The Prophecy and the Promise

Though there were one hundred and twenty people in the upper room, the Holy Spirit came not because of the large crowd, but because they were gathered in obedience and unity (Acts 1:13-15). It is obvious that there is strength in unity rather than numbers, for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), so it must be true of the Spirit also. It is when believers are “in one accord” that Holy Spirit moves … “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133).

The Day of Pentecost
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). Just as in Old Testament days, the Feast of Pentecost took place fifty days after Passover (when Christ’s crucifixion took place). It was on this day that the prophecy and the promise were fulfilled. In Joel 2:28-29 we read, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” The apostle Peter referred to this prophecy in his first sermon (Acts 2:16-21). In a number of places in John’s Gospel we read of Jesus’ promise concerning the Spirit, but just prior to His ascension He reminded the disciples, “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence … But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:5,8). 

It is interesting that the Feast of Pentecost was also known as the Festival of Harvest, for on this day three thousand souls came to Christ (Acts 2:41), and shortly after over five thousand became believers too (Acts 4:4). “Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

The Power
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). What took place in the upper room was not according to human power or will. These timid and fearful believers did not know what to expect as fulfilment of Christ’s promise (John 20:19). What took place was a mighty manifestation of the Holy Spirit … “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts … Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Zechariah 4:6; Acts 1:8). What then was the Holy Spirit “power” that the one hundred and twenty received?

To most Pentecostals this was the ability to speak with other tongues, but this is not the power promised by Jesus. Though the Gift of Tongues has not ceased from the church, it was used for a very specific reason on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus tells us what would be the evidence that they had received the power … “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Peter and the eleven apostles immediately preached the word of God, in various languages that they had not learned, to Jews from several nations (Acts 2:5-14). Some teach that one must receive the power (baptism) of the Holy Spirit in exactly the same way that the one hundred and twenty did, that is, the initial evidence of being baptised in the Spirit is speaking in tongues. But where do we hear of rushing mighty winds and flames of fire today? The Gift of Tongues is still available today (1 Corinthians 12:8-10), but the tongues mentioned in Acts 2 are for a specific purpose, preaching the Gospel to the visitors to Jerusalem. We must acknowledge that it was not “tongues” that saved the three thousand, instead it was Holy Spirit inspired preaching … “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek … For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Some people, who knew no better, mocked and said that the believers were drunkards (Acts 2:13-15). There will always be those who will scoff at the manifestation of the Spirit. Peter was divine inspired to preach and correct the mockers’ misunderstanding by referring them to Joel’s prophecy. Isaiah also prophesied that God’s unbelieving people would be spoken to in other languages … “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:11).

Everything that happened on the Day of Pentecost was a fulfilment of both Old Testament prophecy and Jesus’ promise. Nothing about the Day of Pentecost can be repeated in today’s church. It was a one-off manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It was a dramatic introduction of His power to and for the church. How many do we know, claiming to have the Gift of Tongues, who have immediately won thousands to Christ? Instead the Pentecostal church, like all so-called Bible-believing denomination, is full of lazy Christians who are ashamed of the Gospel. History proves that it has been men and women who were truly filled with the Spirit that have preached the Gospel, brought revival, gone on the missionary field, and done powerful things for God. If ‘tongues’ is the ‘initial evidence’ of the baptism of the Spirit, then it has achieved very little. The nations of this world once again need men and women of faith and boldness to stand up and preach the truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:14).