John 16 and Acts 2 – The purpose of Pentecost



Acts2 and John 16




Pentecost has it roots in the OT and not the NT.

The word ‘Pentecost’ lit. means fiftieth – it was the 50th day after Passover – it also marked the completion of the barley harvest and was sometimes called the Feast of Harvest – it was also 7 weeks since Passover and consequently it is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks.


It was a holiday – Holy Day – a day on which every man in Israel was to bring two freshly baked loaves to be waved by the Priests before the Lord. This was symbolic of thanking God for the harvest.


So 50 days after Passover – and also 50 days after Jesus resurrection and 10 days after His ascension.


Pentecost is the birthday of the church – it marks the day when, in the words of the prophet Joel, “God poured out his Spirit on all flesh …” — from that point on we talk about the Age of the Spirit — does that mean that the Spirit was inactive prior to Pentecost? Not at all!!




Spirit can bring to mind images of ghosts/haunted houses … BUT in Heb. and Gk. > breathe/wind indicating power and activity > this Spirit is not an impersonal force but has personality, emotion, will and intellect.


So in the OT we have the Spirit as active in the creation of the universe // one who controls the course of nature and history // communicates and reveals God’s truth and will // equipped people for leadership -Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah and Elisha // enabled or skilled others with practical ablility – artists and craftsmen //….


There is much we could say about the activity of the Holy Spirit in the OT – many examples of God’s Spirit at work. ALSO the prediction in the OT that there would be a new and dynamic and different activity in the future


Thus ..

Joel 2:28-29

28 “And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (NIV)

This OT prophesy is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.




As we read through the gospel we see how the Holy Sirit is active in the life of Jesus // at his baptism // leading him into the desert to be tempted // in the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus reads from Isa.

Luke 4:16-21

16 ….18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (NIV)


Jesus refers to the Spirit not only in regard to his own ministry but to the future when the Spirit would come –


John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (NIV)


Jesus promised that the Spirit would come – he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the gift of the Spirit….

Acts 1:4-5 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)


The Holy Spirit duly came at 9:00 am on the day of Pentecost –  What did it mean??






It is easy to get caught up in the sound of rushing wind, the flames of fire over each disciples head and the gift of languages and to miss the essence of the event. Those where the trimmings – but the coming of the Spirit was an epoch-making event — this was the dawn of something new.

  • The HS came to give each disciple a clear understanding of who Jesus is – and his central place in God’s plan. [viz. to glorify Christ]
  • to enbolden and empower the disciples to be witnesses [Acts 1:5,8] // —– ——— we see this graphically illustrated in the life of Peter who at the crucfixion was timid and cowardly but from Pentecost on was bold and unwavering in his commitment to Christ.
  • the HS is to glorify Jesus TO his people, IN his people and THROUGH his people — and NB — this gift of the HS is promised to ALL who repent and are baptised, from the moment their discipleship starts…..

Acts 2:38

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Acts 16:31-33

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptised. (NIV)



One of the critical questions that is often asked regarding the HS is this — Does a person become a Christian and then at a later stage receive the HS?


Spirit Baptism – 1 Cor.12v13 has been at the centre of much debate for many years. There were and still are those who claim that it is necessary for Christian to believe and be saved [we all agree] and then at a later stage, in a second experience receive the baptism of the Spirit.  This gives rise to a kind of two tier Christainity or even a two stage salvation.



There are 7 ref.s to baptism of the Spirit.

Matthew 3:11

11 “I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (NIV)


  Baptiser Subject element [en-in] Purpose [eis-into]
Matt.3v11 John








Mark 1v8 John








Luke 3v16 John








John 1v33 John








Acts 1v5 John






Acts 11v16 John






ICor. 12v13  







into one body


1 Corinthians 12:13 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (NIV)


It is not the Holy Spirit’s baptism but Christ’s baptism with the Spirit. It is the same word [ei] that is used on all 7 occassions.

in the same v13 we read “… we were all given the same Spirit to drink”

In John 7 Jesus promised to send the Spirit – he referred to the Spirit as HE not IT. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the helper, the Advocate. He is a person – you can’t have a little bit of him. You either have the Spirit or you don’t have the Spirit. As Romans 8v9 makes clear:-

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,

if indeed, the Spirit of God dwells in you.

But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,

he does not belong to him.

It is not possible to be a Christian without the Baptism of the Spirit and there is only ONE Spirit Baptism and that is at conversion. It is the Son of God who places all believers into the sphere of the Spirit’s power and person. We are placed into a new enviroment, a new relationship with God and with all other believers.


This does not mean that we can not have subsequent spiritual experiences – we do have highs and lows in our spiritual walk with God. And we need to be constantly be being filled with the Spirit as Paul says in Ephesians.

BUT the purpose of Spirit Baptism is to bring about conversion and place us within the Body of Christ – the Church.


Q> BUT the disciples became believers and then at a later stage received the HS!

The only reason the first disciples went through a two stage, two level pattern of experience was that they became believers before Pentecost BUT for you and me we receive the HS at conversion.


Q> What about the speaking in tongues?

No time now — Thursdays in June 12th, 19th, 26th. !!!

Tongues is not normative for all Christians – Two different words are used making it unclear what exactly happened in NT!

On the day of Pentecost the gift seem to be more to do with the Gift of EARS [hearing] than speaking! The practice of Tongues speaking today in the vast majority of cases doesn’t have WIND or FIRE!

Besides ACTS the NT doesn’t mention tongues except in 1 Cor. where its practice was abused – It was not a sign of deep spirituality as Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that they are like children and must grow up.


In the following verse – in the gk. the “no” answer is inherent in the way the question is structured>

1 Corinthians 12:30 30 Do all have gifts of healing?  {NO} Do all speak in tongues? {NO} Do all interpret? {NO}    (NIV)


The Corinthian Church was very gifted but it was clearly very immature!!


Which brings me to my last point about the gift of the Holy Spirit




We live in a world where spiritual /emotional experiences are becoming more and more popular – there is more and more interest in the supernatural/ the paranormal/ very much part of New Age teaching.


ILLUS.: Just yesterday I was discussing this with Jack while we played golf – one of his ex-students going to a conference on extra-sensory perception – feeling the aura in a room/situation. We asked “How do we if such things are genuine?” “Is there a way of verifying such things?”


Now Christians too claim to have all kinds of experiences – the problem is that experience is a slippery word. Also these experiences are happening to people who are imperfect/ Christians maybe, but still tainted by sin //saved by grace but still not sinless!!


J I Packer – No experience just by happening can authenticate itself as sent from God to further his work of grace. The mere fact that a Christian has an experience doesn’t make it a Christian experience. The sign that an experience is a gift of God’s grace is that when tested by scipture, it proves to have at its heart an intensified awareness of some truth concerning God and our relationship to him as creatures, sinners, adopted children … or whatever.”


And even if I, as a Christian, have an experince it doesn’t automatically make me a better/ more spiritual Christian.


ILLUS.: Last night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall – very patriotic – much waving of Union Jack – enthusiastic singing of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ / ‘Rule Britiannia’ and ‘Jerusalem’ – a great experience BUT it doesn’t make one of those people a better British citizen unless there is a permanent change of attitude or behaviour towards their country!!


Q> Am I saying that spiritual experince is of no value? NO! NO! NO!  —-

ILLUS.: — I am a Pastor today because when I was 17 at a missions conference I was stirred by the Spirit, through the Speaker, Rev. Ray Oosthuis, to go forward and offer myself to God to serve him. Was it an emotional spiritual experience? YES! BUT it would have been of little/no value if in the months and years that followed I had not got involved in doing – SS, youth work, preaching, Theological college, mission work …..


BUT if our Christian life is a seeking of one spiritual high after another // hopping from one meeting/conference to another to get another fix then we are simply like “spiritual grasshoppers”


The mark of SPIRITUALITY is not how many spiritual ‘highs’ you have had.

Pentecost would have meant little to Peter, James and John and the others if the next day they had returned to their fishing boat and never talked of Jesus again – except for an hour a week at the local synagogue!!!


The supreme purpose of the Spirit coming at Pentecost //and into the life of every believer at the point of conversion// is to Glorify Christ! [Spirit’s ministry ‘floodlight’ away from himself to Christ]

The Spirit’s purpose in us Christians is to glorify Christ IN/THROUGH us –

  • to glorify Christ
  • to lead us into the truth
  • to empower us to be witnesses
  • to make us like Jesus



Spiriuality is not based on:-

  • my intellectual ability to manage knowledge
  • an exciting personality
  • emotional experiences
  • spiritual giftedness


Rather it is a life of following Christ – obeying his commands – being a witness to him – a deep Spiritual life – characterised by the fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23

22 …. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control……


A life that surrenders to the will of God – when the Spirit of God moves in my life I don’t resist/quench his work in favour of doing my own thing – this is possible.


Deep spirituality is not something that come suddenly or easily – it is characteristic of the one who has ‘Walked with God’ – often along dofficult and painful path of life and who hasn’t become bitter but better!


What do we want from The Spirit??

  • He is called the comforter – we sometimes think him therefore come to make us comfortable!! NO – — if that is your desire you will not know deep spirituality.

Do you want exciting emotional experiences?? these alone will not develop deep spirituality

Ephesians 5:18 18 Do not get drunk on wine, … Instead, be [being] filled with the Spirit. (NIV)


The Spiritual experience we should desire is the daily experience of walking with Christ – and if he gives us wonderful mountaintop moments along the way – that is great – and it is his preogative – we can’t demand them –


If we are going to be lead into the truth – read the Bible the Spirit inspire!

If we are going to become like Christ – we must spend time in pray to Him each day.

If we are going to be empowered to be his witnesses – we need to set about that task –

The Purpose of the Holy Spirit’s coming is to glorify Christ by:-

  • Leading us to Christ
  • making us like Christ
  • using us to bring other to Christ          {end with poem by Eddie Askew ‘Day by Day}

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