Sermon: Baptized With the Holy Spirit and With Fire (Acts 2:1-13)

Baptized With the Holy Spirit and With Fire

Acts 2:1-13

Introduction

God does whatever He wants whenever He wants.  In the Book of Acts, we are going to be exposed to some things that should cause our view of God to expand.  In other words, God cannot and will not be forced into a box.  We cannot dictate to God what He can do and what He cannot do.
There have been times in history when God pours out His Spirit to such a degree that everything changes.  We see this in the beginning of Acts.  As we look to the history of the Church, we learn about great revivals such as the Great Awakening during the days of Jonathan Edwards and see the effects of a wonderful outpouring of the Spirit.
When we are saved, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He does an amazing work within our hearts.  We are changed and our life of sanctification begins.  We never want to consider that event anything less than an amazing miracle.  And, at the same time, God has, at certain times, also poured out His Spirit and when He does, His Kingdom takes large strides toward it’s fulfillment.
It’s a very good thing to pray for a pouring out of God’s Spirit as was seen at Pentecost, or during one of the great historical revivals.  Most of the time, God works in the everyday events and causes us to grow closer to Christ little by little.  Once in a while, however, He pours out His Spirit on His people and His Kingdom moves forward in a great way.
The passage under consideration today should be seen as the fulfillment of Joel 2 and Luke 3:16…

Joel 2:28-29 (ESV)
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

Luke 3:16 (ESV)
16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Primary Claim of the Text
The Holy Spirit is given in full measure to every believer as symbolized by the tongues of fire.
Human Condition Met By the Text
Just like the Apostles, we too need the Holy Spirit’s power to speak boldly to others about the life and death of Jesus Christ.  We must be empowered to go and tell others.  No one can be a faithful witness without the power of God.  This passage shows us just how important it is to have as Paul calls Him, the Spirit of Christ.

I think another important issue this text deals with is that God is the God who works miracles and wonders.  Too often as Christians we can get used to the status quo and forget to expect awesome things from God.
PLEASE HEAR GOD”S WORD…
Acts 2:1-13 (ESV)
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,
11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

1.  The Day Had Arrived

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
Luke reports that the day of Pentecost had come.  He uses a rare Greek word that appears in only one other place and here, it’s used by Luke to explain that something is being fulfilled.  In other words, something that for centuries had been but a promise of God was now about ready to be fulfilled.  The number of days was finished.
I remember when our kids were little we would make a paper chain to use as a countdown for Christmas Day.  Each paper link represented one day.  As we removed them we would count down the days.  This Greek word, SYNPLEROW we see, in a way, God had set a time that this pouring out of the Holy Spirit would take place and He was counting down the days…He just tore away the last link of the paper chain and it is time.
It was the same in the only other place it’s used in the Bible…

Luke 9:51 (ESV)
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Here, with Jesus’ ascension, there was a certain timetable.  In other words, Jesus was taken up to heaven at exactly a preordained time.
The same is true here.  Pentecost was the day in which God would pour out the Holy Spirit and begin or affect the New Covenant.  In God’s preordained timetable the time had come.
We remember that the Holy Spirit had been promised in the days of Abraham back in Genesis.  This promise would come to pass on this particular day…fifty days after Passover.  Pentecost was considered a holiday in that no work was to be done on that day.
There were three great festivals in which all Jews living within twenty miles of Jerusalem had to attend…Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles.  Many came, even those living at great distances from the city.  This explains why there were so many people speaking different languages present that day.

Pentecost means the fifty.  It took place fifty days after Passover.  It was sometimes called the Feast of Weeks because the fiftieth day was the end of seven weeks…a week of weeks, as it was sometimes called.
The main purpose of remembering the Day of Pentecost was that it signified the day on which Moses was given the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.  It also had another significance, and that is it was when the Jews would offer to God the first fruits of the barley harvest as an offering.
Moses’ receiving of the Ten Commandments marked the giving of the Law or the Mosaic Covenant.  There would be no better day for God to pour out His New Covenant on His followers than on this day, the Day of Pentecost.
Pentecost was also the festival in which the harvest was celebrated and the first fruits given to God.  As we’ll learn next week, there would be a great harvest of souls, as Peter would call on everyone to repent.  God would gather in a great harvest as well on Pentecost.  So, Pentecost was the perfect day for God to pour out the Holy Spirit.
2.  Three Signs to Give Witness

            A. Rushing Wind

2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
As they were in the upper room praying, there came a mighty rushing wind.
The word in Greek and Hebrew…pneuma and ruah both mean wind, breath, or Spirit.
Ezekiel 37:9-14 (ESV)
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’
12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

When Jesus was asked by Nicodemus about the new birth, Jesus answered…

John 3:1-8 (ESV)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

If the Holy Spirit’s work in the new birth is called wind, then the Holy Spirit’s work at Pentecost could be called a tornado…sound of a rushing wind.
Many people have described the sound of a tornado like being really close to a fast moving train.  Other say it sounds like a jet engine.  Here, in the upper room there was a loud and continual sound of massive wind filling the upper room.  The wind was blowing, the Spirit was moving, the breath of God was breathing on those in that room.

B.  Tongues of Fire

3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
Throughout redemptive history God had at times appeared to man in the form of fire or burning glory.  We could look to the examples of the burning bush, the pillar of fire leading His people in the wilderness, the fire, wind and lightning that accompanied the giving of the Ten Commandment and the Sinai experience.
The Holy Spirit is seen and heard.  He is seen as fire or glory and heard as the mighty rushing wind.  It seems that what is taking place is the fire that is symbolic of God’s presence with His people is now divided and comes to rest above each of the twelve apostles.   This is showing that from now on the Holy Spirit will be indwelling each individual believer and empowering them to do what God calls them to do.

It seems somewhat like…

Numbers 11:24-25 (ESV)
24 So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent.
25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.

These flames like fire called fiery tongues were the presence of God.  Just as the lightning flashed on top of Mt. Sinai when Moses was given the Law of God so now God would give a new law.  This is the law of freedom for all people.  These small flaming tongues were God empowering His people with the Holy Spirit for bold evangelism.

We have Luke’s description of what these flames looked like…Tongues of Fire…now we are introduced to not the tongues that can be seen but tongues that can be heard.
Now, let’s see what happens when the Holy Spirit is poured out on God’s leaders…

C.  Tongues of the Nations[1]

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,
11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
As mentioned already, there have been times when God has moved in miraculous ways and there have been great revivals/awakenings in history.  However, there has never been a day like this day.

Being filled with the Spirit was an experience to be repeated on several occasions (Acts 4:8; 31), but the baptism in the Spirit which the believing community now experienced was an event which took place once for all[2]

What was the result of this Spirit Baptist?

began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This is not an example of an angelic speech or utterance as some would tell us.  This is an example of God beginning to spread the Gospel to those who speak a different dialect that Hebrew or Aramaic.

The miracle is that these dialects were not languages previously known to the Apostles and languages that they would soon forget.

When they were immersed in the Spirit something happened to them.  They were overpowered by the Spirit and began doing what the Holy Spirit does, namely, glorifying God and bringing things to life.  It was the Spirit who hovered over the face of the deep and created life on earth.  It was the Spirit who hovered over Mary to create life within her womb, it was the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, it is the Spirit who causes a sinner to be born again.

Here, the Holy Spirit is sending forth the message of eternal life through the Apostles.

we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
The word translated as tongues is the Greek word GLosalaia

This word is a simple word which means literally the tongue and is used to mean human speech or human language.

Here it is very clear that you had all the different people groups assembled in Jerusalem and they all spoke different languages.  In God’s great plan He chose to allow the Tower of Babel to be reversed for a while.  The Apostles were actually speaking in languages that they personally did not know but some assembled there with them did.  What is also important is that the message they spoke was the message of the mighty deeds of God, especially surrounding the cross.

3. Two Reactions to the Coming Holy Spirit

            A. Many Were Amazed

12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

The ones who could understand what the Apostles were saying were amazed.  They were hearing the Good News for the first time by those who could not speak their language.

What is also clear is that even though these foreign Jews were hearing the Gospel in their own language, there was an added dimension to this event that they did not understand.  They heard and understood their words but needed a more complete explanation… What does this mean?”

How would they understand?  This sets up next week’s message as we listen to Peter’s further explanation

B. Some Mocked

13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Then there are always the skeptics with their explanation of the event.   It is also this mistaken explanation that leads Peter to his sermon…

Acts 2:14-15 (ESV)
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.
15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Primary Claim of the Text
The Holy Spirit is given in full measure to every believer as symbolized by the tongues of fire.
I have this as the TT because I want us to realize that the same Holy Spirit that entered the room as a mighty rushing wind and then split and rested above each person that day is the same Holy Spirit we receive as believers.  The Apostles were in full submission to the Spirit’s leading and mighty works were accomplished.  The Bible calls every believer to submit to the Spirit’s leading as well.  Are you in subject to the Spirit’s leading today?  Or do you quench the Spirit?

Lord’s Supper


[1] The Message of Acts by Dennis Johnson pg. 60

[2] The Book of Acts (NICNT) by F. F. Bruce pg. 51

%d bloggers like this: