Pentecost Sunday is all about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to transform the early disciples to honour Christ and the Gospel.
Prior to the outpouring the disciples were fearful of witnessing, They were hiding from witnessing. They lived their lives in a closet. Their leader, Peter even denied Christ three times. However, when the Holy Spirit "baptised them in the Spirit" and each was given the gift of "language" they began witnessing with power to the many visitors gathered at the temple court and boldly shared with them the wonder of God.
Peter was emboldened with authority to preach the Gospel of salvation to the crowd. He uplifted Christ as the Messiah who was crucified and buried. But God would not let him remain in the grave. He was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God.
The Spirit brought conviction of sin and guilt upon the large crowd. When Peter made an appeal at the end of his sermon, 3000 believed and were born again in the Spirit. A miracle happened. The first church was birthed.
What great truths can we learn from Pentecost Sunday when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples?
1. When believers are baptised or filled with the Holy Spirit, they not only become bold, they become Partners with the Holy Spirit. Spirit-filled disciples would bear fruit of honour to our Lord.
When we witness to unbelievers, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction of sin and guilt upon the unbelievers to draw them to Christ. Spirit-filled disciples will have full confidence of the authority and power of the Holy Spirit in our act of witnessing. Boldness, confidence and power come from the Holy Spirit in partnership.
2. If we are not filled with the Spirit, we will be fearful to witness. Christ delights to see us empowered and instructs us to "ask for the Holy Spirit" and receive the power from on high (Lk 11:13; Acts 1:8). When we are filled, we would begin to see a big difference of being partners with the Holy Spirit and see unbelievers come to know Christ as Saviour and Lord.
3. When a church is born, is not due to human effort but the power of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is primarily to honour Christ. The birth of Jerusalem Church is the beginning of the spread of churches throughout the whole world. The visitors who became Christians at Pentecost took the Gospel message and preached it with the partnership of the Holy Spirit to various cities of their origin. The pattern of the spread of planting churches is evidence of believers obeying the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
Can we appreciate the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit and make him our treasured Partner of the Gospel of Salvation?
Pastor Kim Bew Lim
The Proverbs were written to help all people avoid the common pitfalls of life and find the path to prosperity, health and security through the passing down of wisdom from generation to generation.
proverbs 1:7 teaches us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. And the word for 'fear' being used here conveys a positive quality as it means to respect, to revere, to be in awe of God. On the other hand, our sin causes us to become fools, for we have turned our backs on Him, and said "I am God, I am in control, I am wise". In our foolishness, we tell God that we don't need Him in our lives because we think we know what's best for us.
And yet, because of His great love for us, God sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our foolishness and our sin. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 it says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." In our own humanly wisdom, the cross is foolishness because we believe we can save ourselves. In our humanly wisdom, we believe that we can rely on our own strength. and that we don't need God. But it is God who saves us, and it is God who gives us true wisdom.
True wisdom is knowing that we are powerless, knowing that we are nothing without God, and knowing that it is only God who can save us from our foolishness and our sin. Ultimately, true wisdom is knowing that God is God and we are not. And true wisdom will lead us to want to obey and worship God. It won't feel like a burden or a duty, because true wisdom will tell us that is a joy to worship God.
And part of living wisely is to listen to our parents' instruction and teaching, because wise instruction and teaching is like fine and beautiful jewellery (Proverbs 1:8-9). The family is the place where the next generation is born and where the next generation learns how to live. And here in our church family, in the family of God, we have all been called to listen to the wise instruction and teachings of generations before, and to wisely instruct and teach the generations after us.
Above all, remember that true wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord. To live wisely is to honour God, to revere God, to love God. And we can do that by knowing and listening to the scriptures - God's very own awe-inspiring words!
Our treasure and our joy are very closely linked. The measure of our joy will be dependent on our treasure. If we can obtain it or if it is out of reach. If it is meaningful or if it is novel. If it is long lasting or if it is temporary. That is why sometimes our joy quickly turns to despair, sometimes it loses its shine as it don’t meet its expectations and sometimes it just fades away. In a world filled with pain and suffering, how does anyone stay joyful?
The key to staying joyful is not to look within yourself and manufacture these feelings. It is like trying to grab on to water with your hands. The more you look within for your joy the faster your joy will disappear. That is because joy is a response. Joy does not come from itself as though because you are joyful then you will be more joyful. If that were the case then no one would ever stop being joyful and it would be this incredible spiral of exceeding joy. But the other thing is that joy doesn’t come out of nothing. There is always an object or a focus of your joy – which is your treasure. The key to staying joyful is found in your treasure.
Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven as the treasure where incredible joy flows from.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)
The Kingdom of Heaven brings about a joy that eclipses all other joys. For all the treasures we have accumulated over the years and found different joys in, the kingdom of heaven outweighs them all put together. This treasure is so great that even as difficult a process as selling everything you have - is done in joy. It seems so easy when we read it but it is actually incredibly difficult. To sell everything is to let go of everything. To put away all that you have once held dear. All the material things that have given meaning to life. All the moments and memories which have defined you and are so precious. To count them as worth less to the worth of the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is what Adam, Christina, Odelia, Omi, Simon and Vanessa were saying when they got baptised last week. They have found a treasure that is worth more than anything they could ever have and have sold everything to take hold of it. Baptism symbolises the new joy in a person’s life whereby they have died to their earthly joys and now live for heavenly joy.
But what’s so good about the Kingdom of Heaven?
Only that the King of Heaven is there and his Kingdom is glorious.
For the joy set before Jesus, he endured the cross so that we could be welcomed into His Kingdom by believing in Him.
Vanessa tells me that if for the joy set before Jesus he can endure the cross for His people, then what is it for her to endure travelling from Olympic Park to ESCCC to enjoy being with God’s people.
What do you treasure?
Boon Guo Quah