GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HAS SENT US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO ENLIGHTEN AND ENERGIZE FAITH WITH OUR HEARTS!
TEXT: Acts 2: 1-21
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
It was about 1960. My dad was a math/physics teacher at our school. One of his new jobs was to run something called the: Electronics Club. It was a group of brainy students who were interested in electronics and who later became computer geeks. Recall that this was 15 to 20 years before computers came into vogue. It was also at the height of the cold war and visions of nuclear warheads dropping from space were on everyone’s mind. Our school stockpiled food supplies in large containers “just in case” in the bowels of the old sprawling school building. It was in one of these storerooms that my dad was building the electronics lab that summer. You know, walls, shelves, and counters so that the students would have a place to create various gizmos. One morning I was with him climbing on the packing crates of dry crackers and other supplies. They were stacked to the high ceiling which was a terrific place to climb and explore. On the ceiling was an electrical socket for a light bulb, but it didn’t have anything in it. Well, I climbed up and when he wasn’t looking stuck my finger inside—just to see what would happen. Wow! I got shocked! And I never did it again.
That experience has always stayed with me. When you make contact with live wires it will jolt you. And that experience also reminds me of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is a “live wire.” He is the source of God’s power to save our souls and remake sinners into saints. His work is to connect us to God through faith by employing the amazing power of the Gospel. Or as Paul later says: “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.”
Pentecost, numbering the 50th day after Easter, was the day God poured out the Spirit’s power on this earth. To be sure, it was here literally since the 1st day of creation and certainly was evident throughout Christ’s ministry. Souls were saved. People came to faith. Miracles were wrought. Healing was accomplished. The Spirit didn’t suddenly just happen on Pentecost. But, this special day deserves to be celebrated because it marks the Spirit’s special coming to humans no-holds-barred. He literally “jolted” the world.
I think we all know the facts of Pentecost, so I won’t recount them again here. What I do want to discuss is the theology of the day, or how He connected with spiritually dead sinners and jolted them into life.
In a special way, never to be repeated, God the Holy Ghost came upon the disciples in the upper room with the roaring wind and tongues of fire which didn’t burn their skin. It was a visual and auditory reminder to them of the amazing power God was bestowing upon each of them. Then the Spirit also gave them the ability to speak foreign languages which they had never studied and to do so fluently! All this so that they could proclaim Christ crucified and Christ resurrected to foreign pilgrims from around the known world who were in Jerusalem to celebrate a high holy day. It was all a fulfillment of that great prophecy from Joel recounted in our lesson.
Once the Spirit got people’s attention, He also filled Peter’s mouth with simple words constituting a powerful sermon about how God Almighty saved lost souls by sending His Son to suffer and die in their place. How God Almighty made eternal peace between hateful humans and Himself—in Christ. How God Almighty paid for their sins and poured out His anger against us on Christ. And how Christ took it all away. Through the words of the Gospel, the Spirit shocked their consciences. He jolted them into admitting their feeble nothingness before God and God’s awesome strength and love in saving our souls.
All this got the church off and running. 3000 were baptized and saved that very day. The whole city was shocked and dazed at the spiritual power displayed and the fearlessness of God’s followers in the face of ungodly opposition. Pentecost was like a spiritual lightening storm—scary and bewildering to the heathen and energizing to God’s beloved. And it still is so today.
The Bible, or God’s Word, is made up to two distinct components—just like electricity has a negative and a positive charge. Those two components are: the Law and the Gospel. The Spirit continues to come through both of these today, but for different purposes. The Law is the negative. It shocks, jolts, and convicts us of our sin. It gets us to either become angry with God and fight Him harder, or to just surrender in abject powerlessness. The Law begins the working of repentance. Meanwhile, the Gospel is the positive charge. The Gospel heals, uplifts, energizes through Godly love, and generally comforts us by creating a link with Godly power through something called: faith. By hearing and reading the Gospel, those words effectively change our hearts and cause us to believe. Thus, Paul’s earlier statement about how the Gospel is: “The power of God unto salvation.”
Today, many people view their Bibles as a mere book, like a novel or history book, which gives them information about God. So, they read it once, maybe refer to it on occasion, and then conclude: “I’ve got all that God stuff covered.” I learned around age 5 or 6 that electrical wires usually are hot. Well, God’s Word is always “hot.” The Spirit is always in, with, and comes through its simplicity. He never shuts down. So, if you wish to be energized by Him, you have to read and study it. Likewise, His Gospel is found in baptism, holy communion and also absolution. So, if you wish to gain the Spirit’s help in life, you need to plug yourself into Him by continually utilizing these channels of God’s grace.
On that first Pentecost, God the Holy Spirit kicked the heavenly power plant into high gear. Folks it hasn’t slowed down one bit. The only issue is that people have gotten lazy in how they use it! Don’t let that be you! Don’t short-circuit your life or your faith by pulling the plug on God. Yes, as Peter said that fateful day: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!” Amen