May 20, 2018: Pentecost

Let us pray: O Spirit from on high, we thank You for Your bountiful gifts—all of which are amazing tools of eternal blessings!  May we resolve today to use those gifts in every way possible in our lives! May we not grow weary or lose heart due to our impatience in employing them.  And may You, through them, reap a harvest of never-ending righteousness. Amen


TEXT:  Acts 2: 1-11

Dearly Beloved by Christ:  

Why is Pentecost ignored by many Christians today?  O, I realize every Church worthy of that title celebrates this important festival.  We sing the stirring hymns, hear lessons which recount amazing exploits, and utter prayers to the 3rd person of the Trinity.  But Pentecost seems to have lost its sense of vitality for many believers.  Could it be because we haven’t seen tongues of fire on the heads of Pastors and parishioners?  Could it be that no huge rushing wind fills the church? Could it be that the chatter of foreign languages—all proclaiming the glorious Gospel—has never assaulted our ears?  Could it be that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit seems far removed from our reality, so why get so excited over it?

I pondered the theology of Pentecost this past week.  What makes it so alive and pertinent to our lives this very day?  What happened that day which changed those disciples into dynamos for the Lord who never looked back, never feared for their future, and who never quit even in the face of awful persecution?  What changed them from “looking out for their own skin” into risking everything for the truth of Jesus Christ? Well, at Pentecost something happened which totally changed their outlook on life.  At Pentecost they were given a singular purpose for their lives. The Holy Spirit literally breathed into them a new lease on life, a spiritual lease on life. And through that power He made them into eternal heroes of the faith.  Since you and I have received that same Spirit and since we’re the children of those saintly heroes, we also possess this power—if we care to employ it!


The Holy Trinity is not bound by time or space.  He is eternal. He is infinite. Too many Christians seem to forget that fact.  Yes, God can, has, and does intrude into our reality sometimes. He did that when He sent Christ to be born in Bethlehem.  He did that when He sent His Son to die on a cross to redeem, buy back, our souls from sin, death and Satan’s power. He did that when our Lord physically arose from the tomb to show that death really has no eternal hold over Him and over us who believe.  And yet, when it comes to Pentecost, we seem to forget all those glorious truths. We view Pentecost as just an ancient historical occurrence that has no relevance to our daily lives in the year 2018. But I ask you: has God’s love for you, shown on that first Christmas ceased?  Has God’s forgiveness, manifested by the cross, ceased? Has God’s life-giving force handed out from that empty tomb, ceased? Of course not! So, why think that the Spirit’s Pentecost power has run dry? Just like in all those other instances, when God intrudes into our reality, that reality is eternally changed.  The past becomes the present. So today Pentecost power lives on in and through us, whether we recognize it or not.


I’m always amazed at how the disciples went from fearful, uncertain followers before Pentecost, into stalwart champions of the faith afterwards.  But such is the power of the Spirit. His role is to change hearts and souls by conveying to others the richness of God’s blessings won by Christ on the cross.  And on that first Pentecost, in a miraculous way that’s exactly what He did! The tongues of fire were visual images of this power. The ability to confess Christ crucified to countless pilgrims in Jerusalem in their native tongues was another manifestation of this power.  The Spirit loves souls, your soul. It’s the one part of you which is everlasting—existing after death and assumed into God’s timelessness after this earth is gone. God desperately wants you to be a part of His river of never-ending gladness. He wants you to fill your soul by drinking of this river unceasingly.  He wants you to taste love that never quits, forgiveness that never ends, and a life of joyful purpose that has no end. So, He equips each believer with spiritual tools which forged these truths in their own hearts and now, since love, life, and forgiveness are everlasting, to employ these same tools to convey these blessings to others.  That’s what happened on the 1st Pentecost.  And we’re living proof that the disciples work was successful!  How could it be otherwise? For nothing can stand in the Spirit’s way!  It didn’t then and it doesn’t today.


O, I realize that sinful people can reject His love, life, and forgiveness.  As long as He uses human vessels to clothe His raw power it is so. That’s why some mocked the disciples’ speaking in tongues by joking that they were drunk!  That’s why even though 3000 new believers were created that day, the rest of the city simply went about their business. It’s also why Pinewood and the rest of our Christian churches aren’t packed to the gills today or any other Sunday.  The awful fact is this: sinful humans have the power to say “No” to God while still walking this earth. And truth be told: we do so literally every day, don’t we?

And yet, the power of Pentecost is still with us.  It seems hidden and obscure to most. After all, preaching about a God Who died to save us and raise us to life; pouring water on a human head in the name of the Trinity, or eating and drinking bread and wine which become Christ’s own body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith—that all seems very fanciful to intelligent, cunning, and proud humans!  But, the power these humble means of grace contain is still real. Us thinking otherwise doesn’t change that reality. So, when we use them and employ them without reservations, just like the disciples’ did, great and mighty wonders must occur! And they do! Because each of you is a sinner who has been changed by that power into a saint. It is the Holy Spirit’s doing.

A few years ago I was very ill and hospitalized.  I remember praying. Basically, I told God: “Lord, you have to heal me because I’ve got things to say that need to be heard.”  He did. That’s the reason why I’m in this pulpit this day. The Spirit has poured out His love, forgiveness and life upon each of you for the exact same reason.  Like those early apostles, you know God’s truth that has set your soul free. Like them, you have things to say that need to be said and heard for God’s glory. And like them, God has equipped you to do all this via His Pentecostal blessing of the Spirit from on high.  So put away all fear and tell those you meet what’s on your mind! Share Christ. Don’t take “No” for an answer. Keep tapping on the door of another’s heart. And be confident that the Spirit has the power to break it down! That’s what being a Pentecost Christian means.  Amen