Worship Leads to Witness (Part 3)
Updated: Nov 17
Transformative events can happen in just one day. Has there been a life-changing day in your own life? Most likely the answer is YES. A wedding? The birth of a child? A miracle encounter with God? A job offer? One day can make a difference. As we continue in part three of our series, Worship Leads to Witness, we are going to look at one of those transformative days--Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the church. This was the day that the Holy Spirit came upon ordinary worshipers and transformed them into extraordinary witnesses. In this very day God implanted the very DNA of which the church is to function: a church where worship leads to witness. This is the pattern taught and modeled by Jesus and is now carried out to the world by the Holy Spirit. Our worship should do the same today.
In this article we will look at the event of Pentecost and how the first worshipers of Jesus were transformed into witnesses for Jesus and began revolutionizing the world for God's kingdom.
Happy Birthday!! (Pentecost)
Staying with his disciples for forty days after the resurrection, the Son of God delivered these instructions with a promise:
Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about...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 1:4, 8)
Two truths stick out about this promise:
Truth # 1: The gift of the Holy Spirit is given primarily for the mission of the church. We are given the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Truth # 2: The mission precedes the church. As it has been stated, "The church does not have a mission, but the mission has a church." The church is born out of God's mission and is born into God's mission.
Ten days after this promise was given, after the 120 in the Upper Room had devoted themselves to prayer and waiting on God's promises (Acts 1:12-14), the day of Pentecost arrives:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)
The Old Testament gave three pilgrimage feasts in which the Jews (even those spread out beyond Israel) would travel to Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Each of these lasted one week.
Passover memorialized the Angel of Death passing over the first born children of the Jews who had the blood applied to the door before the Exodus from Egypt. The Passover was celebrated for an entire week.
Pentecost occurred 7 weeks after Passover as a feast of thanksgiving to God of the first yield or fruits of the wheat harvest. This was called in the Old Testament Feast of Weeks.
The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated God's provision through the harvest. This occurred in Fall when the harvest was over. This American Thanksgiving has its roots from this Old Testament observance.
Pentecost occurred fifty days after the Sabbath of the Passover week. (Leviticus 23:15-16) So, fifty days after Jesus resurrected, three thousand people will become followers of Jesus from fifteen different nations and people groups, which is listed in Acts 2:9-11. Similar to the traditional Pentecost which gave thanks for the first fruits of the harvest, this Pentecost in Acts 2 will celebrate the first harvest of transformed lives.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2)
This reference to the wind mirrors what the Savior proclaimed in John 3:8:
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
This wind filling the house is the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. The account continues:
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. (Acts 2:3-4)
John the Baptist, about three years before this time, predicted:
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
In this prediction the prophet is declaring that the Holy Spirit will have a change of address where he will move from a building (The Temple in Jerusalem) to the followers of Jesus (people). At the inauguration of the Temple, during the time of Solomon one thousand years prior, there are identifiable parallels to Pentecost:
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
At Pentecost, the Spirit of God moved from dwelling in the Temple into the followers of Jesus who were in the Upper Room. When this occurred, the church was born. This event, like the inauguration of the Temple, is a service of worship.
The writer of Acts now shares the outcome:
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?" (Acts 2:5-8)
As referenced earlier, there are fifteen nationalities present with numerous languages represented. A miracle occurs as demonstrated from the fact that everyone was able to hear the disciples speak in their own language. The crowd is stunned as seen in their expression, "Aren't all of these who are speaking Galileans?" Imagine someone who is not formally educated, from an area that is far away, comes to a city and has this capacity to speak in another language with perfect pronunciation and clear articulation. The response would be, “Well, that’s unexpected."
Notice how the writer is careful to record all of the different nations represented:
Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—"we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:9-11)
If you looked at a modern-day map, the nations listed spread across Northern Africa to the the Middle East to Southern Europe. This encompasses a wide diversity of cultures, nationalities, customs and languages. This is the harvest! Jesus wants all of the nations to come to him.
The Good News of Jesus was proclaimed with the following result:
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:41)
Worship to Witness
The gospel renews and honors every culture. An important principle discovered in the miracle at Pentecost is that there is no language or culture that has priority because of the outpouring of the Spirit was upon the nations. The gospel and the church is for every culture. In fact, another miracle of Pentecost is that it created the first multicultural community to ever exist--many cultures gathered as one community under the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of this Christianity is the most open and diverse movement in the history of the world. The power of Pentecost is seen as each tribe and nation has the Bible translated into its own language. The outpouring of the Spirit is demonstrated as Jesus is worshiped through a multitude of cultural expressions: musical style, art forms, liturgies of celebration, etc.).
Worship leads to the multiplication of churches. We see very clearly that the church follows the pattern and practice of Jesus--worship leads to witness. Pentecost is the DNA of the church. As we worship in Spirit and truth, we multiply the church which was started on this one day. Our worship must equip to be witnesses. The next article shows how the early church used its worship as a time to empower people to witness to the culture and neighbors around them.
Click here to read Worship Leads to Witness (Part 1) to explore the most beautiful picture of God in the Bible.
Check out the Worship Leads to Witness (Part 2) to see how Jesus turns the outcast of society into outgoing for the gospel.