I have preached Acts 2 so many times that I thought I fully understood what took place that day. The disciples came to the Day of Pentecost already indwelled by the Spirit because Jesus had breathed His Spirit into them in John 20. These same water-baptized and indwelled-by-the-Spirit believers were told by Jesus to not leave Jerusalem and attempt ministry without the equipping of the Spirit’s power that was to come upon them– the power to become a supernatural witness.
When Jesus gave His disciples instructions in Acts 1 about the coming Day of Pentecost, He said that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon them to empower them to become His witnesses; making them into a Spirit-empowered voice to the nations.
I began to ask myself, “What was the witness?” The witness was not the experience itself, but the message the disciples were empowered to deliver. When we limit the Day of Pentecost to a set of experiences, we limit the full understanding of what I believe God intended that day to be for the Church throughout history.
In Acts 2 the disciples were huddled together behind closed doors and suddenly the wind of the Spirit began to blow. As this wind touched the disciples the mockers in the crowd thought they were drunk. The noise and the manifestations were not the message. The noise was used to get the attention of the surrounding community. The message of Pentecost is tucked away in one portion of verse 11:
“And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”
The power of Pentecost was not only in the wonderful supernatural manifestations that took place that day– the power of Pentecost was the ability of the Church to supernaturally proclaim the wonderful things God has done in a language people could understand. This language is not always verbal. It can be accomplished in art, music, preaching, writing, serving and any area of life that is empowered by His Spirit.
Jesus used this same word for power in Acts 1:8 when He said,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
A key to understanding this verse, and maybe the entire event of Pentecost, was why the disciples were empowered in the first place. The disciples were empowered to tell “people about me everywhere.”
The word for power Jesus used here is the Greek word, dunamis, that we get our English word “dynamite” from – it is a word that describes power. The specific usage of this word is the explosive power of revelation that takes place when we speak in His name and in His power.
Paul used this same word in I Corinthians 2: 4-5,
“And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit . I did this so that you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”
This word for power refers to the miraculous ability of God to change the way we think. This is God’s power at work in the mind of the hearer. When we are supernaturally empowered to speak for God, the hearers of our words will receive an explosive revelation of God’s heart for them.
The purpose of the power on the Day of Pentecost was to empower the church to share the wonder of God with supernaturally charged words that contain explosive power. This power unlocks the human mind with the dynamite of Heaven in an explosion expression of love.
In Luke 4, Jesus referred to Isaiah 61 when He shared the reason why He came to earth.
“He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…”
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus was anointed by God to proclaim God’s favor in the earth. The fulfillment of this ministry of favor upon Jesus Christ was transferred to us when Jesus was taken up into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Once He was enthroned, the Spirit was released to the Church. On the Day of Pentecost the Early Church spoke in new languages, and when the people heard of God’s favor, they called it “the wonderful things God has done.”
As one reads through Isaiah 61, describing the ministry of Jesus Christ, and ultimately the ministry of His church, certain words jump out from the pages. This list from Isaiah 61 that describes God’s favor is both impressive and wonderful:
“Good News, comfort, released, freed, favor, beauty, blessing, praise , planted, glory, rebuild, repairing, revive, double share, double portion, prosperity, ever-lasting joy, reward, covenant, recognized, honored, blessed.”
These are the kinds of words the people heard on the Day of Pentecost. Words of favor and wonder from the God who once seemed distant. These words of favor, when spoken by the power of the Spirit, would begin to transform the kingdoms of earth into the Kingdom of our Lord. This is the evidence that the power of Pentecost has been released in our midst.
As the text of Acts 2:6 reveals,
“When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running…”
The noise of Pentecost got their attention, but it was the message of favor and wonder in God that changed their world. The same is true today.
(From my book, Prayers from the Throne of God, chapter 4 – “Our Position of Power.”)