Sunday 27 May – Pentecost
Readings: Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-7; 16:4b-15
So that sermon on Pentecost Sunday! It would have fitted in really well with my 40 hour famine Techno-fast! No power point! No outlines! No slick introductions and 3D illustrations! No microphones and loop systems for hearing aides. No notices and no heaters.
What is all this stuff then (our equipment and technology in our church)? And what about this untrained Galilean fisherman? Where did he come from and how did he persuade all those people to follow Jesus?
PENTECOST – was clearly a supernatural power burst for the church! It’s recognised as the church’s birthday – and most Christians would not argue that the Holy Spirit came in power!
Even those who don’t believe the Holy Spirit does supernatural things today – for whatever reason – would recognise that something special happened that day!
PENTECOST IS ABOUT ORDINARY PEOPLE – BEING GIVEN EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
When you think about it – we don’t know the names of most of those believers who were empowered at Pentecost.
In fact we hardly really know the names of the 12.
Most of us remember Peter, James, John and Judas – and then our memories let us down! Perhaps we remember Thomas for his doubting or Matthew because of his tax collecting! We know Paul because he had a lot to say – and he was the 13th Apostle and not even at Pentecost!
Three simple things made the difference:
- Presence – the promise of Jesus not to leave them was fulfilled in his Spirit being with them. John portrays that differently – he has Jesus breathing on them and saying “receive the Holy Spirit”.
- Power – “You shall receive power…” is the promise that Jesus gives. The power was for them to be witnesses! And of course the power gifts certainly backed up their words!
- Person – the Holy Spirit is not an “it” but a “he” in the Bible. He teaches. He leads. He comforts – which is stronger than our softer comforting people who are sad. The word means to strengthen.
The best word describing the Holy Spirit is in fact the word translated as “Comforter” which is in the original text PARAKLETOS! (Paraclete in old English hymns.)
This means one who is called alongside us. Also translated as Advocate and Counsellor.
Jesus – through the Holy Spirit – continues to bolster us, strengthen us, and guide us.
This is God at work in our community – in our mission – in our love – in our prayers and our worship!
Listen to Jesus again:
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
How do people come to faith?
They ask for a Saviour when they know they need to be saved! They ask for forgiveness when they know they are sinners! They know they need freedom when they realised they are slaves of sin! They know they need to be made righteous when they discover our bad they are – children of Adam and rebellious – separated from God and deserving judgement.
How can people come to this point? Through the work of the Holy Spirit! And how do we make it through our challenges? Through the same Holy Spirit!
- Guiding us into all truth
- Telling us what is yet to come
- Taking what is Jesus’ and making it known to us
Sounds like something immediate and real! This paraclete – advocate – comforter and counsellor – is the one through whom we live! No wonder Paul says:
Eph 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
Eph 5:19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
Eph 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And elsewhere – implying that God transforms us by His Spirit working in us:
Gal 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
Gal 5:20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
Gal 5:21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Gal 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Gal 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Anyone fancy being totally empowered, transformed and made to be like this? Like Jesus? Be open to the Holy Spirit today and each day!