The Empowered at Pentecost

Title: The Empowered at Pentecost

Bible Book: Acts 2 : 1-47

Author: Philip Cooper

Subject: Pentecost; Power in the Church; Holy Spirit



Fifty days after the death of Jesus, the disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit of God came to indwell and empower them. Since then every Christian believer indwelt (baptized) with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. The Holy Spirit of God is what gives you the power to live the Christian life.

Vance Havner said, "We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God."

The early church had no buildings, money, political influence or social status. Still, they won multitudes to Christ, and started churches throughout the Roman world. Why? Because they were energized and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That empowering came on the day of Pentecost.


Luke begins the story of the empowering of the early church with statement, "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come." Pentecost was one of the three great Jewish feasts occurring

every year in Jerusalem. Originally, the Feast of Pentecost was to celebrate the wheat harvest. Later, it was associated with the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

On the day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were gathered together in a large room. Luke says, "they were all together in one place." This means they were together in spirit and

in locale. They were in the same room together. And they had a spirit of unity.

Not every church has a spirit of unity. Sometimes we wonder where church folks stand.


A man walked to a costume party dressed as the Devil. He had on a red suit with a pointy tail and carried a pitchfork. As he walked it began to rain. Looking for shelter, he happened to notice a church nearby. He hurried in the door to escape the rain. It just so happened they were holding a revival meeting that night. When people turned and saw the Devil they ran for the exits. One poor fellow's coat got caught on a pew. As the man in the costume approached he turned and cried "Mr. Devil, I've been a member of this church for 30 years, but I've really been on your side all along.”


As the apostles were gathered in the upper room, they heard a sound. "Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind." The picture here is of a violent blast of wind sounding like the roar of a tornado. In the Bible, the wind often symbolizes the presence of God. We see this illustrated in Ezekiel's vision of dry bones (Ezek. 37:9-14). The presence of God, represented by the wind, breathed life into the dry bones, set them on their feet, and made them come alive.

I once heard Stan Coffey recount Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. As I recall, his account went something like this: “Remember the story of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones? God told Ezekiel one day, ‘Ezekiel, I've given you a church. I want to show it to you.’ They began to walk from the downtown. They saw all of the beautiful downtown churches, but God didn't say anything. They went out into the suburbs, where the beautiful suburban churches were. Ezekiel thought, ‘Well, this will be my church.’ But God didn't say a word. They went out into the country and saw the wonderful little country churches. Ezekiel thought, ‘Maybe God will put me in one of these churches.’ But God didn't say anything. Finally they were way out into the dusty desert. Ezekiel said, ‘Lord, I don't think there is a church out here.’ But then they climbed up a mountain and looked down into a valley filled with dry bones. God said, ‘Ezekiel, there is your church.’

“Do you remember what God told Ezekiel to do in order to bring those dry bones to life? He said, ‘Son of man, preach to these bones. Prophesy to these bones that they may live.’ So Ezekiel preached on unity on Sunday morning, because when God's people come together in one accord the Spirit of God will come upon them. And those dry bones came together. Ezekiel preached on unction on Sunday night. The power of God swept across those bones and they stood like a mighty army. He preached on usefulness and the gifts of the Holy Spirit on Wednesday and those bones were a mighty moving force of God.”

The sound of a mighty, rushing wind filled the room where the disciples were gathered. It was evidence that God was at work.


The apostles saw something as they heard the sound of wind.

Acts 2:3 (HCSB) - "And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them."

Like wind, fire is often a symbol of God’s presence. Notice these facts about fire:

A. Fire Cleanses

In Isaiah 6, the prophet said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips." Then one of the angelic beings took a burning coal from the altar of God and touched his lips. He said, "Your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for" (Isa. 6:7).

The Holy Spirit is like a fire than cleanses our hearts of the wickedness of this world.

Lloyd John Ogilvie said, "We all need the fire of the Spirit to convince us of the fact we are loved unqualifiedly and released to love unreservedly. The undeniable test that we have been baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit is a new and deeper capacity to love.”

B. Fire Consumes

The Holy Spirit of God will burn up the pride and self-will in our lives when we allow Him to have first place in us.

C. Fire Creates More Fire

Fervor for Jesus is contagious. It spreads to those around us.

IV. THE SPEECH (2:4-13)

Along with the miracles of sound and of sight, there was a miracle of speech on the Day of Pentecost. The Bible says, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages" (2:4).

This brings up the question of speaking in tongues. Some of our Christian brothers and sisters believe that speaking in tongues is evidence that one has been baptized in the Spirit. Some say speaking in tongues is a prayer language in which they get especially close to God. Some believe that every Christian should seek a tongues experience in their own life.

The experience of speaking in tongues is one of the most prominent religious phenomena of our day. The Bible, however doesn't have a great deal to say about it. It is referred to only three times in Acts: in our text, in Acts 10 and in Acts 19.

The Greek word for "languages" here in verses 6 and 8 is the Greek word dialektos and refers to a language or dialect of some other country. Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Therefore, on the day of Pentecost, God gave the

apostles the ability to speak in the languages and dialects of the people who were there, so that everyone heard the good news of the gospel in their own language. The people from other countries were amazed, saying, "We hear them speaking in our own languages the magnificent acts of God" (2:11).

What can we conclude about speaking in tongues?

A. Tongues in Acts is clearly intelligible languages.
B. Tongues in Acts was only one of three Pentecost miracles.

There was also the miracle of sound (wind), the miracle of sight (cloven tongues of fire). To say that speaking in tongues is the one primary evidence of the Pentecostal experience hardly justifies the biblical record. Even though there were three miracles on the day of Pentecost, I’ve never heard anyone say, "I experienced the baptism of the Spirit. I heard a mighty rushing wind and saw what looked like cloven tongues of fire resting on me?"

C. Tongues at Pentecost were not sought after, prayed for or expected.

The ability to speak in tongues was not obtained as some grew spiritually. According to the biblical record, no one taught anyone else how to speak in tongues.

D. Tongues at Pentecost was a group experience, not an individual one.
E. Pentecost was a historically unique experience.

It was a fulfillment of prophecy. The miracles that occurred (the rushing wind, the cloven tongues of fire, and the speaking in unknown languages) occurred for the same reason that miracles occurred at the death of Jesus. When Jesus died, the earth quaked, the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was rent. These miracles were sent by God to indicate that the death of Jesus was a special event. But today when people are saved, they don't expect

to the earthquakes, darkness and veil-rendings. And they should not expect to speak in tongues. Pentecost was a unique and unrepeatable experience, as was Calvary. As Christ died once

(Heb. 9:26), so the Spirit has been poured out on all believers once.

We don't need to pray for another Pentecost today any more than we need to pray for another Calvary. The real miracle was not the tongues, but the power of God that transformed timid apostles into bold witnesses for Jesus. Not long before, Peter had pretended not to know Jesus. But now he is boldly witnessing and preaching in the name of Christ.


The most important aspect of this special Pentecost was not the sound of a mighty, rushing wind, or the tongues like fire resting on their heads; it was not that the apostles spoke in other languages. The most important aspect of this special Pentecost was that the Spirit of God came upon the apostles in a new, dynamic way. Pentecost marks the coming of the Spirit to empower the church to carry out the Great Commission.

As a result, every Christian today is baptized with the Holy Spirit when they are saved. But every day we need to pray for the infilling and the anointing of the Holy Spirit on our lives. What does the Holy Spirit enables Christians to do today?

A. To Speak Courageously (Acts 4:8-12)
B. To Witness About Jesus Openly (Acts 2:22-24)

Peter did not hesitate to tell the people gathered about Jesus Christ.


I heard of a Christian who had a great singing voice. He developed cancer of the tongue and had to have surgery. At the hospital he asked surgeon, "Will I be able to sing again?" The

doctor shook his head. Then the man said, "I've had many good times singing praises to God. If I can never sing If I can never sing again, I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God." Then the man sang softly the words of a hymn written by Isaac Watts:

I'll praise my Maker while I have breath,

And when my voice is lost in death,

Praise shall employ my nobler power;

My days of praise shall ne'er be past

While life, and thought, and being last

Or immortality endures.

If you had only one more song to sing, what would you sing of? If you could have only one more conversation, what would you speak of? You couldn’t make a better choice than to sing or speak of God’s love for mankind in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

C. To Make Wise Decisions (Acts 6:3)
D. Face Life’s Challenges Confidently (Acts 2:34-35)

Peter quoted a verse from Psalm 110:1 which told them where Jesus is now. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. And the enemies of Jesus are no more than a stool for Him to prop His feet on. Romans 8:17 says we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” His victories are our victories. We can face the challenges of life with confidence because of our relationship with the Lord.

F. Look to God's Word (Acts 2:16-21)
G. Answer God's Call (Acts 2:38-41)
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