The Holy Spirit Fell on All (Acts 10:44 - 11:18)

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Acts 10:44 to 11:18

Rev. Erik Veerman


The Holy Spirit Fell on All

Sermon Manuscript Our sermon text this morning is Acts 10:44 through 11:18.

Two weeks ago we looked at God’s revelation to Peter that the Gospel was for all nations. God brought Peter and Cornelius, a Jew and a Gentile, together.

Last week, we considered the clear Gospel message that Peter proclaimed to Cornelius and his household – that peace with God comes through Jesus Christ.

And these verses this morning tell us what happened next – that Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit and were baptized with water. And we’ll see in chapter 11 how the apostles in Jerusalem responded to this amazing testimony.

So, let’s turn our attention to God’s Word.

Reading of Acts 10:44 to 11:18

Back in my early High School days, I started attending a youth group gathering at a church across town. I wanted to find some other Christians my age. Shortly after that, one of my new friends asked if I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. “No, I didn’t think so,” I said, but I didn’t know what that meant. She explained that being a Christian didn’t mean that someone had the fulness of the Holy Spirit. At the time, I really didn’t know the Bible well at all, and honestly, the Holy Spirit was a mystery.

But I was intrigued. And so I agreed to get baptized in the Holy Spirit. So she and her mom took me to this guy who could do that. He spent a few minutes walking me through a couple verses in 1 Corinthians, then several passages in Acts … including chapter 2 on Pentecost –Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem – remember the rushing wind, the flames of fire and the speaking in tongues. He also showed me chapter 8 when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit… and he showed me these verses at the end of chapter 10. And then he said that these experiences in Acts are something that every Christian should desire.

And he asked me if I was ready to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Sure, it sounded good. And then he laid his hand on me and prayed over me and asked that God would fill me with the Holy Spirit. When he was done he said, “ok, now speak in tongues.”

And I said something like… “uuuhhhh, how do I do that?” His response: “Just let it come out.” Well, nothing came out and he dismissed it with some comment like not everyone has the gift of tongues or maybe it will come later.

But nothing really changed that I could perceive… I felt the same. So, it was confusing to me. But one thing that it did do, was give me a desire to understand what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit and baptism. And that’s been a decades long journey. Even these last 5 months in our study of Acts has deepened my understanding of God’s Spirit and his work in the lives of believers in Christ.

Maybe you had a similar experience. Maybe you grew up in a Pentecostal or charismatic church. That would be a church which believes that we should each be seeking a separate pouring out of the Spirit in our own lives - a second blessing or second baptism – not just a baptism with water, but a baptism in the Holy Spirit. A Pentecostal generally believes you can be a Christian, but not yet have the fulness of the Holy Spirit. And once you do, according to a Pentecostal, then the Holy Spirit will be able to lead you clearly in life, in decisions, and in holiness.

And those are certainly things that we should be pursuing – the Lord’s leading in our life and the pursuit of Godliness. Definitely.

You may have friends and family that are charismatic. And we can and should learn from them in areas like prayer and faith and trust.

And let me say, every Christian tradition has blind spots and weaknesses, including our own. I wanted to say that up front in humility… because this morning, I’ll be presenting a very different understanding of Pentecost and what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Understanding these matters are important for a couple of reasons. First, the Pentecostal movement, which is about 120 years old, continues to be a major movement throughout the world. Second, misunderstanding the Holy Spirit’s work can and often does lead to misunderstanding God and a departure from His Word.

And this text is very helpful for us. It makes a clear connection to Pentecost and the purpose of Pentecost. it indicates who receives the Holy Spirit… and it points to the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives.

To give us a little organization this morning – I have 3 points that we’ll work through.

1.) Pentecost initiated God’s Kingdom in Christ to the nations – 2X The end of Acts 10 is an extension of Pentecost.

2.) Every true believer in Christ receives the Holy Spirit – in other words, we should not be seeking a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit.

3.) The Holy Spirit’s work centers around God’s Word

1.) Pentecost initiated God’s Kingdom in Christ to the nations

As we begin, let me summarize two things from our Acts study. And if you have questions about these, you may find the sermons on Acts 2 and Acts 8 helpful.

The first summary is this – Pentecost was a significant moment in God’s plan of salvation. Last week, we saw how the cross and the resurrection were critical one-time events in salvation. Well, Pentecost is like that – it established Jesus reign in heaven, overseeing his kingdom, and it set forth his ongoing ministry through his Holy Spirit on earth… as he established his church.

And the second summary – When the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit in Acts 8, it was an extension of Pentecost. Remember, if you throw a rock in a lake, there’s the big splash, then the ripples that continue out. In acts 1:8, Jesus said they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Well, what we saw in Acts 8 is what we are seeing here in Acts 10, are these ripple effects - an expansion of Pentecost.

And these verses confirm that, so let’s look at them.

Did you notice that the experience Cornelius and his household had was very similar to what happened in Jerusalem?

Peter and the others heard them speak in tongues. Chapter 10 verse 46. Mind you, that doesn’t mean some unknown language. In Acts 2, the tongues were human languages that were known and then heard and understood.

And jump forward to chapter 11 verse 15. Peter is recounting what happed. He said “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.” Peter connected what happened in Acts 10 back to Acts 2. It’s connected – because it’s part of Pentecost.

And this event was also a sign – It was a confirmation of God’s plans. In other words, this Gentile Pentecost verified it was God’s work and salvation. At first, the disciples in Jerusalem were not happy with Peter. Look at chapter 11 verse 3. They criticized him. They said “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” They still had this mindset that Salvation was for the Jews and Jewish converts.

But then Peter unpacked everything that had happened with the visions, with the Holy Spirit bringing him and Cornelius’ family together, with the opportunity to share the peace of Jesus Christ. And look at what sealed the deal? Verse 17 – Peter said to the other disciples “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?” And they fell silent and glorified God… because recognized what happed! Salvation in Christ was also for the Gentiles.

To them, this giving of the Holy Spirit to Cornelius’s household was God’s stamp of approval. Jesus was at work, through the Holy Spirit, to further his kingdom to the ends of the earth.

And that means that Pentecost, the big splash and the ripples… they are not something that we each should be pursuing. No, rather, what happened 2000 years ago back in Jerusalem, and then Samaria and then Caesarea… set in motion the work of Christ to all nations through His Spirit. Pentecost initiated God’s Kingdom in Christ to the nations. The Gospel began to go to the ends of the earth.

2.) Every true believer in Christ receives the Holy Spirit

But, to be sure, Pentecost does have meaning and impact today. It absolutely does… especially this gentile Pentecost in Acts 10. It’s because of this Pentecost that, today, believers in Christ from the nations have the Holy Spirit. Every believer.

That’s the second principle this morning - Every true believer in Christ receives the Holy Spirit. We’re not to be seeking a mini-Pentecost in our lives. No, being baptized in the Holy Spirit – is directly connected to our faith and repentance in Christ.

• First, go back to 10:44 – It says, the Holy Spirit fell on “all who heard the word.” Peter didn’t lay his hands on them and “baptize them in the Holy Spirit.” No, rather, as soon as Peter told them about belief in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, that’s when the Holy Spirit came. When they believed. And that’s when we receive His Spirit, too.

• Next, jump forward to 11:16. Peter had just recounted everything that happened. He then referred back to Jesus words – “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” But then notice in verse 17, Peter connected the “gift” of the Holy Spirit to belief. Peter said, “God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus.” Same idea – the connection of the Holy Spirit to faith in Christ.

• And then verse 18 – that’s when all the disciples recognize what God has done. But look at what they said. “to the Gentiles, God has granted repentance that leads to life.” That’s their description of what happened, “repentance that leads to life”. You see, it’s all woven together, faith, repentance, the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the Holy Spirit is for all believers, who turn to Christ in faith and repentance.

But I think the clearest confirmation of this is Peter’s sermon at the Jerusalem Pentecost. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins… and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” “will receive.” You see, receiving the Holy Spirit comes with faith in Christ.

Every true believer in Christ receives the Holy Spirit.

Let me try to illustrate this. it’s always risky to use an analogy when you’re dealing with God – but here it goes and I’ll give a caveat.

A few years ago we visited Hoover dam out in Nevada. It’s massive – And it’s primary purpose is to generate electricity. The water is held back and then it falls through these large pipes. It then spins these huge turbines which generate power. That power serves cities in California and Arizona and Nevada. When a new house is built in the area – it’s plugged in to the power grid – and it gets its power from Hoover dam.

Each house doesn’t have its own little power plant. No, the houses benefit from Hoover dam’s electricity. In a similar way, the point in time when you believed in Christ – repented and had faith – you received the Holy Spirit – you were plugged in to the power grid.

Now, here’s my caveat, the Holy Spirit is not a force. He’s not the Star Wars force. He’s not impersonal power to be harnessed. No, The Holy Spirit is a person – that goes back to our Acts 8 study. But the point of this illustration is this: we don’t each need a mini Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit. No, Pentecost is like Hoover Dam – and if you are believer in Christ – you benefit from what happened 2000 years ago. You have the Holy Spirit.

Now, you may be thinking “ok, fine, but this is just theological stuff. This sermon is boring. I’m hungry. These chairs are uncomfortable. Can you please wrap it up?”

Well, believer in Christ, you have been given this amazing gift – the gift of life. The Holy Spirit has ingrafted you into Christ. Through His Spirit, you share in Christ’s affliction and His comfort, his death and resurrection, His righteousness and peace… and in his life you have eternal life.

A belief that you are somehow a lesser Christian because you don’t have the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Is a false belief - one that strips away the grace and blessings that God gives you through His Spirit.

Because it is this Holy Spirit who will will lead you in righteousness, He will speak truth, He will bring comfort in pain, hope in despair, strength through temptation, endurance in trials, and joy in fellowship. You see, everything that we’ve read and sung today about the Holy Spirit… are blessings that God gives you through salvation in Christ! They are yours to hold and cherish and rejoice in. Don’t let anyone take that joy and promise away. For he is yours, in you and for you in Christ.

3.) The Holy Spirit’s work centers around God’s Word

And the way that the Holy Spirit works in your life…. is to apply to your hearts and minds God’s Word and His commands. And this is important – and especially applicable today.

We’re at principle 3, now - The Holy Spirit’s work centers around God’s Word.

They go hand and hand. God’s word and God’s Spirit. They are in-separable. The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God.

Chapter 10 verse 44 again… “the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the Word.”

And chapter 11 verse 1. The believers throughout Judea… “heard that the Gentiles has also received the word of God.” What happened at Cornelius’ home became well known. They received the Word. It doesn’t say they received the Holy Spirit. Yes, they did receive the Holy Spirit, but instead it highlights the Word. That’s because receiving the Word happens through the Holy Spirit. He applies the Word in the hearts and minds of hearers.

But let me take you back even further in time. Not 2000 years ago, but 3-4,000 years ago. The Hebrew people had been slaves in Egypt. They felt forgotten, abandoned by God. Yet God would free them from their slavery. God sent Moses and then God demonstrated his power to the Pharaoh and the Egyptians – And God brought them out of their bondage… He miraculously brought them across the Red Sea…. And all the way to the base of Mount Sinai. And that’s where God would give them His commands - His Word engraved on two stone tablets.

And do you know what day that was in the life of the Hebrew people? The same day of the year as the Jerusalem Pentecost. Exodus 19 and Jewish tradition lead us to that conclusion. And if not the exact day, within a couple of days of it. 50 days after the Exodus– the people received God’s law. And 50 days after Jesus. Resurrection – God would pour out his Spirit on His people.

And through God’s Spirit, we would receive not commandments on stone, but God would write his law on our hearts. And when Pentecost happened, this breath of God – the Holy Spirit, would inaugurate a Kingdom that would go forth to the ends of the earth. Not bringing people out of slavery in Egypt, but bringing people out of slavery to sin and death and into His new kingdom – a Kingdom of new life for people from every tribe and tongue and nation. And the Spirit would draw people into this new Kingdom, through the Word of God – through the Gospel – unto faith and repentance.

You see, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word are inseparable.

Yet, today we confuse that reality. Sometimes we’ll say, “I feel God’s Spirit leading me to do this or that.” And sometimes those leadings go against God’s word. Directly against God’s commands. I’m not saying the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead and guide – but His true leading brings to mind the Truth of the Word and his guiding convicts our hearts of sin.

Someone I know recently shared with me that she didn’t love her husband anymore. She said, “The Holy Spirit has given me peace about leaving him” In her situation, there was not abuse of any kind or infidelity – rather it mainly involved differences of opinion. And you know… marriage can be really difficult. You’ve likely either seen that or experienced it. It’s one thing to struggle in a relationship… but to think that being at peace about a decision means that God is approving – when that decision goes against God’s word. Well, that’s misunderstanding God’s word. It’s confusing the Holy Spirit with feelings. Our feeling often betray God’s commands.

On the other side, we can also overly emphasize knowledge. I think as Presbyterians we can especially do that. Maybe you’re all about The Word and theology – but never consider the Holy Spirit. Your times listening for the Holy Spirit conviction of sin in your life is minimal. You know doctrine, well… but applying the Word through the Holy Spirit is limited. I’ve especially seen some guys struggle with this – a headiness without a whole being committed to the Word and Spirit – and I’ve seen it lead to hidden sin and pride.

Believer in Christ, we have the most precious gift given to us – the Holy Spirit of truth. May we strive to know God’s Word– not for intellectual sake - but so that God’s Spirit may lead us in truth and righteousness.


1.) Pentecost initiated God’s Kingdom in Christ to the nations

2.) Every true believer in Christ receives the Holy Spirit

3.) The Holy Spirit’s work centers around God’s Word

And what has all of this been leading towards? This last chapter and 1/2 . The angel directing Cornelius, the vision that God gave Peter, the revelation that the Gospel is for the nations, the outpouring of God’s Spirit on Cornelius… It’s all for a purpose. God has been at work for a reason…

Well as Peter and the other 6 witnesses shared all of what had happened… the Holy Spirit was at work! He was melting the hearts of the disciples and believers. It says, “they fell silent, and they glorified God!” They worshipped God… The knew that the Holy Spirit was at work in an amazing way! He would bring the hope and peace of Christ to the ends of the earth… so that people from all nations, and here in Tucker, would be filled in him… worshipping and declaring the great salvation in Jesus.

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