By Ken R. Speakman
Member, Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory
Thousands jammed the streets of Jerusalem. Jewish law required all males living within 20 miles of Jerusalem to attend. Ordinary labor was prohibited during this national holiday, and all shops were closed. Many Jews had traveled from many other nations to stay for the Passover and Pentecost. Unknown to them, according to the divine plan of God, and the promise to the disciples, (Acts 1: 4-5), a new dispensation was only hours away. The third person of the Godhead would make His electrifying descent from the throne of heaven. Acts 2, is the story of that descent.
The Holy Spirit had been active prior to Pentecost and had worked in creation (Genesis 1:1-2), in Old Testament history (Judges 6:34; I Samuel 16:13), and in the life and ministry of Jesus. But from this point on, the Spirit would dwell in people, not just come on them, His presence would be permanent, not just temporary (John 14:16-17).
When we received Jesus into our hearts we became a member of God’s family, (John 1:12). At the moment of conversion, we received the Holy Spirit. We are not commanded anywhere in the Bible to seek the baptism of the Spirit.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a future blessing for faithful believers. Paul wrote to the most carnal, divisive church in the first century, the church at Corinth, in I Corinthians 12:13, “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” That is in the past tense. At the moment of conversion you received the Holy Spirit. You did not have to wait for Him to come. In fact, according to Romans 8:9, if you do not have the Spirit indwelling you, you do not have a claim to be a Christian.
We receive Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit not by works or deeds, but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, we do not pray for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us, or come down from heaven with power (as He did at Pentecost), because He indwells us at the moment of salvation.
The Scripture tells of three occurrences as the Holy Spirit descended: (1) An audible sound like a violent wind in the room, but it was not a wind. (2) There appeared like tongues of fire on those assembled, but no fire, (3) something verbal took place.
Here in the midst of a throng of Pentecost celebrants, the Holy Spirit descends in power on a small band of unlearned Galilean men. Amazingly, they are heard speaking in all the native languages assembled in Jerusalem, declaring the wonders of God. Peter preaches a stinging message calling for the Jews to see Jesus both as the Messiah of prophesy and the resurrected Lord. He strongly indicted his audience for having played a part in crucifying their Messiah. Immediately 3,000 are converted, after asking, what must we do?
The first sermon ever given in the church age reminds us that becoming a Christian is a life-changing transaction. Sanctification takes a lifetime but conversion takes only a minute.