The Spirit Proclaims the Wonders of God
June 4, 2017
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
The Spirit Proclaims the Wonders of God
Acts 2:1–21 (NIV84)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Dear friends in Christ,
When something amazing happens today, someone probably recorded it and it now has a million views online. It could be an amazing sports play, a wonderful act of bravery or kindness, or even just a cute cat video. These things trend or go viral. In other words, lots of people watch them. The news may even have a segment that tells you what people are looking at online, liking, sharing, retweeting and so on. Most of the time, the most watched and looked at items have little to no value for your life. It might make you feel better for a few minutes. It might be mildly entertaining. It might amaze you. But it is not going to change your life forever. There is only one message that is wonderful enough to do that, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Today we see how the Holy Spirit gets this message out to thousands and eventually to millions and billions of people. He does not even have to use newspapers, radio, television, email, facebook or twitter. The Spirit does something more impressive than any media type we have today. He enables the disciples to declare the wonders of God in languages they had never known. Thousands of lives are changed that day, from lost to found, from unbelief to faith in Christ. From Jerusalem on Pentecost, the good news spread like wildfire as the Holy Spirit continued and still continues to enable believers to proclaim the wonders of God. For that is what the Spirit does. He proclaims the wonders of God.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
The disciples were in Jerusalem because Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until he sent the Holy Spirit to them. But there were also many thousands of Jews from around the world in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Many of these Jews would have been in Jerusalem fifty days before this for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. God required the Jewish men to go to the temple for these Old Testament festivals and those who trusted in the Lord went. God used these festivals to point to Christ.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people were to be looking for a lamb for their Passover sacrifice and meal. When Jesus hung on the cross the people would have been thinking about the sacrifice of that lamb they had chosen. On the day after the Sabbath, on Sunday, the people were to bring the first fruits of their barley harvest to the Lord. They gave God the first of their crops, trusting he would provide more harvest. On that Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the dead as the firstfruits of all who die, showing that God will raise not only Jesus but all people from death. And fifty days after giving the firstfruits of their barley harvest, the people were to gather again to give the firstfruits of their wheat harvest, to give thanks for the harvest the Lord provides. And on this fiftieth day, Pentecost, the Lord begins to gather in his harvest of souls. The Old Testament festivals were fulfilled in Christ. This is a wonder of God.
And that is how the Holy Spirit brought many of those in Jerusalem to faith on Pentecost. He proclaimed the wonders of God through the disciples. Of course, the tongues of fire and sound of a violent wind helped to gather a crowd, but it was the message of the gospel that amazed the people, who said, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
The wonder the disciples declared is that Jesus is God's Son, that he died to pay for sin and that he rose to defeat death and the devil. They proclaimed that in Christ, forgiveness and eternal life are certain. I'm guessing this message of the wonders of God wouldn't get as many views online as a cat doing something cute. The gospel does not seem too exciting and wonderful to the world. But it is when you know where we humans began.
A child steps in what the dog left in the yard and is about to run into you house. What would you do? Stop him! Those shoes are not coming in the house until they are completely cleaned. Sometimes we may think our sins are like that. We accidentally stepped into a mess. Take off those dirty shoes, fix that mistake and God will let us into his house. But we are not just a child who accidentally stepped in the wrong place. Maybe we are more like the dog who rolls in the mess that some other dog left in the yard, then goes and gets sprayed by a skunk. How soon would you let that dog into your house? Only after a long time and many baths. Not until that stench is gone. But the Bible tells us that we were even worse off than that. Sin is not just covering us but was all throughout us. Sin was our very nature at birth. God could not and will not let anyone with this totally corrupt nature into his eternal home.
There was nothing good in us. God had to do something new, amazing and wonderful. He created in us a new heart. He gave us a new, holy nature. Through Jesus' death, our every sin was forgiven and through the Holy Spirit we were made a child of God. The people who listened to the disciples on Pentecost heard this wonderful news. Some of them may have called for Jesus' execution and now they hear that the One they killed is the One whose death forgives their sins. Maybe some of them rejoiced in the Son of David entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Now they hear that Jesus has risen from the dead and is truly the Son of David, the Savior of the world. What wonderful news the Spirit proclaimed to them that day!
The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to tell people about Jesus Christ. This is what the Scriptures tell us and this is what the Christian church on earth has understood for most of its 2,000 year history. However, in the last century or so, some have looked for other manifestations of the Spirit. Some want to see miracles to know that the Holy Spirit is working. Some say that the Holy Spirit shows himself by enabling true Christians to speak in languages unknown to mankind. Others may think the Holy Spirit is at work in them through their feelings, goosebumps, or excitement. This is not how the Spirit works.
The Holy Spirit works in the clear proclamation of what God has done through Jesus Christ. The disciples proclaimed this in languages people could understand. Praise God that we have the Bible in so many languages today, English, German, Nuer, Kunama, and Mandarin just to name a few I've seen at this congregation. The Spirit wants to talk to you, to proclaim God's wonders to you. Open your Bible and listen. Be amazed and thank the Lord for sending the Holy Spirit.
The world will continue to be amazed at things that are not all that wonderful and amazing. The Holy Spirit will continue to point us to what is truly amazing and wonderful – Christ died for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
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