Pentecost: Experience or Commission
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."Acts 1:6-8
In my dream I saw a group of a dozen or so people standing around in the outer court of the temple at Jerusalem. They were discussing a rumor that inside the temple the veil which separates the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place had been torn from top to bottom. That now it was possible for common men and women to pass through that veil into the Holy of Holies into the presence of God without fear. It was also rumored that the people who went in there saw fresh blood dripping from the Mercy Seat between the cherubim. And over the Mercy Seat, they saw blinding light and out of this light they could hear the voice of God.
The skeptics shrugged off the whole rumor as hysterical nonsense: Others believed. Many were confused. At last an old woman in the group said,
"You people can stand around and speculate all you like; I'm going to find out for myself." So she climbed the stairs, passed through those two huge bronze pillars, and walked into the shadows of the temple.
An hour later she reappeared as her friends clustered around her to find out what she saw. "Is the veil torn?" "Did you see God?" "Did he speak to you?" But the woman answered not a word, pushed her way through the crowd of her friends, walked out the gate of the temple, and descended into the city of Jerusalem.
"Well, if she's not going to tell us, I guess I'll have to find out", said a bright looking young man. "You folks stay here, and I'll go in and let you know what happens in there." So he goes into the temple.
And an hour later, he reappears, and they jump around him. "Well, is the veil torn?" "Find out for yourselves," he answers. Without another word he walks out of the temple and heads for the streets of Jerusalem.
So a little group of his friends decides to follow him from a distance to see what he's up to. When he gets near the center of the city, they can see him at a distance climbing up on a roof top. He starts to talk in a loud voice. They can see a crowd gather, and they can hear him announcing, "The veil is torn! There's blood on the Mercy Seat! God is with us! Draw near to him and he will draw near to you!"
When I woke up from my dream, I pondered for a long time: why didn't that old woman and that young man tell their friends waiting in the outer court what they experienced in the temple?
Because once they passed through the veil, and saw the blood dripping on the Mercy Seat, and the glory of the Lord above the Mercy Seat, and heard the voice of God speaking to them, they were commissioned to proclaim a gospel and they were no longer free to talk about their own experience.
Now if you have had an experience with God, and God gives you leave to talk about it, go ahead and talk. But remember, your experience with God is not your gospel: Your experience with the Lord is your commission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Andrew, Peter, James, and John had an experience that day when Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch. They experienced a supernatural catch of fish. But the important thing was that this experience became a commission.
"Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O, Lord!"
Simon Peter was trembling with fear as he fell at Jesus' feet.
"Don't be afraid", says Jesus, "henceforth you will be catching men."
The essential thing was not the experience, but the commission which came with it….
From now on you're going to be catching men into the kingdom….
You're going to be proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.
And that's exactly what they did.
So when they had come together they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria and unto the end of the earth".
This is a two-fold promise:
you shall receive power
you shall be my witnesses
Now the receiving of power was an experience. They heard a sound from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind. They saw tongues of fire dancing over the heads of their brothers and sisters. They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
But notice this wonderful experience that came to them as the Holy Spirit visited them in power, was a commission. They were driven by the Spirit, who came to them that day, to go out and proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
They did not stop and talk to all their buddies and their skeptical friends, and the gawkers and tell them about what went on…. "Wasn't that marvelous! Oh, what a thrill! You should have seen what happened to us in there! What a feeling!"
They just went right past the gawkers and the curious out there to the harvest field and proclaimed Jesus crucified and risen in the Spirit who had come to them.
From Acts 2 as quoted from Joel the prophet:
"And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
God is not limited in the way in which he will pour out his Spirit upon us. He may give us visions. He may give us dreams. He may have us prophesy. He may have us speaking in tongues. He may cause us to hear that mighty rushing wind. He might anoint us with tongues of fire over our heads. He could cause the building to shake. He might open our ears to hear the voices of his angels.
But regardless of the experience we have as the Spirit comes to us in fresh power, and there is always some kind of experience, the experience of the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives is always a commission!
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses!
The Heavenly Father gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can proclaim Jesus to the world.
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and unto the end of all the earth.
The record of Peter's sermon on Pentecost is partial. Luke tells us that, but there is enough there to show us the change in his witness after the Spirit comes. The Spirit gives him boldness so that Peter no longer worries about the consequences, but says what he has to say.
The Spirit gives Peter clarity so that he can get right to the point to make the people see that this Jesus whom they crucified has risen from the dead as Lord and Christ.
The Spirit gives Peter authority so that anyone listening with any integrity can see and hear that the words this man speaks are coming from the heart of God.
And so the Spirit gives us boldness, and clarity, and authority to go out into the world and proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen as Lord and King.
The Heavenly Father gives us the Spirit so we can manifest to the sick, and the dying, and the wounded, that Jesus is there and that he really cares about them, and that he is able to help them.
And he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and he went to the synagogue as his custom was on the Sabbath day and he stood up to read and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him, and he began to say to them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."Luke 4
This Scripture is still being fulfilled as the Spirit of the Lord continues to rest upon Jesus' Body on earth.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon his Body because he has anointed his Body to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent his Body to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed.
Where people are hurting, the Spirit causes our hands to be as the hands of Jesus to heal, and to restore, and to deliver, and to lift up out of their despair those people who are so beaten down, wounded, and broken—to show them the mercy of the Lord, and the awesome power of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
The Heavenly Father gives us the Holy Spirit so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we can conquer Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." Revelation 12:
By the blood of the Lamb, who through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without blemish to God, and by the word of our testimony to Jesus, made possible by the Spirit who gives us utterance.
By the Spirit offered blood and the Spirit anointed testimony we conquer Satan and his kingdom and we walk through the wreckage of his domain now as sons and daughters of the Living God.
By offering our lives to the Master's will, even at the cost of death, we live in freedom and serve with power.
There is no doubt that the Spirit that fell upon the saints on the day of Pentecost is moving upon us and upon brothers and sisters in faith across the earth today.
He is among us now. He is over us.
He is the One who makes us the Body of Christ.
He is the Lord of the Church.
And with his gifts and his movements among us, there are wonderful experiences, unforgettable of the foretastes of the coming glory. But these experiences of which we have had, and will have again, are not merely experiences—they are our commission.
The Spirit draws us into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God, and then sends us forth, into the harvest fields with power.
And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.
Jesus isn't begging us to be his witnesses. In fact, he isn't even commanding us to be his witnesses when he gives us the Spirit.
When Jesus pours out his Spirit upon us, we are his witnesses.
And we will be his witnesses to the end of the earth, and to the end of the age.
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