Pentecost (Acts 2, 1–21)

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

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They were amazed and astonished, saying, “How do each of us hear in our own native language?”

Peter, standing with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and [uttered to] the people, “‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

᛭ INI ᛭

(5. Oops!: We wrongly put the Spirit in the category of “weird.”)

Pentecost. We put it—wrongly put it—in the “weird” category. The Spirit shows up. Loud rushing wind. Tongues of fire. The disciples are talking in different languages. The people are hearing them in their various languages. It’s all a bit…weird.

Now, maybe we do this with all the miracles, too, but we confess there that the Spirit showed up, there were tongues of fire, and the there was preaching and hearing in various different languages. We confess and believe what we believe, what we teach, what we confess because Jesus rose from the dead. People saw Him dead, and then they saw Him not dead anymore. After that, tongues of fire and multi-lingual preaching and hearing don’t seem so far fetched.

Yet, it’s still a bit weird to us. And because we’re like “this is totally outside of anything we experience in this life,” though the UN comes close, I guess. There are 120 interpreters or so at the United Nations, need enough to go around. But at Pentecost there are 12 Apostles and, if we go with the list of nations in Acts 2, at least 16 nations or regions represented, so yeah it’s a miracle of preaching and hearing.

But because of this supposed weirdness, or the fact that it is beyond our experience, we end up denying the for-you-ness of the Spirit. What I mean is that because of Pentecost we wrongly set up expectations for the Spirit, that He only does extraordinary things or miraculous things, that we end up thinking we don’t have the Spirit like the Scriptures say we do.

(4. Ugh!: This leads us to other spirits besides the Holy Spirit.)

Now, there are some consequences of boxing the Spirit up in the category of weird or only miraculous. The main one, like I said, is that we end up denying or wondering about the for-you-ness of the Spirit. We actually end up chasing after other spirits or allowing for the manifestation of other spirits besides the Holy Spirit.

We really do. We chase after and allow other spirits space to work. We don’t actually “test the spirits,” like Paul, under inspiration, tells us to do in Philippians. Christians often don’t even put ourselves in a position to do that. No wonder many are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14)

[[Congregation at Prayer || Bible Study in August]]

We allow for false manifestations of the Spirit. We won’t label the true source for so called tongues, faith-healings, prophecies, or whatever else might fit under a title like the “Full Gospel.” Now, these sorts of things aren’t around here, but Christianity, so-called, in America is steeped in such things. We wouldn’t want to deny it. Even though there are no explicit promises in the Bible of such miracles continuing beyond the time of the Apostles.

In fact God says, for example, **“if anyone again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD.’” (Zech 13:3)** And Paul says, **“Prophecies will pass away; tongues will cease.” (1 Cor 13:8)**

Now, the biggest spirit we chase after is the spirit of emotion. So often we’re tricked into believing that emotions are a sign that the Spirit is present and working. When there are no emotions at all, or just negative emotions, we believe that the Spirit isn’t present. Looking for the Holy Spirit by our human emotions is just the spiritual equivalent of the dog chasing its own tail.

(3. Aha!: The Spirit, like Jesus, doesn’t work like we think He should.)

Now, there’s actually great comfort in this. There’s great comfort for the down and outs among us. The wealthy, the well off, the mentally, physically, emotionally healthy could take it or leave it, mostly leave it, apart from a special working of the Spirit. But there are among us, down and outs. Now, we may have our lives mostly together, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. God knows the truth of the matter. Just a mask.

The comfort is that the Spirit, like Jesus, doesn’t work like we think He should. We’re not in charge of the Spirit. We don’t know the “mind of the Spirit.” He’s Spirit in the way He chooses. Like Jesus. He’s Jesus in His way, not ours. The Spirit is God, not you. Jesus is God, the eternal Son of the Father, not you. The Father is God, not you. (More on that next week, I guess.)

Any way. This is all for your good and for your comfort. You don’t have to worry about the Spirit, or put Him away in a box, or wonder, or allow for other spirits room to breathe. He’s the Spirit His way, and His way is actually laid out for you in Acts 2 to comfort you. So that you can be confident, trusting, and believing that your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, that you would “call on the Name of the Lord” Jesus “and be saved.”

That’s the Spirit’s work because

THE HOLY SPIRIT USES YOUR EARS TO CREATE FAITH IN JESUS.

(2. Whee!: THE HOLY SPIRIT USES YOUR EARS TO CREATE FAITH IN JESUS.)

THE HOLY SPIRIT USES YOUR EARS TO CREATE FAITH IN JESUS.

That’s actually what He does in Jerusalem like we’re told in Acts. The miracle over turns the curse at the tower of Babel. The Spirit, who appears in Revelation as torches and in Exodus 20 as “voices and torches,” comes down on the Apostles in tongues of fire so that the Gospel is heard and should be heard in every human language on earth.

Don’t get hung up on the outward miracle, the speaking in different human languages. The outward means can be mocked and ridiculed. “These men are drunk,” some said. The thing you see and hear is only wonderful to the eyes and ears of faith, not the eyes and ears of human perception.

The inner miracle happens at the end of Acts 2, and it’s hinted at in the last verse of our reading from Acts. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That faith, along with the preceding repentance, is worked by Peter’s preaching. Peter utters his sermon in tongues, outward miracle, the hearers hear about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins in their native language, and they believe, the inward miracle.

We hear about Jesus, His death, His resurrection, His forgiveness, and the same thing happens! The inner miracle keeps on going even though the manifestation of tongues may have ceased long ago. The Spirit works faith in our hearts the same way He works hearts through Peter’s preaching. The reason is clear: so that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

(1. Yeah!: We rejoice then in the true 3rd Article gifts!)

We don’t have to invent gifts of the Spirit, we can actually rejoice in the true 3rd Article gifts! We can look for the sights and sounds of the 3rd Article. We can see the outward means and miracle with eyes of faith, all the while rejoicing in the fact that even today

THE HOLY SPIRIT USES YOUR EARS TO CREATE FAITH IN JESUS.

Now, the 3rd Article of the Creed, either Nicene Creed or Apostles’ Creed, is the part where we confess what we believe about the Holy Spirit and how He works among. The two creeds are just slightly different ways of confessing the same Bible-based Christian faith. The sights and sounds of 3rd Article are all around us. When we confess it, might be helpful to get your nose out of the book and look around a bit.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit…who spoke by the prophets.” That’s what the lectern is all about. There we hear the Prophets who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

“I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church.” There our attention is on the lectern, where we hear the Apostolic Scriptures, but also the Pulpit from which we continue to hear the apostolic doctrine and preaching, which is truly Spirit-and-word-of-God-filled.

“I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.” There’s the font, and Peter says at Pentecost, “Be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Or as he says in his letter: “Baptism now saves you.”

“I look for the resurrection of the dead.” It’s a shame the south windows are tinted, but turn your heart, mind, soul to what we’re waiting for to happen out there. All those graves to be opened and the dead raised by the Spirit.

“The life of the world to come.” That’s the Altar. The Spirit uses the bread and wine that are Jesus’ body and blood to prepare you—He prepares you, not you—and He prepares you for eternal life in the meal that gives the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life and salvation.

(Conclusion.)

The Spirit works His way. It’s a way that can be denied by human thinking. “Water, eating and drinking, can’t do these things!” “These men are drunk,” they said. But to ears and eyes of faith, it is “faith that trusts the word of God in the water,” faith believes Jesus’ words at face value. (Is means is.)

Jesus died, risen, ascended, and will come again for you. In the meantime, look around! The Spirit’s at work in all these ways, using YOUR EARS TO CREATE FAITH IN JESUS. And “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

᛭ INI ᛭

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