Sunday, October 2, 2016

Come Holy Spirit: Be Filled, Speak in Tongues and the Meaning of It (Acts 2:1-13)

Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability
(Acts 2:1-4, The Living Bible)

The Day of Pentecost was one of the feast days of the ancient Jews. It was held 50 days after the feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:16). Seven weeks, 7 x 7 = 49 days had gone by, so now is the 50th day. What’s my point? The feast of First Fruits in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) and then He ascended to heaven. And 50 days later, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was the day the Holy Spirit poured out on the believers. Before the Pentecost come, the feast of First Fruits must be celebrated; before the Holy Spirit could come, the Son must go.

The 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) were all together in one place when they heard the sound of wind, visibly saw tongues of fire, and began to speak in other languages which they did not know before. Wind, fire, speech; they heard, they saw, they spoke. To me, this experience of “filled with the Holy Spirit” is rich in its nature. I want to ask, how could the Holy Spirit come and dwell with men whose hearts had been tainted with sin? It would only be possible, in my understanding of theology, if those hearts had first been cleansed. Or in other word, the Spirit only can dwell in holiness, not sinfulness. What is sufficient to wash away the guilt of sin? When people read this text automatically they would answer the Holy Spirit, but no, THE answer is the blood of the Lamb. The coming of the Spirit shows how completely the blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our sin. If the Spirit dwells in our hearts, He will be grieved if any sin is permitted to dwell there too. Therefore, it is appropriate if we first get rid of our conscious sin and asked God to cleanse us by the blood of Jesus. Do this and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Come back to the text. Jewish people had been scattered all over the world, but some of them came back to Jerusalem “for the religious celebrations” (v.5). Imagine the surprise of these people when they heard the disciples, “all from Galilee” (v.7), speaking in fifteen different foreign languages! (Read lists of languages they speak in Acts 2:9-11). These were known human languages, not nonsense or unintelligible or meaningless gibberish (Test time: When people says they are speaking in tongue, what languages are they speak? Is there any people with the gift of interpretation among them?). What were they speaking about? The people said, “We all hear these men telling in our own languages about the mighty miracles of God” (v.11). This is interesting. In John 16:13-14, the Scriptures said that the Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself, but would glorify Jesus. So, when a Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she will not talk so much about him/herself nor even about the Spirit, but about Jesus Christ and the mighty miracles of God.

Then some of them were amazed and perplexed, “What can this mean?” they asked each other (v.12). While they still thinking, others in the crowd were mocking, “They’re drunk, that’s all!” (v.13). Peter, the leader of the apostles, defended against the accusation and denied that they were drunk of wine but was filled with the Holy Spirit [I’ll continue with Peter’s sermon in another article]. So, what does it all mean? John Stott rightly answer: “Nothing could demonstrated more clearly than this the multi-racial, multi-national, multi-lingual nature of the kingdom of Christ. Ever since the early church fathers, commentators have seen the blessing of Pentecost as a deliberate and dramatic reversal of the curse of Babel. At Babel human languages were confused and the nations were scattered; in Jerusalem the language barrier was supernaturally overcome as a sign that the nations would now be gathered together in Christ, prefiguring the great day when the redeemed company will be drawn ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language.’ Besides, at Babel earth proudly tried to ascend to heaven, whereas in Jerusalem heaven humbly descended to earth.” Amazing!

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