Glorify God’s Name by the Holy Spirit
Sermon Text: Acts 2:1-13
Sermon Theme: God’s plan to glorify His name among the nations was to establish His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot forget how often, while their Master was with them there was strife among the disciples which should be the greatest; but now all strife was at an end. They had prayed more together of late. Would we have the Spirit poured out upon us from on high, let us be all of one accord. And notwithstanding differences of sentiments and interests, as there were among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for where brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands his blessing. A rushing mighty wind came with great force. This was to signify the powerful influences and working of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men, and thereby upon the world. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make way for his comforts; and the rough blasts of that blessed wind, prepare the soul for its soft and gentle gales. There was an appearance of something like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, according to John Baptist’s saying concerning Christ; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than before. They were filled with the graces of the Spirit, and more than ever under his sanctifying influences; more weaned from this world, and better acquainted with the other. They were more filled with the comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in the love of Christ and the hope of heaven: in it all their grieves and fears were swallowed up. They were filled with the gifts of the Holy Ghost; they had miraculous powers for the furtherance of the gospel. They spoke, not from previous thought or meditation, but as the Spirit gave them utterance. The difference in languages which arose at Babel, has much hindered the spread of knowledge and religion. The instruments whom the Lord first employed in spreading the Christian religion, could have made no progress without this gift, which proved that their authority was from God.
(From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
- When God makes a promise, He keeps it! Are we paying attention to how His promises apply to us? Are you thinking His promises are not made for you? Have you been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit? Scripture clearly indicates that believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit—that is, the Holy Spirit moves into their hearts—at the moment of conversion. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). All believers have the same spirit—the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 is more specific about the exact moment we receive the Holy Spirit: “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.” Romans 8:9 explains simply that “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” From beginning to end, the Holy Spirit has always been active: In the beginning, creating, and at the end of the story, tending to us. He comforts us, helps us, guides us, reminds us, teaches us, comes along side us, counsels us, and intercedes and advocates for us. There is no area of life in which the believer does not need the help of the Holy Spirit.
- Do you think that you are an individual – a Christian – and don’t have need for or to be part of the Church body? What happened at Pentecost marked the beginning of the church. There were, of course, many believers before this, but only now were they made into one spiritual body—the body of Christ. Not an individual with Christ but one body—The Church. “In the full sense of the Church in vigorous life, redeemed by the cross of Christ, invigorated by the divine power, set forth on the path of work and worship, the Church certainly did not come into existence until the day of Pentecost” (L. L. Morris, Spirit of the Living God). And what God gave that day he has never withdrawn or changed. The Spirit that transformed the disciples and galvanized them into action remains with the Church—he will “be with you forever,” Jesus had promised (John 14:16; cf. Psalm 51:11). When we become members of the body that the Spirit brought into being at Pentecost, we take to ourselves the birthright of the body, which is the Spirit himself. When we become Christians, we participate in the baptism with the Spirit that uniquely took place on that day so long ago (Acts 9:17; Roman 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:2; Ephesians 1:13; Titus 3:5; 1 John 3:24). Therefore, no one may ask whether the believer has been baptized with the Spirit, for the very fact of being in the body of Christ demonstrates that he or she has. There is no other way of entering the Church and becoming one spiritual body—not as an individual separate from our brothers and sisters.
- Like the apostles, are you speaking of the mighty deeds of God? Are you devoted to praising the one true God? The content of these languages is identified by Luke in Acts as speaking of the mighty deeds of God. Such rehearsal was an essential element of Jewish life and worship. Exodus 15:11 says, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (cf. Isaiah 25:1). Such praise was also a frequent theme of the book of Psalms. Psalm 40:5 reads, “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you” while Psalm 77:11 adds, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (cf. Psalm 26:7; Psalm 78:4; Psalm 96:3; Psalm 111:4).
- What is your position with God? Are you a scoffer who rejected the evidence of the works of God or are you astonished and amazed to understand and trust in Jesus for who He is and be baptized with the Spirit? Paul laid down, as a simple but infallible test, the witness which such an utterance bears to Jesus: “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). For John says that “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-14).
- Do you understand that being baptized with the Spirit is not the same as being filled with the Spirit? Being filled with the Spirit must be distinguished from being baptized with the Spirit. The apostle Paul carefully defines the baptism with the Spirit as that act of Christ by which He places believers into His body (Romans 6:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27). In contrast to much errant teaching today, the New Testament nowhere commands believers to seek the baptism with the Spirit. It is a sovereign, single, unrepeatable act on God’s part, and is no more an experience than are its companions, justification and adoption. Although some wrongly view the baptism with the Spirit as the initiation into the ranks of the spiritual elite, nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of the baptism with the Spirit is not to divide the body of Christ, but to unify it. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, through the baptism with the Spirit “we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 4:4-6).
- Are you praying to be filled with the Spirit so results in many things, such as worship, thankfulness, love, submissiveness, service, and obedience can be accomplished? Unlike the baptism with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit is an experience and should be continuous. Although filled initially on the Day of Pentecost, Peter was filled again in Acts 4:8. Many of the same people filled with the Spirit in Acts 2 were filled again in Acts 4:31. Acts 6:5 describes Stephen as a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” yet Acts 7:55 records his being filled again. Paul was filled with the Spirit in Acts 9:17 and again in Acts 13:9. While there is no command in Scripture to be baptized with the Spirit, believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The grammatical construction of that passage indicates believers are to be continuously being filled with the Spirit. Those who would be filled with the Spirit must first empty themselves. That involves confession of sin and dying to selfishness and self-will. To be filled with the Spirit is to consciously practice the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and to have a mind saturated with the Word of God. Colossians 3:16-25 delineates the results of “letting the word of Christ richly dwell” in us. They are the same ones that result from the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19-33). As believers yield the moment by moment decisions of life to His control, they “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). The baptism with the Spirit grants the power that the filling with the Spirit unleashes.
- Do you think that speaking in tongues is necessary for salvation? A proper view of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues is essential in understanding why speaking in tongues is not a sign of salvation. The gift of tongues was given on the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit came to permanently indwell the followers of Christ. The gift manifested itself in the ability to speak foreign languages without learning them, and the early church used this gift to preach Christ (Acts 2:4–12). Many bible translations interpret the word “tongues” as “languages.” The Greek word is glossa, which refers to the physical tongue or to a language. Some today associate the gift of tongues with ecstatic, unintelligible utterances and “heavenly” (i.e., mystical, unknown) languages, but that does not fit the biblical model. The gift of tongues or languages was meant to communicate a message and served as a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22). The Bible teaches that salvation is a free gift from God. It is accepted by faith, and no visible sign must accompany it. Paul made this clear in Ephesians 2:8-9: “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.” Our salvation is not based upon anything that we do. Jesus Christ has done everything on our behalf. Our only responsibility is to believe and trust in Him. Nowhere in the New Testament is it taught that speaking in tongues is the only evidence that a person has received the Holy Spirit. In fact, the New Testament teaches the opposite. We are told that every believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14), but not every believer speaks in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:29-31).
Is it possible to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus told His disciples, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13).
The Holy Spirit is available to those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. He speaks to our hearts and leads us in the right direction when we learn to listen. The Holy Spirit has been described as wind (John 3:8), a dove (Mark 1:10), and a gift (Acts 2:38). The Spirit of God can be grieved and quenched by disobedient believers. However, it is possible to hear the voice of the Spirit when believers humble themselves to:
Be Quiet: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
We are sometimes too busy to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. He is gentle and patiently waits for us to hunger for His presence in our lives. Being quiet before the Lord is more than just not talking. It’s quieting your anxious thoughts and meditating on His word as you wait to hear from the Holy Spirit. We need to find a good place where we can sit before God uninterrupted by other distractions.
Be Prepared: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Mark 1:3).
We must take the time to reflect on our words, actions, and thoughts if we want to hear from God. Our sins keep us from hearing the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. By confessing and repenting of our sins—we allow the Spirit of God to come into our hearts that has been cleansed by the Lord. The more we grow in our relationship with God, the more sensitive we become to the presence of sin.
Be Aware: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
It’s difficult to hear from the Holy Spirit when we don’t know the Bible. We are most familiar with the word of God through the hearing and teaching of it. Also through personal memorization, meditation, and personal study—believers can know the truths of God’s word. Everything the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts will line up perfectly with Scripture. Through consistent exposure of the Bible, we will gain greater confidence in hearing the voice of the Spirit.
Be Open: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is the foundation of our walk with God. We believe in Him even though we can’t see or touch the Holy Spirit. Our faith is demonstrated by our solid trust that God will lead us in the right direction even in times of the unknown. There needs to be an openness coupled with courage to stepping out in faith when following the direction of the Holy Spirit. The opportunity of faith emboldens us to grow up spiritually and become more acquainted with the voice of the Spirit.
Be Ready: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2).
Our faith in the Holy Spirit is evident when we are ready to obey even when it’s inconvenient. The readiness to follow in obedience gives us the assurance that we are moving in the right direction. The Holy Spirit empowers the obedient with great strength and peace in the midst of difficulty. Believers who hear from God make it a practice of their lives to obey His word.
Be Patient: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Hearing from the Holy Spirit requires us to be patient and wait. The Holy Spirit can’t be rushed into our life situations. He knows the whole story from beginning to end and will move in the appointed time. We need to seek His peace and learn to wait on the Lord with an attitude of expectancy, not complacency.
Are you Listening? The voice of the Holy Spirit is gentle and quiet—very difficult for us to hear when we don’t pay close attention. We are connected to the Lord through the Holy Spirit allowing the sweetest communion. By choosing to humble ourselves in being quiet, prepared, aware, open, ready, and patient—we will hear His voice more clearly and we will trust Him more freely. The Holy Spirit is a gift of God’s grace to His people—open your gift wisely and be blessed in His presence.
(Article by Crystal McDowell)
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