READ Acts 2:1-14, 36-41
Pentecost was an incredible day. It began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the sound of a violent wind – terrific noise, inside the house – and with fire burning on people’s heads and with the disciples all declaring the wonders of God in different languages. The whole thing was like a storm and the power of God was present.
And it finished with 3000 people repenting and being baptised. 3000 were converted and began to follow Jesus. Peter preached about Jesus and the crowd was “cut to the heart”. They was deeply convicted and cried out “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Question: Which part was the most important – the beginning or the end? The arrival of the Holy Spirit or the conversion of 3000 people?
God’s Pentecost purpose was the conversion of those people. The Bible tells us that God searches for the lost sheep; heaven celebrates when one sinner repents; God wants all people to come to repentance. That is the goal.
God’s purpose was that people choose to trust and follow Jesus and, in so doing, find forgiveness and receive eternal life.
But what was God’s method?
Isn’t that amazing? God uses people to do miracles. God wants to use you.
But those disciples had absolutely no power. They could no more convert a single person than they could fly to the moon. Neither can you, so it is not really people. It is…
- Holy Spirit-filled people
When the Holy Spirit came on them those disciples were turned into something they had never been before: people of power. They did things they had no natural ability to do. They were at the centre of miracles that were happening – speaking all sorts of languages they had never learnt but which were understood by all the visitors to Jerusalem, and the miracle of preaching with power that utterly undid the crowd. God uses Holy Spirit-empowered people.
Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, insulted the crowd. To their faces, he accused them of having crucified the One who was Lord and Saviour. They could have been indignant and angry but that is not what happened. Instead, they realised the trouble they were in. They were cut to the heart. They cried out, “What shall we do?” That was a Holy Spirit thing. The Holy Spirit convicted them of their need.
That is when Peter gave them hope. They must repent. They must acknowledge that they had done wrong, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God promised them two things:
- Forgiveness of their sins. They knew that they had offended God and they were far from God but the offer was that they would be forgiven.
- They too would receive the Holy Spirit. They too would become empowered people, able to do things they had no natural ability to do. Why? So that they too could be part of God’s mission. Remember, God’s purpose is that people are converted.
Jesus had said to them, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8) You (powerless, inadequate people) will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. God’s method is Holy Spirit-empowered people. God’s purpose is mission: “and you will be my witnesses.”
- There were two groups of people that day: the disciples and the crowd. Which group are you in – those who are following Jesus and, or those who, as yet, have not turned to God?
- What do you think of Peter’s words “repent and be baptised 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”?
- If you have already repented and been baptised, have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?