Pentecost Sunday 2023 Sermon Notes - Watch the sermon on YouTube
We finish our After the Resurrection series with the arrival of the Holy Spirit whom Christ told the disciples when He ascended that He would send. Remember He had told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait until it came.
Today is known as Pentecost Sunday. The Greek word used means fifty. I want to share a little about the historical Pentecost and what the Pentecost means to us as Christians today in this message.
Pentecost is celebrated in both Jewish and many Christian circles. Pentecost is not a new holiday for Christians only. It predates our faith going all the way back to the Torah, the Old Testament Law.
“To the Jews, this time of celebration is known as Shavuot, which is the Hebrew word meaning “weeks.” This is one of three separate names that are used in Scripture to refer to this important Jewish feast. Besides being called the Feast of Weeks in Leviticus 23, this special feast celebration is called the “Day of the Firstfruits” in Numbers 28:26 and the “Feast of Harvest” in Exodus 23:16. The Feast of Weeks takes place exactly 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits. It normally occurs in late spring, either the last part of May or the beginning of June.
Unlike other feasts that began on a specific day of the Hebrew calendar, this one is calculated as being “fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:15–16; Deuteronomy 16:9–10).” - Gotquestions.com
It follows the Passover by fifty days.
When it comes to the Christian Church, and what this day means to us there is much to be seen.
Jesus was crucified as the “Passover Lamb.” He rose from the grave at the Feast of First Fruits. Following His resurrection, Jesus spent the next 40 days teaching His disciples before ascending to heaven (Acts 1).
Fifty days after His resurrection and after ascending to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit as promised (John 14:16–17) to indwell the disciples and empower them for ministry.
The promised Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost, which is another name for the Feast of Weeks.
Let’s recount this event as Luke records it in Acts 2.
Acts 2:1–18 ESV
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.”
Peter's Sermon at Pentecost
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. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
Many times in the bible we read of people seeking a word from God in the wind. In Genesis it even speaks of the Spirit hovering over the land, this Ruah word in Genesis is translated most as spirit, but can also be breath or wind.
Think about Jesus’s own words about how the Spirit is like the wind…it blows where it wants to.
John 3:8 ESV
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.”
And Luke records that "tongues as of fire” appeared above people’s heads. Fire is very often used, or seen, as God’s presence throughout the OT. From the burning bush and Moses to the Israelite’s travels during the Exodus, they were led by fire in the night and a column of smoke during the day.
God is described as an “all-consuming fire.”
So there can be no doubt here, that just as Christ had told them, God would send the Holy Spirit…and here He came with wind and fire.
These tongues were not the spiritual gift of praying in tongues or speaking in tongues as Paul speaks of. Instead it was a supernatural ability to speak in languages they did not know so that others would be taught and hear the gospel of Jesus’s substitutionary death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.
It is by the Holy Spirit’s power that Peter was emboldened to stand up and deliver a message that would have been seen as condemning the very people that had crucified Jesus. The same man that feared them enough to deny even knowing Jesus prior, is now strengthened through the Spirit to speak against them with power.
Peter says that all of this that happened was prophesied. In other words, this was the fulfillment of what the Jews would have already read in the prophets.
Joel 2:28–29 ESV
“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. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
Joel 2:32 ESV
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
So what does the Holy Spirit mean for us today? What does it mean for you and me? For the answer, we need to look to Jesus’s own words. It is promised by God in the OT, and Jesus said it would come when He left the earth.
Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told the disciples they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came.
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Isn’t it interesting that boldly witnessing is the first display of the Holy Spirit seen in the disciples? Peter courageously stands up and preaches a highly convicting message to those gathered within the place for the Feast. The people there weren’t there for Jesus, they were there for the obligatory act.
The disciples received the Holy Spirit. The people then thought they must be mad or had been drinking because they were hearing these disciples speaking in their languages. People were there from all over the world and yet they heard these Galileans speaking in their languages.
Jesus said they would receive power to be His witnesses. This wasn’t a physical, stronger-than-anyone display of power. It was the gift of boldness, the gift of unattainable knowledge, the gift or power to explain the Gospel, to be His witnesses, so that others might believe and be saved. They were telling them of the Mighty Works of God.
Guess what you and I have the power to do? We, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and our own experience of the mighty works of God in our own lives, have the power to be His witnesses. We can tell others about the work of God in our lives and share the Gospel that God can do the same thing in their lives.
The Holy Spirit gives us boldness. Scripture says that He will give us the words to speak.
I’m afraid though, that too often we lose our focus on Him, and we look at ourselves, denying His power within us, believing we are too weak, too dumb, to share the Gospel. So we don’t allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work through us. But, we have it. It’s in us. We just need to unleash it on the world around us!
Jesus says the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth. He calls Him the Helper in John 14:26.
I need help. Do you need help?
John 14:26 ESV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Helper will teach and bring to remembrance what Jesus has taught us. How many of you have had that feeling when wanting to share about Jesus to someone and thought to yourself, “I’m not sure what to say. Can I remember enough Scripture to answer their questions?” Jesus says the Holy Spirit will help us remember.
We’ve mentioned before how we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to learn from the Scriptures. It all seems foolishness without having the Spirit. But when we have Him He illuminates the Scriptures so that we can see and learn and receive the Word of God.
He is Our Advocate
The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. Not only does He help us in many ways, but He advocates for us…He speaks for us.
Paul reminds us in Romans 8.
Romans 8:26–27 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We need an advocate, and Jesus gives us what we need.
Have you ever had someone advocate for you, and speak for you in life? It felt good right? It made you feel like you mattered. We matter to God, and so the Spirit shows us by advocating, and speaking on our behalf to the Father.
Guidance and Teaching: Jesus assured His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to guide them into all truth and remind them of His teachings (John 14:26; John 16:13-14). The Spirit would illuminate their understanding and help them grasp the deeper meaning of Jesus' words.
Comfort and Advocate: Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Comforter or Advocate who would come alongside His followers to provide comfort, support, and encouragement (John 14:16-17, 26). The Spirit would be their helper in times of need.
Empowerment for Witnessing: Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would empower His disciples to be witnesses of Him, enabling them to testify boldly about Him and His work (Acts 1:8). The Spirit would give them the necessary boldness, words, and spiritual power to proclaim the Gospel.
Conviction of Sin: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). The Spirit would bring about conviction in people's hearts, leading them to recognize their need for repentance and the righteousness offered through faith in Jesus.
Spiritual Fruit: Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would produce spiritual fruit in the lives of believers, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit's presence and work would transform their character to reflect Christ's likeness.
Unity and Fellowship: The Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in uniting believers in the body of Christ, fostering love, harmony, and mutual support within the community of believers (Ephesians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
And when it comes to our Salvation, this is a work of the Holy Spirit alone. It is God’s gift of grace to us, and it is offered to you.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and our need for a Savior. John 16:8. It is He that opens our eyes to recognize we are sinners.
The Holy Spirit regenerates us. As Jesus taught Nicodemus, we need to be born again. This is regeneration. It is dying to our old self and being raised to new life in Christ, being born again of the Spirit. John 3:5-8.
The Holy Spirit indwells or lives in us. Romans 8:9. You are no longer your own. Like the Tabernacle the Israelites used to haul around as “God’s dwelling place.” We are His temples now. We are where God, through His Spirit resides.
The Holy Spirit seals us. The Holy Spirit’s presence in us proves we are God’s saved people. We know we are His when we know He is doing all these things in our lives…giving us power, and knowledge, and helping us to produce the fruits of the Spirit in our life.
Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
The Holy Spirit is the unconditional guarantee of our inheritance, of our adoption as children of God, heirs with Christ, or an eternal inheritance.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. Sanctification is the work of the Spirit in our life making us more like Christ. He’s forming us into the image of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
You’re not there yet. Me either. But like me, I am sure that if you have believed in Christ and received His forgiveness through the Holy Spirit, then you are a better person now than you were right?
You’ve probably seen some of those fleshly desires be crucified in your life. The things you used to find enjoyment in, are now foolish endeavors. In place of them is that joy that can’t be taken away.
Friends, today is said to be the birth of the Church, the Bride of Christ.
Nearly 2,000 years ago a movement of men and women from all nations received the Holy Spirit and were sent into the world to be Christ’s witnesses for the salvation of the world.
The Holy Spirit is why I have given all these words to you today, in the hopes that you too would be filled with the Holy Spirit.
That you too would receive His power, become His witnesses, know His comfort, and be sanctified in Christ.
May you know Him as intimately as He knows you, and I pray His power would be unleashed in us all.