Let us pray: Dear Savior, pour out the Spirit upon us today! Amid abuse and scorn for upholding Your truths, give us the Spirit’s strength and encouragement. Fill our mouths with the ability to fearlessly speak Your holy truth in love. And protect us with Your power as we do so. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF THE SPIRIT FROM ON HIGH!
TEXT: Acts 2: 1-21
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Made Strong By the Spirit’s Power:
I read recently an amazing story about Gen. Curtis Lemay. During WWII he was the head of the allied bomber command, first in Europe and later in Asia. Following that he headed up the United States air force during the cold war. Most today view Gen. Lemay as a crude, boorish man who got the job done, but made countless enemies in the process. But, two stories of his biography touched me. First was the account of how he always wrote a letter home to his beloved wife every single day no matter how tough things got. And second, when the American bombers went on their mass daytime raids, Gen. Lemay insisted upon piloting the lead bomber in order to best plot the attack. Considering that the average life expectancy for a bomber pilot was around 14 missions, this struck me as amazing. Either he was stupid, egotistical, fearless, or all three. And yet, he was successful. He wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line and lead by example.
Great soldiers will do just that. Great political leaders will do just that. What made Washington, Jefferson, Adams & Company great was their fearlessness in the face of deadly consequences because their belief was their life! This is why such time periods in history are often called: The age of giants. Today, I want to talk about another such period, a golden age of fearless heroes who all died, with one exception, rather than be silenced for speaking God’s truth. Welcome to:
PENTECOST: THE AGE OF GIANTS
On Easter evening, the disciples were assembled in the famous Upper Room, “with doors locked for fear of the Jews.” Then, of course, Christ appeared among them. A week later, along with Thomas this time, they were assembled again “with doors locked for fear of the Jews” when Christ re-appeared, blest them, and told them that He would be sending them the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, 40 days after Easter, before ascending into heaven, Christ again told them to remain in Jerusalem “but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about…the Holy Spirit.”
The one glaring point that leaps out between the time of Easter and the day of Pentecost is the disciples’ fearfulness. They already possessed the comfort of the resurrection. They now fully knew the meaning of Christ’s victory over death and hell. They all possessed forgiveness and peace with God. And yet, human fear, timidity in the face of opposition, worry over what would happen to them and their families—those human emotions often got the better of them. And so it is with us today.
Certainly there is a time and place to speak up for Christ. Does not the Lord Himself tell us not to “cast your pearls of divine wisdom before swine?” Certainly we must employ good judgment and common sense when confessing Christ.—Even Christ did that before Pilate and the howling mob. And yet, there is a fine line between living and confessing your faith and being a spiritual coward. There is a fine line between living in fear and keeping quiet vs. being fearless and trusting in God to protect and bless us.
You all know the facts of Pentecost. You all know how the disciples were in the Upper Room again, how the howling wind from heaven came, how the tongues of living fire rested on their heads, and how the Spirit of God poured out His comforting strength upon them all. You all know how religious pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem from around the empire joined into a crowd, how Peter and the others addressed them in their own native tongues, and how everyone was amazed at the story of Christ and the eloquence of the apostles. Yes, the Spirit gave them utterance. The Spirit gave them the ability to speak God’s truths in languages they had never studied. The Spirit made them into leaders. In every sense, Pentecost was their confirmation day!
Of course, the nay-sayers belittled them. “They’re drunk!” But upon hearing this, Peter, who had run away in the Garden for fear of his life, boldly stood up and confronted them. The rest is history, God’s history. Never again throughout the New Testament do we hear of the disciples being afraid. Neither were Paul, Silas, or Barnabas. Neither were many common saints (as if any saint is common) as they faced persecution, torture, and death. Truly Pentecost ushered in the Age of Giants. That’s because, armed with the Spirit’s power and the inner certainty of His comforting presence, humans decrease but God increases in them!
So, where does all this leave us today? Are we midgets when it comes to our faith and our defense of it? Are the giants all dead and gone, never to be seen again? Does the Christian Church of 2009 live in fear over her future? Is the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross just a quaint, meaningless story? Is the forgiveness of sins He won for all an illusion? Is His triumph over death and hell an ancient myth that has no true relevance or application to the 21st century? Is the phrase: “God loves you in Christ” no better and no worse than that throw-away line: “Have a nice day?”
No. No. No. No. No. No. No! Why am I so adamant? Because Pentecost happened. It was real. The Spirit lives. And today He pours His blessings and varied gifts upon all believers! He applies to our lives the forgiveness won on the cross by Christ. He showers us with His power via God’s Word and His sacraments. And in the process, He takes away our fears, too. Yes, Pentecost means that every Christian can be a spiritual giant. And it’s all because we have the Giant Holy Spirit holding us up and propelling us along.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Well, the Apostles could do fabulous miracles and even preach in foreign tongues. They had more power than we do. And that’s why they were so fearless.” Well, you’re half right and half wrong. Yes, the Spirit gave them special “starter gifts” to get the Christian Church going. But, the ultimate power of the Spirit is: grace. It is the gospel. It is the truth of Godly forgiveness won by Christ. For only that truth can save souls and set people free. Finally, it is the Gospel that breeds fearlessness. It is the Gospel that changes hearts and souls for the better. And each and every one of you possesses that gift! So, act on it! Usher in a new age of giants, Godly giants. Don’t be afraid to put it all on the line for the Savior, Who put everything on the line for you and came up a winner! My friends, we live in the age of Pentecost: The Age of Giants! Amen