…here we are again at what is a really monumental portion of Scripture
Acts 2. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly, there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves. And they rested on each one of them.”
That is the phenomena that God designed to inaugurate the birth of the church. We are the church.
In chapter 1, the disciples were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 2, He arrives.
The great events
This simple explanation in the verses that I read is the inauguration of the next great event of redemptive history. First, there was the Old Testament, Revelation
(1) After the completion of the Old Testament…the arrival of God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came and was made flesh and dwelled among us. And 30 years or so later, the next great event in God’s redemptive purpose, His death, ratifying the new covenant by the sacrifice of Himself.
(2) And a few days later, the next great event, which was the resurrection from the dead by which God affirmed the satisfaction that he had in his own mind over the sacrifice Christ had rendered. Forty days after that…was the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ as He went back into heaven to be crowned and seated at the Father’s right hand, having accomplished redemption.
(3) The next great event is this one in chapter 2 of the Book of Acts. The sending of the Holy Spirit to bring the believers together and establish the church in which He takes up residence.
Here we meet the Church
Something promised in the New Testament, and even described in some measure by the Lord Himself who spoke of the church in the 16th chapter of Matthew. But the church up to this point has been a mystery, something hidden about to be revealed.
So here, we meet the bride of Christ, the church. Here, we meet the branches connected to Christ who is divine.
Here we meet the flock for whom Jesus is the good shepherd. Here we meet those who are part of the kingdom of salvation, ruled by the son of God. The church, it is called a household. It is called a family of sons by adoption. It is called a building, an edifice. It is called a spiritual temple with Jesus and the apostles as the foundation. It is also called a body, and in fact, it is the body of Christ. This is the most unique identification of the church in the New Testament.
The Body of Christ
In fact, in the Old Testament, you can see Israel basically called a vine. You can see Israel called a kingdom. You can see Israel identified as a household and a family. You can see Israel as a building that God is building. But the unique metaphor for the church found only in the New Testament is that the church is a body. It is a body of Christ.
This is what our Lord promised in chapter 1, verse 5. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Those are very important words because that is Jesus saying, “This is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
He had to be referring to what happened a few days later on Pentecost. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I emphasize that because there is so much confusion and misrepresentation of that wondrous work of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is Christ immersing us in the Spirit, in the life of the Spirit, which we share with every other believer and constitute together the body of Christ.
The meaning of the word Pentecost
Jesus ascended 40 days after His resurrection. We’re now ten days later when we read verse 1. When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. All together in one place.
The word Pentecost is a Greek word meaning the 50th part of something or the 50th in sequence or in order. To the Jews, it was the name of one of their feasts. It was a feast that took 50 days after Passover.
The Old Testament gave it several names. In Exodus 23, it’s called Chag hǎ-qāṣîr, which is the Feast of Harvest. Also in Exodus, that’s Exodus 23. Later on in Exodus 34, it’s called Chag hǎ-Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks. And in the Book of Numbers, it’s called the day of first fruits. So all of those are Old Testament references to this 50 day event. What is its purpose?
It commemorates the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Mark that in your mind. It commemorates, and you might even add, it celebrates the arrival of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. But it also took on some other characteristics.
After the exile, it became the traditional celebration to remember the giving of the mosaic law. Now you say, “Why would they connect this with the giving of the Mosaic law?” The birth day of the Torah. Because it was about 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt that God gave Moses the law, and so they’ve added another 50 kind of celebration.
The key feasts
The Spirit comes because God deems that this is the very day the spirit is to come to fulfill pictures from the Old Testament that are very, very important…And the key feasts really are pictures of the work of Christ.
Leviticus 23, and go back on your own when you have time, and go through Leviticus 23 because in Leviticus 23, we learn of the feasts of the Lord given to Israel to celebrate
(1) The first was Passover. Passover. That was in the spring on the 14th of Nisan, and Passover was a picture of the death of Christ.
…And God bringing the fulfillment of the picture of the Passover had His son die on the Passover. That is why 1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “Christ, our Passover.
(2) The second feast in Leviticus 23 was the next day after Passover…This was the celebration symbolizing the full harvest to come. This is a picture of Christ’s resurrection, which came immediately after his death, and 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “Christ is the first fruits of those who sleep.”
(3) Fifty days later came the third feast. And it’s discussed in Leviticus 23 around verses 15 and 16. It’s the Feast of Harvest. This is Pentecost.
And it celebrates the wheat harvest.
They did it by offering two loaves baked with leaven. The wheat is baked and offered. The crop is not yet fully in, but this anticipates a full harvest. This is why they connected Pentecost with first fruits.
Leavened Bread – What it means
The coming of the Holy Spirit is another kind of first fruits. He comes as the arrabōn, the first fruits. He comes as the engagement ring that word means. He comes as the down payment of the final complete inheritance.
In the first fruits festival the day after Passover, which pictured the resurrection, they brought bread with no leaven. Why?
What did leaven represent? Sin. That celebrated the resurrection of Christ, and so there was no leaven because in Christ, there’s no sin. He’s the sinless one.
However, when they brought their loaf at Pentecost, it had leaven. Why? Because while there’s no sin in Christ, there is sin in the church. That’s the particularity of these images in Scripture.
The spirit was to come as the first fruit’s guarantee of our full inheritance, and that is exactly what Ephesians 1 says about the coming of the Holy Spirit.
So when some well-meaning Pentecostal says things like this, here is a quote from one of their journals. “We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2 is given to believers who ask for it,” they are way off. This is not something you ask for.
Violent rushing wind
So they’re all together in one place…verse 2 says, “Suddenly from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind
This is not wind. Wind makes a loud noise. The wind here, however, is not to indicate actual wind, but to be a metaphor or an analogy to describe the kind of sound they heard. There’s no wind. Nothing is blowing around. There’s no physical wind. There’s only a sound like a hurricane. The word translated here, wind, is not the usual one, which ispneuma, but it’s one used here, and only one other place in chapter 17, verse 25, and it really means a blast, a blast…
Literally being engulfed with the Holy Spirit. This is the coming of the breath of God.That baptism also encompasses our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection as Romans 6 points out.
This is, in a sense, a non-experiential reality, like salvation. You don’t feel salvation. I know that people talk about I feel the presence of God. They don’t know what they’re talking about when they say that. You can’t feel the presence of God. You’ve never felt the presence of God. You better be glad you’ve never felt the presence of God, to be truthful…You can’t feel with your physical being something which is a spiritual reality.
Drawn together in one body
So on this occasion, for the first time ever in redemptive history, believing group who put their trust in the Savior are immersed in the Holy Spirit, drawn together in one body because they now possess the same spiritual life, the life of God through the Holy Spirit in them. This becomes the norm for every believer.
Romans 8:9 says, “Going forward, if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he’s none of his.” So He takes up residence at the point of salvation in every believer from here on, and we are all baptized into the body of Christ by the same spirit I just read, 1 Corinthians 12. So this is not an experience you seek. This is not something you chase. This is not something you qualify for. This is essentially a component of salvation.
…there is this uniting of every believer with all other believers in the body of Christ by sharing the common life of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Go back to John 17…“Keep them in your name, the name which you’ve given me that they may be one, even as we are.” We all know those verses. He prays for their unity.
Verse 20, “I don’t ask on behalf of these, but for those who believe in me that they may all be one, even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may be in us so that the world may believe.” And He says it again in verse 22. “The glory which you have given me I have given to them that they may be one,” and verse 23. “I in them and you in me that they may be perfected in unity.” That’s four times in one prayer Jesus says, “I want them to be one.
You have heard a myriad of sermons through the years from preachers who are saying, “Folks, you know, we really need to help Jesus have his prayer answered because it’s not working out that way. We need to be united. We need to love each other. We need to be one.”
That is not what that is talking about. The unity that Christ prayed for was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The prayer is answered. We are one.
Appeared to them in tongues
There appeared to them tongues.” Want you to understand what appeared were little tongues. Tongues that looked like fire. It wasn’t real wind, and it wasn’t real fire.
It was the sound of a mushing – a rushing violent wind, and it was the appearance of fire. Tongues sort of moving like they were flames, distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. Not physical wind and not physical fire. This is supernatural. These little tongues appeared over each one of them, over each one of them to make it clear that with no exception, each had received the Holy Spirit. Their baptism had occurred.
This is not the baptism of fire of Matthew 3:11. The baptism of fire of Matthew 3:11 is judgment. This is the visible manifestation of the descent of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is their life
The Holy Spirit is their life. Is their life. Now you’ll never lose the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit himself is the down payment on the future inheritance. Right? Ephesians 1. So he’s God’s engagement ring, God’s guarantee, God’s down payment, God’s first installment, God’s first fruits. You cannot lose the Holy Spirit. You cannot be without the Holy Spirit. That’s permanent
The instruction of Ephesians 5:18. Be being kept filled with the Spirit. What does that mean? It simply means let the presence of the Holy Spirit dominate you.
… which is to say to continually yield to the spirit’s power and control so that he moves us.
… then you know you possess joy, gratitude, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. When all of those are your attitudes, you know you’re being filled with the Spirit.
Steven filled with the Holy Spirit
In the seventh chapter, that wonderful chapter about Steven, when the people heard Steven’s message, it says, verse 54, “They were cut to the quick convicted, began gnashing their teeth at him, but being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. In the moment of his suffering, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he was made ready to face his Lord.”
So that’s the pursuit of your life. Not the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but to be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s what we’re after. That is experiential. Baptism is positional. Filling is practical.
One last point
So the church is born on the day of Pentecost. And what signifies its birth is the arrival of the Holy Spirit.
You say, “Wait a minute. Hasn’t the Holy Spirit been around before?”
Of course, but Jesus said there’s a distinction. He told the disciples, “He has been with you. He will be in you.”
It’s not a question of whether he’s there or not. It’s a question of degree. This is a new dimension, and the with you and in you distinguishes the body concept, which isn’t in the Old Testament in which we’re united in some way uniquely in a common shared life
Why is it important to study the Bible? Because how do you know the will of the Holy Spirit if you don’t know the revelation of the Holy Spirit’s will in Scripture?
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth – John 17:17