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The Promise of Pentecost

Acts 2:38-39

 

"And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.'" (NASB) 

Have you ever stopped to think that Peter included Lighthouse Baptist Church in his sermon at Pentecost? He said the promise is "to all that are afar off." Do you believe we are included? Can we experience this dynamic power in our day? Do you believe our church can claim the Pentecostal promise?

On the Day of Pentecost, 3000 souls were added to the church, all because Christ forgave their sins and the people received the gift of the Holy Sprit in their lives. Do you believe the Pentecostal power is alive and well today? Would you like to see a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day and see Revival break out across our land? Before you answer those questions, there are a few things you might want to know.

First, GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS. He saves whom He wills, regardless of their ethnicity. The great miracle of the day of Pentecost is that every person heard the gospel in their own language. 

Acts 2:8-11 says, "Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? [9] Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10] Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome [11] (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (NIV) 

The original word used for "language" can be translated "dialect." I would have heard the message with a Southern accent. Others in our congregation would have heard it in Spanish, Chinese or Korean. The gospel was presented in the context of their culture. I suppose you could interpret this passage to say that we should have a separate church for every homogeneous group, but that isn't what happened in the New Testament Church. The groups may have clustered together, but they were all a part of the same church. Look no further than the controversy in Acts 6 between the Hellenistic Jews and the Native Jews to see that the same church housed different cultures.

This Spirit-filled body of believers were diverse, yet unified. THEY WERE ALSO VERY ACTIVE. They were a Church that ministered daily. Acts 2:46 says, "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts," (NIV) Now I don't necessarily think this means that everybody was meeting every day, rather I think it means something was always going on. Please don't think this passage justifies the kind of over involvement that keeps a person from having quality family time or from knowing anyone who needs to hear the gospel. But it does establish the need for a church to do more than meet for an hour a week.

Not only did they meet throughout the week, but they also allowed everyone to minister. Acts 2:41 says, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." (NIV) Do you think Peter could baptize 3000 people by himself in one day? No church can function effectively if the pastor is "the minister." I call it the "Big Cheese" syndrome. I first learned this fifteen years ago when I helped start a congregation four miles from the church I was pastoring. We called a part-time mission pastor to minister to the needs of the people and do the music. My Church allowed me to preach at the church for two years. Their service was at 9:30, while the home church's service was at 11:00. They also asked me to spend no more than 5 hours of my work week with the congregation, which meant I couldn't do the Pastoral care for the congregation, the mission pastor had to.

What do you think happened when the mission pastor visited in the homes? They asked: "When is Pastor Jim coming by?" Who do you think they wanted to do their counseling, funerals and weddings? When my two years of preaching was up, what do you think happened? They got in their cars and drove four extra miles to hear the "Big Cheese" preach and we had to close down the mission. When I was visiting that church again this winter for a funeral of one of my close friends, I noticed that several of those mission members are still attending the church. I'm grateful that they found a church home, but am still saddened that we were unsuccessful in planting a new church.

Not only was this first-century church diverse and active, they were also SUBMITTED TO GOD AND DEPENDED UPON HIM TO DO HIS WORK IN THEIR MIDST. Acts 2:47 says they were "praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." (NASB) God got the glory, there was a sense of peace among the people and God was adding to their numbers daily. No one gave the credit to a program or a personality–the reason this church flourished was because God was blessing them.

How many of you are ready to say, "sign me up?" Would you love to see a real Revival take place today like it did on the day of Pentecost when the Sprit fell upon the people? Would you like to claim the Pentecostal promise of Acts 2:38-39 for our church?

Wait, don't answer those questions before you consider the cost of Pentecost. Think for a moment about the hardships these first-century Christians endured. There were the internal conflicts created by the cultural diversity (Acts 6) and the differing religious backgrounds (Acts 15.) They were threatened because of the miracles they performed (Acts 4), and later persecution broke out resulting in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), the death of James (Acts 12) and the imprisonment of Peter (Acts 12). As the persecution became more widespread, people had to abandon their homes and disperse into the surrounding area (Acts 13 f).

Speaking of abandoning homes, other believers sold their property and gave the proceeds to the church so the church could carry out its work (Acts 4), in other words, there was a great personal cost to Pentecost. Some people lost everything–their property, their comfort–even their lives because of this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that if we see real revival, it will result in our church being a church where people attend that are different from you–a church that is diverse, and that it will be so active that you won't be able to be a part of everything that is going on–it will be active, so active that you won't be able to be "in control" of what is happening–God will be in control, let me ask you the question again: Would you like to see a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day and see Revival break out across our land? 

Before you answer that question, count the cost. Remember the sacrifices the first-century Christians had to make. They lost their homeland, their possessions and even their lives as a result of the great Revival that broke out.

So, would you like to see Revival?

Would it be worth it? I'll let the Apostle Paul answer that question. He said, "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." (Philip. 3:8 NIV) 

Is there anything in this world that you wouldn't be willing to lose for the sake of Christ and to see real Revival break out? If you can think of anything, then maybe you've become a bit too comfortable in this world.

In the Forward to Mark Tabb's book, Mission to Oz, Clay Crosse writes, "When I'm close to God, I feel at odds with this world in which I live. Yet, during those times when I have drifted away from Him, well, that's when I think that this world is just peachy and believe that it can make me happy." (p. 10)

Mark 8:36 asks an important question, it says, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (KJV) In the spirit of that verse, I'd like to ask another gut-wrenching question, "What good is it if a Christian becomes so comfortable with the world, that he loses a passion to reach another soul and to see real revival break out?" 

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