Pray that the Holy Spirit Will Continue to Come
O Lord God, my Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, on this day of Pentecost as I enter into Your presence, please, send Your Spirit to uplift my heart and soul. Fill me with awe in view of Your power; grant me true humility in view of Your holiness; move me to sing Your praises and to proclaim Your truths in view of Your merciful kindness. Yes, send Your spirit to indwell me—to lead and instruct me all my days. Amen.
Peter appealed to the people listening on that first Pentecost Sunday to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit opened the hearts of 3,000 people that day. The early church grew and developed through the use of the Word and with the blessing of the Lord!
Jesus promised to send His disciples the “Helper,” who is the Holy Spirit. He would console them in their sorrow and through their ongoing witness “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” …Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
In Christ Jesus, who promised to send us the Holy Spirit to help us, dear fellow redeemed:
If you had to choose either to have Jesus walk beside you, or to have the Holy Spirit live within you, which would you choose? Assuming that Jesus would be visible, I think I would probably choose the former. After all, Jesus is all-powerful and were He to walk visibly beside me, I would always feel safe. I would imagine this is how Jesus’ disciples felt too, as Jesus explained to them so many years ago that He was going to go away and withdraw His visible presence from them. In order to reassure their troubled minds, Jesus told them that after departing He would send them the Helper—the Spirit of truth (cf. Jn. 15:26). He asserted that it was to their advantage that He go away, for it was only after His departure that the Holy Spirit would come to them to work powerfully both within them and through them to accomplish God’s kingdom work. Our New Testament era is the age of the Holy Spirit, who works through the Means of Grace—the gospel in Word and Sacrament—to bring distinct blessings to our lives and those of others. Consequently, may we on this Pentecost PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO COME! For He will help us, first of all, overcome the rebellion that lies within every human heart! He will help us, secondly, understand that God’s grace may even be seen even in His judgments! He will help us, finally,endure the “great tribulation” and enter the realm of heaven!
Yes, the Holy Spirit will help us overcome the rebellion that lies within every human heart! Our text from Genesis describes the situation that developed after the flood. God had told Noah and his family that He wanted them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (cf. Gen. 9:1). One might have expected that Noah and his family would have done just that. After all they were all believers and had even begun their post-flood lives with a worship service. Yet we are told even then that God recognized that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21b). Rebellion, in other words, lies within every human heart, for we are by nature sinful.
Consequently, as the population grew and it became numerically possible for people to leave the area originally settled by Noah and his family, a resistance to God’s command developed. We are not told the specific reasons why the people rebelled against God’s command. The decades following the flood may well have been quite turbulent with regard to geography and climate. Some scientists today have suggested that massive storms created by cooling climactic conditions after the flood probably led to the ice age, which would have rendered massive sections of land inhospitable. Perhaps the people were simply too afraid to risk leaving the area that became known as the Fertile Crescent. Nevertheless, they refused to listen to God or to trust Him. Instead they decided to remain together and build a tower that would reach all the way to heaven. They would remain together and would make a name for themselves. They fell prey to the original temptation of Satan, for they wanted to be their own little gods, determining their own destinies apart from the expressed will of God! It would appear that by the time the Tower of Babel was being built, faith in and obedience to the LORD God had all but disappeared!
My dear friends, it is very easy for us to sit in judgment of the people at the Tower of Babel. Why did they not listen to God? Why did they stop trusting in Him? We can easily imagine that had we been there, things would have gone quite differently, but would they have gone so differently? I fear not! How often do we not allow the things we see and experience to dictate both our attitudes and actions in life, even though at times those attitudes fail to reflect faith and those actions fail to follow the expressed will of God? We too all too often want to make our own decisions and determine our own course of action apart from the will of God. Even when we try to do what is right, we oftentimes fail! Which one of us has not had to say with the apostle Paul: “The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Rom. 7:19)? We, too, have to exclaim: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24) The answer today remains the same as it was for Paul: “Jesus Christ our Lord!” (cf. Rom. 7:25)
We need to PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO COME!He leads us to repentance through the preaching of God’s Word and faith in Jesus Christ. He is the One alone Who can create within us clean hearts and renew for us steadfast spirits (cf. Ps. 51:10). Yes, pray that the Holy Spirit will help us overcome the rebellion that lies within our human hearts!
He will help us, secondly, understand that God’s grace may even be seen even in His judgments! In our text from Genesis, we are told that God came down and observed the tower the people were building. He said to Himself: “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” This God did! He confused their languages and, failing to understand one another the people quickly separated into language groups and moved to separate parts of the post-flood world.
It is particularly interesting to note God’s reason for confusing the common language of the people. He observed that should mankind continue with a common language “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” That comment reveals the potential that God placed within man through the gifts and talents He bestowed within them—a potential that when directed by faith could yield real good, but when directed by unbelief would yield gross evil. God confused the language of post-flood humanity in order to prevent that gross evil from occurring. Gross evil still occurs, but God often uses evil to punish evil. Can you imagine what life on this planet would be like if all unbelievers would speak the same language? Unspeakable atrocities would be committed against believers and all innocents in order for men to secure personal power and the wealth and privileges that often accompany it. God in His grace confused the common language of man in order to preserve mankind from itself!
Even now God uses His judgments as calls to repentance for the unbelieving world and as chastenings to correct and restore His own erring children. In so doing He exercises both His power and His grace. Consider the prayer found in Nehemiah 9, which we discussed in Bible Class this morning. Nehemiah and his fellow Jews confessed: “For many years You had patience with them(His Old Testament people of Israel), and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful” (vs. 30-31). God’s judgments are intended to be calls to repentance. Let us heed those calls. Let us PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO COME to help us understand that God’s grace may even be seen even in His judgments!
And that He will help us, finally, endure the “great tribulation” and enter the realm of heaven! Our second text is from the Revelation and presents to us a picture of the saints who have already died and are now in heaven. Notice that they are described as “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,and crying out with a loud voice.” The divisions that exist between peoples today in large part still due to the fact that we speak different languages will be removed once we go to heaven. There we will praise God and the Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, with a common voice and a common tongue!
Who are those saints? Jesus reveals that they are the believers who have already passed through the “the great tribulation.” That great tribulation is not some future event as millennialists suggest, but rather it is the life we now live in this fallen world. Paul says that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12), which is exactly what God’s faithful children experience today. It was not long ago that Pastor Bruce Naumann requested and received reports from our brethren in Africa and Asia outlining the persecution they are even now enduring. It was a tale of beatings, burnings, and deaths. We in this country have been spared such outward persecution up to this point, although there is reason for concern even here, for there are forces at work seeking to restrict the religious liberties we possess.
Let us PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO COME! It is absolutely essential that He live within our hearts, so that we might, first of all, remain faithful to our Lord and Savior. Satan, the world around us, and our own sinful flesh ought not be underestimated. They are strong forces with which to contend. But the Spirit’s presence is also necessary for us, so that when persecution does come we might be given the wisdom and strength to endure that persecution and continue to be faithful witnesses to the truth!
I began this meditation asking you to choose between the presence of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully that is a choice we do not have to make! Jesus does continue to walk beside us, although invisibly, even as the Holy Spirit lives within us. Let us PRAY THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL CONTINUE TO COME to secure our hearts and to gain the hearts of others! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!