Topic: Building Up Others
Text: Acts 2: 1-7, 12; 1 Corinthians 14: 13-19
question. What makes you feel like you
belong with a group of people? In this
church, we can say that we know each other pretty well. We are pretty comfortable
with each other. Being with the people whom
we are comfortable with, often times, allows us to feel the sense of belonging. When we are more familiar with each other,
there is a good tendency of an open arm relationship. The feeling of a warm welcome makes us to be
kind to one another. We greet each
other, offer a place to sit, offer a drink, or even volunteer our time to make
a difference in their lives.
islands. I heard some stories where a
friend or relative would be passing by a village home. The homeowner, especially the man, would
invite the person in saying, please come, come and drink coffee with me and or
come and eat rice. [Coffee and rice
together is an interesting combination].
Often times, the invitation would be accepted and while in the house,
the host would then find out that the coffee ran out or no cooked rice yet. Regardless, it would not be a big deal. They would continue with the conversations
until the visitor decides to leave.
a conversation. I can use an example from
work, where my colleagues would carry on a discussion about some TV shows and I
would absolutely feel clue less. Often
times, I wouldn’t want to speak because I did not feel like they would
understand me. Without understanding, we
can easily feel that we do not belong.
Gestures and facial expressions are some signs that show the sense of
belonging or the feeling of connected.
about God’s extraordinary way of enabling some followers of Jesus in the first
century to make a connection with language.
These were regular people who were following Jesus for three and a half
years. And not fully understanding the
event that was unfolding before them could alienate them. The awesomeness of God provided a special
gift for them to feel included. And years
later, Apostle Paul needed to issue special instructions about language to the
believers in Corinth. Some believers in
Corinth needed corrections on how they exercised the gift of language.
has deep roots in the Bible. One of the
major events after the Great Flood
was the Tower of Babel. God spared Noah and his wife including his three
sons and the sons’ wives. After 300
years, the descendants of Noah came together and said, “come let us build us a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and
let us make a name for ourselves“ (Genesis 11:4). Bible says that
God saw their behavior and was concerned for their safety. With one language,
anything that they set their minds on would be impossible to stop. God did not like the idea so He said, “Come and let us go down and there confuse
their language, so they might not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis
people. As a result of rebellion, there
were divisions and resulting conflicts between tribes and nations. Human pride and rebellion against God caused
the division of language. But God
promised Abraham that through his descendants, He would make them into a great
nation. The promise would bring
blessings to the people. As part of the
blessings, through Abraham, “all people on earth will be blessed”
promise. We learned that Abraham’s
grandson, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. The rebellion of the children of Israel
continued on as God continued sending prophets to remind them of the
promise. Sometimes those prophets
delivered the promise with an image of people of many languages coming to know
one true God. In Isaiah 66: 18, “And I, because of what they have planned and
done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and
they will come and see my glory.” and Zachariah 8: 23, This is what the
LORD Almighty says: “In those days
ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the
hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is
from the last prophet and before the born of the Son of God. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection
fulfilled the promise. Before Christ
ascended, He commanded His followers to wait for the power from on high, the
Holy Spirit. The replacement will enable
them to witness to the entire world.
This is a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and a reversal of the Tower of Babel, which took place during
the day of Pentecost. The day
of Pentecost is seven weeks after Christ’s crucifixion. Holy Spirit would enable those at that time
to spread the Good News.
Jesus commanded them to. The gathering
of fellow believers is important to receive blessings. This was their act of obedience as they were
about to experience a great demonstration of God’s saving power that had been
prophesied by prophet after prophet.
This was God’s way of redeeming His people. Let us imagine if they were not to obey. 1 Samuel 15: 22, “…To obey is better than sacrifice…” They would not have experienced
what they were about to experience. The great demonstration was greater than
the event they were celebrating on the day
a violent wind. Compare 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.”
We must note that the text does not say anything about an actual wind
but only the sound of one. They saw what
appeared to be tongues of fire on each of the apostles. Fire is a symbol of divine presence. The SOUND and SIGHT were followed by the
empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The Holy
Spirit empowers a gift of speech as He did for the prophets. It is as the Tower of Babel is happening again, but this time reverse.
(vv. 5-7, 12)
across the Near East and the Mediterranean Sea.
God’s judgment came upon the children of Israel as a result of their
disobedience. We learned the Israel was
divided into two kingdoms, the Northern and Southern Kingdom (Kingdom of
Judah). After ignoring warnings from
prophets, Assyria captured the Northern Kingdom. Later on, the Southern Kingdom was in
captivity by the Babylonians. Toward the
end of seventy years in captivity, Ezra led the return to rebuild the temple in
Jerusalem and the Nehemiah came later and rebuilt the wall of the temple. Some Jew returned and some did not which was
the reason for Jews to be scattered.
summoned to be present for the festivities including Passover and the day of
Pentecost celebrations. A good crowd
of such people gathered in this place where the miracle took place. God orchestrates events and brings people to
witness His greatness. In this case it
was the fulfillment of His promise. The
miracle draws the crowd together to witness something they never experienced
before. Verse 6 does not suggest a state
of confusion but uproar. [You see there
are those who claimed that the Holy Spirit overtakes them where they would be
making noise, jumping uncontrollably, creating chaos, and doing craziness. The
type disorderly fashion can keep away new Christians.] The visibility of the
tongues of fire, the sound of violent winds blowing, and speaking language
unknown to man caused the uproar.
perhaps by their dress and accents. It would be like you know me as a Kosraen
by of the way I look, standing tall and good looking according to my wife. They would not expect many languages coming
out of Galilee. As we learned that
Galilee was not a favorable place as one commentary stated that nothing good
comes out of Galilee. With all the
uproar, people started asking questions.
Answering of the questions led to the birth of the church and the first
sermon delivered by Peter. Through the
power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was making himself known to all the nations. The
gift of tongues represents the global impact of Christ’s work and the global
scope of the church’s mission.
crowd gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost seems to have reacted in a similar
way. The noise created by the mass of people crowding the city was expected.
Sudden quiet would have caused everyone to look around to see why. But sudden
quiet isn’t what grabbed everyone’s attention; rather, it was the distinctive,
unexpected hearing of native languages being spoken by Galileans.
sometimes uses quietness to command attention; sometimes He uses the opposite;
sometimes He uses something in between but distinctive, as at Pentecost. What does God have to do to get your
Corinthians 14: 13-19)
for Others (vv. 13-17)
exactly the gift of speaking tongue is.
It is a miraculous empowerment to speak human language otherwise unknown
to the speaker. Some people claimed that speaking in tongues is a sign of
receiving the Holy Spirit. And others
believe that speaking in tongue is the empowerment when one is in deep
connection with God through prayers.
This is an ongoing debate that cannot be settled here.
significance of the gift. Paul’s
instructions address the ability of the Spirit.
The Spiritual ability comes from God; therefore, it must be used for His
purpose and not for personal gain. In
the text, Paul criticized those in the Corinthian church who selfishly
exercised the gift during church gatherings.
His way of correcting the behavior is by putting an emphasis on
|Visual # 15|
understanding. When praying in Spirit, your understanding is
unfruitful [refer to v14 and visual#15],
but the deepest part of you, the core of your being is being built up and
edified through the connection with God.
Exercising this gift does not benefit others because it requires an
interpreter for understanding. Pray for
understanding when praying in spirit because your spirit is connected with God
that the head knowledge cannot comprehend.
Without interpretations, others are left out. A gift intended
to show that God seeks everyone must not be used in a way that excludes anyone.
limits. The benefit is for the person
speaking to God and outside of that would be difficult to understand. When praying in spirit according to Paul, “I
pray with understanding” and it is a choice.
Praying in spirit is unknown to our understanding. Therefore, we must pray that we can interpret
the praying in spirit. How can other
people in the same room say ‘Amen’ if they cannot understand the prayer? Do you say Amen in your church? Nehemiah 5 gives the meaning of amen as ‘so
and people fall asleep. When I pray out loud and I hear others say amen, my spirit
connects to theirs in agreement. Likewise,
when I listen to others pray, I invoke myself into their prayers and
understanding of the spoken words. I am
saying this because if I didn’t, I might fall asleep. This is one way of staying awake and keeping
the prayer meeting lively. Words like
amen and hallelujah are universal Christian words. Even when I go to downtown swap meet, I hear
people say the word. They would come up
and say, ‘Hey Man’. Well in a different
context but people speak the word all the time. To be involved and stay awake
in prayers, we must learn to say Amen.
Keep in mind that others cannot be edified when praying in spirit.
for Others (vv. 18, 19)
presence of others if they cannot comprehend and share in that thanks. Often times, we Christians stand up and thank
God for things that we have no knowledge of.
It is just a lip service and God frowns upon it. Paul is correcting some people in the church
for not having the right heart. When doing things for others, we must have a
clear understanding of the thanksgiving to properly share the compassion with
each other. The focus should be for
building up others. Our minds must be
fully engaged in the tasks at hand.
Spirit enabled in the apostles. It is God’s fulfillment of His promise to bless
the nations. Now the door is open to those who had been previously excluded. The gift of the spirit is the understanding,
which was the first step of belonging. How are we, as a church, doing with the gift
of the spirit or the understanding?
hard for others to understand?
put others in position of outsiders?
everyone is fully welcomed, fully engaged, fully a part of the life of Christ’s
Christ died that he or she is at home among Christ’s people?
Pentecost or the Tower of Babel?
Corinth corrected or uncorrected?
include and edify