Exeter Temple Message Notes: Pentecost Sunday 24th May 2015
Bible Readings: Acts 2:1-21 (Joel 2:23-32)
Peter explains that the events of the Day of Pentecost are the fulfillment of Joel 2:23-32
1. The beginning of the last days
God’s plan to rescue people from sin and to restore a fallen world is unfolded through history in stages. Stage 1 was the establishment of a people of God, who were to be a light to the nation, stage 2 was to send a Saviour. By the Day of Pentecost Stages 1 and 2 were in operation. Now Peter declares it was time for the final stage, the “last days” to be ushered into history.
Before this last stage the Holy Spirit had been given to particular people at particular times for particular tasks but in the last days the promise is as Peter declared in Acts 2:39 for you and your children, and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.
The Last Days outpouring of the Holy Spirit will not be confined to a small group of men....it will cross all lines of sex and age!
We are still in the time of the Last Days. This means that the promise of Acts 2:39 includes us, you and me. We are the people who are the sons and daughters, the servants, the men and women to whom God wants to show the wonders of heaven.
So we do not just commemorate Pentecost, we are invited to participate in and receive the promise of what God is doing in these last days.
2. The pouring out of the Spirit
V 17 and v 18 “I will pour out my Spirit” These verses follow a picture Joel paints about harvest and rain.
Joel 2:24 “The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.” It is a picture of harvest. A good harvest requires rain. In Israel that meant spring (or former) and autumn (or latter )rains
God will give a harvest, because the latter rain will come.
Joel 2:23 “Be glad O people of Zion rejoice in the Lord your God because he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers.”
After referring to autumn rains producing a harvest Joel talks about the Holy Spirit being poured out and the harvest would be a people who once again would have a vision, a knowledge of God and who would turn to him for salvation.
It was easy for Peter to think about harvest because Pentecost was the first of three Jewish Harvest Festivals. As Peter looks around him, at people energized and declaring a vision of God sees that it is raining. The “latter rain” of the Spirit has come!
Some people remained untouched by what was going on and sneered. For them God was in the law and the prophets, not in the wind and in the tongues of fire. God was in the Temple, not in the street outside. God was where they always thought God would be and nowhere else.
Do we think like that sometimes?
Do we keep God locked up or assigned to those places where we’ve always known Him to be, our church, our prayers, our hymns, our narrow thinking and so forth?
3. Pentecost means a universal invitation to salvation (v. 21)
At Pentecost, the believers were given the ability to speak the gospel in foreign languages so that everyone could understand.
The list of nations represented links to the continents in the then known world.
It would have been amazing if fellow human beings bothered enough to speak to them in their own language but the attention of the believers was upon God. It began to dawn upon the crowd that it was God himself who was making a point of bothering to speak to them in their own language.
All of this is brought together when Peter quotes Joel 2.32:
"And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
It was as if Peter was saying, “God has opened up the communication channels to you today, now if you, in turn call upon him you will find salvation!”
Here we have once again the graciousness and wideness of the mercy of God. Whoever, calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. That’s good news and it is the message we are called to proclaim in the power of the Spirit.
1. What part of the story of Pentecost appeals to you the most?
What stands out for you in this passage?
Imagine that as you sit together in a worship service waiting to hear from God that all of a sudden you heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven and it filled the whole house where you were sitting. Then imagine that you all saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of you. All of you were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled you. What would go through your mind?After reading this account and imagining your reaction to it, how do you feel right now about asking God to pour out His Spirit on you? Why?
Not everyone was positive about what was happening. What are some ways that we can limit the effects of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
What would you say to someone who asked you how they could be filled with the Spirit?
Alan and Carol