisive change. (2) That work is often surprising since we cannot figure it out ahead of time. (3) Donít think that because it is clearly gods work that people will be willing to acknowledge it but go after those who do.