by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
There is revival occurring in various localities around the world. One highly respected researcher estimates that 80% of these revival fires in the United States are Pentecostal-charismatic in nature. He states further that outside the USA, virtually 100% of current, major revival activity is Pentecostal-charismatic.
•• Many have read of the November 2000 Reinhard Bonnke crusade in Lagos, Nigeria. An estimated 6 million people attended in six days! 1.6 million were present for the final night. There were miraculous healings, multiple salvations, and hundreds of thousands baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It was through and through a Pentecostal revival!
•• Almost all of the world’s 50 largest churches embrace Pentecostal beliefs, doctrines, and practices.
•• There are an estimated 500 million-plus Pentecostals and charismatics worldwide.
•• What is this all about? What does "Pentecostalism" mean? What do Pentecostals believe? What is the essence of Pentecostal doctrine that might help explain these dramatic events? To those questions we will devote the rest of this sermon today.
Acts 1:4-5, 8 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the GIFT my FATHER PROMISED, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with WATER, BUT in a few days you will be baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT ...  But you will RECEIVE POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be MY WITNESSES in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of PENTECOST came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were FILLED with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in OTHER TONGUES as the SPIRIT ENABLED them.
•• Pentecost! As we stated earlier, the majority of the forward progress of the Church in the world today is Pentecostal-based.
• Let’s have a refresher on what “Pentecost” and "Pentecostalism" mean.
•• (1:4) The Pentecostal baptism with the Holy Spirit is a “GIFT”. You can’t earn it. You can’t “become good enough” to receive it. We are baptized in the Holy Spirit entirely as a gift from God.
•• (1:4) It was and is a “PROMISE” from God the Father.
• Therefore, not to be avoided, but received.
•• (1:5) The “promise” is that “you will be BAPTIZED with the HOLY SPIRIT” — the essence of Pentecostalism and charismatic-Pentecostal beliefs. Many Christians today shy away from this experience. Yet it was at the heart of first-century Christianity and should be so today.
•• (1:5) “John baptized with WATER, BUT in a few days you will be baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT.”
• There is a distinct difference between baptism in water and baptism with the Holy Spirit. Contrary to some anti-Pentecostal teaching, these are two distinct baptisms.
•• (1:8) “You will RECEIVE POWER” from this baptism with the Spirit.
• Pentecost speaks of Holy Ghost POWER in YOU.
• One consistent manifestation of that Pentecostal power then and now is divine healings. Illustrations of such supernatural healings can be found throughout the Book of Acts in the time subsequent to the Acts 2 Pentecost (for example, Acts 3:6-8, Acts 5:16, Acts 8:5-7, Acts 9:33-34, Acts 14:8-10, Acts 19:11-12, Acts 28:8-9).
•• (1:8) It means “power [to]...be [Christ’s] WITNESSES.”
• To be His WITNESSES, not to act strangely!
• T.L. Osborne wrote that this is the purpose of Pentecost — to be witnesses of Christ with power, leading to the saving of souls.
•• (2:1) Pentecost was a “DAY” historically in their lives.
• Each of US needs a historical day of Pentecost, a personal experience, not just “being around” it or merely in a Pentecostal church like ours.
• Every Christian is wise (and biblical) to seek his/her own personal baptism with the Holy Spirit.
•• At salvation you are “BORN” of the Holy Spirit.
• (2:4) At Pentecost you are “FILLED with the Holy Spirit.”
• It is one thing (surely a great thing!) to be born of the Spirit. It is an entirely different experience to be filled with, to be baptized with, the Holy Spirit, with the resulting infusion of Pentecostal power.
•• (2:4) And something dramatic happens. You begin to “speak in other TONGUES.” The same initial evidence of speaking in tongues occurs in Acts 10:44-46, in Acts 19:1-6, and in the apostle Paul’s life (First Corinthians 14:18). It was the same experience received by the first 120 at Pentecost (compare Acts 2:1-4 with Acts 11:15-17).
Acts 2:36-39 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “REPENT and be BAPTIZED, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. AND you will RECEIVE the GIFT of the Holy Spirit.  The PROMISE is for you and your children and FOR ALL who are far off — for ALL whom the Lord our God will CALL.”
•• Peter’s Pentecostal sermon on the Day of Pentecost adds some insights and reinforces others we have seen.
•• (38) The baptism with the Holy Spirit is part of a TOTAL PACKAGE for the Christian — repentance, water baptism, and the baptism with the Spirit.
•• (38) “...be baptized [in water]...AND you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
• Confirming Acts 1:5 that water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism are TWO DISTINCT baptisms.
•• (38) “...you will RECEIVE the GIFT of the Holy Spirit.”
• As in Acts 1:4, it’s a “GIFT.” You can’t earn it.
• Also as in Acts 1:4, it is to be “RECEIVED.” Don’t hold back, but in faith receive this blessing from God.
•• (39) “The PROMISE is for YOU...and FOR ALL who are far off — for ALL whom the Lord our God will call.”
• As in Acts 1:4, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a sure, trustworthy promise of God.
• And this promise was not just for them, but also for YOU — “for ALL who are far off — for ALL whom the Lord our God will CALL.”
Pentecostal religion is sweeping the globe. It is, I strongly maintain, the most Scripturally correct understanding of first-century Christianity and was understood by the early Church to be normative for the Church in all centuries.
This sermon has been a basic “refresher” on Pentecostal doctrine and beliefs. May I recommend our related sermon, with additional insights, at “Why Pentecost?”
Several more extensive bible studies of Pentecostal religion, beliefs, and practices may be found among our Pentecostal bible studies, specifically:
©2001, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.