Faithlife Sermons

Thank God for Pouring Out His Spirit

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Without the Holy Spirit there would be no Christians. Without the Holy Spirit we would be lost in our sins and without hope. But God has poured out his Spirit on us.

Acts 2:1-21 Pentecost 2017 Thank God for Pouring Out His Spirit 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. 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 their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our 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.”  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 people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 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.  I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (NIV 2011). Dear friends in Christ, On Thursday mornings from September through May some men from our congregation gather for a breakfast Bible study. In the middle of this past year, after we finished one study, we discussed what we might study next. Someone suggested that we study what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. I’m glad that we were able to spend the next several weeks reading and talking about who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does because his work is extremely important for us. If God’s Spirit did not do his work, there would be no Christians. All of us would still be spiritually dead. We would still be spiritually blind. We would still consider God our enemy. We would have no faith in Jesus as our Savior. We would have no life with God and no hope for our future. So as we celebrate the festival of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, let’s thank God for pouring out his Spirit on us. He poured out his Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and he will continue to pour out his Spirit until the Day of Christ’s return. I. On the Day of Pentecost The Son of God had just paid the full price for the sin and guilt of the world. God the Father had raised him from the dead to prove his acceptance of Christ’s payment. Now, in order for sinners to receive the blessings of Christ’s redemption, they needed to hear what he had done for them. So Jesus gave his followers this mission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20). Before they started on the mission, however, Jesus directed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). God would pour out his Spirit and equip them for their mission. That’s what happened a few days later on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was an annual Jewish festival on the 50th day after the Passover Sabbath. It was a festival of thanksgiving which marked the completion of the spring harvest. According to the ceremonial law all Jewish men were required to travel to the temple in Jerusalem where the first-fruits of the wheat harvest would be presented to the LORD. This explains why so many people representing all kinds of nations were in Jerusalem on that particular day. Over the years, because of war or persecution or business, many Jewish people had scattered from Judah into many different countries all around the Mediterranean world, places in Asia, North Africa, and Europe. But they returned to Jerusalem for Pentecost. These were both Jews and converts to Judaism, and they spoke many different languages and dialects. Jesus’ disciples also were staying Jerusalem, not only for Pentecost, but also because Jesus had told them to wait there for the gift that God would send. This group of Christ’s followers included the eleven apostles whom Jesus had first called as his disciples, and Matthias, who had just been chosen to take the place of Judas. The group also might have included Mary, the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, and others. The previous chapter says that the number of believers at this time was about 120. In any case, Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in the same place when suddenly they heard the sound of a violent wind. Then they saw what seemed to be flames of fire that divided and came to rest on each of them. These were outward signs of a spiritual gift. God was pouring out his Spirit on them, just as Jesus had promised. With this special outpouring of God’s Spirit, he equipped them for their mission. Now they were ready to proclaim the gospel of God’s forgiveness in Christ to the nations. And that’s what they began to do. But what’s even more amazing is that they began to proclaim the wonderful works of God in languages that they had never learned, and languages that everyone gathered for Pentecost could understand. The crowds with those people from Asia, North Africa and Europe were amazed, baffled and perplexed. Clearly what was happening was not ordinary, but extraordinary; not natural but supernatural. “What does this mean?” they asked. Others, however, mocked Christ’s messengers. “Too much wine!” they said. They dismissed both the miracle and the message that went with it. How would you have reacted? Suddenly you hear these Galilean Jews boldly proclaiming Jesus (who had been crucified seven weeks earlier) to be the risen and ascended Messiah. More than that! You hear them speaking in your own language and different languages that everyone around you can understand. It’s easy for us to say that we would have been among those who were amazed and questioned what this miracle meant for them. But is it possible that you and I would have leaned more toward the other group? Might you and I have been among those who mocked Christ’s messengers and dismissed their message? Or maybe an easier question to answer is, “Do we ever do this today?” Sadly we do. We do when our parents teach us the lessons of the Bible and show us what God would have us believe, but we dismiss it all as foolishness. We do when our teachers show us the right way to walk as God’s people, but we choose to walk a different path. We do when our pastors proclaim God’s forgiveness in Christ through Word and sacrament, but we ignore these means of God’s grace and treat them as unimportant or worthless. Each of us struggles with a sinful nature that dismisses God’s Spirit and his message. That’s not an excuse. It’s a reason for us to fall on our knees in godly sorrow and repentance. It’s a reason for us to lay our sin at the foot of Jesus’ cross and to cling to God’s pledge of forgiveness through him. It’s a reason for us to listen all the more intently to God’s message so that God’s Spirit will do his work in us and equip to stand against every attack on our relationship with Christ. II. Until the Day of Christ’s return Some of the Pentecost crowd dismissed what they saw and heard. But Peter and the other apostles stood up and explained what was happening. Their new-found boldness and their extraordinary gift of proclaiming Christ in different languages was not the result of too much wine. It was the result of God’s fulfillment of the promise he had made some nine centuries earlier through the prophet Joel. Using terms that the people of his day understood, Joel looked ahead to reign of Christ. Christ would come and establish his kingdom. Then God would pour out his Spirit in special measure on the members of his kingdom. Not only on the specially chosen prophets, like Moses or Elijah. But on all people: Jew and Gentile, man and woman, young and old alike. By this outpouring of his Spirit, God would enable his people to proclaim his message throughout the world. And the Spirit would use that message to gather people from all nations into the kingdom. This outpouring of God’s Spirit began in a special way on the day of Pentecost. It will continue until the day of Christ’s return. Even today God pours out his Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on little Kathryn Grace in baptism this morning. Her baptism wasn’t a ceremony by which her parents dedicated her to God. It is the means by which God’s Spirit has joined her Jesus by faith and has given her the blessings of Christ’s death and resurrection. As a baptized child of God, Kathryn Grace now has God’s forgiveness through Jesus and new life as a member of God’s family. That’s why the apostle Paul calls baptism a washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. God continues to pour out his Spirit in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, as we hear Jesus’ promise: “This is my body, given for you… This is my blood, poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” He continues to pour out his Spirit as we read the Bible and learn his Word. He continues to pour out his Spirit wherever the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed. Why does he do this? He pours out his Spirit so that our faith in Christ will continue to grow, so that our relationship with our Father will stand strong, so that we might continue to live as God’s people, so that we can be his witnesses in the world. Remember that only a few weeks before Pentecost, the disciples were hiding behind locked doors. They had seen how Jesus’ enemies treated him. Why wouldn’t they try to do something similar to Jesus’ closest followers? The disciples were afraid. But then God poured out his Spirit, just as Jesus had promised, and they began to speak boldly to many others about their Lord. God pours out his Spirit for us too, and he will continue to do so until the Day of Christ’s return. For the Jewish people, the Day of Pentecost was a day to thank God for the spring harvest. But God chose that day to begin another harvest, he began the harvest of souls for Christ’s New Testament Church. Just as on Pentecost, the Jewish people thanked God for the rain and the growth of their crops, so today we thank God. We thank God for pouring out his Spirit and enabling us to be part of the harvest. Amen. Pastor Karl M Schultz June 4, 2017
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