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What Does it Mean to be Pentecostal

by Pastor Jim Bradford Text: Acts 2:1-4


1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Pentecost In A Picture . . .
'Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.' John 4:35

Where Are We In The Picture? Partnering with Jesus in His ongoing ministry
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:4 18 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lords favor.' Luke 4: 18, 19

Participating personally in the power of God's Spirit


2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Acts 2:2,3 'I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.' Luke 24:49 It intensifies our love for God It illuminates God's Word It inspires zeal to serve God It imprints our hearts with compassion It imports supernatural ability to minister

Whatever Could This Mean?


by Pastor David B. Crabtree Text: Acts 2:1-12
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 "Cretans and Arabs; we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" This question: Whatever could this mean? was first framed amidst the confusion of Pentecost in the temple courts at Jerusalem. It needs to be asked again amidst the confusion of prosperity preaching, transferrable anointings, extrabiblical signs, and general weirdness that characterizes our pentecostal, charismatic community at the dawning of a new millenium. I watch a little Christian television. . . and all I can say brethren, is that we have gone far beyond being Gods peculiar people. How I wish our testimony to the world were peculiar. . . but it seems to this preacher that were about three steps past peculiar. . .Weve taken peculiar into the realm of the ridiculous! We could benefit greatly if someone would stand up in the midst of our confusion and frame the question. . . Whatever could this mean! At Pentecost. . .A multi-ethnic gathering heard Galileans speaking the praises of God fluently the praise was of such glory, such power, that these devout seekers were struggling to put the whole picture together. There was a stunning incongruity in that uneducated Galileans were speaking with unusual eloquence. Fishermen were acting like statesmen, and their preaching was irresistible. Whatever could this mean? Peter. . . who before hand had been known as a foul up. . stood up and spoke up. He explained that this phenomenon was foretold in the scriptures; that it centered on Jesus, His promises, and His Lordship; that is was for all men and women, and that the pathway leading to such a power encounter with God was, is, and forever shall be surrender and repentance. While time has reduced the great temple court where Peter spoke to a single wall thequestion remains. Whatever could this mean? My first memories of being tipped off that my religion was different from others came in the form of a question in grade school. Do people roll around on the floor

at your church. . . an honest and sincere question from a boy whose father had told Him that my Dad was a holy roller. I found out quickly that it wasnt just unbelievers who didnt believe in the present person of the Holy Spirit. A lot of church people didnt believe that the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts was at work today in the church. Another preacher came to our town and got on the radio. . . he preached rambling diatribes about demonic Pentecostals. He ridiculed my father and our crazy church. He had a son my age who joined our fourth grade class mid-year. When he found out I was the holy roller preachers kid he started in! His Dad pumped him full of stuff and he ranted and raved just like his Daddy. He taunted me. I took the high road. I didnt argue, I just took little Ronnie out behind the school cafeteria and gave him a good Holy Ghost pounding It took a two Methodists and a Presbyterian to pull me off of him! I found out early, that not all churches believed that you needed a life changing encounter with God. You just had to sign up showing up and paying up were optional. Being the most prominent Pentecostal preachers son in my hometown, I found out that people made fun of us told lies about us - but few ever asked Whatever could this mean? People want to know what Pentecost means. . . what tongues and interpretation mean. . . what prophesy means. . . and if we will experience genuine revival, theyll want to know even more. . . but can we tell them? We often create more questions than we answer. Were not very unified or articulate. So by way of review and proclamation I propose that contemporary Pentecostals need to take five steps to insure that the world and the church receive the truth, and the power that Jesus promised. We need to be able to stand up and speak truth in a confusing environment.

1. We Must Re-affirm the Promise.`


Jesus made a very clear promise in John 14-16. Pentecost isnt something that the modern church has invented, it came from the heart of God. Jesus promised: John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. Pentecost is the part of Gods inheritance for every believer. He clearly instructed the disciples when he said. . . Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." This promised power would be modeled in Jerusalem, and then demonstrated to the whole world. Indeed this power that the early church demonstrated had never been seen in the world. Thessalonian rulers responding to Pauls ministry:

Acts 17:6 "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Paul was not there on the day of Pentecost; He was not converted when Peter stood up and preached the promise, but He received that promise. It wasnt just for the Apostles. . . Acts 2:39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." People need to know this is Gods promise to us! Seeker weary, tired, confused because you have not yet received this gift - this is Gods promise to you. Keep asking, seeking, knocking seek the Lord for His empowering presence! WE MUST RE-AFFIRM THE PROMISE!

2. We Must Re-establish the Priority.


Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." We have grown accustomed to doing Gods work according to our own abilities. We have ceased to be a people who wait upon the Lord for the renewal of strength. We just forge ahead thinking our determination will see us through! Life changing ministries operate by Gods power alone. We must first be empowered by the Spirit before we can change anything in this darkened world! Dr. Carl Bates said: If God were to call his Holy Spirit out of the world about 95% of what we are doing would go on. . . and we would brag about it. Im certain that He is right! It would all motor on with hardly a misfire. Good works, meaningful ministries. . . but powerless. He closes with this question..."What are you doing that you can't get done unless the power of the Holy Spirit falls on your ministry?" (It seems to me that this is the Red Zone for the church. . . that piece of ground where a game is won of lost!) Im asking that question more and more. What cant get done unless the power of the Holy Spirit falls on my ministry? These issues will be of eternal consequence! Churches these days are measured by what they possess. Members, Money, Monuments, and Ministries. The early church possessed nothing of what we yearn for and yet they possessed Spiritual power to shook the nations! Pauls catalog of the marks of a spiritual ministry stand counter culture to the church today. 2 Cor. 6:4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. This is true success literature; true leadership training.

We must re-establish this priority in the Church, that we will wait on the Lord for POWER of God before we try to accomplish it by our own strength. From the prophet of God facing the impossible task of building a city out of rubble comes the battle cry for the church in all ages. . . Zech. 4:6 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts. Re-affirm the promise, re-establish the priority,

3. We Must Re-define the Purpose.


Acts 1:"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." This is the crux of the question they were asking on the day of Pentecost: What could this mean? The answer, in a word, was souls! In the absence of a biblical answer, the void is filled with all manner of craziness. We must re-define the purpose of Pentecost because in our culture, we hear little of power for living for Christ - or power to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We do however, hear much about ecstatic experiences emotional excesses and personal revelation. Please dont misunderstand me. I know that the Holy Spirit comes as the comforter; the one who comes along side to HELP! I know HE MOVES US emotionally, and thrills us, and fills us. But there is a purpose we are somehow missing. We are not taking Pentecostal power to its biblical end! In short. . . "Spiritual ecstacy which is not translated to Christian energy bears no sign of divine origin or divine approval" J. Stuart Holden The Father did not send the Spirit to be a feel good stimulant. The Holy Spirit is not come primarily for our edification that is secondary. His primary purpose has been lost in the carnival atmosphere of our Pentecostal culture. The Holy Spirit is come to empower the church to finish the work Jesus started - to seek and save the lost. He is come to bring divine enablement to fulfill the great commission. When this truth is not at the very center of Pentecostal doctrine, our doctrine is diminished and distorted. If what is billed as Holy Ghost Revival is really of the Holy Ghost it will be marked by repentance and souls! Holy Ghost revivals should result in spiritual nurseries being full. Holy Ghost revivals should result in a dire need for new believer classes. Holy Ghost revivals should be marked by an outpouring by God, an infilling received by us, and an overflow. . . it is that third stage that I long to see in Pentecost. We pray people through to the baptism, and 75% of them never move beyond that initial experience! The scripture does not say. . . You shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you will translate that power to personal edification and revel in the assurance that God is really pleased with you.

THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT IS GIVEN SO THAT MEN AND WOMEN CAN LIVE LIVES THAT TOUCH THE WORLD WITH THE REDEMPTIVE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST. Reaffirm the promise, Re-establish the priority, Redefine the purpose.

4. We Must Re-assess the Price.


Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine." From the first outpouring in the temple courts the Holy Spirit and His work have carried the same price. Because men do not believe, we will be mocked and misunderstood. Study the attributes of men and women who have done anything of consequence for the Kingdom of God and youll not find shame among them. NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL! We live in the day of the poll! Some have said that this last presidency has functioned as a reflection of polls! We are concerned (I see this more and more clearly) very concerned about what people think of us. Some Christian leaders have advocated moving the gifts of the Holy Spirit into the small group setting: Its too alienating to the unbeliever to hear a message in tongues, or to understand what is happening with prophesy. And so on Sunday morning, in some Pentecostal churches. . The gifts of the Spirit are out of order. . . (I would add, that it seems that the Power of the Spirit is lacking also!) Paul asserted that interpreted tongues are a sign to the unbeliever. The truth is that there is a high probability of misunderstanding at best utter rejection at the extreme that the church must be prepared for. Jesus told the seventy listen to the language: Mat. 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. On the day of Pentecost - some said they were drunk. When Paul appeared before Festus - the Governor claimed that he was mad. The Apostles, save John, were all martyred for the empowered message that they preached. Should we expect to be loved and embraced by the world, preaching the same message? In case you missed the shift, the days of popularity for the Christian right and born again believers has passed. Christians are going to be more and more marginalized and criticized in a culture where tolerance and acceptance of everyones beliefs has become the shining light on the hill. NY REGENTS: Each student will develop the ability to understand, respect, and accept people of different races; sex; cultural heritage; national origin; religion, and political, economic and social background. . . and their values, beliefs, and attitudes. Do we really want students to respect and accept values, beliefs and attitudes of other people, no matter what they are?

What of the beliefs of Chinese leaders that lead to the massacre in Tiananmen. . . What of the values that led two young men to bomb the USS Cole at anchor in Yemen? What do we find to respect, and accept in the Sudans wanton slaughter of Christians, or in Hitlers twisted ideology. IM OK, YOURE OK. . . has grown up to be the death of truth! We tolerate and accept anything these days. . . except the truth! For if you follow the law of relativism. . . absolute truth does not exist. Pentecostal people will be out of step with this culture! We must be willing to pay that price! Phil. 2: 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. NIV Reaffirm the promise, Re-establish the priority, Redefine the purpose, Reassess the price:

5. We Must Re-acquire the Power.


Karl Barth: "The world which we confront today is aggressively pagan. Many influences in modern life work to undermine the Christian view of life, and subtly to convert even church people from an outright Christian faith. The only adequate answer is for Christians to recover the New Testament power of spiritual aggression. Canon Streeter defined power as the ability to accomplish purpose. It is a most illuminating definition. Power is not power unless it can accomplish the purpose to which it is applied. An axe is a powerful tool for smashing things, or for chopping wood, but for the purpose of shaving it has its limitations. It cannot accomplish that. Dynamite is a powerful device for blasting rocks, but for the purpose of putting a baby to sleep or teaching a child its A B C's, it is somewhat less than effective. So when we say the modern world has power, we must ask, "Power for what?" If the purpose is to smash the world to powder, we have the power. It can accomplish that. But if the purpose is to save the world, to unite it, to turn men from savagery to civilization, to cleanse their hearts of hates, to help them find their way to peace with God and with each other, then the power we are putting our trust in and spending most of our money for is somewhat less than effective. It is not really power. It cannot accomplish that. Power is the ability to accomplish purpose. Ive seen this limitation in families. Power to purchase, power to build. . . but power to touch the heart of a rebellious child? What then shall we do? Where do we go from here. We need to go back to Acts 1:4 and wait on God for his Empowering work of the Spirit. It is not enough that we were once filled. . .It is not enough that we were once excited. . .

Its not enough that we were once effective. . . We must be effective now, and for that we need the Power of the Spirit. . .each and every one of us! The need is critical. . . for the church is the only redemptive agency in the world today that touches eternity. Its the church, or darkness. Its the church, or chaos. Should we abandon the gap. . . there will be no one to bridge the great divide. We have the complete authority of the scriptures on which to base our claim. We have the complete adequacy of the Spirit to accomplish the work. We wait, and a lost world waits, on the complete surrender of the church to finish the task for which God poured out His Spirit on all flesh.