The Expository Files


What Are You Looking For?

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

It is likely - if you sit down and read this paragraph with some of your friends in the evangelical, denominational or Pentecostal community - the substance of the discussion will be something like this:

"This is dramatic and exciting and powerful. THIS IS WHAT I WANT! To be in a room and hear a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. To see these divided tongues, as of fire. Then, to be filled with the Holy Spirit; and to began to speak with other tongues. This is it."

Why is it Galatians 5:22,23 doesn't generally provoke the same reaction? Paul said, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is now law." This passage is about the Holy Spirit! But you may not hear people say - "Wow, that's what I need; that's what I want."

In reading Acts 2 many modern readers immediately fasten their attention on the sensation, the excitement, the drama. The sights and sounds of this text provoke excitement and desire on the part of many in our time.

That raises this question that will be worthy of some thought - In reading the Bible, what are you looking for? Do you want to know the truth about God and His plan so you can be a participant as an obedient child of God? Or, do you want drama, the high of emotion, the fun of something sensational (that is often imposed on the text by perception and experience)?

I say to you, reading the second chapter of Acts should yield one overwhelming response: Who is Jesus Christ and what is my response to Him? He is at the center of everything in Acts chapter 2. And once the truth about Him is presented we can repent and be baptized; then continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. This is what it is all about. It is about Him and our response to Him, as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

This event recorded by Luke in Acts 2:1-4 has already happened. It didn't happen every day to everybody. When you read about Christians in the book of Acts and the epistles, they are not having this experience every day or every time they meet. They are not getting up everyday seeing divided tongues and hearing the sound from heaven. They are not all filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way the apostles were. They are not all speaking with other tongues. Christians in the book of Acts are busy; faithful Christians are excited and involved, but the Pentecost event was not a permanent or repeated fixture.

What are the Christians in the book of Acts doing? They are continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42). They are together and sharing (Acts 2:44). They are continuing daily with one accord in the temple, "and breaking bread from house to house," eating their food with gladness and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46). They spend a lot of time suffering for righteousness' sake (Acts 4:3). It was so bad for them, they would come together to pray about it, asking God to be with them (Acts 4:24-31).

Don't just read about the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4 - and start coveting excitement! Let this account find its place within the larger context of history, apostolic power, the Great Commission and the reality of what Christians were doing under the instructions of the apostles. They were not getting up everyday to enjoy another emotional experience like Pentecost. They were engaged in the tough grind of life. They were following the instructions of the Spirit-filled apostles. They were preaching the gospel and suffering for it. They were coping with daily stress as sojourners, getting up everyday trying to do what is right. There is our pattern!

By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 13.4;  April 2006