Empowered Witnesses Revealing Jesus

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Pentecost 2024 Feast Weeks

Sunday 05/19/24

Title: Empowered Witnesses Revealing Jesus

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Empowered Witnesses Revealing Jesus

The Day of Pentecost

Well we have completed 7 weeks of Eastertide which culminates in the Day of Pentecost.

Now Eastertide is not entirely an original idea, but rather it was borrowed and adapted to serve the New Covenant believer. 

And so this morning will begin with a little bit of a history lesson before diving into our main focus.

Ever since God spoke to Israel through Moses in the wilderness regarding the Feasts and Celebrations of Israel, there has been this 50 day gap of time which was to take place between First Fruits and the Feasts of Weeks

First Fruits marked the giving of the Torah and is the Firstfruit Festival of the wheat harvest. 

This was to be followed 50 days later by the Feast of Weeks, so called because it was 7 weeks from the celebration of First Fruits

These two Old Covenant Feasts were types and shadows of the spiritual reality which would come into existence under the New Covenant. In fact these feasts were called “holy convocations”. The word translated as “convocation” literally means “rehearsals”. So it is that these two Old Covenant Feasts correspond to and were representative of the New Birth of the Disciples of Jesus on the day of His resurrection and the day of Pentecost.

You may remember how in the wilderness God spoke to Moses and told him to tell Israel that ONCE the second generation of Israelites had settled in the promised land they were to observe The Feast of Firstfruits which of course, they could not observe until they had settled in the Promised Land because it wasn’t until then that they could experience their first harvest. 

All of this is found in Lev. 23:15-22. Now in this passage the Feast of First Fruits is brought up in relation to the Feast of Weeks

This is significant due to what it was a type and foreshadow of. 

Since this could begin to be practiced ONCE they had entered into the promised land it directly correlated to the New Birth which wasn’t available until after the resurrection of Jesus from the Dead.

So once the promised Messiah had come and the new birth in God’s Kingdom was available THEY HAD ENTERED into the true Promised Land. This is the second generation those who seek after Him.  

John tells us that at the end of the very day Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to His disciples. Then He breathed on them and told them to “Receive the Holy Spirit”. These men became the very first to be born again! They represented the FIRSTFRUITS of the Old Covenant Wheat harvest.

You may remember that Jesus Himself said regarding His Own death and resurrection unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much wheat. – John 12:24

So it is that the disciples, as the first believers, represented First fruits. And so the counting of 50 days until the Feast of Weeks began, which was the celebration of the bringing in of the New Grain offering for the Lord!

[For more on the convocations of Israel being “rehearsals” see –The Ministry of the Holy Spirit XIVIsrael’s Festivals were Rehearsals – Leviticus 23God Commissions the Second GenerationDiscipline in the Church Part 2 ]

Now over the course of the last few weeks we have focused on the ministry of Jesus during the first 40 of these 50 days. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was seen by MANY people to be alive from the dead for 40 days following His resurrection. It also tells us that during these 40 days the focus of Jesus’ teachings was the Kingdom of God!

After Jesus’ departure, the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father which was to happen 10 days later which would be 50 days since they experienced the New Birth – it would be the Celebration of the Jewish Feast of Weeks!

Now the significance of the Feast of Weeks foreshadowing Pentecost – was surprisingly NOT due to the Holy Spirit coming upon them specifically, as you might assume. 

Fact is, it is largely due to this wrong focus regarding the day of Pentecost that has led to SO MUCH poor teaching and misunderstanding of our relationship with the Holy Spirit as well as our duties in the Kingdom of God.

You see, while the Holy Spirit coming upon the early church was an eternally significant event to be sure, the FOCUS of the Day of Pentecost was actually about the first ingathering of believers following FIRSTFRUITS, and Jesus told the disciples as much!

Luke tells us that when Jesus was about to be taken from them into heaven on a cloud, He told them, 

“These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

(45)  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  (46)  Then He said to them,

“Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,  (47)  AND THAT repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM.  (48)  And you are witnesses of these things.  

(49)  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with POWER from on high.” – Luke 24:44-49

This same account is given to us again by Luke in Acts 1:8,

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

So all of this was to BEGIN 10 days later in Jerusalem FOLLOWING the Holy Spirit coming upon them!

What happened that day?

Well two things which resulted in the Spiritual Feast of Weeks!

The Holy Spirit came upon them, and they prophesied!

Now I know, a lot of people would stop me here and say – “No… don’t you mean they spoke in tongues?” 

Well yes… and no!

And this is where our lesson today begins!

God doesn’t miss a beat and so it is no coincidence that the Day of Pentecost is ONLY recorded in the book of Acts.

As I taught you 2 years ago, the book of Acts is often referred to as the “acts of the Apostles”, but such is NOT a fully accurate representation of the book. But I think we will get further quicker by just reading what Luke, its author told us…

Acts 1:1-9, “(1) The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus “began both to do and teach”,  (2)  until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,  (3)  to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”  

So far so good right? This agrees with all we have said this morning.

“(4)  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;  (5)  for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  

(6)  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  

(7)  And He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His Own authority.  (8)  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; AND YOU SHALL BE WITNESSES TO ME IN JERUSALEM, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

(9)  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

So Luke, the author of the book of Acts, tells us that this book is a continuation of all he recorded in his Gospel. So this is an account of all that Jesus continued to do and teachthrough His body the Church.

So while the Apostles do play a major & central role in this book, the “ACTS” are not restricted to them alone. Believe it or not, the difference between the number of times the Apostles are mentioned in key roles as compared to the church at large is only about 10 additional times in this letter!

So what does that have to do with Pentecost?

Well, the focus of the day of Pentecost was to be the focus of the church throughout the church age. In fact, it DIRECTLY corresponds to the two parables we covered in the last two weeks. The work of the Kingdom for the Nobleman in the Parables of the Talents and the Minas,  and the empowering of the Holy Spirit Who enables us to do that work in the parable of the Oil lamps and the 10 virgins!

So let’s begin in Acts 2

Acts 2:1-47, 

“(1) Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”  

Now God had set up Israel to be largely in Jerusalem in mass on THIS VERY day due to the observance of the Feast of Weeks, so that WHEN His Spirit was poured out, the great majority of the men of each family of Israel would all be present! 

“(2)  Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting.  (3)  And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.  (4)  All of them were filled with the HolySpirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.” 

This is a clear picture of Jesus’ teaching of the Parable of the Virgins and the Lamps with oil. Also it is a clear shout back on being lights of the world which itself was quite possibly a shout back to the cities of refuge under the Old Covenant mentioned in Numbers 35. 

All of scripture is related!

Remember that Jesus said to His followers…

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”~Matthew 5:14

In ancient times, cities were often built on a hill, and some evidence suggests that this was especially true regarding Israel’s six cities of refuge. At least three of the original cities can be confirmed to have been situated atop a mountain. 

They were strategically located, throughout the promised land, so that no one in Israel was more than a day’s journey from one of them. You may remember that these were designated as havens for those who had committed involuntary manslaughter, “that the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood” ~Joshua 20:3

These cities could be seen from a great distance, even at night, by its watch fires. 

These cities served spiritually as a type and foreshadowing of Christ, to Whom we have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” according to Hebrews 6:18. Not to mention that Jesus Himself said that as long as He was in the world, He was its light. 

Later He also said that we who are His are the lights of the world. 

Matthew 5:13-16,

“(13) You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. (14)  You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. (15)  People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”

Acts 2…

“(5)  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem.  (6)  When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” 

“(7)  Completely baffled, they said, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  (8)  And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language?  (9)  Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia,  (10)  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,  (11)  both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!”  

Now this is sadly a derailing of where I want to go today but as I mentioned earlier, poor teaching has led to misunderstandings regarding our job as Christians and our relationship with the Holy Spirit. So I need to clear up a few things here!

The miracle here was NOT the “speaking in tongues” which was to take place as we continue through the book of Acts when people would “receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit” subsequent to salvation. 

Many of those examples of “tongues”, Paul refers to as praying in the Spirit [Acts 19:2-6]. 

That “tongue” we are not even supposed to understand but it builds us up in our faith [1Cor. 14:17; Jude 1:20] and is nothing less than our spirits praying directly to the Father BY the help of the Holy Spirit [Rom. 8:26,27]. 

Also, this manifestation of tongues on the Day of Pentecost is NOT the same “tongues” which operate IN the church as a spiritual gift. That “tongue” has to be interpreted so that all may learn and all be edified [1Cor. 14:26-28].

No, the “tongues” represented here was a special miracle. We know this because of what it DID and what it DID NOT do!

This manifestation of tongues on the Day of Pentecost was NOT prayer to God. 

It was not said to build up the faith of those in the upper room. 

Also it did not need to be interpreted, since the tongues being spoken were already in the spoken languages of those present. 

Notice what it says, “…how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language?… we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!”Acts 2:7-11

So now that we have that cleared up, let’s keep reading…

Acts 2:12-14,

“(12)  All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, 

“What does this mean?”  

(13)  But others jeered at the speakers, saying, “They are drunk on new wine!”  

(14)  But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them:” 

Unfortunately this statement has provoked some of the most silly and childish expressions of the flesh in churches being passed off as the moving of the Holy Spirit. Entire “movements” in church history have been centered around “getting drunk in the Spirit”. I am telling you now that there is NO precedence for this in the entire Bible!

The greatest majority of those present testified that what they were hearing from these people who were speaking these “tongues” was that they were proclaiming the great deeds of God in each of the languages present and this was followed by the first evangelistic message ever taught. 

Now I am not going to take the time this morning to go through Peter’s teaching that day since I’ve done so before and I will link to it on the website for today’s message. But I want to point out that Peter was very articulate, compelling and moved a great number of people to repentance and salvation!

NONE of this paints a picture of people stumbling out of an upper room, tripping over themselves and babbling nonsense with slurred speech! 

The scriptures do NOT tell us to be drunk in the Spirit, but to be FILLED with the Spirit as opposed to filled with wine.

The comparison was intended to reflect being controlled by the Spirit rather than by wine’s intoxicating influence.

Moving on… notice what Peter said next…

“You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say.  (15)  In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  

(16)  But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel:  

(17)  ‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.  (18)  Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” 

Notice it mentions prophesying TWICE! This is why I said earlier that they prophesied, because THAT is what they did! 

The “tongues” were words, miraculously spoken in each person’s native language proclaiming the wonders of God and this set the stage for Peter to speak under the influence of the Holy Spirit a message which led 3,000 people into the Kingdom of God through a commitment to Jesus as their Lord!

Doesn’t sound like mindless, babbling and slurred speech to me!

But I want you to really and truly get the message and point of Pentecost.

First was the giving of the Holy Spirit UPON believers for the work of the ministry.

Remember that Jesus told them to go be His witnesses only AFTER the Holy Spirit had come upon them with power! There are two primary words in the New Testament translated as power – one is exousía which means authority and the other is dúnamis which is an enabling or power to achieve.

Knowing the meaning of these two words and the intended result of power being given to the disciples which power do you think is given in the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

dúnamis – which is an enabling!

Let me set before you a clarification of this by showing you a before and after example of Peter.

Luke 22 tells us of Peter’s response to questioning at the trial of Jesus, during which time he denied that he even knew Him even to the point of cussing to make his point.

Here in Acts 2, Peter is pressed again, but what came out of him this time was all together different! Rather than stepping away from association with Jesus, he was enabled to bring 3,000 people into association with Jesus through faith!

It reminds me of a story I once heard at a conference. The man held up a baseball and asked what the crowd thought it was worth. 

Answers were all in the range of what one would expect to pay for a baseball at a store. 

Then he asked, what if I were to take that same ball – say purchased for $3 at Walmart and have it signed by one of today’s famous players like Ronald Acuna or Mookie Betts or Aaron Judge? The price would be considerably higher. Hypothetically, what if I were to be able to go back in time and get it signed by the likes of a baseball legend like Babe Ruth? It would be worth thousands!

Now you might protest – it’s the same ball!

Yes, but its value is not found in itself, but in whose hands it’s been in – and THAT is the point and message of Pentecost!

The Feast of Weeks was the harvest offering of grain to God. This represents the fruit of the Kingdom which is measured in two types of souls!

1st – Those who come to Christ and enter His kingdom though allegiance to His Lordship

2nd – Those who produce the fruit of union with Christ in their lives by being His empowered witnesses

This second category are those who produce more talents and minas from what was invested into them. They become changed into Christ’s likeness and therefore become living witnesses to Him!

One of the qualifiers for being one of the 12 Apostles was being an eye-witness of Jesus Christ but even they still had to be empowered or enabled by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was our example in ALL THINGS. No one could challenge Jesus’ knowing of the Father even as a child. Remember by the tender age of 12 Jesus was teaching in the temple and the rabbis and priests were astonished at what He knew and understood. Yet, even Jesus had to receive the Spirit UPON Him before He went into ministry. This happened when He was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the Spirit of God descended upon like a fire (Oh, no that was in the upper room) like a dove and then drove Him out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil 40 days and 40 nights. After which He attended a wedding in Cana and performed His first miracle.

All who know Christ are His servants and we are to bear testimony to Him, but He warned us to not testify until we have been enabled.

Is there a connection between the Holy Spirit coming upon a person after salvation and praying in tongues? I believe a case could be made for that, but not an open/closed case. There are examples of believers having the Holy Spirit come upon them and all it says is that they prophesied and praised God. No tongues are mentioned. But again, like I said earlier there is a difference between the GIFT of tongues which is for ministry and is ALWAYS accompanied by an interpretation, and praying in tongues! If you do not remember the difference, go to the website later this week and read through the article associated with this message and you will see it very clearly!

Do I believe praying in tongues or praying in the Spirit is for every believer? Yes!

But the body of Christ needs to be educated in these things. There is a difference between the Spirit within, the Spirit upon and being Filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit within SOUNDS like the result of being Filled with the Spirit but that is due to the limitations of language and metaphors. 

We need to be clear! ANYONE who has come to God through faith and surrender to Jesus Chrsit and has openly testified to Him as their Lord is born again and though their new birth may be different than that of the disciples were Jesus breathed on them, they nevertheless have the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God! There is NO SUCH THING as a child of God who does not have the Spirit of God residing within them!

Nothing about the Spirit coming UPON a believer gives them more of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit cannot be parsed out. You either have Him or you don’t. The question is not if you have all the Spirit but how much of you does HE have? That is a question that directly addresses being Filled with the Spirit.

Now regarding the gifts of the Spirit that DOES come by measure, but that has nothing to do with whether you have the Spirit of God within you or not!

The Holy Spirit UPON the believer is for being a witness. This begins with an ongoing personal transformation into Christ’s likeness. It also results in being effective witnesses to Jesus and His kingdom rule in the hearts of mankind by means of your personal testimony.

Finally there is the Filling with the Spirit which can and SHOULD happen regularly. 

As you go through the New Testament you will find these things associated with being Filled with the Spirit.

  1. Being FILLED is to be influenced and under the control of Him. Words like led by, guided by, driven and motivated by…the Holy Spirit are used in connection with being filled.
  2. Being Filled people “SPOKE HIS WORDS
  3. Being Filled people “felt and responded with His Heart
    1. Elizabeth was filled with the spirit and rejoiced over John her son to be and Jesus who was to be born through Mary and she prophesied.
  4. Being Filled people “were led
    1. Jesus was led into the wilderness – Luke 4:1-2 “(1) Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (2) being tempted for forty days by the devil…”
  5. ..and so, being filled is a potential sign of maturity or at least an action of maturity. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are habitually led by the Spirit of God, these are the mature sons of God.”

In all of these examples, every single person said to be Filled with the Spirit had been in a heart attitude of reverence for God, love for Him and surrender to His will on some level. I submit to you that this is significant!

Again – in closing. The message of Pentecost is the message of the Feast of Weeks. It is a harvest of souls due to the enabling inner work of the Holy Spirit of God through His church! It has nothing directly to do whatsoever with the gift of tongues or praying in tongues but it IS related to being FILLED with the Spirit!



Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!