The Miracle of Pentecost...Continues!
O Lord God, as I enter into Your presence to worship on this Festival of Pentecost, please send Your Spirit to renew my faith and guide my life. Open my lips, as You did the early disciples, so that I might sing Your praises and proclaim Your Word. Instruct me with that infallible Word and move me to dedicate my life to service in Your kingdom. Fill my heart with love both for You and for my fellow believers. May all my words and actions serve to glorify You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Jesus came to proclaim spiritual peace and access to the Father through the Holy Spirit. We, who were once strangers, are now members of God’s household and “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
If we are spiritually thirsty, we should go to Jesus and drink. Jesus says that all who believe in Him as Savior will have “rivers of living water” flowing from their hearts. Those “rivers of living water” are the Holy Spirit and His blessings!
Text: Acts 2:1-18
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.'"
In Christ Jesus, who kept His promise on the first Pentecost and continues to keep His promises to us today, dear fellow redeemed:
Miracles…we know they happened in the past, for they are documented in the Bible. Moses, together with numerous Old Testament prophets, along with Jesus and many of the New Testament apostles performed miracles. Those miracles confirmed the truths God revealed through His Son, together with His prophets and apostles. We believe miracles can happen today, because God can do anything! Yet we may well be a bit hesitant to speak about them or identify something amazing as a miracle…lest people think of us as foolish, gullible, or superstitious.
In a discussion at Men’s Breakfast Bible Study several weeks ago, we were considering two miracles performed by the prophet Elisha at the very beginning of his ministry. I mentioned that as a pastor today, I do not perform miracles. After our study one of the men in attendance came up to me and corrected me. He commented that the Holy Spirit uses the words Pastor Eichstadt and I preach to create and to strengthen faith in the hearts of the members of our congregation—truly miracles. The apostle Paul, after all, compares the Holy Spirit’s miracle of creating faith to that of God’s original creation of light (cf. 2 Cor. 4:5-6).
Today we celebrate the Festival of Pentecost—the birthday of the New Testament Christian Church. On that day the Holy Spirit performed a great miracle leading ultimately to the conversion of 3,000 people. I would suggest to you this day, as did the member of our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study, that the Holy Spirit not only performed a miracle then among the first century Christians, but that He continues to perform miracles among us twenty-first century Christians. Let us, therefore, consider how THE MIRACLE OF PENTECOST INVOLVED A PROMISE KEPT, A PROPHECY FULFILLED, AND A COMMAND ENABLED! Let us also consider how THAT MIRACLE CONTINUES!
THE MIRACLE OF PENTECOST began with A PROMISE KEPT! As we read in our Responsive Reading earlier in our worship service, Jesus promised four times on Maundy Thursday to send the Holy Spirit—the “Helper” to bring blessings to His disciples (Jn. 14:16-17a, 26; 15:26; 16:7). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to them, reveal to them truth—everything they would need to know and share with others, and then abide with them always. Just prior to ascending into heaven, Jesus promised, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you!” (Acts 1:8a)
On that first Pentecost the believers were assembled in one place, when they heard a “sound from heaven” like “a mighty rushing wind.” That sound filled the room in which they were all assembled. They saw what appeared to be “divided tongues of fire,” which came to rest upon each of them. We are told that they were all “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” What Jesus had promised had occurred in amazing fashion.
Peter, in his initial sermon, explained that THE MIRACLE OF PENTICOST involved also A PROPHECY FULFILLED! Skeptics, who viewed the events of Pentecost, mocked what went on. They claimed that the disciples were simply drunk—“full of new wine!” Peter explained, however, that this was not the case. Not only was it only nine o’clock in the morning—hardly the time anyone would be out drinking—but Peter went on to explain that what they were witnessing was in reality the fulfillment of a prophecy made long ago by Joel. Joel lived eight hundred years before, but had prophesied that in “the last days”—a reference to the New Testament period—God would “pour out of My (His) Spirit on all flesh.” In other words, the power of the Spirit would not only descend upon God’s Old Testament chosen people—the Jews—but would be given to all people as the gospel message would go forth to every nation. Men and women, young and old would “prophesy…see visions…and dream dreams.” The miracle of Pentecost—people from all over the world hearing those first disciples “speaking in our (their) own tongues the wonderful works of God”—was the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy!
But what was most amazing about THE MIRACLE OF PENTECOST was that it involved A COMMAND ENABLED! Before ascending into heaven Jesus gave His disciples a command that we now call the Great Commission. It is presented by the evangelists in varying forms: “Make disciples of all the nations” (Mt. 28:19); “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15); “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all the nations” (Lk. 24:47); “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In all of its variation, however, the Great Commission is universal. The disciples were to take the gospel message, which was intended for all people, to all people!
Think about that for a moment. There were approximately 120 believers assembled in that room in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost. They were for the most part people without special education or preparation. There were very few, if any, who had great sums of wealth. There were no cars, buses, trains, or planes. There were no telephones, internet systems, or other means of mass communication. Still, Jesus told them to spread the good news of His completed, redemptive work throughout the world. That would appear to have been an impossible task—the dream of someone completely deluded!
Imagine what people would think if the Evangelism Committee here at Immanuel would suggest that we lock the doors of the church today and not let anyone leave until we had a plan whereby we could effectively evangelize the world! We are, after all, a group significantly larger than those first disciples meeting in Jerusalem. We do have means of mass transit and mass communication. I would also venture to say that we are financially more prepared than were they. Still most people would suggest that such a proposal would be ludicrous!
But what we see happening on that first Pentecost was truly a miracle that enabled Jesus’ command to be fulfilled. The Jewish Festival of Pentecost was one of three major annual religious festivals in the Jewish church year. Because it was only fifty days after the Passover, pilgrims, who came from all over the world of that day to celebrate the Passover at the temple in Jerusalem, would generally stay for that fifty day period and take in both festivals. Consequently, there were Jews and converts to Judaism from all over the world in Jerusalem that day. Our text lists sixteen different places or people groups represented that day. The sound of the wind drew the people to the place where the disciples were assembled. The gift of the Spirit, which allowed those early disciples to communicate with these various visitors in their own languages, enabled the disciples effectively to communicate the gospel message. Within ten days of issuing the Great Commission, the Holy Spirit enabled those early believers to reach people from all over the then—known world. Three thousand of those people were brought to faith, the vast majority of which no doubt returned to their homes after the Festival of Pentecost and began sharing their new-found faith in Jesus as the promised Savior. Truly THE MIRACLE OF PENTECOST involved A COMMAND ENABLED!
What is wonderful for us today to understand, however, is that THAT MIRACLE CONTINUES even today! Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit was not limited to the first Pentecost. The apostle Paul claims that “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). The fact that you and I believe in and confess Jesus to be our Savior and Lord is a testimony to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our minds, hearts, and lives! That is A PROMISE KEPT!
“Faith” does come “by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Every time that your pastor enters the pulpit, or conducts a Bible Class or an instruction class…every time any of us is moved to share our faith with others to instruct or to encourage them, the Holy Spirit is present to use that information about Jesus to work and to strengthen faith within individual hearts! That is A PROPHECY FULFILLED!
We are a single Christian congregation and a member of one of the smaller Lutheran synods in our country, yet the Great Commission applies to us as it does to all other Christians. We are small! Jesus’ command is great! Yet, consider what the Holy Spirit has been able to do with our meager efforts. As I review the Prospectus for our upcoming CLC Convention, I find that we are privileged to carry on mission work with fellow believers in sixteen different countries around the world. When I reviewed our Immanuel Annual Report, I noted that people from sixty different countries around the world visited our congregation’s web-site, from which they can download complete worship services, individual sermons, Bible Class worksheets, and articles on various spiritual topics. That is A COMMAND ENABLED!
As we celebrate the Festival of Pentecost today, may we be amazed by the miracle that occurred so many years ago, but even more so may we be encouraged as we recognize that THAT MIRACLE CONTINUES! Amen.