A fire department sub-station finally gets the long awaited new fire truck. It is delivered late in the afternoon and parked in the place of the old, worn out truck. At 7:00 a.m. the next day, just as the 1st shift gets to the station there is an alarm; there is smoke coming from a building at 10th and Main. The firemen rush to their gear putting on fire proof overhauls, the long coat, the helmet, and the long boots. Out the door they go and they see the shiny new fire truck. “Man, look at that chrome!” one exclaims. Another shouts, “Check these seats out, they are plush!”. Yet another can’t resist taking a quick peek under the hood. “it’s a Cat engine” he adds to the excitement.
Finally they get to the corner of 10th and Main to find only smoke and ashes and some charred steel girders. It is always best to keep the main thing the main thing and not get overly interested in the details. Many well meaning people approach the Scriptures making the same mistakes as these firemen. They involved themselves with secondary issues at the expense of not putting the fire out until it was too late.
Multiplied thousands of books and articles have been written about the events surrounding Pentecost and the overwhelming majority of them completely miss the reason for Pentecost. The most common reason given is that the birth of the New Testament church was on the Day of Pentecost. Our Pentecostal and charismatic friends focus almost entirely upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit and unknown tongues. Another group finds water baptism the high point of the story and emphasize baptism in an unhealthy way. Then there are the dispensationalists whose focus is the belief that the “church age”, the “dispensation of grace”, or the “last days” should be the important point. And, those Christians who love Bible prophesy might focus on the fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophet Joel.
All of these views have merit but none is the main reason the Bible gives for the happenings on that 50th day after Christ arose from the dead, Pentecost. The reason for Pentecost is recorded by the good doctor Luke.
“and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…..but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47,49)
“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.” 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 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.” (Acts 1:4-8)
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak….and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:4,41)
The central theme of Pentecost is that the Apostles and others did, and experienced, exactly what Jesus had commanded and promised. They waited on God in prayer until they were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to become soul winning witnesses for Christ.
After Jesus gave the disciples the great command of the great commission and promised them He would be with them, He expressly commanded them to do nothing but wait. Can you imagine they were eager to go tell others about the risen Lord? I can just see Peter chomping at the bits to go tell the whole world. No…, not yet….Jesus said WAIT. As eager as they are, as excited as they are, as much as they loved the Lord Jesus, they must wait for the Holy Spirit power necessary to do the job. If you miss this central truth of Acts, you will be like the firemen in the illustration. You will get focused on the incidentals and miss what Jesus wanted above everything else.
A good thing to keep in mind when you read the book of Acts is the word “redemption”. God is always busy with redemption. If you go down a path that is not focused on the redemption of sinners it is a good idea to come back to the main road and try again. If you get hung up on secondary themes you might miss joining God in His redemptive work.
Until next time,
Grace to you