I. THE THREE SUPERNATURAL PHENOMENA THAT ACCOMPANIED THE INITIAL OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
A. Sound as a mighty rushing wind; cloven tongues of fire upon each of them; their speaking in the various languages.
B. Of these three, only one of them was repeated in the scriptures.
1. In chapter four, there is another phenomena that was not repeated that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and that is the place where they were praying was shaken.
2. The only sign that was repeated was the speaking in tongues.
C. In the various accounts in the book of Acts, where they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we see an interesting variety of experiences.
1. Here in chapter two, we see the three signs that we mentioned.
2. In chapter 8, when the church in Jerusalem had heard that the Samaritans had received the gospel through the ministry of Philip the evangelist, they sent Peter and John, for as yet the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them.
a. Note they had been saved and baptized in water. Which means that the Holy Spirit was dwelling in them. But as yet they had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the epi experience.
b. Philip was an evangelist, and no doubt did not have this gift of imparting the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, though many miracles were wrought through his ministry. Not all have the same giftings. The Holy Spirit divides to each man severally as He wills.
c. When Peter and John laid hands on them, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. No mention of any outward sign of tongues or other phenomena. However, it is implied that something must have been happening that was observable inasmuch that Simon the sorcerer wanted to buy the power to lay hands on people to impart the Holy Spirit.
3. The experience of Paul in chapter 9.
a. There was no laying of hands by the apostles, but just a brother in the church in Damascus by the name of Ananias who came to him to lay hands on him that he might receive his sight and be filled with the Spirit.
b. Again, Paul was converted on the road to Damascus when he acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
c. His receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit was subsequent to that.
d. No mention of tongues, there was an accompanying experience of receiving again his sight, but that was not necessarily related to his being baptized in the Spirit.
e. Later, Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth speaks of his thankfulness that he spoke in tongues more than all of them, yet he obviously exercised the gift in his own personal devotions.
4. The experience of the people in the house of Cornelius in chapter 10.
a. While Peter was yet speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon them.
b. There was no laying on of hands at all.
c. There was the manifestation of speaking in tongues.
d. We note that their experience preceded their even being baptized.
5. In chapter 19, with the church in Ephesus.
a. The discernable lack in their experience.
b. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed or since you believed? Either is allowable from the Greek language, and in the sense, there is really no difference in the meaning.
c. Either implies that the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit is separate and distinct from conversion.
d. Paul baptized them and laid his hands on them.
e. They received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues and prophesied.
f. In the Old Testament they looked upon the gift of prophesy as the sign that a person was filled with the Spirit.
II. THE REASON FOR THE WIDE AND VARIED EXPERIENCES.
A. God did not want us to try to establish formulas.
1. It seems to be human nature to reduce things to formulas.
a. The five steps to spiritual maturity.
b. The four keys to faith.
2. This leaves the Spirit the freedom to work sovereignly however He wills.
B. God did not want us to seek the experiences of someone else, but to have our own personal experience of His love and grace.
1. The testimonies of others can be inspiring, but sometimes I feel that they can also be a problem and hinderance.
2. We seek to have a duplicate kind of experience that someone else has told about.
3. I have heard people seek to describe their particular experience, such as liquid love flowing down and through them. Warm oil being poured out all over them; being in swoons of trances.
4. Many times you feel nothing.
5. Because you do not feel anything, you feel that you have been shortchanged.
6. Because your experience is not as exotic as someone else, you begin to wonder if the work of God is really valid in your life.
7. Jesus said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who see and believe, but more blessed are those who believe without seeing." I think that sometimes He says, blessed are those who believe because they have had some exotic experience, but more blessed are those who believe without exotic experiences.
8. Just remember, experience is never the criteria for truth.
III. The varied reactions of the crowd.
A. The crowd was made up of devout Jews from every nation under heaven.
1. They were devout for they had travelled all the way to Jerusalem in obedience to the law to celebrate one of the three great feast days of the Jewish calendar.
2. Note that they had come from every nation under heaven. This will greatly enhance getting the gospel out into all the world. Many of them will be going home filled with the Holy Spirit to bear witness of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
B. "When this was noised abroad."
1. What was the "this"?
a. The sound of a mighty rushing wind?
b. Or just word spreading rapidly through the community that some strange phenomena was taking place?
2. They were confounded, confused, in wonderment. Why? Each man heard them speaking in his own dialect (dialectos).
3. They were amazed.
4. They marvelled.
5. It was an amazing thing and it was a marvelous thing.
6. The thing that caused the wonderment was the realization that all of those who were speaking were Galileans.
a. They knew that they could not have acquired these various languages.
b. They recognized the supernatural element of the whole event.
C. The list of the wide variety of language groups.
1. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopootamians, Judaeans.
D. What did they hear in their own dialects? They heard them proclaiming the wonderful works of God.
IV. THE PURPOSE OF THE GIFTS OF TONGUES.
A. An assist in our personal prayer life.
1. Paul speaks to the Romans of the Spirit helping our weakness. that weakness is not always knowing how to pray as we ought.
2. The Spirit then makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
3. Paul wrote the Corinthians, "When I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What shall I say? I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with understanding also.
4. He told them not to speak in tongues in church if there was no one there who could interpret. Though they praised God well the rest of the church could not be edified if they did not understand what they were saying.
5. How could say "yes and amen" at their giving of thanks, if they did not understand what they were saying?
6. Indeed it was a good way to give thanks.
B. To edify the believer.
1. He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself.
2. There is nothing wrong with being edified.
3. The word means to be built up, that is built up in Christ.
C. The purpose of tongues was never as a teaching tool.
1. Though I have unconfirmed testimonies of people speaking in tongues in their sharing the gospel.
2. That may be so, but it is not the primary purpose.
3. If that did happen, it would be much like the day of Pentecost where the people were amazed that these Galileans were able to speak in their various dialects.
4. I do not fully understand the passage in Corinthians where Paul seems to contradict himself about tongues being a sign to the unbeliever, yet if the unbeliever comes in and everyone is speaking in tongues they will think you are crazy. Here in Acts it seems that it indeed was a sign to the unbeliever.
D. A further reaction of the crowd.
1. They were amazed and in doubt. There doubt was expressed in their question, "What does this mean?"