Pentecost (Jn 14,23–31; Acts 2,1–21)

Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

᛭ INI ᛭

That’s what the Spirit’s after—for you to believe in Jesus and He’s done for you. The Spirit works on you so that you will call on the name of Jesus, that is, trust in Him, have no other hope or confidence than Jesus.

“What has Christ done for you that you trust in Him?” “He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.” And “what motivated Christ to die and make full payment for your sins?” “His great love for His Father and for me and other sinners.”

Christ says that today: that He died for you because He loves His Father. “So that the world would know that I love the Father, and that just as the Father commanded Me thus I do, rise, let’s go from here.” Christ goes to the cross “For thus the Father willed it, / Who fashioned us from clay; / And His own Son fulfilled it / And brought eternal day. / The Spirit now has come / To us true faith has given; / He leads us home to heaven. / O praise the Three in One!” (But more on the Trinity next week.)

What Christ does secures our peace. Not emotional peace, or sense of well-being, though that may come from the peace Jesus secures by His death and resurrection. Actual, real, eternal peace with God. “’Comfort, comfort ye My people, / Speak ye peace,’ thus saith our God; / ‘Comfort those who sit in darkness, / Mourning ‘neath their sorrows’ load. / Speak ye to Jerusalem / Of the peace that waits for them; / Tell her that her sins I cover, / And her warfare now is over.’”

The eternal Son of God died and rose, and now the Spirit comes to deliver it. That’s what Pentecost is all about. Gathering all the nations around this one message: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved.” He creates faith in Jesus, faith in what Jesus has done, faith in Jesus’ cross-won, empty-tomb-certain peace. That’s that the reality of what the Spirit did at Pentecost. Not just 2,000 some years ago, but it’s also what the Spirit does today.


((I. The Spirit comes through means.))

“So that we would acquire [this saving faith in Jesus], God established the Preaching Office to deliver the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through instruments, He delivers the Holy Spirit, who works faith, where and when He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. [In the Gospel] it is taught that we have a gracious God through Christ’s merit and not through our own merit.” (AC V: German) This means that when THE SPIRIT COMES TO DELIVER FAITH IN JESUS’ PEACE, He comes through means. Only through means. That’s what the Scriptures teach, and so that’s also what we believe. The Spirit creates faith, and He does so through means.

That’s what we see at the end of the Gospels and here in Acts 2. Jesus has His men, sends His men, fills them with the Spirit, and they preach. They preach that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved,” “for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” They preach Baptism, they preach the forgiveness of sins, they preach and teach the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood.

The means of the Spirit as He delivers faith in Jesus’ peace.

((II. Unfaith: What you see is what you get.))

It’s pretty simple, but it’s not easy. It’s simple to confess. It’s simple enough that a child can believe it and even understand it. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy because of our flesh. It’s not easy because our flesh gets hung up on the instruments, on the means: the Gifts and the men sent to deliver them.

That’s what we see in Acts 2. They saw Peter, they saw the Eleven others, and they said, “Aren’t all these men Galileans?” And some of them, when they saw what was going on, said, “These guys are drunk!”

That’s how unbelief goes. Unbelief, unfaith doesn’t receive the benefits. When it comes to receiving Jesus’ peace, well, those who don’t believe don’t receive the Gift. They might receive the means, the instrument, but not the forgiveness the instrument delivers. Or to put it another way: If you don’t have faith, what you see is what you get.

And so the world, when it considers Jesus, thinks He’s a moral teacher. They see just some man, a man who was crucified, a man who’s been dead a long time now. When it came to the 12, some only saw drunkards.

But also among Christians, there’s much worldly thinking. When it comes to pastors either making too much of the man or loving him not on the basis of the work the Lord gives him to do but because of him, his personality. When it comes to the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood, they see just bread and wine, believe its just that. But they do receive it. Our faith or unbelief can’t change the Lord’s Word: “This is My body, given for you; This is My blood shed for you.” Instead, no forgiveness—eat and drink judgment on themselves.

But it’s not just other Christians. How often we fall into it, too! “Forsaking the gathering.” “It’s just church, just the same old thing.” Not reading our Bibles. “It’s just a Book.” “It’s not like I have to do those things.” And even when we’re confronted with all sorts of Bible passages which clearly say something different than how we live, how quickly we say, “That’s just your interpretation.”

We do this because we think we’re pretty good people, or that God’s forgiveness gives us license to ignore Him and the Gifts He’s giving, or that we can just make up for it later by our behavior, or that our behavior already excuses some leeway. But none of that is calling on the Lord Jesus to be saved.

And in all these ways, what you see is what you get. How quickly the means of the Spirit get put aside, and then how quickly Paul’s warning gets ignored, “Do not quench the Spirit.” For in quenching His means, you quench Him. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who as work in you.” Or as Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word.” How long before we will actually confess that our own behavior, our lack of keeping Jesus’ Word, is proof positive we actually don’t love Jesus?

((III. Faith: What you hear is what you get.))

But for those with faith in Jesus it’s radically different—all a gift of the Spirit, too! The Spirit works within us the keeping of Jesus Word! The true keeping of His Word, not outward only. But both inward and outward. Inner desire and outward behavior.

And when it comes to the Spirit’s means, the Gospel and the Sacraments, well, faith makes it so that it’s no longer what you see is what you get. When you have faith in Jesus, it means what you hear is what you get.

Those who heard the Apostles’ preaching, marveled that they “heard in their own language the marvelous works of God!” “And those who received [Peter’s preaching] were baptized!” 3,000 of them! And then “they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, the Bread-Breaking Communion, and the Prayers.” The heard sermons, they ate the Sacrament, they prayed—they gathered for worship.

Not just then, now. The Spirit’s doing the same thing today! The world may consider Jesus according to the flesh—just some crucified and dead moral teacher. But “we consider Christ according to the flesh no longer.” Because the Spirit has delivered faith, when we see Christ crucified we see “the power and wisdom God.” We rejoice that “Baptism is not just plain water, but it is a life-giving water.” We give thanks that the Pastor is the Minister Christ sent to deliver absolution—“forgiveness before God in heaven.” We receive Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins because we have faith in Jesus’ Word.


Pentecost is the coming of the Spirit, and THE SPIRIT COMES TO DELIVER FAITH IN JESUS’ PEACE. Jesus’ peace is what He did for us on Good Friday and Easter. He won forgiveness for all our sins and evil desires.

We have trust and confidence in what Jesus has done for us because the Spirit worked that faith within us. The Spirit does it through means: Water, Word, bread and wine, a guy in funny robes.

Apart from faith, what you see is what you get. Just water. Ink on a page. “Body and blood” for judgement. Some not so special guy you can safely ignore or shrug off. Then no peace with God, no matter how secure or good you feel.

But with faith in Jesus—good gift from the Spirit!—then Jesus’ peace is yours. “Christ crucified—the power and wisdom of God.” “Gracious water of life.” “Forgiveness from the pastor as from God Himself.” “Body and blood for you for the forgiveness of sins.” True peace with God, even in spite of how insecure or bad you feel.

The Spirit does amazing things!

᛭ INI ᛭

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