Welcome to part two in a four-part series about the Holy Spirit. Before we get into the message for today, I have a few jokes for you that show the differences between denominations and beliefs.
How many Baptists does it take to change a lightbulb? Change? Who said anything about change?
How many Pentecostals does to change a lightbulb? Ten. One to change the lightbulb and nine to cast out the spirit of darkness.
How many Catholics does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They use candles.
Now, I don’t just want to pick on denominations, so how many chiropractors does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, but it’s going to take at least six visits.
How many college students does it take to change a lightbulb? I don’t know… is it going to be on the test?
How many telemarketers does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but they are going to have to do it while you are eating dinner.
I share these jokes simply to remind you that we all come from different backgrounds and we all have different ideas. But, as a church, it’s essential that we come into unity on Biblical issues so that we can fulfill all that God wants us to do.
With this in mind, you can see why I was led to do a series about the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is one of the most divisive topics in the church.
How many of you have been in a church that told you speaking in tongues was from the devil? How many of you were told you were basically not really saved unless you spoke in tongues?
Arguments about the Holy Spirit have split churches in half, ruined relationships, and caused some people to abandon church altogether.
But this series about the Holy Spirit will do none of that. Instead, it will bring us into unity about the Holy Spirit. It will get us all on the same page.
And not because my idea of the Holy Spirit is the right idea, but because we are going to examine what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit and base our belief on the ultimate truth in God’s Word.
As you know, there is a lot of confusion about the Holy Spirit. What’s interesting is that this is not new to our generation. It was even going on in the early church.
Acts 19:1-2 NLT – While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
This is where a lot of people are today. They either don’t know the Holy Spirit or they don’t want to know about the Holy Spirit because of the way some people have represented it.
Maybe you associate the Holy Spirit with a crazy church service. Or maybe someone you really looked up to told you to have nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.
The thing is, the Holy Spirit has been given a bad rap. Yet, He was given to us as a gift and His primary purpose is to be our best friend and the best companion we’ve ever had.
Which is exactly what we talked about last week. The Holy Spirit is with you to give you power to do the things you can’t do on your own and to give you refreshing when you feel like you can’t take any more of life.
Last week, the Bible revealed to us that the Holy Spirit is neither crazy nor spooky. He’s actually really comforting. And all of us need the person of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I encourage you to go back and listen to that message on our website if you haven’t already. It’s going to bring truth and freedom to your life.
The Meaning of Pentecost
Now today I want to talk about a term that’s probably confused all of us at some point or another. And that word is pentecost, which is where the pentecostal denomination got their name.
And because most of us associate the word with the pentecostal church, you may think that is simply means you either have to wear a lot of makeup or no makeup at all.
If you’re a woman, you are to never cut your hair. And if your a man, you are to never let it get longer than an inch.
But turns out the word Pentecost is not a denomination. It’s actually a particular day. It’s an event.
Acts 2:1 NLT – On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.
Now, let me give you a little history. Jesus came a lived 33 years here on earth. He then died on the cross to pay for your sins and three days later he was resurrected.
Jesus then spends 40 days in His glorified body before He ascended into heaven. During the 40 days, He was walking through walls, hanging out with people, and leaving final instructions.
And then 10 days after Jesus ascended, the day of pentecost came which is when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. This is something that Jesus promised would come, and it did.
So pentecost is a day, not a denomination, and it is actually a Jewish holiday. Actually, the Jewish people have three major holidays. Kind of like we have Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
These three Jewish holidays have unique characteristics. And what Jesus decided to do was use the Jewish holidays as a way to give us a picture of what He wanted to do.
But here’s the problem. Jewish people understand this, but we don’t because these are not our holidays. So I want to help you understand these holidays, because it is going to open your eyes to all the amazing things God has for you.
Jesus actually explained to us why we should pay attention to these things:
Matthew 5:17 NLT – Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.
So, although we no longer have to live like they did in the Old Testament, sacrificing animals to pay for their sins, relying on a priest to talk to God for them, we still embrace the principles of the Old Testament.
In fact, Jesus came to give us the fulfillment of the picture that was painted by the Old Testament. He didn’t say the Old Testament was worthless and should be thrown in the trash. No, He came to bring it to completion.
So, really, you can see Jesus and even the plan He has for you life by understanding these three holidays that we are going to talk about today.
There’s a good chance you’ve heard the story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt. But, why did God’s people end up in Egypt in the first place?
Well, there was a famine. So they went to Egypt for food and ended up getting stuck there for 400 years. Actually, Pharaoh enslaved God’s people and made them build the pyramids and things like that.
Obviously, God did not want His people to be slaves. So, He sent Moses to lead the people out of Egypt.
As you can imagine, Pharaoh did not want to let them go. So all kinds of plagues came as a way of getting Pharoah to let God’s people go.
And the tenth and final plague was that the firstborn male in every family would die. Of course, God did not want the children from His people to die, so He provided a way out.
He told them to get blood from a lamb and put it around the exterior door of their houses. And He basically said, “When I see the blood, I will passover your house and your children will remain unharmed.”
After they got out of Egypt, an annual holiday was created to remember the day that God spared all of their firstborn children. And here’s how the holiday went down.
The Passover lamb was sacrificed at 9 a.m. The lamb would then be put into the oven at 3 p.m. And the whole purpose of this was to remind them how it took a sacrifice to cover their sins.
Like we read earlier, Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament. Back then, the sacrifice only covered their sin. But the fulfillment of this is way better.
What’s interesting is that the day Jesus died was Passover. He was sacrificed on Passover at 9 a.m. Jesus was then put into the tomb at 3 p.m.
But his sacrifice didn’t cover our sins. It did something much better. Jesus’ sacrifice removed our sins. He obliterated them.
If you think I’m making all of this up, take a look at this:
1 Corinthians 5:7 NLT – Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
Jewish people get it. But for us, this scripture is kind of strange because we do not have the holiday. Now that we’ve talked about it, I hope it’s starting to make sense for you as well.
To sum it all up, passover was created for one reason:
Passover represents salvation.
Just like God saved the firstborn for those who used the blood of the lamb, your life has been saved through the blood of Jesus.
And this salvation has nothing to do with you. Just like it was the lamb who had to give its life to save the firstborn of God’s people back in Egypt, Jesus is the one who gave His life to save yours.
It has nothing to do with how good you are or how many things you’ve done right. No, Jesus is the one who saves you. And He doesn’t just cover your sin and everything you’ve done wrong, He obliterates it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT – God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
This is something we must establish right now before we move on. To receive salvation, you don’t have to pray a certain amount of time, you don’t have to join this church, you don’t even have to keep coming to church.
Salvation is a free gift. You can’t earn it and your bad behavior can’t even scare it away. It is yours, as a gift, by the grace of God.
Listen to me. It’s not a reward for the good things you’ve done, its a gift. And not the kind your friend gives you while expecting something in return. No, salvation is a legit gift from God. No take backs.
I need you to understand this before we move on. Because so many people get hung up into thinking that the reason we pray, read our bible, serve our church, give to our church, is to earn or keep our salvation.
Yes, God wants all of those things in your life. But they have nothing to do with salvation. You are saved from hell because Jesus paid the price. God gave this to you as a gift and the only part you play in salvation is to receive the gift by believing.
So the first holiday was Passover, which represents salvation. The second holiday is Pentecost.
What’s interesting about this word is that ‘pente’ means five and ‘cost’ means to the tenth power. In other words, pentecost simple means fifty.
So, let me show you how scary this word really is… fifty. That right, run for your lives because the word fifty can sure cause some crazy things to happen.
Remember how Jesus hung out on Earth for 40 days after His resurrection and then 10 days after He ascended to heaven, the day of Pentecost came? Now you understand why the word means fifty.
And like we read earlier, Pentecost is a Jewish holiday. And it was even celebrated in the Old Testament.
Have you heard about the time when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the law from God? You know, the time when God wrote the ten commandments on stone tablets.
This was quite the experience. A cloud descended with loud noise and fire. God wrote his law on tablets of stone.
And this is the same time that some of the people who were waiting on Moses to come back from the mountain got impatient and decided it would be a good idea to make a calf out of gold and worship it instead of God.
This turned out to be a major mistake, considering God was like here, up on the mountain while they were doing this. And as a result of this nonsense, 3,000 people died in one day.
All of this happened, get this, 50 days after Passover. So, the Jewish people have been celebrating Pentecost ever since, 50 days after Passover.
Now, back to the day of Pentecost mentioned in the book of Acts. Let’s look at how the day the law was given parallels with the day the Holy Spirit was given.
You’ll read in Acts 2 that the Holy Spirit descended with loud sound and fire. And this time, God wrote His law not on stones, but on our hearts. In other words, He gets to live in us now.
The best part of it is, nobody died that day. Instead, 3,000 people were saved that day. It shows a beautiful mirror picture of the holiday called Pentecost.
Now that I’ve explained all of this to you, let me show it to you in scripture:
Acts 1:3-5 NLT – During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Now, the question is, why do we need the Holy Spirit? Isn’t salvation enough?
Acts 1:8 NLT – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.
The day of Pentecost has nothing to do with salvation. Remember, we already talked about Passover, which is the holiday that represents salvation. It’s a free gift that can’t be earned or taken away. You just have to receive it.
And then the next step, if you want to walk in all God has for you, is to receive power from the Holy Spirit. And why do we need this power?
The Holy Spirit gives you power to make a difference.
You see, the day of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, is not so we can have wild church services, goosebumps, falling over, and running around.
No, the purpose of Pentecost is to give you the power you need to live in a way that makes a difference in the lives of those around you. We’re talking about power to lead people to Jesus and save them from eternity in hell.
So, although the good things we do can’t save us, they are still an essential part of our lives. Like we can just sit back and say, “Well, I’m saved and I can’t do anything to earn it or take it away, so it doesn’t really matter what I do.”
If you live your life with that attitude, you will live your life powerless. And you are going to miss out on opportunities not just to change someone’s life here on earth, but to change their eternity.
So, we read our Bible, we pray, we remain faithful to our church, we live a generous life, not because we want to be saved, but because we are saved and want our lives to make a difference.
And the Holy Spirit is was gives you the power to do this. Because you can’t do it on your own! You’ll wear out. You’ll be shy and reserved. But with the Holy Spirit, you’ll be empowered to be a witness for Jesus.
Now, let’s talk about the third holiday.
The first two holidays we talked about happened close together in the spring. And this one happened later on in the fall, around harvest time.
And basically it was a holiday to remember when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years before they made it to their permanent home, the promised land.
To a Jewish person, the word tabernacles means a portable house, or like a tent to us. So there was a period of time where you weren’t in your permanent home yet. You were wandering around in temporary homes.
So how is this Old Testament holiday being fulfilled today?
We are living on this temporary earth, it is not our permanent home. Just like we talked about a few weeks ago in a message called “You Only Live Twice”, this life is just a short blip and then you will spend eternity in your permanent home in Heaven.
Before all this happens, the Bible tells us there will be a great harvest of people who come to believe in Jesus, just like there was always a harvest before the holiday called Tabernacles.
Now that I’ve explained this holiday to you and how it applies to us today, let me show you in Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
Tabernacles represents the second coming of Jesus.
So, there are three major holidays because there are three things you need to know about your walk with God.
It all starts with Passover. It all starts with Jesus and the gift of salvation He gave to you. You can’t earn it, but you do have to receive it by believing that what Jesus did on the cross obliterated your sin.
Then, God has an assignment for us. And the things He has for us to do are not to earn salvation. They are not to earn His love. But He does have an assignment for you, and it’s too big for you.
You can’t do it on your own. You are going to need power to pull it off. Which is exactly why Pentecost exists. Its when the Holy Spirit comes upon you to give you the power you need to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
And all this is to lead to Tabernacles, the second coming of Jesus. But for this to happen, there has to be a great harvest of people who come to know the Lord.
Knowing this brings an entirely new light to this scripture:
Acts 1:8 NLT – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.
Now you can see how it all works together, right? And now you can see how important it is that every single one of us has the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
So, let’s break exactly what the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do. I am going to give you three things.
The Holy Spirit empowers me to live righteously.
Remember how we talked about how Pentecost in the Old Testament was when God gave us the law written on stone? Well, some of you are still trying to live that way.
You have all the things that you want to do better written somewhere on the outside. But the problem is, you keep messing up. Because the truth is, you know you need to do it, or stop doing it, but you really don’t want to.
You’re in this battle between right and wrong and you don’t know how to win it.
Well, when you allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon you, He starts to write the law in the inside, on your heart. So you don’t have to obey it. You become it!
Doing what’s right becomes you nature. It becomes who you are, not something you are trying to do. And all because you stopped trying to do it in your own power and you allowed the Holy Spirit to come upon you.
Is this just something I am making up? No. Let me show it to you in Scripture:
Romans 8:9 NLT – But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He begins to do a transforming work on the inside of us. I’m not obeying a set of ten commandments, those ten commandments have become a part of who I am.
And it’s not that I have to do it, I want to do it. And I want you to have that because is so much more fun and a whole lot easier than trying to fight your sinful nature with your own power.
One of the best things about this kind of life, where you allow the Holy Spirit to come upon you, is that He guides you into all truth. He will talk to you and give you direction.
He’ll speak up in your heart and say, “Don’t take that job, I have something better for you.” or “Don’t go there and do that because I have something better for you.”
Here’s how the Bible explains it:
Isaiah 30:21 NLT – Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.
A few years ago, I had this awesome job. I loved what I was doing, I was good at it, and they paid me really well. Actually, about 6-months in, they loved me so much they gave me a 50% raise. It blew my mind.
And I believe God placed me there. It was part-time and the schedule even worked with what I was doing here at church and what I was doing to build my own business.
Then, two-and-a-half years in, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “It’s time to go. I have something better for you.”
To be honest, I had a hard time believing this one was the Holy Spirit. I mean, why would God call me away from a job that seemed so perfect? It just didn’t make rational sense.
So, I ignored the Holy Spirit’s direction and stayed put. I kept working there and the most profound thing happened.
With each passing month, I became more and more frustrated. The job that I loved became a job that drove me crazy. I went from feeling confident in what I was doing to feeling like I was messing everything up.
And six months into my disobedience, I couldn’t take it anymore. It took me six months, but I decided to listen to the Holy Spirit and turn in my two weeks notice.
You won’t believe what happened next. One week in to my last two weeks at the job, Beth finds out she is pregnant with our first kiddo.
So here I am, giving up a job that provides significant income for my family, and at the same time, my family is growing. Makes a lot of sense why the Holy Spirit would ask me to leave, huh? No, no it doesn’t.
In hindsight, I can see why the Holy Spirit led me to leave the job six months before, because it would have been a whole lot less stressful without a kid on the way.
But, get this. God still worked it out. I went through with it and quit the job even though they asked me to stay, and here I am today providing for my family of five way better than I ever could have with that job.
And this is the benefit of allowing the Holy Spirit to come upon you. He empowers you to make the right decisions, even when they are hard, even when you don’t want to.
On top of all of this, He’s patient and will work on your heart to give you the desire to follow God’s plan for your life, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the second thing:
The Holy Spirit empowers me to live supernaturally.
If you want to do all of this on your own, then you can go ahead and live your natural life. But don’t you know that God wants more than that for you?
He doesn’t want you to live a natural life, He wants you to live a supernatural life. Just like what Jesus did when He was here on earth.
And we don’t have a problem believing that Jesus lived a supernatural life. But for us to do the same? I don’t know. That seems a little out there.
Yet it was recorded in the Bible that Jesus said, “You will do greater things than I did when I go to be with the Father.”
And, He’s with the Father now, which means we are to be doing greater things. We’re not talking about spooky, we’re not talking about crazy.
When you read about the life of Jesus, people ran towards Him because of the supernatural life He was living. They weren’t running away because He was a crazy charismatic. No, they wanted what He had.
So stop thinking that you have to be all weird to live a supernatural life. And instead, be a real person that goes through life unafraid to lay hands on the sick and see them recover.
Here’s how the Bible explains it:
Acts 10:38 NLT – And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Yes! This is what I am talking about right here. Jesus had power from the Holy Spirit to do what? Go around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.
He wasn’t anointed to draw attention to himself by acting like a crazy, super-spiritual person. No, He was anointed to live his life to help people in amazing ways.
And it’s the same for us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live supernaturally so that we can help people.
Because the power of God to heal our physical bodies is still here today. The power of God to deliver us from those habits, those strongholds, those things the devil is using to oppress us, God’s power can still destroy those today.
And it’s up to us to see this happening in our world. And the only way we will see it is to allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us and give us power.
Here’s the third one:
The Holy Spirit empowers me to live on mission.
You know, sometimes we get stuck in the idea that church is for us. Like I come to get fed spiritually, and to get refreshed, and to get my needs met. I come because I like the music, or want free coffee, or want to see my friends.
And none of these things are bad things. But, let me tell you something. Church isn’t about you.
The whole reason the church exists is to go about doing good and make a difference in the name of Jesus.
We’re here to feed the hungry, heal the sick, take care of widows and orphans, encourage those who are in prison, and take the gospel into the entire world.
The mission that God has given us as the church is beyond us.
Have you have ever been overwhelmed with everything that needs Jesus in our world? It’s like you’re standing at the base of a mountain and you can’t even see the top.
And you’re thinking, “How are we going to fix this? How can my life really make a big enough difference to matter in the grand scheme of things?”
You can’t do it. Even your best effort won’t come close to what God wants to do through your life and through this church.
But, when you receive the power of the Holy Spirit, He empowers you to do everything that God’s needs you to do.
He’ll tell you to go here or go there, talk to this person or that person. He’ll give you the boldness you need and the words to say to lead people to Jesus. He will empower you to go about healing the sick.
And you don’t have to worry about if you are doing enough. All you need to do is let the Holy Spirit come upon you, give you power, and start listening to His step-by-step direction.
You see, when you try to live out God’s plan for you life in your own strength, you get overwhelmed. You never feel like you’re doing enough and you always feel like a failure.
But, get out of your own strength and invite the Holy Spirit to come upon you and give you power, and then our core scripture will come alive in your life.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT – Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
And this is what I want to see in your life. It’s what motivates me to prepare these messages and be here with you every Sunday.
Because God has an amazing plan and purpose for your life. And even your wildest dream doesn’t come close.
For us to live our best life, the one God planned for each of us before we were even born, we have to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work in our lives.
I want to address one more elephant in the room when it comes to the Holy Spirit.
There’s people who, when they pursue the Holy Spirit, get caught up in pride. And they start walking around with the attitude, “I have something that you don’t have.” And they make others feel like a second class christian.
Well let me tell you, none of that has a place here at NoLimits Church. I don’t spend one moment thinking that I am better than you.
And even though most people would think I am the most important person here because I am the lead pastor, I know that I am not. God’s call on my life is no better than yours, it’s just different.
And regardless of where we are on our spiritual journeys, whether you’re just getting started or you are further down the line with the Holy Spirit’s power working in your life, none of us should look down on others who are in a different place in that journey.
We’re all here to help each other. We’re here to go on this journey together.
And any time that thought pops in your mind that you are better than someone else because you don’t sin as much, or because you speak in tongues, or whatever, you better know it’s pride.
And you better kick it out as soon as it comes in because pride comes from the enemy. The enemy has used pride in regards to the Holy Spirit to split churches, destroy relationships, and even run people away from God.
But it’s not going to happen here.
We will never see ourselves as better than another church or another denomination. We will never have an elite group of christians within our church that thinks they are better than everyone else.
No, we are all going to be a family that supports and cares for each other. We’re going to be patient, understanding that sometimes it takes people like Kade six months to obey the Holy Spirit. And we’re going to love each other unconditionally.
In other words, this is a safe place for you to pursue all God has for you. Because you can’t do it all on your own. You need the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everything I just said can be summed up into this one statement:
Being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t make me better than you, it makes me better than me.
The next two weeks, we are going to dive into the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
So I hope these first two weeks have disarmed all the lies of the enemy, all the negative things your relatives said about the Holy Spirit, and all the negative experiences you’ve had in church in the past.
Because the Holy Spirit is not spooky and He’s not crazy. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that empowers you to make a difference.