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These men are not drunk!

28th June 2007

Last week, we looked at the time when God poured out His Holy Spirit on the chuch for the first time:

Acts 2v1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 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.

We saw that this was God inaugurating the church as His new temple by the manifestation of His Spirit, as He had in Old Testament times.

We then saw how the people around the church had to take notice, but they had two different reactions:

Acts 2v5-13
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 them speaking in his own language.
Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 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!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

We read on:

Acts 2v14-15
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. Its only nine in the morning!"

It was a strange thing to say. After all, it's perfectly possible to be drunk at 9 in the morning. Why did Peter say what he did?

I think it was because he was confident that the people would know that these particular men wouldn't be drunk. Jerusalem was a tight-knit community, and the Christians were well-known (although not as Christians). They'd arrived with Jesus, they'd spent 40 days experiencing Him after His resurrection. And I'm sure word got around. And people knew they weren't the sort of people who would be drunk at 9 in the morning (or at any other time).

To summarise what happened: Peter had the opportunity to explain the power of God because the church were living holy lives. If the accusation of drunkenness had been believable, Peter would have had no credibility!

I expect you know where I'm going with this: we as Christians have the opportunity to speak to our neighbours, colleagues, friends and neighbours about the Kingdom of God - both by our words and by our lives. But if we don't "walk the walk", then our words will be correctly perceived as mere hypocrisy! How can we talk about the power of God to change lives, and then live unchanged lives?

Individual Christians - and churches - do immense harm by preaching righteousness and living in unrighteousness, preaching the love of God while lying, cheating, manipulating, stealing, sleeping around and all the rest of it. We preach gentleness, humility and patience, while we live for self, ambition, greed and reputation.

We need to repent. And we need the power of God to repent and to truly change our lives. It's no coincidence that Peter's next words are:

Acts 2v16-18
"No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."

The answer to sin and a failed life are the same as they've always been - the power of God, given to us through the Holy Spirit!

God wants to pour out His Spirit on all His people. Have you experienced this? If you're His, then it's for you. It's not a matter of gender or class or anything else - it's for all God's people. It's not just for the particularly holy Christians; we're made holy by the Holy Spirit, not as a qualification to receive Him. Only God's Spirit can change how we think, how we feel, what we want, and how we live.