Today, we’re concluding our message series Church Without Walls from the book of Acts. In our current situation we’ve been studying how the early church in Acts thrived, even though they did not have church buildings to meet in. Yet, we are very grateful that we are now able to meet together as a church family.
Our final message in the series today is entitled “Spirit Baptism.” Today is also Pentecost Sunday, the Sunday on which we remember and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost was the second great festival of the Jewish year. It was a celebration of the harvest. The first-fruits of the harvested crops were presented as offerings to God.
The Holy Spirit coming on the Day of Pentecost represents God’s spiritual harvest of souls beginning through the power of the Spirit. Pentecost marked the end of the occasional presence of the Spirit on certain individuals in the Old Testament era. And it marked the beginning of the New Testament era with the Spirit’s continued presence and empowerment available to all God’s people. Before we get into our text from Acts today about the day of Pentecost, let’s look at some teachings of Jesus that help us understand it’s significance.
John 14:17 (ESV) even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
In this verse, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, who had put their faith in Him before the day of Pentecost. He told them that they knew the Spirit because He dwelt with them and would in the future be in them. This transition of the Spirit going from being with to in them corresponds to being born again.
John 20:22 (ESV) And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
This verse occurs in the last chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus breathes eternal life into His disciples as He sends the Holy Spirit inside of them. This fulfilled His prophesy about the Spirit that we read previously. Yet having the Spirit inside of them was not all the disciples needed.
Luke 24:49 (ESV) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The disciples needed something that Jesus here called the promise of the Father which would clothe them with God’s power to carry out God’s purpose. As we’ll see today, that power came through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Before we get into the Scripture this morning, let’s watch a short video summary of the day of Pentecost called Acts 2 – Pentecost. So, let’s begin with what …
Acts 1:4-5 (ESV) And while staying with them he [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The book of Acts begins after Jesus has risen from the dead. He spent time teaching His disciples before He ascended back into heaven 40 days after the resurrection. The same disciples who had received the Spirit previously were now ordered to wait for the promise of the Father. We read in the Gospels a number of places where Jesus prophesied that the Father’s promise was the coming the Holy Spirit. In these verses Jesus tells us that the promise of the Father is the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which He also spoke of previously. The mission of the disciples to reach their world for Jesus could not begin without each one being baptized in the Spirit.
Acts 1:6-7 (ESV) So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
It seems the disciples did not understand the importance of what Jesus was saying to them, nor of His instructions to them. They asked a completely unrelated question. They wanted to know if the kingdom would be restored to Israel. This was a political question. The disciples were still looking for Jesus, the Messiah, to overthrow the Romans and put Israel back in charge of their political government. Jesus simply told them not to be concerned about the timing of events in the future. He had already taught them that God’s kingdom was not expressed in political power, it was a spiritual kingdom. But this was not time for that kind of talk. The disciples needed to be looking forward to and praying for the beginning of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Their focus needed to change.
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.”
What the disciples needed was the power of the Holy Spirit. They would receive this power when the Spirit came upon them, which is another way of saying when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Once they had the power of the Spirit, they would be able to fulfill Jesus’ command to tell the world about Him. To be His witnesses in ever enlarging circles beginning in Jerusalem and expanding to the end of the earth. Spirit baptism was a major part of Jesus’ teaching and equipping of His disciples to carry on God’s work after He ascended into heaven.
So, this Spirit baptism was to give spiritual power to Jesus’ disciples so that they could be His witnesses. We’re going to see as we go on this morning, that it was not just the apostles that received Spirit baptism, but many others. This spiritual power to be witnesses involves enhancing a believer’s relationship with God through the Spirit. Giving the believer a new way to communicate with God and to hear God speak back to them.
In fact, Spirit baptism could be likened to the opening of a doorway or channel to the Holy Spirit Himself. Through this channel, you are able to communicate with the Spirit on another level and tap into the Spirit’s power whenever its needed. The power of the Spirit is seen through spiritual gifts, which is a topic we won’t have time to cover in depth this morning. Needless to say, Jesus’ instructions to His disciples to wait for the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a command to every believer. So, let’s see what happened when …
Acts 2:1-2 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Acts 1:8 where Jesus told the disciples to wait for Spirit baptism were Jesus’ last words before He ascended back into heaven. A group of disciples numbering 120 gathered to wait and pray for the Holy Spirit to come, not knowing exactly when He would come. As they were praying on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came. The first physical sign was a loud sound like a mighty rushing wind. Everyone knew that something supernatural was happening.
Acts 2:3-4 (ESV) And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Next flames or tongues of fire appeared and came upon each one of the believers. Next they were filled with the Holy Spirit or in Jesus’ terminology, baptized in the Holy Spirit. The initial outward evidence that they had been Spirit baptized was that they began to speak in tongues through the Spirit. Tongues refers to languages that the believers did not know. As it is no possible to speak in a language you haven’t learned, this was a supernatural work of the Spirit.
Acts 2:6 (ESV) And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
People heard all these believers speaking, but they were all speaking in different languages. People from many languages and nations were in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost and each one was hearing the disciples speaking in their own language. This amazed the people, because the disciples did not know these other languages.
Acts 2:11b-13 (ESV) … we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
The disciples were speaking of God’s mighty works or miracles, giving praise to God. The crowd didn’t understand what was going on. Yet, some thought their speaking was simply the meaningless chatter of someone who was drunk. God had begun pouring out His Spirit in a new way, the promise of the Father had begun.
In this account, we see three groups of people. The first group is the 120 disciples who were baptized with the Spirit and praising God in tongues. The second group was the people who were amazed and intrigued by the activity of the Holy Spirit. And the third group was those who were mocking the Spirit-filled believers. We have the same three groups today. God desires for us to be in the group of the Spirit baptized disciples.
Tongues polarized people into those three groups back then and it does the same today. There is much more teaching on tongues in the New Testament which we don’t have time to study today. Suffice it to say that tongues is the outward sign that one has been Spirit baptized. The ongoing use of praying in tongues is the key to the power of the Spirit in a believer’s life. Without Spirit baptism, a believer will never reach their full potential with God. If you would like to know more about Spirit baptism, I’d encourage you to pick up the free book on our guest table entitled Power for Life by Jeff Leake.
Acts 2:15-17 (ESV) For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘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;
Peter gets up and begins to speak to the crowd. He first debunks that mockers who said the believers were drunk. Then he goes on to say that what began to happen on the day of Pentecost was prophesied by the prophet Joel. Spirit baptism is a sign that the last days have begun, the time between when Jesus ascended into heaven and when He will return. In the time of the last days, which we are living in, God is going to pour out his Spirit on all people who will receive Him.
The outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was just the beginning of the ongoing outpouring of the Spirit. The signs of Spirit baptism would be three-fold: prophesy, visions, and dreams. Each of these signs involves God communicating with people through His spirit. Tongues is simply another form of prophesy in which the prophetic word is spoken in a language the speaker has never learned.
In the prophesy of Joel, we learn that Spirit baptism is for everyone and that it is for the entire period of the last days until Jesus returns. I’d encourage you to read the entire chapters of Acts 1 and 2 this week to get the whole story. In the next verses, Peter continues to speak to the people about what is going on at the day of Pentecost. He concludes in …
Acts 2:38-39 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
These are two of the most important verses in the book of Acts and probably in the whole New Testament. Peter is preaching under the power of the Spirit for the first time. The Spirit is inspiring him to present the essence of what God wants to do in every person’s life. The three most important spiritual foundations in a person’s life are given here.
The first is to repent. In reading the whole message of Peter, we know that this involved repenting of your sin, believing in Jesus to forgive your sin and acknowledging Him as the Lord of your life. The second spiritual foundation is to be water baptized in the name of Jesus. The third spiritual foundation is to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, to be Spirit baptized.
Who are these three things for? They were for the people listening, their children and for everyone else of all time and all location. Salvation, water and Spirit baptism are for everyone in our day until Jesus returns.
Acts 2:41 (ESV) So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The result of Peter’s preaching and the work of the Spirit was that 3000 people followed his instructions. They repented, were water baptized and received Spirit baptism and spoke in tongues. As we read through the book of Acts we read detailed accounts of different people going through these same three steps of spiritual foundation. Spirit baptism is for all.
As on the day of Pentecost, there are undoubtedly three groups of people listening to this message today on Pentecost Sunday, in person or online. Some of you have experienced Spirit baptism. I would encourage you to continue to use the spiritual gifts that God has given you as a witness and seek Him for more. Others may be just perplexed by the whole topic. You’ve heard of many who don’t believe what the Bible teaches on the topic. You’re not sure why you need anything more in your life.
If you’re not saved, then you don’t have God’s Spirit inside of you at all. If you are saved, you need the power of the Spirit in your life. You may even have prayed for Spirit baptism and nothings seemed to happen. Keep on seeking, God will answer your prayer in His time. And for the third group of those who are mockers, God loves you too. He wants your life to be blessed. Pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you and He will.