SCRIPTURE: – “ACTS – 2:1–18”
Whatever the Church or the Christian community in which we find ourselves today, if we are conscious that it is God’s place for us we should count it a privilege that God has seen fit to plant us in it. The Bible tells us clearly in “Psalm 68:6” – “God sets the solitary in families….” KJV
I am personally from a “Pentecostal Church” background and I am affiliated to the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland but more than that, much more than that, I am a “Pentecostal”.
The reason why I declare I am a “Pentecostal” is that I believe and uphold all that God’s Word the Bible declares regarding the moving and workings of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the Divine Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in both the lives of individuals and all gatherings of God’s People.
THE DANGER: –
There is however a danger that we “Pentecostals” face, and that danger is that we can easily, over the fullness of time give a “Mental Assent” to the things I have just mentioned and cease to believe them to be vital foundations in our lives. That course of events immediately disqualifies us from the true definition and privilege of being truly “Pentecostals”.
To be truly a Pentecostal, and I firmly believe that it is God’s will and purpose that all His people should be. We naturally need to be filled with the Holy Ghost and speak in other tongues, for this after all is the Scriptural Initial Evidence of the baptism. More than that however we need to move from a mental assent to the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and enjoy the actual reality of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.
The “initial” evidence of the Baptism in the Spirit is Speaking in Tongues; the “real” evidence is Power in the Life.
The two are mutually dependent upon each other.
With this in mind then, I want to try and bring before you a number of the various characteristics of both a “classical” Pentecostal Church and Pentecostal Believer, and in that way I trust we will beable to look at ourselves and if we are found wanting in any measure, address it and if we are found to be, what God wants us to be, to rejoice and praise Him for it.
PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO THE MIRACULOUS
Anyone who has, even in a scanty way investigated the pages of the New Testament cannot help but notice that any individual, who has received a Pentecostal Experience, was moved into the realm of the miraculous. That being the case we then need to ask ourselves the question “Has God changed?”well to that I would provide an emphatic No!, God has not changed, and in fact His Word declares….”I am the Lord I change not” – “Malachi 3:6” “In Him is no variableness or shadow of turning” – “James 1:17”.
The people of your locality, wherever you are around the world, are a people, who although on the surface may appear to be affluent and at ease, are under the surface screaming out in their need for God in their lives. Okay, they are not aware yet of what the need is, because through the process of bringing up families, careers, and the purchase of possessions, senses have been dulled to their need, but we who are blessed by the grace of God in our lives recognise that over 90% of the people we meet are bound for a lost eternity, and whilst they don’t as yet recognise the fact, it is to us that they are looking for the answer.
The divine Judge has already ruled, the gavel has come down and they have been condemned and sentenced to hell. The sword of Damocles is over their heads. The sack is on their head. The neck is in the guillotine, and the guy’s about to let go of the rope. Final judgment was passed long ago. No future verdict will be made.
What caused this? It’s very simple the Bible tells us “Because you have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” – “John 3:18” You’re going to be sent to hell not for something you did but for what you didn’t do, and that’s believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We therefore have an awesome, sombre and urgent need to be the bringers of the Good News of the Gospel.
In the New Testament the declaration was “God working with them confirming His Word with signs and wonders” – “Mark 16:20” and it is still. God’s intention is to work with us, so then what has happened, “Has God grown weak?” of course not! “Is God not interested in the people of our communities?”, again of course not! so why are we not seeing the miraculous in our daily lives as we serve and live for Him.
Well! if anybody has changed it has got to be us. We have either not changed into the people God wants us to be and through whom He can manifest His mighty power, or alternatively, we have changed from the people God had made us into to such an extent, that He cannot reveal Himself as He wishes.
Maybe we have a lack of Faith. Perhaps we have grown familiar with the things of God. Could it be that our Vision is misplaced, and are we ensuring that we are not put in the position where our lives will have to count. There could be a hundred and one reasons, but the fact remains, that we do not see enough of the miraculous in our lives, and we are or should be dissatisfied, and the lost of our communities are going to stay lost without it.
What is needed today is a people who will shake themselves from there slumber of sleep and apathy and lay hold on God to see Him at work once again. The Hymn writer puts it this way “Raise up a people Holy and Free, hearts with a Vision like unto thee, lives that would rather die than give in, lives with a passion a victory to win”. Are we prepared to be like that, we need to ask ourselves that question?
In the Acts of the Apostles they did three things in particular….
- They Prayed for Miracles.
- They Performed Miracles.
- They Preached from Miracles.
I reckon that it is Gods intention to do the same things again. We might be another Generation of Pentecostals, and it might be expected that because of that we would not see God at work in the miraculous, but God is not bound by human considerations and mind sets, He is only bound by Apathy and a lack of Faith.
In “ACTS 4:23–31” we read of the Disciples of Jesus who had been brought before the authorities for Preaching and Healing, they had a time of Worship, and then in “Verses 29 – 30” it says….”And now, Lord behold their threatening, and grant unto thy servants, that we with boldness may spread thy Word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy Holy Child Jesus” and what a prayer this was, for in the next verse we are told that the place was shaken, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and were filled with Faith to proclaim Jesus to all, and there was a real move into the miraculous, but remember THEY PRAYED FOR IT, and they got what they prayed for.
The Blind were made to see, the Lame walked, the Possessed were liberated the Deaf could hear again and all this because a bunch of ordinary people, believed that they had an EXTRAORDINARY God, to whom they submitted and surrendered themselves to.
How are you feeling about your Christian Walk,are you happy with it, well can I then say, both to you and myself, “We’llshame on us” because if we are happy, with a whole community Dying forwant of the Message of the Gospel, in Desperate Straights for want of theMiraculous in their lives and like Lemmings running headlong into Hades and aLost Eternity, then something is dramatically wrong.
PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO EVANGELISM
If you have been Baptised in the Holy Spirit, I’m sure that you will remember that initially, after the excitement of “Speaking in other tongues” had dissipated that you were filled with a great desire to go out and inform everybody of Jesus and His love and salvation, and this is exactly how it should have been, the prime example of this is found in the Acts of the Apostles.
In the Book of Acts the first thing that happened after the 120 were filled with the Holy Ghost was that they went out and proclaimed Jesus. The Bible tells us “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and you shall be my witnesses” – “Acts 1:8” this was the initial desire that God had and still is His desire, when the 120 were filled and then proclaimed Jesus, 5000 were added to the Kingdom of God, that was truly a move into evangelism.
Any Church group or fellowship considering a move from their present location, and an increase in their fellowships profile, and have the vision to see an increase in their congregation, must in these aspirations and for them to be effective will need to be fully committed, involved and very importantly Holy Ghost filled.
If at this present time you feel lethargic andcannot muster yourself to witness, or you are overcome by inner fears ofvarying sorts, well! Perhaps you need to be filled afresh or even for the firsttime.
PENTECOST IS THE PATHWAY TO PRAYER
In “ACTS 1:14; ACTS 2:42; ACTS 2:24” and a number of other Scriptures we see examples of Gods people praying and earnestly seeking after God, and the great desire of heart that is exhibited is clearly seen. The Book of Acts is a book characterised by Prayer, and what prayers they were, Earthquakes occurred, Houses were shaken, Christians were released from Prison, Bodies were Healed, and the Dead raised to Life, and the reason why the prayers of the individuals were so effective and powerful was the Baptism in the Holy Ghost.
One cannot truly know the mind of the Spirit and of course pray in the Spirit unless filled with the Spirit. The Prayer life of any Christian is usually the most difficult of all the spiritual exercises that we are involved in, it is the most exhausting and the most demanding, and yet it can at the same time be the most rewarding and have the very greatest of effects.
The Bible says….”Greateris He that is within you than he that is in the world” – “1 John 4:4” and thus if your desire, and itshould be, to be a conqueror and to accomplish things for God in prayer, thefirst important ingredient is to be filled with the Holy Spirit
PENTECOST IS THE PATHWAY TO TRUE WORSHIP
What is the World looking for, No! Let me rephrase that and bring it more home to roost, “What is the population of your community looking for?”.
- Are they looking for a group of people moved by emotionalism, never!
- Are they looking for a people who are always babbling away in other tongues, never!
- Those involved in Interdenominational Worship Sessions and Groups, again never!
What then are they and God looking for? Simply, a group of people, men and women who are real and who will be live real in their daily living and walk. If the people of your community see that you are “real” – “Ordinary people with an extraordinary God” they will take note of you and the things that you have to say.
Worship is more than nicely phrased sentences in a meeting and joyfully singing it is both the Walk and Talk of our lives.
“ROMANS 12:1” puts it very succinctly when it says in the American Standard Version…”I urge you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship”.
What a great delight God finds when He comes to our meeting times and instead of a need for the Leader to encourage and stimulate Praise and Worship there is an eagerness to exhibit our love for the Lord and to testify of His greatness in our lives”.
Likewise, when the Lord comes out with us to do our shopping in the local centre, or to the shoe shop, or He decides to hang around with us at the office or help with the housework and sees that as opportunities arise we tell of His salvation, He is delighted. It is similarly the case when He sees in the way that we act and live out our lives, that we manifest the true heart of an Ambassador for Him.
Worship is our Life and not just a couple of hours a week in the times when we gather together, and if we are to be truly pleasers of God, then the only way in which we can truly be living the life of Worship that He requires is to receive His gift of the Holy Ghost
In conclusion then let me reiterate what Pentecost is……
- PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO THE MIRACULOUS.
- PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO EVANGELISM.
- PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO PRAYER.
- PENTECOST IS A MOVE INTO WORSHIP.
To the Apostles Pentecostalism in its “classical meaning” was Doctrine to them, and that Doctrine was translated into everyday life, it made them into the people they were.
It is true to say today that Truth is Progressive and Multi-Denominational. Our understanding of it Evolves as we grow in Christ. However, it never Evolves into something that Contradicts its Foundations.
In our understanding of His Truth I want to ask you a personal question today: –
- Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit?
- Have you spoken in other tongues?
If to either of these two questions you have answered No, then you need to immediately start to seek after God, because if you have not received the Holy Spirit, then you are not being as effective and consequential as God would have you to be, and those who have been Baptised in the Holy Ghost, Well!, we need to be refilled and continually filled in order to be truly pleasing to the Lord.
The Apostle said “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed” – “Acts 19:2“