WHAT HAPPENED ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Nowadays more and more people everywhere especially among those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour,
ask this question, "What exactly happened on the Day of Pentecost and what does it all mean to me today?" Many
things will depend upon the answer to this question. From the account given in the Word of God in Acts chapters 2
and 3, we can distinguish eight things that happened on that day:
1. A sound came from heaven (Acts 2:2);
2. Cloven tongues like as of fire came down and sat upon each of the disciples (Acts 2:3);
3. They spoke with other tongues (Acts 2:4);
4. They received the promise of the Father on that day (Acts 1 :4);
5. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1 :5);
6. The Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1 :8);
7. They were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4);
8. The prophecy of the Old Testament prophet Joel (the relevant part of it) was fulfilled on That day (Acts 2:16).
These eight features easily fall into three categories: Outward features of symbolic significance (items 1-3); Inward
work of the Holy Spirit (items 4-7), and Old Testament Scripture fulfilled (item 8). Let us consider them one by one.
Outward features of symbolic significance a sound came from heaven
"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they
were sitting" (Acts 2:2).
(i) "...A sound..." The sound from heaven is first spoken of in Genesis 1 :3, at the creation of the world, when God's
voice sounded upon the face of the deep, "Let there be light". Now in Acts 2:2 it is heard again to bring forth a new
creation: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). This sound indicates the "Word of God". The
Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of "word" as "a sound or combination of sounds conveying an idea".
So a word is a sound with a meaning. This sound from heaven was not a meaningless sound. It was full of meaning
and is a symbol of "the Word of God" bringing forth anew creation. The Lord Jesus is called the Word of God. He is
the beginning of all things. On the Day of Pentecost He began His new work.
A new creation in Christ
(ii) "...from heaven..." The words "from heaven" indicate that God had now begun to work from heaven in a new
way. During the whole period of the Old Testament the preparation for God's wonderful work of salvation had been
going on. The coming of the Messiah had been foretold again and again, and various details beginning from His
birth to His death, burial and resurrection had been given. The people of Israel had been chosen and prepared so
that the Messiah, the Saviour of the whole world, might be born among them. Then all that had been foretold
concerning the Messiah had been fulfilled. The Messiah had been born in Bethlehem; He was crucified and died
upon the cross; He had risen from the dead and had been exalted to the right hand of God. Fifty days had also
passed since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Everything appointed by God had been fulfilled to the letter, and
therefore now the pre-appointed day, the Day of Pentecost was "fully come ". God began His mighty work of
salvation, to bring out a people for His Name from every tongue and nation. In the Old Testament, God had taken
out a people from the family of Abraham. Now He was taking out a people in the New Man, in Christ, from every
nation under heaven.
Oh! what a glorious work that is! Those who are saved know it from their own experience. "The Lord hath made
bare his holy arm in the eyes of the nations: and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God" (lsa.52:
10). Till now God's arm had been covered as with a full-sleeved shirt or coat, and only his hand could be seen. But
now this whole arm was uncovered and became visible to the sons of men. Oh! what a holy arm it is! When you see
it, you will fall down and worship the mighty God our Savior. Now, not only the chosen people, the children of
Israel, but people of all nations in the whole world were going to see how the mighty God could take a beggar like
you or me from the dunghill and make him to inherit the throne of glory (1 Sam. 2:8). That is why this sound came,
not from the east or west, but from heaven !
(iii) ''...as of a rushing mighty wind..." The 'wind' is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8); 'rushing' indicates
quickness of movement; and 'mighty' means powerful. In one day 3000 souls were saved. In one moment Saul the
persecutor became a believer. So the rushing mighty wind represents the quick, powerful movement of the Holy
Spirit, by which He converts a stubborn, blind and filthy sinner into a holy man or woman of God.
(iv) "...and it filled..." The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. He is worthy that He should fill all
things. "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things"
(Eph.4:10). The Holy Spirit has been sent to bring Him to that place of pre-eminence amongst His people.
(v) "...the house..." We read that the mighty rushing wind came and filled the entire house. The 120 disciples were
gathered in the upper room, but the Holy Bible says the rushing mighty wind filled all the house' where they were
sitting. By using the word house here, we are definitely made to think of the House of God, which House we are (1
Peter 2:5; Heb.3:6). God's eternal purpose is to fill the House of God with His glory, and make it His glorious Church
without spot or wrinkle (Eph.5:27). When Moses had set up the Tabernacle, the glory of the Lord filled the
Tabernacle (Exo.40:34). When Solomon had built the Temple at Jerusalem and brought the Ark of Covenant into
the appointed place, the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord (1 Kings 8:2). Now that the Church came into
being, immediately "the house" was filled.
(vi) "...where they were sitting..." It so happened that when the appointed time came, the disciples were not on
their knees, but were sitting, and they received the Holy Spirit. In the house of Cornelius all those who received the
word through Peter received the Holy Spirit while Peter was yet speaking (Acts 10:44). The posture of the body is
not a condition, but rather the posture of the heart; that is, it must be ready with repentance and faith by the Holy
2. Cloven tongues like as of fire
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them"(Acts 2:3).
(i) "...cloven..." According to the Mosaic Law the children of Israel were permitted to eat the flesh of cloven -footed
animals only (Lev.11 :3). This restriction reminded them that they were to be separated from sin and defilement,
"...ye shall be holy; for I am holy..."(Lev.11:44). Fire represents the unapproachable holiness of God (Heb.12:29).
Thus these cloven tongues like as of fire indicated that the Holy Spirit had come to dwell in the disciples to enable
them to lead a separated life. This enabling is the outward work of the Holy Spirit.
(ii) "...tongues like as of fire..." In his vision Isaiah saw the seraphim taking a live coal and laying it upon his mouth
and saying, "Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged" (lsa.6:7). In the
same way, when these cloven tongues of fire touched the disciples it meant that the Holy Spirit had come to witness
to them that, by the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, their sins had been taken away (John1 :29), and their
conscience had been purged from every guilt of sin and condemnation, (Heb,9:14), This inward witness in us is the
inward! work of the Holy Spirit,
(iii) "…and it sat…" The Holy Spirit rested upon each of the disciples, When the Lord Jesus was baptized, the Holy
Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighted upon Him; the Father was fully satisfied and the Holy Spirit of God
rested fully upon Him. In the Old Testament we read that when Noah sent out a dove it could not find any resting
place, because everywhere it saw only dead bodies; floating upon the waters (Gen,8:9), After the new vegetation
began to appear, Noah sent out the dove a second time and the dove returned to Noah it with an olive leaf because
it could not find a resting place, The third time it found a resting place in the new vegetation and did not return again
to him (Gen,8:10-12), As it was with Noah's dove when it was sent out the second time, the Holy Spirit came upon
the Old Testament prophets and apparently rested upon them for a time, But now on the Day of Pentecost, as a
result of Christ's finished work of redemption, the Holy Spirit came and rested upon the disciples fully to dwell in
them In a special way peculiar to New Testament believers (John 14:17).
(iv) "...upon each of them…" Each one of the disciples was accepted individually, There is no such thing as mass
conversion, when a whole community or family is converted en-masse, Each one has to make an individual,
personal decision. If the father believes, the whole family is not accepted by God, but only those in the family who
have made intelligent decisions for Christ from their hearts (Acts 16:32-34; 18:8) .God does not go by round
numbers, if one of the 120 had not repented and had not accepted Christ as his personal Saviour, then, only 119
would have received the Holy Spirit, even though that is not a round figure, But in this case all 120 were disciples
who had repented and believed in Christ with all their hearts, and that is why the cloven tongues of fire came and
rested upon each one of them.
I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD—3
The Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death, the world, sin and Satan for you and for me, to make us more than
conquerors. Have you received that power in your life"? Do you have that experience? Does that power work in you
every day? That power is for you and for me. By that power our Lord is drawing people to Himself. See John 12:32,
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". Here the Lord speaks of His death and His victory
over death. Again in John 12:24 He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground
and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit". Now this is a simple and a wonderful truth. It does
not require any education or Bible knowledge to understand it. All of us have seen a grain of wheat dying and
bringing forth much wheat. One grain of wheat can produce about 5000 grains with good soil and water. And again
if you sow the same grains next year and go on doing the same for five years, you will have a whole goods train, full
of grain. By one grain so much is produced. The Lord Jesus Christ is that grain of wheat.