Study 8 THE EXPERIENCE AND EVIDENCE OF PENTECOST
STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 1 – 3)
by Francis Dixon
Study verse: Acts 2:4
The experience of Pentecost is indicated by the words, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” The evidence of Pentecost is indicated by the words, “and began…” The experience came to about 120 who were in the upper room, an amazing and a transforming experience which since that day has come to vast numbers of God’s people. But we read not only of the experience of Pentecost but of the evidence of Pentecost when, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they “began…” Whenever God fills the heart, life and personality of one of His children with the Holy Spirit there will always be the evidence; and the evidence here is shown by the fact that those who were filled…began. In this study we shall see that the historical event of over 2000 years ago may and must become a personal experience in our lives.
1. THE EXPERIENCE OF PENTECOST
Acts 2:1-4 contains the record of what actually happened. Jesus had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell and fill His people (Acts 1:4-5); and in obedience to His command about 120 of His first followers were awaiting its fulfilment (Acts 1:12-14) . Then, suddenly He came, and “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”. But was this gift and blessing only for those disciples? No!
- 1. The experience of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, is just as real an experience for us today. The Spirit-filled life is God’s command – look up Ephesians 5:18. It is meant to be the normal experience of God’s people, and it is so definite and real that you would know whether or not you had entered into the experience – look up and compare Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:3 and 5; Acts 7:55; Acts 9:17; Acts 11:24; Acts 13:9 and 52.
- 2. The experience of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, is for every Christian. Notice the significance of the word “all” in Acts 2:4. No-one was excluded – look at Acts 2:39! Some of those present that day are mentioned in Acts 1:13-14; there were all kinds of people – and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is God’s provision for every one of His children in order to make vital Christian living and effective Christian service possible.
- 3. The experience of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, frequently comes subsequently to conversion. We are not basing this statement on the experience of these first disciples, because they lived through a period of transition – before Calvary, after Calvary, before the Ascension, after the Ascension, before Pentecost and after Pentecost. There is no parallel to this in our experience. Judicially, so far as God is concerned, we get all at conversion (Ephesians 1:3); but we do not necessarily know this or enter into God’s plan and purpose for us when we are first converted. To put it another way: every Christian has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9); but not every Christian is filled, possessed by the Holy Spirit.
- 4. The experience of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, is an experience greater than that of conversion. “Having life to the full” is more than life (John 10:10); “joy that is complete” is greater than joy (John 15:11); power for service is greater and different from the power to enter God’s family – look up and compare John 1:12; Acts 1:8. No doubt the greatest day in Peter’s life was the Day of Pentecost!
- 5. The experience of Pentecost, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, is a radical experience. To be filled with the Holy Spirit implies being emptied of every unholy thing – everything that is unlike the Lord and that is displeasing to Him. It is only when we are willing to be emptied of sin and self, cleansed in the blood of Christ, that the Holy Spirit can fill us.
2. THE EVIDENCE OF PENTECOST
There was immediate evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in the lives of the first disciples. We read that they “began” –
- 1. WHAT did they begin? “…they began to speak in other tongues”. This did happen but it was not the essential thing. The most important thing is that they began to be vital and effective; they began to live and work for Christ (Acts 4:33); to speak for Christ (Acts 8:4); to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41). How mightily they were transformed when they were filled with the Holy Spirit!
- 2. WHEN did they begin? – when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and not before. Here we see one cause of much of our ineffective service. How often we go out to serve the Lord in our own strength, forgetting the truth of Zechariah 4:6! These first followers began to witness for the Lord after Pentecost, not before (Luke 24:49); compare Acts 1:4-5. We are only ready to live for the Lord and to serve Him when we are filled with the Spirit.
- 3. WHERE did they begin? In Jerusalem. When God fills us it is so that we may first of all be effective witnesses among our own people (Acts 1:8); compare Acts 9:26-30. An experience of Pentecost should give us a burden for the salvation of our loved ones and friends. Spirit-filled witnesses begin to honour the Lord by living and working for Him among their own people (Acts 1:8), and compare Acts 9:26-30. An experience of Pentecost will give us a burden for the salvation of our loved-ones and friends.
- 4. WHY did they begin? Because they could not help doing so! – Acts 4:20.
- 5. HOW did they begin? In a sense “they” did not begin at all – it was the Lord from heaven, by the Holy Spirit, who began doing His gracious work – look up Mark 16:19-20.