The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
All Together in One Place
The Day of Pentecost (Confirmation Sunday)
23 May 2010
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
(CPR Intro, Outline, Conclusion) Today is Pentecost. [The name Pentecost means that it has been 50 days since Passover and Easter. This Pentecost we celebration Confirmation Sunday. Today three young adults will acknowledge before God and men the gifts of God that they received at their Baptism and will also confess the faith for themselves.] I might surprise many if I said that Pentecost was equally important to the Christian Church as both Christmas and Easter! Yes, we know that the birth of Christ was essential to our salvation, because if Jesus had not been born, He would not have been able to rescue us. Easter is also crucial in God's plan to save us because our Lord, through a cross, purchased our salvation by Jesus' shed blood payment for sin. Since Jesus has risen, we know His payment for sin was accepted. Easter Sunday provides all believers eternal life.
But Pentecost stands with Christmas and Easter as equally important! Why? Because, beginning with Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fills believers and spreads the Gospel! [The Holy Spirit delivers the forgiveness won by Christ's death and Resurrection.] By the Spirit's power, all are made aware of the Gospel's saving power, and all can be drawn [through the Word] by the Spirit's action to Christian faith and service.
[Disciples are made by means of baptizing and teaching God's Word.] John Stott wrote, "Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable…there can be no life without the Life-giver, no understanding of sin without the Spirit of Truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and no effective witness without His power" (See CPR for citation).
So the Third Person of the Trinity provides the power for Christian faith, life, and growth. And here at the first [Christian] Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gets the Good News out! In [today's] passage from Acts, a huge assembly of people is made aware of the Gospel's saving power and is drawn by the Spirit's gracious work to a saving faith in Christ.
In the Spirit's Power, the Message of Jesus Christ is presented clearly for the Salvation of This Lost World.
I. The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention.
1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
A. The crowds hear the sound of a blowing, violent wind.
B. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. 1. The Spirit gives the evidence: tongues of fire. 2. The Spirit gives the other languages: "other tongues."
[For example, consider the following: Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel, geheiliget werde dein Name, dein Reich komme, dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden. Unser täglich Brot gib uns heute. Und vergib uns unsere Schuld, als wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern. Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung, sondern erlöse uns von dem Übel. Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit. Amen.
Did that make any sense at all? Yet, to many of our ancestors, and others who know German, they would immediately recognize that as the Lord's prayer. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to preach Christ crucified in languages they had not studied, yet languages that people in the crowd knew and understand so they could clearly hear the message of Jesus.]
II. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention,] But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people.
5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."
A. Some respond with surprise. 1. They are "bewildered", "amazed and astonished". 2. The devout Jews, for the most part, listened to the message.
B. Some responded with ridicule. 1. Drunkenness on new wine was the scoffers' explanation. 2. Unable to comprehend the supernatural, they [look for] a natural explanation. [Today, some who call themselves Christians deny every miracle in Scripture from the creation, world-wide flood, or crossing the Red Sea to the birth of Jesus by a virgin and His physical Resurrection from the dead.]
III. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention, But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people.] Then Peter explains this miracle of the Spirit.
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
A. Drunkenness is not the explanation. 1. It is only 9 a.m. 2. This was the time for morning prayers and sacrifice; no Jew was allowed to eat or drink before this time.
B. The crowds were witnessing the fulfillment of [the prophet] Joel's prophecy, the Spirit being poured out. 1. Peter's reference, Joel 2: 28-32, had full authority for devout Jews. 2. Related passages are found in Isaiah 2:2-3 and Micah 4:1.
C. The Holy Spirit's amazing miracle is that languages are not a barrier to that day's Gospel proclamation. 1. All hear "the mighty works of God" in their own tongue [—their own native language]. 2. These men shouldn't have known all these languages! They're all from Galilee! 3. True, but the Holy Spirit makes sure the Word of God will be effective.
In Acts 2, the Lord wanted the Gospel to be easily understood. Knowing the Gospel message and [having faith in Christ] is of crucial [and eternal] importance, both then and now.
IV. [The Spirit's miracle gets everyone's attention, But at first, the meaning of all this isn't clear to the people. Then Peter explains this miracle of the Spirit.] Now the message of salvation is clear indeed!
21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
A. Christ has come! 1. The prophets always saw the First and Second [Comings] of Christ together. [We're used to seeing tall telephone poles or power poles alongside our roads in Nebraska and Wyoming. Often, we can see each one, all the way to the horizon. But sometimes, the road curves so that all of them line up and we only see one. That is how the Old Testament prophets through John the Baptizer saw Jesus' first and second comings. They saw His ministry and His work as Judge at the end of the world as the same event. As Christians, we live between the poles of the Cross and the Last Day and can see the difference.]
2. Verses 17-18 are fulfilled at the first Pentecost as needed and directed by the Lord today. 17'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. a. Prophecy is less a matter of foretelling future events. b. Prophecy is more a matter of "forthtelling" [or telling forth] the Gospel news of salvation in Christ.
3. Verses 19-20 are a clear reference to Christ's Second Advent [His Second Coming]. 19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. [Remember the telephone poles? The Old Testament prophets didn't and probably couldn't tell the difference between Jesus' two comings because they only saw one telephone pole in the future. We live between Calvary and Judgment Day and understand the difference because the Lord has revealed it to us in His Word by God the Holy Spirit.]
4. The declaration of "the mighty works of God" above all includes the [Good Friday] death and Easter Resurrection of Christ! …this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it…
B. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved! 1. The Holy Spirit draws hearts to faith (1 Corinthians 12:3) a. To call upon the Lord's name is to call [upon] Him [to help us]. b. In faith, we recognize that He alone can rescue us from the coming Day of Judgment and penalty of hell. 2. Salvation is available to everyone [who hears the Word]. 3. With the Holy Spirit's work, God now stands in immediate relationship with His people. a. A new world was presented to these devout Jews in Jerusalem. b. Christians were confessing what they had seen and heard, and the clear message was that in Jesus Christ, all answers were supplied for life today and eternal life as well. c. Peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and salvation come through [faith, a relationship with the Savior].
The Good News is that the power of God and the Word of God will triumph over all opposition. God will not, then or now, permit the message of His Son to be lost. We carry this Good News with us [every day]. [We live this life in the comfort and certainty of the Gospel. Again, today, we are all together in one place, gathered by the Lord Himself around His Gifts of Word and Sacrament. Three have been gathered by the Lord to commune for the first time. We receive His gifts with hands He has opened and sing with lips He has opened. Then, He leads us back to our daily vocations.]
[Today, we Christians are given to confess what we have seen and heard, the clear message that in Jesus Christ all answers are supplied for life today and eternal life as well.]
Verse: Alleluia. Alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Alleluia. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.