Are We Pentecostal?

// May 30th, 2020 // Sermons

It is good to gather for worship… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Are We Pentecostal? Or you could use this link to watch the whole service on YouTube: https://youtu.be/TuNOEU1x7qA…again this morning.  It is going to feel weird preaching to actual people in the church building, when that happens.  Today is Sunday #11 of services with an empty church.  But, it is so good to know that our God is still the same.  His standards have not changed, His Word has not changed, His character – who He is – has not changed, and the joy that fills our hearts when we worship Him together has not changed.

Before Jesus ascended up to heaven, He instructed His followers to stay in Jerusalem to await being “clothed with power from on high.”  I’m sure they could never have imagined how it did all play out.  But, the world was never the same after Pentecost.  Before we dig deeper into Pentecost, let’s again take some time to talk to our awesome God…

“Almighty God – You alone are holy and righteous.  Lord, we gather with believers all over the world, to humble ourselves before You to pray, to seek your Face and to turn from our wicked ways, to intercede for the lost, the hopeless, the helpless, in the world.

Father, we thank You for loving the world so much that You gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconciled to You and adopted into your Family.  What an amazing demonstration of Your mercy.

Lord, may your Kingdom be established in every nation of the world, Your will be done through the transformation among peoples of all tribes and languages, so that righteousness and justice will prevail.  We call on You for the salvation of the unsaved, for the unreached and for those who have never heard about Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Lord, this world is gripped by the power of sin.  Our hearts are grieved by injustice, hatred and violence.  We are ashamed by the oppression, racism, corruption, rape, theft and bloodshed in our land.  We mourn all loss of life in murder, abortion, assisted dying, war and terrorism.

Lord, forgive our sins and heal our land.  Your Word tells us that You destroyed sin, conquered death and defeated Satan.  At this present time we need You to deliver us from the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Deliver us from poverty, slavery and tyranny.  Remove the veil of darkness that covers the world. 

O God, as the people on that first Pentecost experienced the power and presence of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, we ask for an anointing that would bring healing to the sick, deliverance to the oppressed and to comfort those who mourn. 

Strengthen those who care for the sick and grant wisdom for a cure for the COVID19 virus.  Fill us with love and compassion for the homeless, the hungry, the orphans, the elderly and the marginalized.

Lord Jesus Christ, we confess that many homes are broken and many churches divided.  Our lives are polluted by selfishness, greed, idolatry and sexual perversions.  We draw near to You for forgiveness, healing and restoration.  We need wisdom and insight for the global financial crisis and how to use the resources of the Earth for the well-being of all.

Lord God, King of Glory, we ask that You would come and finish Your work in the people and the nations of the world.  O Lord God, come fill the earth with the knowledge of Your glory as the waters cover the sea.

Together with the Spirit and the Bride we say: Even so!  Come Lord Jesus!  Amen.”

I don’t know what image comes into your mind when you hear the word Pentecostal.  Most of us have some kind of image in our mind when we hear that word.  We think of a certain church that practices things that are different.  But, Pentecost is a Biblical term.

In the Greek, the word Pentecost means “50”.  In Acts 2:1 we read, “Now when the day of Pentecost had come.”  Pentecost was a Jewish holiday.  When you read the OT, you find that Pentecost was one of the Jewish feast days.  Pentecost was the Greek name; the Jews called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks.

It is mentioned five times in the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible — in Ex 23 & 24, Lev. 16, Num. 28 and Deut. 16.  It was the celebration of the beginning of the early weeks of harvest.

In Palestine there were two harvests each year.  The early harvest came during the months of May and June; the final harvest came in the fall.  Pentecost was the celebration of the start of the early harvest, sometime from the middle of May to early June.

There were several feasts that took place each year before Pentecost.  There was Passover, Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits – which was the celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest.

The way figure out the date of Pentecost, according to the OT, from the day of the celebration of Firstfruits you count 50 days – the 50th day would be the Day of Pentecost.

Firstfruits was the beginning of the barley harvest and Pentecost the beginning of the wheat harvest.  The 50 days equals seven weeks and so it became known as a “week of weeks” after Firstfruits.

Three things about Pentecost that help us understand our text:

  1. Pentecost was a pilgrim festival. According to Jewish Law, all adult Jewish men would come from wherever they were living to Jerusalem and personally be in attendance during this celebration.
  2. Pentecost was a holiday. No menial work was to be done on that day.  School was out and shops were closed.  It was celebration time.
  3. There were certain celebrations, sacrifices and offerings which were prescribed in the Law for the day of Pentecost.

On Pentecost, the High Priest was to take two loaves of freshly baked wheat bread and offer them before the Lord.  The wheat bread was made from the newly harvested wheat.

Pentecost at that time was a harvest celebration.  The streets of Jerusalem were filled with thousands of people who had come from every direction to celebrate the goodness of God and the wheat harvest.

It is with that background that we turn to Acts 2:1, which reads “When the day of Pentecost arrived.”  The Greek word used means “to completely fulfill.”  So, the King James reading is very good, “Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come.”

Luke is telling us, in Acts 2, that what happened on the Day of Pentecost is a fulfillment of what the OT harvest celebration was all about.  The wheat harvest was the foreshadowing of the events of Acts 2.  Which means that what happens in Acts 2 is of vital importance for the church – the body of Christ, and for us as individual parts of it.

Pentecost is the birthday of the church.  And like our birthdays – we can’t repeat the day of our birth, but we do celebrate that day, year after year.

And so, the true Pentecostal church is not necessarily the church with the name Pentecostal in its title.  The true Pentecostal church is the one which reflects the marks of the church that was born that day.  That’s why the lessons of Pentecost are important for us today.

So, what are the marks of a truly Pentecostal church?

  1. Unity – Acts 2:1 – “And when the day of Pentecost had been fulfilled they were all together in one place.”

Luke uses a word which means to be of unanimous purpose.  It means to have your hearts and minds joined together.  The KJV reads, “They were all together with one accord.” – and we’re not talking about a Honda!

The first mark of the Pentecostal church is unity — physical unity, spiritual unity, emotional unity and doctrinal unity“With one accord” – they were all singing the same note at the same time.  It means that there were no private, off-shoot harmonies.  No solo lyrics.  They were like one mighty choir all singing the same song, together.

Luke explains this unity in Acts 2:44-46:  “And the believers were together and had all things in common. Selling their possessions and their goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

This is a wonderful picture of what the early church was like.  They were together so much that they sold their possessions and brought the money and put it all together.  They took the things they owned and everybody had things jointly owned together.  It’s an amazing picture of unity.  But did you notice what else they did?  In the early church the mark of their unity was that they ate together.  They cooked their meals together.

Eating together is one mark of a truly united church.  Do you want an excuse to have a potluck?  Here it is!  I hear people joke that if you really want to get a crowd you have to have a meal or at least you have to have refreshments.  It is good to know that this is a biblical truth.

That was one of the marks of the Early Church – they ate together.  I believe that the church that eats together will stay together, will play together, will pray together and will grow together.

In v. 47 we read what happens when the people of God live in unity:  “The Lord was adding to their number day by day people who were being saved.”  The unity of the church drew the attention of the people.

The church should be a place where the rich and the poor can come together; where different nationalities can come together; where left-brained people and right-brained people can come together; where people who like Classical music, Southern Gospel and even Rap, can get together.  A place where God’s children can come together without losing their uniqueness or their individuality, because they are joined together in an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

That sounds very much like our Mission Statement:  Garrington Community Church exists to fulfil the Great Commission by…

  • Encouraging wholehearted Worship;
  • Equipping the body for Ministry; and
  • Evangelizing the lost;

…all in a warm country atmosphere of love and acceptance.”

The church in the beginning grew because all kinds of people were together and of one mind.  This is a wonderful secret of church growth.

Remember the 2 loaves that the High Priest had to offer at the start of the wheat harvest…I think those loaves represented the two great divisions of the human race—Jew and Gentile.  In the Body of Christ – the church – Jews and Gentiles are brought together into one great union.  All of us together are the family of God.  This is the first mark of the Pentecostal church.

Lloyd Ogilvie hit the nail on the head – he wrote, “I have never known a contentious group to receive the Holy Spirit. Nor have I ever seen a church in which division and disunity prevail receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit…As congregations we cannot be empowered until we are of one mind and heart, until we love each other as Christ has loved us, and until we heal all broken relationships. The price seems high! But it’s a bargain price for what can happen through Pentecost power.

Here’s a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer – he was imprisoned by the Nazis and reflected on just how much he missed the fellowship of believers – he wrote:  “It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”  What a strong reminder for us during these days of isolation!  Without unity there is no church at all, just another religious social club.

The 2nd mark of a Pentecostal church is:

  1. Prayer

Acts 1:14 says, “they were devoting themselves to prayer.”  That is, the apostles, the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus’ brothers.  This prayer meeting takes place after the Ascension and before the Holy Spirit came, on the Day of Pentecost.  They prayed together for 10 days – their praying created the unity!

It’s hard to pray for people you don’t like and don’t trust.  And it’s also hard to pray for people and still not like them.  Either you’ll stop hating them and start loving them or you’ll keep hating and stop praying.

Prayer and love just seem to go together.  And praying together for mutual concerns brings a church together like nothing else.  The glue of the church is not the pastor, not the programs, buildings or even doctrine.  The glue that makes a church stick together is united prayer.

Is there somebody you don’t like much?  Start praying for them.  Pretty soon the dislikes will disappear and the differences won’t seem so big. That’s why Jesus said, “Pray for your enemies.”  He was referring to the people around you.  It is a good sign in any church when believers make prayer a priority.  Mark #3…

  1. Spirit-filled

Acts 2:4 reads, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  The secret to the power of the early church:  They were all filled with the Holy Spirt.

It is so easy to get all wrapped up in the outward signs and ignore the Holy Spirit altogether.  Don’t get caught up in the spectacular phenomena that happened that day – on the sound of the mighty rushing wind, the tongues of fire and speaking in tongues.

There are some who build an entire theology around those things.  But, I believe the true danger in the Bible-believing church today is to not ignore the Holy Spirit.  When we come to a passage like Acts 2 we have to make a clear distinction between the signs and the event itself.  The sound, the fire and the tongues were signs which pointed to an event.

The event was the coming of the Holy Spirit to enter the lives of men and women.  The signs are God’s way of announcing this great event.  The signs are a means to an end, not the end itself.  Therefore, it is dangerous to build your theology around the signs.

Tongues are incidental but the coming of the Holy Spirit is essential.

Some read this story and only see the tongues, concluding that speaking in tongues is what this story is all about.  But, we need to see three unusual things that happened on the day of Pentecost — the rushing wind, tongues of fire and actual speaking in tongues.  Those three are the “signs.”  They point to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples.  If you focus on the signs, you miss the whole point.

The coming of the Holy Spirit…

  • Transformed Peter the denier into Peter the preacher.
  • Turned Thomas the doubter into Thomas the missionary.
  • Took cowardly, fearful, doubting, hesitant disciples and made them fiery evangelists for Jesus – ready to lay down their lives for Him.
  • Into ordinary men and women that transformed them into evangelists for Jesus Christ.

Look at Acts 2:16 – Peter is preaching when he says, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. ’In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’”  This is the first great sermon of the Christian era.  Peter is saying, “Don’t you understand?  Joel is talking about today.”

In the OT, God sent rain from heaven to bring in the wheat harvest.  In the NT God sends the Holy Spirit from heaven to bring in the human harvest – souls brought into His kingdom.

So, how do you get Spirit-filled churches?  A Spirit-filled church is made up of Spirit-filled Christians.  And, it’s been my experience that whenever Christians get hungry for the genuine work of God in their lives, they will be filled with His Spirit and given the power to serve Him.  A Christian’s greatest need is to know how important God’s Spirit really is.  People who have no need of the Holy Spirit find a way to live without Him.  And, Christians who are hungry for Him will be filled.  Mark #4…

  1. Gospel-preaching

In v. 11 – the disciples were proclaiming “the wonders of God.”  When Peter preached that first sermon 3000 people were saved.

You know the best way to know if you are truly Spirit-filled?  Is it being able to speak in tongues?  Perform miracles?  The NT suggests a few things – but the most important one:  When you are truly filled with the Spirit, you will have boldness to preach the gospel.

Acts 4:31. “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”  That’s a pattern throughout the book of Acts.  As the believers are filled with the Spirit, they begin to share Christ openly.  When He Fills Your Life, He Also Opens Your Mouth!

The filling of the Holy Spirit is not to help us feel better about ourselves or make us better Christians.  But, the Bible teaches that God fills us with the Holy Spirit so that we will communicate His Word!  The Holy Spirit gives holy boldness so that God’s holy people will take the holy Word of God and speak it boldly to an unholy generation.  A truly Pentecostal church is one that majors on preaching the gospel.   #5…

  1. A Harvesting Church

In v. 9-11 Luke makes a circular list starting from the east and going north, then west, then south and back to the east.  He is trying to show us that on the Day of Pentecost people were in Jerusalem from everywhere because it was a pilgrim feast.

What happened in Acts 2 was not a coincidence.  It happened on the Day of Pentecost for a purpose.  Listen to v. 41, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to their number that day.”  How would you like that?  You preach your first sermon and 300 people are saved and baptized.  Then, v.  47 – “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

All of those from that came from all those different regions, after they got saved, they went home and the seeds of Pentecost were scattered abroad.  The church began in a worldwide harvest – not a wheat harvest, a worldwide harvest of people.  Within one generation, the church exploded throughout the Roman Empire.

Today is Pentecost – not just the birthday of the Christian church or the coming of the Holy Spirit; it is about the beginning of God’s great worldwide harvest – bringing people into relationship with God.

There was a harvest at the beginning of the Church Age and there will be a harvest at the end.  We are presently in the time period between those two harvests and we are still harvesting.  Jesus’ true followers – His true church – is God’s present harvest vehicle.  That’s what Pentecost is really all about.

You and I, if we know Jesus as our Savior, the One who has forgiven us of our sins, should not be able to be silent about Who He is and what He has done!   We, as individuals are God’s harvest vehicles – that is what Jesus was talking about in Matt. 9:37 & John 4:35 – “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Do not say there are four months and then comes the harvest. Behold, look around you. The fields are white already unto harvest.”

What is called the Church Age really should be called the Harvest Age.  Instead of calling ourselves Christians we should call ourselves harvesters – that’s what we are.  Biblically we are to be harvesters for God.

God has called us to be the Pentecostal Church of Garrington – not part of the Pentecostal Church of Canada, but a church that is passionate about bringing the people of our family, community and world to Jesus.

I heard the phrase this week that Christians are presently worshiping God separately together – I like that!  When we gather to worship – separately or together in one place, we come to worship the God that has saved us and enlisted us for service/mission.  When we gather – separately or together, we are gathering to receive our harvesting orders.   We go out from here into the harvest fields.

Garrington is not just a church, it’s a local harvest centre.  When we go out from this kind of gathering, we are not just going about our normal business.  We are going out into God’s harvest fields.

That’s what it means to be a truly Pentecostal church.  We are to be united, praying, Spirit-filled, gospel preaching and harvesting everywhere we go.  May God help us to be the church as it was in the beginning…

So, after all that – are you Pentecostal?  Are you doing your part as one of God’s harvesters?  Are you telling others about Jesus?  And, if anyone hearing this is not a believer today, I would love to tell you about Jesus.

Let’s pray….

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