Today we start a 49-day journey to Pentecost, which is actually day two because Easter Sunday was the first day. There are 50 days between them, counting both Easter and Pentecost. We will be focusing on the dates on the Gregorian calendar. You can look up the Jewish calendar to see the differences of Passover and Shavuot, especially this year. We have been using the Lenten period and this Pentecost journey to help us focus on what we have been missing. I am not really too worried about when the actual date should be. I simply want to focus on the missing power, asking where have all the wonders gone?
                Acts 1:3 “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 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. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The key word and still remains key today, is the word wait. Many refuse to wait because they refuse to believe the same power is available today.
                Yesterday we talked about a subject that most in the church do not actually believe; the same power of Pentecost is available for today. Today the lack of fear of God and the lack of power are closely related. Why would God empower those who do not fear Him? Israel showed us that when they did not fear God and disobeyed their enemies overpowered them. It is true that there is no power and fear but that is not how it is supposed to be as we are not to be like the disobedient Israel. I know what you are thinking; why would we want to be like Israel and be defeated by our enemies. But we do need to be like the New Testament church. Why today would we not want what they had then when the church was actually the church and not just an organization without power? I was just reading an article this morning that explained this power away. Yesterday I had referred to the cessationists (those who say the power available has ceased) and associated the sound of crickets when they explain why there is no power. Here is an example of what I meant. They said, “Also, the miraculous gifts were given to the church during the early period to confirm the apostolic witness, but they faded as time went on. (insert sound of crickets here) The author of Hebrews wrote to a second generation of Jewish Christians. He tells them how the word of the Lord was confirmed by the apostles through various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Heb. 2:3-4). If these gifts were present in the churches at the time he was writing, he would not have needed to refer to them as a thing of the past.(not what he was doing by the way) Their purpose had been to confirm the apostolic message. After that purpose was fulfilled, they passed off the scene.”(Again, insert the sound of crickets here) So here is how this works. They have no scriptural evidence whatsoever and they just say what they think as you can see in this paragraph above. They pick a verse that may help them but like in this case they leave out verse one that states 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” They also say the power of the Holy Spirit was to start the church and then that was it. Unbelief actually explains the fading away of the power. I will not go into all the verses that talk about false teachers at this point but be careful, as there are many. They make these weighty statements but then the sound of crickets. They also say the power of the Holy Spirit was given just for the building up of the early church, then withdrawn. Here is what one person said that typifies what many are saying who believe the power of the Holy Spirit was withdrawn. “As we have seen the Holy Spirit gifts were given to believers in the first century to help preach the gospel throughout the world – they were to establish the early church and in the process write the New Testament record for all those who followed to read and have confidence in. This was accomplished and so the gifts were withdrawn.” Wrong! Not what scripture states. I find it very strange that when they do describe the power of the Holy Spirit about the early church, you have to ask why we would not want that now. The reason the power is not here is strictly due to unbelief.
                This quote I borrowed from a book called “By My Spirit” by Jonathan Goforth. "But though we speak of the manifestations at Pentecost as being abnormal, yet we maintain that Pentecost was normal Christianity. My conviction is that the Divine power, so manifest in the Church at Pentecost, was nothing more nor less than what should be in evidence in the Church today. Normal Christianity, as planned by our Lord, was not supposed to begin in the Spirit and continue in the flesh. In the building of His temple it never was by might nor by power, but always by His Spirit.”
                Take for example two houses. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” This type of sand castle cessationist thinking, is like someone building you an amazing house with everything you need. The house is rock solid and high-tech and powerful. I think you know what I mean by that. It is actually amazing what is available out there. So you pull up and say no thinks I will go to the one in desolation with no power, poorly built and barley standing. This is basically what you are saying to the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the power and the solid foundation but no thanks I would rather live on the sand and create my own power, then justifying the lack of power for the rest of your life. I was also thinking about the horse and buggy. I was in St Jacob’s last week and saw the horse and buggies along the roadside. One of the reasons for doing this is to “maintain distance from the world and by choosing the horse-and-buggy means consciously choosing transportation not “of” the world.” It is interesting that this used to be the worlds form of transportation. This really is not about high-tech houses and buggies but a question as to why the church would rather choose a powerless life and refuse to repent and humble themselves in order for God to dwell among us once again. The power of the Holy Spirit is a sign of God’s presence.
                So we take this journey, seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit in power, not because we need some sign to believe but because the word of God states clearly that He will confirm His word in power. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” I refuse to believe that God no longer will confirm his word and that I am not his disciple. I would have to delete too many scriptures for that to happen. Ephesians 1:18 tells us, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and that you may know His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” What we see in the church today is not the same power. Why would the Old Testament and the New clearly describe the Holy Spirit and then have the church look totally different under the same Spirit? Instead of admitting to a lack of power, false teachers continue to perpetuate false gospels to cover their own lack of power. They stubbornly refuse to submit wholeheartedly to Him.
               2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Will you be fully committed to His word or will you be of those who have ceased believing in His word and in the same power available for today?