Pentecost/Whitsunday, 2019

For The Epistle – Acts 2:1-11

The Gospel – St. John 14:15-31

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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The account of Pentecost is always amazing to hear. Jews from all over the region, who speak in various languages and these people are seeing and hearing the disciples of Jesus speaking in their own language…proclaiming the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…and that is key… the Holy Spirit is inspiring these people to proclaim Christ.

 

The Holy Spirit of God comes down and lands on the disciples in tongues of fire.

 

 

This event of course has been anticipated now for weeks as we have heard Jesus in the Gospels telling us that He was leaving the Disciples, but He would make sure that they still experienced His presence.

 

We heard again today from Jesus in a more lengthy section say, “…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, [17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16–17, ESV)

 

Notice two things here. Jesus promises to those who have followed Him that the Holy Spirit will come…He calls Him the Helper…He will come and He will dwell with them.

 

But, He also says that “the world” that is, those who do not follow Jesus…do not believe in Him…they will not receive what the Spirit says…in fact, Jesus says, “they cannot receive Him. They cannot know Him.

 

So, until the Holy Spirit breaks through the hardness of someone’s heart, they cannot and will not believe in Him.

 

So as Jesus asked the Father - and the Father always grants Jesus’ requests - so the Holy Spirit was sent.

He came as recorded in the Acts passage we heard this morning for the Lesson appointed for the Epistle.

 

But that account is just the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work.

Or we might say it was a one-time unique and prominent work among many works that the Holy Spirit performs in the pages of Scripture and in the history of the world.

 

The Holy Spirit was present at the very beginning. First, we have to say He was with the Father and the Son for all eternity….but with that said, we tend to like to hear about His work in space and time.

 

He was there hovering over the creation at its infancy.  The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters on the first day of creation.

 

The Holy Spirit is shown there to be a part of the creating process. Hovering over the waters, superintending His creation.

 

 

In fact, we read about many of the same things done by the Spirit in the Old Testament before Pentecost that we see in the New Testament after Pentecost.

 

The very fact that we love God and follow Christ is that our hearts have been changed by God. We didn’t make a decision to change it. God did it.

 

This work is the work of the Holy Spirit. The new and changed heart is referred in the Old Testament as circumcision of the heart. It is a work of God.

 

Deuteronomy 30:6

“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (ESV)

This is what Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to understand that night when he came to speak to Jesus.

 

“Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” [3] Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1–3, ESV)

 

So, the Holy Spirit of God must be the one who gives the new birth and the circumcised heart and that understanding mind to believe and trust in Christ.

 

Nicodemus would have understood who Jesus was if he would have had his heart opened up by the Holy Spirit.

But that had not happened yet.

 

So, the Holy Spirit opens our minds to truth.

 

The Holy Spirit also opens the heart to faith. Ephesians 2:8

 

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (ESV)

 

The gift of God is faith…and yet Hebrews chapter 11 has this long list of Old Testament saints who had a faith…but it was of things to come. 

 

Hebrews 11:2

 

 

 

[2] For by [faith] the people of old received their commendation. (ESV) He goes on to list all of the big names that we read about in the Old Testament … Hebrews 11:32–38

 

[32] And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—[33] who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, [34] quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. [35] Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. [36] Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

[37] They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—[38] of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (ESV)

 

and then he closes the chapter by saying, ….all of these were commended through their faith.

 

But they did have to wait for Jesus to come and then send the Holy Spirit on the New Testament saints so that they and we too could be brought in… before they could see and receive the full value or the full fruit of their faith.

 

 

When we come to the New Testament we continue to get a clearer picture of just who the Holy Spirit is and what His functions and roles are.

 

Recall back on the 4the Sunday after Easter. Jesus said in the Gospel lesson that day, John 16:13–14.

 

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. [14] He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (ESV)

 

This passage is remarkable for a number of reasons.

We certainly see all three persons of the Godhead at work. Jesus speaks about the Spirit…calling Him the Spirit of Truth.

 

The Spirit will come when Jesus sends Him. The Father is mentioned as giving all things to the Son. Whatever the Father has, the Son has and is declared to us by the Spirit.

 

So, the Holy Spirit comes to us and works in our lives in a very real way.

 

He comes to remind us what Jesus has said to us.

He will be a source of comfort for us.

He will guide us into all truth.

He will declare things that are to come.

He will glorify Christ by taking what is Christ’s and declare it to us.

 

These are important points.

The Holy Spirit is very mysterious to us. We often wonder just how He is present and how He is working in us.

 

And this list is helpful.

 

Many times, people will point to the ways they believe they experience the Spirit of God, but we must be careful as we are to discern all things by God’s Word.

 

People may think they have experienced the Holy Spirit or have been inspired by Him, but if what they experience or how they experience Him or what they say the Spirit told them is contrary to God’s Word, then it must be rejected.

 

People’s personal experiences are not as easily validated. But the Word of God stands clearly and forever.

The Holy Spirit comes to remind us of what Jesus said. But how does He do so?

Where do we hear or read the words of Jesus?  Where do we experience the Holy Spirit speaking?

In the Bible. In the Holy Scriptures.

 

All Scripture is God breathed…or spirit breathed. There are two passages that we all know and hear often…

 

2 Timothy 3:16–17

 

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God. The Greek word is theopneustos. Theos is God and pneuma is spirit or breath.

 

Scripture is given by the Spirit of God.

 

And then there is also 2 Peter 1:21

 

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)

 

So again, the Scriptures are written by men who were carried along…inspired by the Holy Spirit. So what they wrote down was what God wanted written.

 

And once delivered and written down, they are the guide as Paul wrote to Timothy.  

 

They are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

 

Jesus came and did all good works.

Jesus came and taught all good doctrine and teaching.

Jesus came and did all good miracles and acts of mercy.

 

And the Holy Spirit inspired men to write all these down for us so that we would be …again back to our list…

 

So that what Jesus said would come to mind.
So that what Jesus said would be read and then be a source of comfort to us.

 

 

So that we would be guided into all truth…and ultimate and infallible truth is only found in the Holy… God breathed… words of Scripture.

 

And so that we would be comforted as we learn what things are to come.

 

All that we need to know about God is found in His breathed out…Spirit inspired Word.

 

Notice again in this list that the Spirit’s greatest work and greatest joy is the show us Christ…to bring to mind, to comfort, to guide us and show to us and declare to us….what Christ did.

 

 

 

People tend to turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for inspiration or they will say they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, but what comes of it?

 

If it is conformed to the Word of God, then it is valid.

If it brings to mind a word from Scripture that will enlighten us or teach us or bring comfort to us then it can be said to be truly given.

 

This should give some of us greater comfort since some are very unclear about the Holy Spirit’s work.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of us will encounter Christians who claim to be very in touch with the Holy Spirit and we will feel inadequate because we don’t think or understand or realize how the Holy Spirit is actually at work in us as well. 

 

Remember, if you are a Christian, then the Holy Spirt is already at work in you. He made you a believer. Remember He has circumcised your heart.

 

When you were baptized you received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He came at that very moment in the rite of baptism through water and began a good work in you.

 

He sealed you by His power. He made you His own.

 

Hear the words of the Baptismal rite in our own Prayer Book.

“None can enter into the kingdom of God except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

“Give your Holy Spirit to this child that he may be born again and made an heritor of everlasting salvation.”

 

“Sanctify him with thy Holy Spirit.”

 

So, we are all, as Christians, regenerate, born anew, sanctified, believers and inheritors of everlasting life because the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in us.

 

Now, as we grow in age and in grace, we are to hear and experience the Holy Spirit at work as we learn all that Christ has done for us.

As He guides us by what we learn from God’s Laws that we find in Scripture.  The Law is written on our hearts, but it is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to obey those Laws.

 

As He strengthens us to abide in Him by the commands of Christ, found in the Scriptures.

 

So, the Holy Spirit is at work in you. He is at work inspiring you and enlightening you when you are walking in the ways of God.

 

He is at work in you when you remember the words of the Lord Jesus.

He is at work in you when you find comfort from what Jesus says.

He is at work in you when you act in truth in thought, word or deed.

 

He enlightens our minds.

He is even there and at work when you least know it…because as you fall to depths of despair He is the one who calls you back out by all He brings to mind of the sacrifice and the salvation of Christ.

 

So the Holy Spirit may not be as mysterious as you once thought. So much of our everyday lives are guided and led by the Spirit of God…we  just have to know He is there and remember He is there….and even that is a work of the Holy Spirit.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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