Pentecost: Power From On High
These notes from Paul Tothill were based on his message preached at Gateway Church on 20/5/18.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, one of the most important fulfilments of God’s promises towards us. In a New Testament context, this day fulfils the Old Testament celebration of Pentecost as an appointed time of God and the day that God poured out the promised Holy Spirit upon the 120 in the upper room, giving birth to the church as the body of Christ on earth.
Of course, Jesus spoke of the promised Holy Spirit to His disciples on more than one occasion. The person and work of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus was fundamental to His ministry to bring forward the Kingdom that was at hand and to destroy the work of Satan and the lesser gods who had all rebelled against God and who had ensnared both God’s people and the nations. We must not forget this Old Testament Biblical world view in our celebrations and understanding what God was doing by sending the promised Holy Spirit.
The foundation of this promise and its timing was declared by Jesus to the disciples. First, Jesus declared it at the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles, a feast designed to celebrate that God was with them in the wilderness by His manifest presence of a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of protection or covering by day.
Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds - “All of you thirsty ones, come to Me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your inner most being, just like the Scripture says!” Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive. But the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon them because Jesus had not yet been unveiled in his full splendour.
Then Jesus declared it again upon his death and resurrection but before His glorification.
Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift the Father has promised. For John baptised you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptised in the Holy Spirit!
Every time they were gathered together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is it the time now for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He answered, “The Father is the one who sets the fixed dates and the times of their fulfilment. You are not permitted to know the timing of all that he has prepared by his own authority. But I promise you this- the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea the distant provinces- even to the remotest places on earth!
Then the fulfilment of the prophesy and promise when Jesus had ascended into heaven in His glory which takes up our celebration today.
On the day Pentecost was being fulfilled, all the disciples were gathered in one place. Suddenly they heard the sound of a violent blast of wind rushing into the house from out of the heavenly realm. The roar of the wind was so overpowering it was all anyone could bear! Then all at once a pillar of fire appeared before their eyes. It separated into tongues of fire that engulfed each one of them. They were filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues - empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!
I should comment here. The imagery is important. It is founded in a rich history of the Old Testament Bible world view. The celebration of Pentecost was the day in which the fire of the Lord descended on His holy mountain and Israel entered into a covenant with God in the Old Testament. It was the time that 3000 people died. Now the Holy Spirit as fire descended upon the 120, as an assembly of believers that God was marking as His mountain on the earth. The imagery of a mountain and a garden, means a place of government in ancient and Old Testament thought. When Israel became a nation 3000 were lost. On the Day of Pentecost, we see a reversal of that with 3,000 being saved that very day. God was establishing the restoration of His people and the nations as His inheritance.
Secondly, the pillar of fire in this translation draws a clear connection between the pillar of fire that lead Israel through the wilderness during the night. A continuing sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 15. This imagery points to a power and presence that would establish a new people from among the nations as Abraham did after the Tower of Babel. God scattered the nations at Babel, confusing their language and disinheriting them for a while, but now through the finished work of Jesus calling them back to Himself.
It follows quite logically that the people filled and inspired by the Holy Spirit spoke in many languages they had not learned. This is not glossolalia - the heavenly tongue of angels as is often interpreted by many charismatics, but the language of many people. Many tribes and tongues were being reached. Again, what is in sight here is the gathering of the nations under the One true God, and His King and the commissioning of the church in God’s restoration plan of not just Israel but all nations.
The inspiration of the Holy Spirit was purposeful. God had judged the nations at Babel- Genesis 10 and Genesis 11. He had appointed the corrupted god’s of His divine council to be over the 70 nations. See Psalm 82. “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the gods”. By his calling in Genesis 12, God would establish Abraham as a nation as His inheritance, both as a people and a geography. A promised people in a promised land under His authority as the One true God. In turn they were to reach the nations. But they worshipped the lesser corrupted gods instead of YHWH.
But now, although the nations for a while were under the power of other gods, those gods were defeated by Jesus at the Cross, see Psalm 22. Now the nations as God’s inheritance as a promise to Jesus as the Messiah King were being drawn back through these equipped messengers or witnesses to fulfil their commission as witnesses and messengers of the resurrected Jesus and His gospel.
These Holy Spirit empowered witnesses or messengers would point people to the one true God revealed in Jesus as the King of kings, liberating them from the rule of the corrupted gods who, like Satan, the prince of this world and the Lord of the realm of death, stood in rebellion to God and His plan to have Eden cover the earth under His dominion and power.
Sin of course is a natural consequence of following and worshipping the spiritual government and influence of these corrupt gods and their illegal authority. Who you worship is who you give your allegiance to in terms of the spirit realm. Consistent sin is understood as rebellion against God as the One true God. Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament text and prophecies and therefore had to start the work in Jerusalem.
This is made clear in the language of Jesus that the work was to start in the allotted land of God’s boundaries for Israel, and then proceed into the nations. It was to start first in Jerusalem, then Judea and then the other nations known at that time. “And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces (nations) - even the remotest places on earth!” Australia is included!
In this sense, every believer is a messenger of Christ into their sphere of influence or metron. Every believer is in that sense, apostolic, but not every believer is an apostle. They are to go out from the place of God’s presence and rest- Genesis 2, (Eden) into the world as a witness to God’s restoring power in Jesus Christ. Like Christ they are to conquer the enemy. But it is essential to understand Jesus told them to wait for the power from on high before commencing their witness. This tells us we cannot do without the Holy Spirit in our life and our calling.
Now at the time there were Jewish worshipers who had emigrated from many different lands to live in Jerusalem. When the people of the city heard the roaring sound, crowds came running to where it was coming from, stunned over what was happening, because each one could hear the disciples speaking in his or her own language. Bewildered, they said to one another, “Aren’t these all Galileans? So how is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages? We are north-eastern Iranians, north-western Iranians, Elamites, and those from Mesopotamia, Judea, east central Turkey, Egypt, Libyans who are neighbours of Cyrene, visitors from all over the Roman Empire, both Jews to converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs. Yet we hear them speaking of God’s mighty wonders in our own dialects! They stood there dumbfounded and astonished, saying to one another, “What is this phenomenon?” (Passion translation)
Of course, Peter stands up and explains the situation and the fulfilment of the promise of Joel the prophet. Peter’s sermon speaks of Jesus as Christos victor. And whilst that includes the forgiveness of sins, it also means that Jesus has triumphed over the corrupted gods who rule over the nations and who Jesus has delivered the people and nations from. He has conquered them and taken back their previous given authority over the nations.
This had significance in the sense that Jesus was the Messiah King who was restoring all things unto Himself and in Him as the true King over all things both seen and unseen. He had overcome death, and indeed it was death that was the domain of Satan as the Lord or Prince of this world. Hence Jesus had overthrown and disarmed all illegitimate spiritual rule that frustrated but did not prevail against the plans of God on earth. Now God was pouring out His Spirit on all humanity as prophesied by Joel to equip His servants to restore the nations to the One true God and His plans for Eden to cover the earth.
This is what I will do in the last days - I will pour out my Spirit on everybody and cause your sons and daughters to prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will experience dreams from God. The Holy Spirit will come upon all my servants, men and women alike, and they shall prophesy. I will reveal startling sigs and wonders in the sky above and mighty miracles on the earth below. Blood and fire and pillars of clouds will appear. For the Sun will be turned dark and the moon blood-red before that great and awesome appearance of the day of the Lord. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Notice here the importance of the Spirit coming upon God’s servants and the ability to prophesy, the work of miracles and signs and wonders to bring forward the revelation of the Christ leading people to be rescued from the corrupt power of the other gods of the nations and idolatry that leads to sin.
There is little doubt the power from on high was for purpose.
The church was birthed in this power, Commissioned, so as to be God’s divine assembly on earth, as a company of sons of God, functioning together as a royal priesthood in the new order, to establish God’s Kingdom rule and overcoming and destroying the works of darkness, as a corrupt and illegitimate spiritual rulership, faithfully prosecuting the finished work of the Cross as messengers to the nations.
Tell me that is not an exciting spiritual reality we have been saved into! This is far different than being saved to go to heaven when we die!
AUTHORITY AND POWER
Taking a biblical worldview, the church as the body of Christ on earth is to be a people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit as witnesses of the resurrected Christ. There is good reason for this.
In preparing the disciples as future apostles Jesus taught them how to use His authority and power when he sent them out. This was a training run with Jesus before He sent the Holy Spirit when He ascended to heaven. Notice 12 and 70 were sent out. 12 is a governmental number and 70 represents the leaders in Israel. 70 were the number of nations that God disinherited for a while.
He gave them His authority and power. The word for authority is the Greek word exousia. The word for power is the Greek word dunamis. These are recognised categories of spiritual governmental authority and spiritual power.
Once Pentecost came with the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit the church could fulfil the commission of Matthew 28:18. This was a restatement of the Commission of Genesis to establish Eden over the whole earth through the rule and reign of Jesus by making the nations disciples of Jesus having them live fully immersed in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To do this, they needed both their own delegated authority, being under Christ’s authority to carry His authority on earth, and their own Holy Spirit power, just as Jesus had authority from the Father and power from the Holy Spirit on earth.
Now that Pentecost has come we are fully equipped in both spiritual authority and power in our commission. We have been given authority from Jesus in the commission of Matthew 28:18 to restore the nations back to Eden- God’s rest through salvation and discipleship, and now the dunamis power, God’s equipping power for our calling of being His witnesses of exactly what Peter proclaimed. It’s not automatic. We must want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and ask to be filled.
Can’t you see it? God has resurrected Jesus, and we have all seen him! Then God exalted him to sit at his right hand upon the throne of highest honour. And the father gave him the authority to send the promised Holy Spirit, which is being poured out upon us today. This is what you are seeing and hearing! David wasn’t the one who ascended into heaven, but the one who prophesied:
The Lord Jehovah said to my Lord, I honour you by enthroning you beside me until I make your enemies a footstool beneath your feet.
People are not God’s enemies. They need to be liberated not condemned. They do not even know the spiritual influence they are under according to Scripture. In God’s love, they need to see who they are actually giving allegiance and authority to by following the culture of this Age influenced by the god of this Age, the Prince of the Air, Satan and his college of lesser gods. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as we present our witness of the resurrected Jesus. People of every “tribe and tongue” are Christ’s inheritance as the nations promised to Him by God.
The enemies of God are lesser rebellious and corrupted gods and powers lead by the “shiny one” Satan, that seek to influence the nations and generate spiritual bondage and captivity of nations. Nations are both a people and a geography. Nations have spiritual governmental authorities over them. The people are influenced to worship or give allegiance to these gods often unwittingly by adopting the culture of the day. This is how the apostles and the early church saw things from an Old Testament world view.
When Paul is writing to the church he clearly states we are dealing with corrupted gods using a well-known Old Testament and Biblical worldview understanding of Psalm 82 and Deuteronomy 32:7.
Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.
Put on God’s complete set of armour provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser! Your hand to hand combat is not with human beings but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage.
Paul uses language of a divine construct of spiritual administration in the unseen realm of principalities arche, powers/authorities exousia, powers dynamis, dominions/lords kyrios, thrones thronos. All these terms are used for geographical dominion rulership to rule over people.
Sin, sickness, disease, spiritual bondage and oppression, poverty, and all disorders of the body and mind and emotions do not come from God. They are not a part of His Kingdom reign. They exist in the world because of sin, the rebellion of Satan and the others gods over nations, creating disorder that humanity in their free will is influenced by and ultimately taken captive or imprisoned by. This is how the early church would have understood things. Isaiah 61 very much comes into play with this kind of Biblical worldview.
The point I am leading you to is that the power on high is given to us for a purpose of being the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, not just to people in salvation which is very important, but also to principalities and powers. We are God’s spiritual assembly on earth to carry out God’s purposes on earth under His loving relational authority and by Holy Spirit power under the authority of Jesus as our true King. Jesus made it clear. You cannot serve more than one god. Our allegiance to Jesus is to the exclusion of all other lesser gods including ourselves.
We cannot win a spiritual battle without using God’s spiritual weapons, Christ’s delegated authority and the Holy Spirit’s power. We try to overcome and take ground naturally in our own effort, instead of through the power of the Holy Spirit and spiritual revelation by faith.
Friends this may be a news flash for the church, but the early church knew they were in a spiritual battle for the Supremacy of Christ to be revealed in the spiritual realms and to redeem nations through the Gospel in the natural realm.
This was the very work of the apostolic to be messengers of Christ into all nations. Again, we are not just dealing with people as Paul says but regional powers who attempt to frustrate the work of God and His servants. The church, as born again believers, has been given the same Holy Spirit power and authority that the early church had so that in relationship with Jesus we can also move in that spiritual reality according to the measure of our faith. That is why we are more than conquerors in Christ when we are living empowered by the Holy Spirit.
My passion is to enlighten every person to this divine mystery. It was hidden for ages past until now, and kept a secret in the heart of God, the creator of all. The purpose of this was to unveil before every throne and rank of angelic orders in the heavenly realm God’s full diverse wisdom revealed through the church. This perfectly wise plan was destined from eternal ages and fulfilled completely in our Lord Jesus Christ so that now we have boldness through him, and free access as kings before the father because of our complete confidence in Christ’s faithfulness.
We have been saved into not just a relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In that relationship, we are seated in Christ and with Christ as a priest-king people having the ability to rule and reign over spiritual powers whilst under God’s authority to declare and establish His decrees in our allotted spheres of influence and boundaries, to move in the way of love, as imagers of God, to overcome the powers of darkness and boldly liberate people, cities and nations through the equipping power of the Holy Spirit. We start in our own life, then progress outwards from there. Furthermore, we do this as a community, an assembly. We do it together as God’s ecclesia, His legislative assembly.
We are witnesses that Jesus is not dead. The rebel gods and Satan did not win at the Cross of Christ’s suffering. God in the form of Jesus the conquering King did. Jesus has overcome sin and death and every realm of illegal spiritual authority. We have been given spiritual authority and power in relationship with God, entering His rest, to continue to redeem people, families, regions, cities and nations just as the apostles set about doing in the Book of Acts.
Evangelism therefore is not based on how I feel. It is not a program. It is what we are called to do empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit. It is not a special calling. We are called and equipped by the Holy Spirit to be bold witnesses that Jesus reigns! Our Holy Spirit empowered life becomes the platform for our witness and message. We change a region and a city one person at a time.
The power of the Holy Spirit is not designed to be sold off, to be traded as a platform for ministry or popularity. Let me repeat and emphasise this point. The equipping power of the Holy Spirit has been given to every believer who asks for it so that through our witness, all nations (all people groups) are redeemed and restored under the loving and liberating authority of God’s dominion so that God can be known as the One true God, as the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. That all will know Him. This is our mandate.
In bringing forward the government of Christ as spiritual sons and daughters, we as God’s assembly, as a people gathered together in the name of Jesus, have the power through praise and worship and prophetic declaration leading to faith actions to bring forward God’s governmental rule into our spiritual and geographical context. God’s plan is to restore Eden on earth and cause it to cover the earth just as God commissioned humankind in Genesis.
This equipping power of the Holy Spirit is for us to reveal the manifold wisdom of God in Christ Jesus to principalities and powers as courageous overcomers on a constant basis.
We are empowered because this spiritual wrestle continues until Jesus comes again. The Kingdom is still breaking in. We are equipped with power from on high, to stand against the schemes of the enemy, to declare the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead, to bring forward the authority and power of the future Kingdom that is at hand and as more than conquerors to liberate others into God’s love and truth. Let’s look at what Peter said to the crowd to draw this out some more.
When the crowd realised what was happening on the Day of Pentecost and in effect they had missed that God was amongst them in Jesus of Nazareth they were cut to the heart. Peter then tells them:
Repent and return to God and each one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus, the Anointed One to have your sins removed. Then you may take hold of the gift of the Holy Spirit. For God’s promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your families, for those yet to be born and or everyone whom the Lord calls to himself. Peter preached to them and warned them with these words: “Be rescued from the wayward and perverse culture of this world! Those who believed numbered three thousand. They were all baptised and added to the church.
MORE THAN ONE BAPTISM AND INFILLING
When the apostles were being confronted by the Sanhedrin and facing persecution by them and they had been imprisoned by them, the apostles reported back to the other believers and then asked God for more boldness which is an essential part of the work of the Holy Spirit. What the religious leaders found remarkable was Peter’s boldness and courage. Watch carefully what they pray when Peter and John are released. It picks up the point I have been making. Their prayers compare the Sanhedrin with the gods’ rebellion as described in Psalm 2.
As soon as they were released from custody, Peter and John went to the other believers and explained all that had happened with the high priest and the elders. When the believers heard their report, they raised their voices in unity and prayed, “Lord Yahweh, you are the Lord of all! You created the universe- the earth, the sky, the sea and everything in them. And you spoke by the Holy Spirit through you servant David, our forefather, saying:
How dare the nations plan a rebellion, ranting and raging against the Lord Most High? Their foolish plots are futile! Look at how the kings of the earth take their stand with the rulers scheming and conspiring together against God and his anointed Messiah!
This is classic Old Testament Biblical worldview I spoke about earlier. The rulers are the sons of god who have rebelled against God under the inspiration of Satan’s corruption, who God had placed for a while over the nations. This interplay is evident. This is taken straight out of Psalm 2 in which the apostles are comparing the members of the Sanhedrin with rebellious gods of the nations.
The early church knew what was going on. This was a spiritually motivated event and the believers prayed for more power to overcome the opposition they were facing.
So now Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus! At that moment, the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble. Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness.
The power of the Holy Spirit is for service, to be empowered and to be God’s messengers, His witnesses, as His servants and co-labourers. It is the dynamite power of God that works alongside and with God’s delegated authority in our lives. It gives us the empowerment to be bold and courageous, to move in the miraculous power of the Kingdom through signs wonders and miracles. The prophetic operates from this power as words of wisdom, knowledge and prophecy to release people from bondage of darkness to reveal the One true God and His King, Jesus.
To suggest we don’t need this power as some do, or that it has ceased as some do, would mean that God has fulfilled His plan to establish Eden on the earth. When the “perfect comes” as Scripture says, it means Eden to my mind. That has not yet happened. God has called us to co-labour with Christ, by His delegated authority and Holy Spirit power to do just that- as His witnesses to the nations.
The church prays for many things, but rarely does it pray in this way. As I trust I have shown at least by introduction, the apostles and the early church had a different understanding of how the unseen realm interacted with the seen realm and their calling to establish the Kingdom rule of Jesus on the earth to restore all things to Him and in Him. This is why they relied upon the Holy Spirit above all else, just as Jesus did.
I hope I have shown to you in a small way, as the church we are in a spiritual battle to enforce the finished work of the Cross as servants and witnesses of Christ, co-labouring with Him to redeem people, cities and nations from the illegal spiritual government of defeated but not yet dislodged spiritual authorities that the present world view does not think even exist.
We need the infilling of the Holy Spirit and His power more than we realise. This is how we are to live our Christian life, fully immersed in the Father, fully immersed in Christ and fully immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Let this celebration of the Day of Pentecost refocus our attention for the necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit to be present in our lives and our call to be witnesses.
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 Then look also at Psalm 82 Passion Translation
All rise! For God now comes to judge as he convenes heaven courtroom (or the council of El. The Aramaic reads, “God now stands in the assembly of the angels and he will judge in their midst- this is speaking of a divine council of the sons of God- divine beings. The NIV reads “God presides in the great assembly he gives judgment among the gods (the Elohim)”.
He judges every judge and every ruler (Elohim), saying “How long will you judges refuse to listen to the voice of true justice and continue to corrupt what is right by judging in favour of what is wrong. Defend the defenceless, the fatherless and the forgotten, the disenfranchised and the destitute. Your duty is to deliver the poor and the powerless: liberate them from the grasp of the wicked. But you continue in your darkness and ignorance while the foundation of society is shaken to the core! Didn’t I commission you as judges, saying “You are all like gods, since you judge on my behalf. You are all like sons of the Most High, my representatives. Never the less in death you are nothing but mere men! You will be laid in the ground like any prince and you will die. All rise! For God now takes his place as judge of all the earth. Don’t you know everything and everyone belongs to him? The nations will be sifted in his hands!
 We never operate however beyond our sphere of influence. Every believer has a sphere of influence to exercise this spiritual delegated authority and power, but not every believer has regional, city or national authority in the same way Paul the apostle was limited in his responsibility. We do not take on every throne for example. Some are called and anointed by God to do so, others not. Peter was assigned to Jerusalem. Paul moved beyond Jerusalem to the outer places touching all but one of the seventy nations mentioned in Genesis 10 according to research of Dr Michael Heiser amongst others. We all have boundaries of where we are to function and this is well established all through the Old Testament and the New.
 Psalm 2: How dare the nations plan a rebellion. Their foolish plots are futile! Look at how the power brokers of the world rise up to hold their summit as the rulers scheme and confer together against YAHWEH and his anointed King, saying, “Let’s come together and break away from the Creator. Once and for all let’s cast off these controlling chains of God and his Christ.
… the Son speaks
I will reveal the eternal purpose of God. For he has decreed over me, You are my favoured Son. And as your Father I have crowned you as my King eternal. Today I became your Father.
Ask me to give you the nations and I will do it, and they shall become your legacy. Your domain will stretch to the ends of the earth. And you will shepherd them with unlimited authority crushing their rebellion as an iron rod smashes jars of clay!
The Holy Spirit speaks
Listen to me all you rebel-kings and all you upstart judges of the earth. Learn your lesson while there is still time. Serve and worship the awe-inspiring God. Recognize his greatness and bow before him trembling with reverence in his presence. Fall facedown before him and kiss the Son (be ruled by the Son) before his anger is roused against you. Remember that his wrath can be quickly kindled! But many blessings are waiting for all who turn arise to hide themselves in him! Passion translation.
 LUKE 11:13
Let me ask you this: Do you know of any father who would give his son a snake on a plate when he asked for a serving of fish? Of course not! Do you know of any father who would give his daughter a spider when she asked for an egg? Of course not! If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when his children ask him.” Passion translation.
To receive the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit we must ask as a child of God and God who is faithful will give you the Holy Spirit’s fullness. This is our prayer that we have neglected and that we need to regularly pray and receive.