Acts chapter 2 gives us an account of the birth of the early Church, but we cannot really understand this chapter if we divorce it from the previous chapter. In Acts 1 we see the Risen Lord Jesus promising the Church the empowering of the Holy Spirit, this is in accordance with the promises he had given before his death and resurrection (see John chapter 14-16) and also in continuance with the breathing out of the Holy Spirit in John 20:21-23. But we must also grasp that there is also the larger context of Old Testament promises such as Joel 2 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. Jesus was very that his death was the beginning of the new covenant relationship with his people. It is the fulfillment of the new covenant that is demonstrated at Pentecost.
What were the Disciples expecting? In one sense we cannot answer this but on the other hand the events of Pentecost were without precedent in the dealings of God with his people. surely the disciples were surprised by what happened but at the same time they knew for certain that this was the fulfillment of the promise Jesus had made. Peter is certain of this and he boldly stands up and declares the truth of what has happened and how this event points to what Jesus accomplished upon the cross. The disciples were sure that what they were experiencing was the action of their risen and exalted Lord. It is interesting that Peter’s sermon is Christ centred not Spirit centred. But we must not miss that in the conclusion of his sermon he says that all that come to faith will receive the promised Holy Spirit. are there not lessons here for us today, in our evangelism we rarely promise the work of the Holy Spirit to the person coming to Christ.
What do we expect? we often talk about the indwelling Spirit but do we have the same openness to his working as the early Church did? It is quite obvious that for many of us we just jog along in the same old way without expecting the Holy Spirit to do anything, on the other hand some are so obsessed with the work of the Holy Spirit that they miss the main point that the Spirit is given to glorify Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to transform the world not to make us feel good and excited. It is quite clear from the Scriptural narrative that sign and wonders and the gifts of the Spirit were given to the church for the entire church during all ages. If we take this narrative seriously we will see that the gifts and signs and wonders are all given to further the mission of the risen and exalted Lord Jesus. All of the experiential dimensions of Pentecost and indeed the Christian life should be seen as coming under the Lordship of Christ. With these things in mind we should be open to the working of the Holy s
Spirit in our lives and we should fan into flame any gifting we have received and encourage others to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit. It should not need to be said,but sadly one has to repeat this often, the Holy Spirit will never do anything which is contrary to the word of God, he is the one who inspired that word in the first place. We do not honour the Holy Spirit when we neglect to test everything by the Word of God. The picture given in the New testament of the Holy Spirit is that he is the parakletos, the counsellor,comforter, advocate, who works dynamically in the lives of believers so that they might glorify the risen Christ and further his mission. If we really want to be open to the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit we will therefore want to part of Christ’s mission to bring salvation, healing, hope and purpose into a fallen world.