Archive for the ‘John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15’ Category

Prophecy Fulfilled at Pentecost!

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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INTRODUCTION: “We all need a little good news once in a while,” so goes the old saying.  But if we pay attention to our Bible, and especially to this morning’s scripture readings we would say rather, “We always need good news—all of the time.”  The good news of course is the gospel, and we need to hear the Gospel all of the time because we sin daily.  Without the gospel being central in our lives we are nothing more than a pile of dead—dry bones. Our reading from the book of Acts this morning is the fulfillment of our Gospel reading where Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about me.”  [John 15:26]  This is the “Gospel Promise” that Jesus left the Church just before His ascension.  It is His promise that the Holy Spirit will accomplish God’s will in regards to ensuring that the gospel is preached and the gift of faith is given; the promise that a new and blessed life will come forth from dead, dry, bones.  It is His promise he gives to you today.  It is “good news” for you, if you will only believe.


I. The first time God shared the gospel with us was immediately after the very first sin when Adam and Eve were encouraged by the devil to do the only thing God said they could not do, eat from the tree of knowledge.  When they did this, they committed the first sin.  In one bite they exchanged God’s truth and love for a lie (You will be like God.  You will become wise).  Instead of finding wisdom they found misery; instead of becoming like God they became separated from Him.  But God in His love would not let mankind suffer in this state; in His love God demonstrated His mercy by immediately proclaiming the Gospel.  Speaking directly to the devil, but for the benefit of mankind, God said: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” [Gen. 3]  In these words, God promised that the savior of mankind would come as a descendant of Adam and Eve, and it was in the work of this Savior that God would restore mankind into a right relationship with Him. 


Now, many years after this, God spoke of the hope of the gospel to a prophet named Ezekiel.  In our old testament reading, God showed the prophet the work of the Holy Spirit… He showed Him new life for dry bones.  He showed Him the hope of salvation for those dry and dead in their sins and trespasses, if they would but trust in God’s mercy and receive the gift of faith; faith which comes through the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.


II.  In our reading from the book of Acts (Acts 2:1-21), we see how God ensured that His message of grace, the good-news that was first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden, would be proclaimed to all people on the face of the earth, just as Jesus had promised so many times.


In our reading, we join the disciples gathered in a large building near the Jerusalem temple.  It was about 9:00 a.m., and they were seated on the floor listening to the Apostles; they were possibly talking about the Great Commission, because those were the last words Jesus spoke to them just before He ascended into heaven.  I would imagine that their discussion probably sounded very similar to the discussions we’ve had here at Trinity; discussions like how can we fulfill Jesus command to “go” into the world and baptize and teach God’s Word.  They must have been asking the apostles questions like, “What did Jesus mean when He said he was with us even until the end of time?  He has left us to be with the Father, so how is He with us?”


Peter would not have time to formulate an answer, because out of no where, a very loud noise, like a tornado approached their building, and filled the room.  It was the sound of wind, without the wind itself.  ILLUST: I am a witness to a tornado, and it sounds just like a very loud train is bearing down on you.  IT IS FRIGHTENING!  Now that God had their attention, He was about to remind them, in a miraculous way that Jesus ALWAYS keeps His Word!  The promise of the Holy Spirit was about to be fulfilled!  Somewhere in the center of the room appeared a large flame; I would imagine that it was similar to the burning bush that Moses saw on Mt. Sinai.  That alone must have frightened the group, but then it did something very new, God’s Holy Spirit became very personal; it divided into many parts, and the parts spread out and began to hover over each person’s head.  Now, fear was replaced with awe, as each one led by the Holy Spirit rose and made their way outside of the building, and into the street.


They were probably in a public square somewhere near the temple because a huge crowd had gathered outside of their building, most likely because they heard the great sound of a mighty wind gushing into that meeting room.  Now as each disciple, being led by the Spirit of God proceeded outside, they began praising God in a new language that was foreign to them; it was a language that exactly matched the languages of the foreign Jews who were gathered at the temple for Pentecost.  Each one heard something like our liturgical hymn of praise, in their own native language: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.  Lord God, Heavenly king almighty God and Father.  We worship you.  We give you praise.  We thank you for your glory.”  Now the majority of the people stood in awe, but someone in the crowd must have known that the disciples were “simple” people who had been with Jesus, because the comment was made, “Aren’t all of these people who are speaking Galileans?  So, how is it that we hear them praising God in our own language?”  [Acts 2:7, 8, 11]


What a wonderful demonstration of God’s miraculous power!  This was the first recorded miracle God performed after Jesus ascension into heaven, but it certainly would not be the last, in fact, the book of Acts is loaded with miracle after miracle.  God used these miracles starting with this gift of tongues to propel the church throughout the world in such a way as to ensure its growth, very much like how God used the confusion of languages to compel men and woman to spread throughout the earth.  Now God was ensuring that each and every person would hear His praises in their own “heart” language.  Through the gift of tongues the Holy Spirit was leading His church at a time when such a witness was sorely needed.  Because of this, we would call this use of the gift of tongues strategic and temporary, because it’s use diminished once the church grew so large and fast that its very existence and power was proof that the Spirit’s eternal presence was within it. 


Back to our story, Peter now takes his place among the disciples, and he hears some from the crowd proclaim that the disciples praising God are probably drunk!  With this word, the devil once again attempted to take the focus of attention off of the Creator and place it instead on the creature.  But God would not be silent; He could not!  Now,  filled with the Spirit, Peter recalled Jesus’ own Words: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” [John 14:25,26]  And remember he did, and then some!  Praise God, the Helper had come in a mighty way.  And now led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ real presence through His Word went out to his people from the mouth of Peter.  Peter continued God’s plan from the beginning, he preached the Gospel.


III.  Dear friends, Peter’s sermon makes it clear that God’s Spirit will be poured out on the last days.  When are the last days?  They are now!  The last days are every day after Jesus suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent in his place the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit; it is He who causes our hearts to respond to God’s call of repentance through His Word: “Turn away from your sin and turn towards Jesus Christ.  Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, and you will be saved.”  But what are our sins?  They are anything that places God as second place in our life, and anything which offends or harms our neighbor.   Dear saints, in vs. 8-10 of our Gospel reading Jesus says, “(The Holy Spirit) will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father.”  Dear Friends, Jesus is speaking to us—none of us can believe in Him on our own.  Without the Helper we stand convicted as sinners… convicted of the capital offense of unbelief in Jesus Christ as our Savior.   The last days are today.  Today, Jesus calls out to us through the same Holy Spirit, to believe in Him unto eternal life!  To believe in Jesus is to be saved from sin, to have all of our sins forgiven… and to not believe in Jesus is to remain in sin, to die forever as nothing more than a pile of dead bones!  But praise God, for by His Holy Spirit, our hearts are continually moved to confess our sinfulness to Him and then trust in Jesus Christ as our only source of peace with God.  Friends, it is faith in Jesus Christ alone that will strengthen you with God’s love and power.  Only faith in God’s Word can transform you, renew you, and bring meaning to your life. 


CONCLUSION: Dear saints, you are those sons and daughters that will prophesy and see visions.  Young people, God’s Word specifically mentions you.  There are none too young or too old to receive God’s Spirit, because that Spirit was first given to you at your Baptism.  Do you believe it?  Then live this truth and allow God’s Spirit through His Word to keep your heart centered in it.  Call out to Him and trust He has saved you just as His Word promises!  “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [vs. 21]  “To call upon the Lord’s name” means to call out to him for the forgiveness of all of your sins.  To call upon the Lord’s name means that you follow the Spirit’s leading and call out to Him for strength so that you will not fall into unbelief.  To call upon His name is to call upon God’s kind heart as proclaimed in His gospel!  It is the same gospel that God first proclaimed to Adam and Eve, and the one you first received at your Baptism.  It is the same gospel that assures us this morning that when we come to His Holy table to eat His body and drink His Blood we receive forgiveness of sins.  And as we are changed by this gospel, the result will be that we will prophesy.  We will share the good news, the saving and blessed will of God to people everywhere.  We can not help but witness to His love and mercy because it is His Spirit acting within us! 


But what about the visions we will see?  What is this vision that God gives?  It is the vision of a dying world.  It is God’s vision of seeing this world saved and transformed by the gospel message that says that through faith in Jesus there is new life for dead bones.  Dear friends, the Holy Spirit is present in this dying world through you!  As you go out into the world and live your life you take with you God’s love and grace.  Filled with His Word and empowered by faith, you are His breath of life for dry, dead bones.  Now go in peace and follow the Lord!  In Jesus name…AMEN!