The Gospel Unleashed - Unleashed by The Spirit's Gifts

Sermon Summary

This message discusses how The Holy Spirit not only brought the presence of God into the lives of Jesus' followers, but also brought spiritual gifts that would enable them to unleash the gospel in powerful ways. On the actual Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was first given, God used some amazing special effects to get the peoples attention: wind, fire and people speaking languages they they had never learned. People had gathered from all over the known world to come to the celebration of the harvest. It was a strategic time for God to unleash the Gospel by giving His Holy Spirit to His people. Today God uses those who allow Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit as His special effects to unleash the gospel. When you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with God's presence, your very life will become the wind and the fire the world will see. The message includes a brief discussion of some of the different gifts the Holy Spirit uses to unleash the gospel to the world.

Community Group Discussion Guide

Before you start your group discussion this week I would encourage you to include in your prayers the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. This mass shooting is another senseless act of cruelty and wickedness in our nation. Pray that God's Holy Spirit will be with the people of this church and town. Also pray that the people of God in churches across our land will allow the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to continue sharing the life changing message of Jesus Christ with a world desperately in need of our message.

1. Today's movies have elaborate special effects. From sound effects with surround sound, to visual effects aided by computer graphics. Just for fun, what's your favorite special effect from a movie you've seen. 

2. God used some pretty amazing special effects to get the crowds attention on the day of Pentecost. Which special effect intrigues you the most and why do you think He used such unusual things on that day?

Acts 2:5-6 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, 
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

3. In the Old Testament, The Holy Spirit was present and active, but typically with specific individuals and for a certain task. When The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, God's Spirit became available for any believer 24/7. How was this a game changer for unleashing the Gospel of Jesus to the world? 

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:17-18 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

4. All of us have been gifted by The Holy Spirit, in some form or fashion, to uniquely unleash the gospel to our world. Have you thought about what your spiritual gifts are? How do you think God has, or might, use your gifts to share the good news of Jesus to the world? 

1 Peter 4:8-11 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, 
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Unleashed by The Spirit's Gifts

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness!"
Why these two things? Because Jesus lived a righteous life so that when He shed His precious blood that blood was pure and clean and perfect and powerful enough to wash away your sin and mine. And once we are washed and made clean another miracle happens. Jesus is then able to come into our hearts by way of His Holy Spirit and make His home in us! The Bible says that we are the temple of The Holy Spirit! And here's another beautiful thing: When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts and lives He brings gifts! What kind of gifts? Gifts that unleash the gospel in your life and into the world. Let's pray and I'll show you what I'm talking about!

Pray!

We're going to look at a very special event that changed so much for the New Testament Church and really the world. The event is one that God had promised and Jesus had told His disciples to expect. Our text is found in Luke's volume two, the book of Acts chapter 2 verses 1-13. Let's read this together...

Acts 2:1-13 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment,
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine. ’”

The people were amazed and perplexed! They asked a very important question: "What does this mean!" We will look at the answer to that question today and see how the answers unleash the gospel in significant way. But first, I just want to point out something I've pointed out before when reading this passage. I get really tickled when I hear the response of the skeptics.

Acts 2:13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine. ’”

I think it's so funny that the only thing they could come up with is "they must be drunk!"
How many times have you ever seen someone get drunk and then suddenly become fluent in foreign languages? What a drunk person becomes fluent in is gibberish! Here's a truth for you: When someone doesn't want to believe they will come up with any excuse no matter how implausible! That's good information to remember. If someone doesn't want to believe, no matter how good your argument, or solid your proofs, they will find a reason to reject. That can be really frustrating, so you need to simply keep loving the unbeliever and live the truth in a non-condemning and non-condescending way! Do what you can and let the Holy Spirit continue His work in their lives.

Ok, let's see if we can answer their question...

Acts 2:12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some Background

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Jesus died on a Friday during passover and was resurrected on the third day, which was Sunday. According to Scripture Jesus spent around 40 days before He ascended back to heaven. The Day of Pentecost would have come around 9 days after Jesus went back to heaven. The Day of Pentecost was a harvest celebration celebrated 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is a greek word that means 50. It was known as the Feast of Weeks in The Old Testament. But here's why this background is important. This harvest festival was a time where people from all over the known world would gather in Jerusalem to celebrate God's provision for them. One commentator, T.C. Smith,  put it this way…

"What a strategic time for the manifestation of God's power in the community of believers!"

God knew what He was doing and His desire was to not only send His Holy Spirit, but to unleash the gospel to the world. Remember, we don't know for sure what house the followers of Jesus were in, but we know they were all together and had been praying! What happens next is part of the reason people were amazed and perplexed and asked one another, "What does this mean?" …

Sights and Sounds

Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Gee Pastor Larry, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and He gave me the Holy Spirit, it wasn't anything like that! Okay, I'll give you that one and it wasn't like that for me either. But there is a similarity for us and those there on the day of Pentecost. I'll explain in a minute, but first, what was God doing here? I don't pretend to know exactly why God chose to do things in such a big way on that day, but I think I have some ideas. Remember, this was before the Sony Jumbotron, or sound systems and the like. People had gathered in Jerusalem, but God wanted them to gather around those early followers of Jesus. The sound was evidently so powerful it drew a crowd. And it was like a mighty wind. This was before the days of computerized special effects we see in movies so God did some special effects of His own to get the attention of the crowds. And it was amazing!! They hear this violent mighty wind and rush to see where it was going and maybe what kind of damage it might have done. This sound was better than the THX sound before a movie! They all rush to the scene and when they get there God does some visual special effects that would blow Pixar away!! The crowd has got to be thinking this must be supernatural! I mean, can you imagine...

Acts 2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

Now, why would God go to such extremes? Because, while He won't force anyone to accept His love, grace and mercy, He will do all that He can to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear His offer of forgiveness of sin and the power to overcome the chains of sin! You see, God not only wants to forgive us of our sins, He wants to free us from our sin and He'll do whatever it takes to let you know that! We're going to talk more about that in our message next week. But let me mention something else about this verse that is so important. We get so caught up in the tongues of fire imagery that we sometimes miss a very important truth. This verse says that the tongues of fire came to rest on each of them. In other words, The Holy Spirit was given to all of the believers.

This was a huge change from the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was not absent in the Old Testament, but He primarily worked with individuals like, prophets, priest, and kings, and for given times and seasons to accomplish certain task. Now that has changed! God has now given His Spirit to all believers for all times! Such an important change.

And I love the way T. C. Smith put it...

"The Pentecostal phenomena gave an impetus to a community of believers who were destined to break through social, racial, and religious barriers with a message of light and life for all mankind."

And let's go on to see how God is going to do this. At Pentecost, God gives...

Supernatural Gifts and Abilities

Acts 2:4-12 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment,
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?
Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?
Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome
(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

First of all, it meant that God wanted the crowds to clearly hear the gospel and know what it meant. He wanted them to then take that gospel, the good news of Jesus, back to their homelands. God was unleashing the gospel through this powerful event at Pentecost to the known world. God allowed the followers of Jesus to witness to would be followers of Jesus in a supernatural way! The followers of Jesus were declaring the wonders of God to these people. They were probably talking to smaller groups of people or even one on one with some of the crowd and maybe sharing their personal testimonies of how God had worked in their lives and changed their hearts. They were probably talking about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and how they had seen Him ascend back to heaven just nine days earlier in great glory! They were probably telling them how He had promised them something like this was going to happen. Of course, as we've already seen, there were those who said, "this is crazy and these guys and gals are all drunk."

Peter, in the introduction of his sermon, which we will look at in detail next week, replied to the naysayers. Listen...

Acts 2:14-18 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

So one of the many beautiful things about this event is that it had been foretold many years before by the prophet Joel. In other words it was written in Hebrew Scripture, and now these followers of Jesus were sharing the truth of the ancient prophecies by being part of the very fulfillment of prophecy! And as we'll see next week, there were so many who chose to believe because of their testimony. Now you might be thinking this is a good story, but how does this apply to my life. "Like I said Pastor Larry, there was no wind, tongues of fire or unknown languages when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. So clue me in! What does this mean for me!" Thought you would never ask! One of the coolest things is that we too can be a part of fulfilling ancient Scripture. Let me read those last few verses to you again...

Acts 2:17-18 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Did you see what I saw? "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people." In other words, not just the priest, the preachers, or the prophets, but all believers. And He went on to say sons, daughters, young and old, and not just the people who stand up front, or stand out, or those who are the big time leaders and speakers, but even on those who serve. So if you thought you were exempt from this whole unleashing the gospel because you don't have the big exotic gifts, and you don't teach, or sing, or lead conferences, you just serve in the background, well your not exempt! You are very much a part of this extraordinary move of God that is going on and which is going to continue to grow bigger and bigger.  

Let me put it this way: God has uniquely gifted you to be a part of the gospel movement in these last days. And the wind of change that draws and gets peoples attention is the difference Jesus begins to make in your life after you accept His mercy, love and forgiveness. It's the difference in your life once you start living according to the principles of God's Holy Word. And talk about the visual special effects God will begin displaying in your life will be awesome! They will see your non-judgmental love, but also your commitment to God's truth. They will see you humbly admit that you too are a sinner, but they will begin seeing the holiness of God replacing your sinfulness as you grow in Christ. They will be drawn to a relationship with God through you! What a privilege is that? And this pouring out of God's Spirit happens when we allow God to consume every part of our being with His Holy Spirit so that our very life becomes a testimony and you will prophesy. I know you might be going, "Hey I'm no prophet and I sure can't tell you what's going to happen in the future, so how can you say I will prophesy?

A prophet is not necessarily a person who speak of the future. A prophet is one who proclaims the things of God or is a spokesman for God. And once God's Holy Spirit comes into your life He brings not only the presence of God into your life, but also the provision of God into your life. In other words, He will provide you with the gifts you need to proclaim the gospel to the world. "But Pastor Larry, how many times do I have to tell you, I'm no preacher!" Just once, but how many times do I have to tell you that preaching is not the only way to proclaim or unleash the gospel? There is a specific spiritual gift of prophecy that some people are given, but we all are called to proclaim and unleash the gospel with our own specific and special spiritual gifts. Paul would later write...

1 Corinthians 12:1-13 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,”
and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits,
to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free —
and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

In other words, we all receive the same Holy Spirit! He brings the presence of God and He brings the gifts of God. Some of us have similar gifts, but we display them in unique ways because of our personality and our talent. Some may use their gift of proclamation by singing because they have a God given talent. Others may not be able to carry a tune in a bucket, so they simply speak wisdom into other people's lives. Others have personalities that would cause them to be terrified if they had to speak or sing to someone else. They have been given special gifts of service where they proclaim the good news of Jesus through their actions, and sometimes they're more effective than the most eloquent and gifted speaker or singer because they are using God's most powerful special effects: They are living the gospel in
5-D, technicolor, surround sound, and doing their own stunts! No CGI here (Computer Graphics Imagery). They are the real deal! Living sermon illustrations! A man by the name of Edgar A. Guest was hired by the Detroit Free Press back in 1895. He would work for them for 65 years. He became a well known writer and poet. He penned the following...

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one would walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.

The best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds.
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true.
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
I may not understand the high advice that you may give.
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

Do you remember I told you there was a similarity between our experience and those who experienced the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? They heard the wind and saw the tongues of fire. When you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with God's presence, your life will become the wind and the fire the world will see. You will be God's special effects bringing hope to a lost and dying world!

Peter would later write these words in a letter he penned to God's people and we have it recorded in our Bible in 1 Peter 4:8-11

1 Peter 4:8-11 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Let's pray!!