“Pentecost series (4)”
Last Sunday, as a part of the Pentecost series, I preached on the gift of tongue, a rather touch subject, saying that gift of tongue is a sign of the presence of Holy Spirit, and explaining that speaking in tongue is God helping God’s people to speak the tongue of the people, “other or different language” God wants to bring God’s message to, found in Acts 2. Whereas praying in tongue is unknown tongue, “new tongue” to humans, found in Mark 16, and it is Holy Spirit helping us to pray, with “groans that words cannot express” (Rom 8:26). It is understood by God only and it belongs to our prayer closets, not in public setting.
Today, we will talk about signs of the presence of Holy Spirit besides the gift of tongue. If you read the book of Acts thoroughly, you will know and see yourself what are the things or signs that accompany when Holy Spirit is present or working. Verses 22-36, we see Apostle Peter addressing to the crowd who had gathered around being amazed at hearing and seeing the work of Holy Spirit. Do you see what is going on here? Peter who denied Jesus out of fear for his life, who was hidden in a room locked away from people when Jesus was crucified, now he boldly preaches in public without fearing anyone or anything.
When Holy Spirit is present, people become emboldened to speak about Jesus. Being no longer fearful for their lives is a sign of the presence of Holy Spirit as the Spirit helps them to realize who holds the future and nothing on this earth can sever them from the love of God. This head knowledge of knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior becomes real in their hearts and feel it with their whole beings. When Holy Spirit is present, the reality of God, this spiritual world you have known it remotely or vaguely becomes more real than yourselves. God’s touching you or talking to you become more real than you can touch and feel your own spouses. That is what happens when you receive the Holy Spirit. The eternal life God promises becomes your own reality already on this earth that you no longer have a fear for your physical death. If you go to Rome, if you trace early Christians’ martyrdom, their blood that was shed like a river in the Colosseum and in the streets of Rome, you can literally smell their blood. When I went to Rome, a couple of years ago, walking 3-4 hours a day for a week visiting places of martyrdom, –catacombs and cathedrals, I could not help but walk in tears smelling their blood. I had a strong urge to kiss the ground I was walking on imagining their blood flowing like a river in the streets. Countless Christians, including little children, died boldly for their faith. The gospel they kept with their lives we now have. Now, how many of you can die for your faith in Jesus? How many of you can keep your faith to death so that your children can have faith in the eternal love of God? Without Holy Spirit, it cannot be done. Apostle Peter and early Christians were able to keep their faith to death because Holy Spirit had been there for them until their last minute on this earth, giving them the boldness to stand for their faith.
Secondly, as you can see from verses 22 to 36, Apostle Peter spoke about Jesus connecting him to prophecies and words in the scripture like a learned scholar. It is one thing to know about scripture but it is another thing to connect and make points presenting Gospel so convincingly and persuasively to a big crowd. That is what happens when Holy Spirit is present. Peter was unschooled, let along being trained in public speaking, yet he spoke so powerfully and so eloquently that no one could believe that he was an uneducated man. Holy Spirit helped him to remember the scriptures about Jesus and helped him to make connection Jesus the Nazarene to the promised Messiah in the scripture. It was not Peter speaking, but Holy Spirit speaking through Peter. That was why he was so powerful! When you witness God’s work or Gospel to people, when Holy Spirit is present with you, you yourself will be surprised about what and how you say about God’s work. When that happens, you would question yourself, ‘how did I know that?’, and you would soon realize that it was Holy Spirit who had done the work, not you! Have you ever experienced it?
Holy Spirit helps God’s people to witness like the Spirit helped Peter to speak so boldly so persuasively like a learned scholar. There is a Korean Missionary in China, who is helping North Korean defectors who escaped North Korea to go to South Korea or to those countries that would accept them. They are raised as Communists and are educated as atheists, so it is very difficult to share Gospel with them. So, this missionary has a strategy of his own to make them Christians. His strategy is he himself is doing nothing for them but letting Holy Spirit teach them and guide them. Any defector who wants to be helped by this missionary who provides them room and board, then, they have to read scripture day and night, reading at least New Testament 100 times. I do not know how many times they read Old Testament, but 100 times for sure for New Testament. After reading once or twice, not many changes, but reading bible time after time, they begin to change as they experience the work of Holy Spirit; they repent, experience God’s forgiveness, acceptance and love of God in Jesus Christ. After they change completely their whole person by the work of Holy Spirit, some of them decide to go back to North Korea to spread Gospel. They were so afraid to go outside of the shelter this missionary provides for the fear that they might be caught by Chinese polices and to be sent back to North Korea before they receive the Holy Spirit, but now they voluntarily go back to North Korea not fearing death. Holy Spirit chases away the spirit of fear but emboldens them to witness Jesus risking their own lives. Without formal theological education, how can they witness Gospel systematically?
One Korean pastor who also teaches at seminary visited this shelter and saw one of the defectors leading their own group Friday night Bible study and prayer meeting. He was amazed at the fact that the leader was able to connect Book of Hebrew and sacrificial laws in Leviticus so accurately and biblically. What is more, even for himself to prepare bible study like that would take him at least 7 hours with the help of books and scholarly articles from a library. So, he asked the leader how long it took for him to prepare the bible study for that night. The leader answered, “15 minutes”. He did not have the manuscript or the outlines in front of him for the bible study. He taught the Bible study as the Holy Spirit lead him to teach, helping him to remember, making points by connecting both the Old and New Testaments. Holy Spirit not only helped them to know about God but also helped them see Jesus and his salvific works in both Old and New Testaments. They do not need a formal education or a degree to teach Bible as Peter did not need any of them for him to preach on the day of Pentecost.
When Peter preached in the fire of the Holy Spirit, the hearts of people were cut to the core and they were remorseful for their formal actions, –killing Christ. They did not know until then what they had done was wrong. Some of them even thought that they did the right thing to kill Christ Jesus. But when the Holy Spirit was powerfully present, they were cut to the heart for their evil actions and thoughts against God, the Christ.
That is what happens when Holy Spirit comes to us. We do not realize what we have done in our lives are nothing but evil and against God, killing Christ with our words, deeds, and thoughts. Everything about us is being sinful. In order for us to repent of our sins, we need Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit convicts us of our sinful actions nailing Christ his two hands, two feet and piercing his side, putting the thorny crown on his head and spitting and slapping on his face. If you have not yet repented of your sins, you need Holy Spirit to repent. If we do not repent of our sins, there is no forgiveness of sins, then no salvation.
When the Holy Spirit was present on the day of Pentecost we found in Acts 2 that when Peter preached on repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and the gifts of Holy Spirit, the mass conversion occurred: three thousand were added their number that day alone. Holy Spirit is still at work today. Early 20th century, in this country, when Holy Spirit outpoured His Spirit on the people, the mass repentance movement occurred, causing people to repent, asking for the forgiveness of sins, and receiving gifts of Holy Spirit, including the gift of tongue, miracles, and healings. Your parents experienced that movement both positively and negatively. There are some of you who get together joining singspirations praising God find some residue in this gathering, of what you experienced early on in your lives, and there are some you who show allergic reaction to the gift of tongue because of your negative experiences involving praying in tongue, seeing people abusing the gift of tongue in public setting causing people confusion, misunderstanding, and disorder in their spiritual life. Whichever your experiences may have been, the truth remains: when the Holy Spirit is present strongly, all these things we see in Acts 2 still happen in today’s world. The strong wave of Holy Spirit that swept across this country, like a flame of fire, moved to Korea setting Korean people on fire for Christ. People repented, received forgiveness of sins and gifts of Holy Spirit, miracles, healing, casting out demons and the gift of tongue have been present all over the country.
Nowadays, in African continents, in South America, thousands of thousands of people coming to Christ, a mass conversion, not just three thousand, but thirty thousand or more are being converted to Christianity. They do not question whether the phenomena happened in Acts 2 still happen in today’s world because they see them with their own eyes and experiencing them by themselves.
We need Holy Spirit to revive our souls; we need his Spirit to work in our hearts to love God with our whole beings. We need Holy Spirit to experience God’s real presence in our midst to be saved!