Sermon – May 15
May 15, 2016 Pentecost Sunday
Text: Acts 2:37-47
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
What is the Most Impressive Miracle of Pentecost?
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ:
As we read in our Scripture reading, there were some impressive things going on that first Pentecost Sunday. There were miracles to consider with both your eyes and ears. People were startled by the sound of a rushing, mighty wind. Then as they gathered around what they considered to be the source, they found the apostles of Jesus with what looked like flames on top of their heads. Then to their amazement they could hear these uneducated fishermen speaking to them in their own language. Even more miracles would follow. There were multiple miracles of healing, demons were cast out, there was even a man who was brought back to life.
There are those in Christianity who view these acts as the most impressive aspect of Pentecost. They even try to replicate those events by trying to speak in tongues or attempting to heal people. There are those who claim that you’re not a genuine Christian if you are unable to do those things. But as impressive as those miracles were, they were not the point of Pentecost. All of those things were there to give the opportunitie for people to hear the good news about Jesus and believe. Today we consider the true miracles of Pentecost: the creation of faith which give hope, followed by the fruits of faith which show hope. May the all powerful Holy Spirit open our hearts to receive His message.
1. Faith which gives hope
What we are missing between our Scripture reading and our text is the sermon that Peter gave. He spent many verses illuminating the people that the events of that day were foretold by the prophet Joel. He also reminded them that in the Old Testament it was clear that the promised Messiah would be put to death, but that He would rise again. God would not allow His holy one to see corruption.
What cut them to the heart, though, was when Peter revealed to them that Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah. He was the One that they had waited their whole lives to see. Not only them but their parents and grandparents and many generations were waiting on the One that God had promised would come and deliver them. Yet what did they do? They put him to death. Know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. You could see why this would not only be a stab to the heart as far as sadness would go, but also they the would be frightened because of this terrible act that they had committed. They said in verse 39: Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Peter responded in verse 38: Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit. Repentance is more than remorse and being sorry for your sin. That is one part of it. The second part is know and believe that Jesus forgives that sin. Connected to this repentance is baptism, being baptized and also remembering your baptism. Baptism is the sacrament which replaced circumcision from the Old Testament. Circumcision was a lifetime reminder that you were a part of God’s people. It was a mark that you were part of God’s covenant. But baptism is far superior to circumcision. First of all, there is no power in circumcision. Also it was limited to males, and finally it was connected to the Old Covenant which demanded rather than gave.
In baptism we are connected to Jesus and all the blessings that He gives. We receive the forgiveness of sins. life and salvation. It is not something that we do for God. Instead it is something that God does for us. The gift of the Holy Spirit is that He takes the not guilty verdict that Christ acquired for the world and gives it to you personally. This connection to Jesus and His forgiveness turned them from a people of despair to a people of hope.
But there’s more: For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. The Holy Spirit gives knowledge that you are included in the plan of salvation. The gift of forgiveness was not just meant for those who were around that day. It was not meant just for the Jews. It is meant for everyone who needs forgiveness. Certainly we would include ourselves in that description. We nailed Christ to the cross with our rebellion against Him. These are words that we need to hear.
Belonging to God is not like being a member of an exclusive club that once you get inside the velvet ropes than you dismiss anybody else who wants to come in. God want everybody to be brought into His family. Verse 40 Be saved from this perverse generation. The Lord does not wish us to be condemned. He is constantly working to take us off the path that leads to hell. He calls us out of the world. This creation and sustaining of faith is much more impressive than the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, or tongues of fire, or speaking in different languages. The three thousand that were baptized that day were just a precursor of the great impact that the Holy Spirit would have. Verse 47: And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
2. The fruits of faith that show hope
We don’t want to make the mistake that after Pentecost that the party was over. Hearts were changed and people reflected that hope that was now in them with changed lives. The faith that was created in them produced fruits. We start out in verse 42: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. It was important that they would not corrupt the purity of the message that they were given. Not all teachings are equal. Sadly, we find that as the Word spread, there were those that would follow the truth with lies, and corrupt the message of Jesus alone providing salvation. They taught salvation was Jesus’ work plus what you did. There came the idea that Jesus was not true God. There was the teaching that Jesus was not true Man. It is a constant struggle to continue in the apostles’ doctrine because Satan is always trying to pull us off the path.
That is why the fellowship (the sharing) of those who remain in the truth is so important. We boost each other up. We work to keep our guard up. That includes not only being involved with the Word, but also the sacrament. It is thought that the breaking of bread refers to more than just sitting down for a meal, but that it is speaking of the Lord’ Supper. In holy communion we are strengthened for the battle. We are personally assured that we have received the forgiveness of sins and are drawn closer to God. In our prayers we may not only praise and thank God for His goodness, but also petition Him to help us. Those who have faith show this faith to the world in leading a life dedicated to God.
This was further shown in their desire to live with one another in Christian love and sharing. To this extent we read in verses 44-45: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. We could say that they were communists in this way, not with the godless government present, but in an effort to make sure that the poor were taken care of.
It was not too long after this that they realized that sin makes it impossible to live in such a way, but we want to remember that the principle remains true. Those who have are to look out for those who have not. While we may become jaded and uncaring because at times we are taken advantage of, we certainly should not give up on the idea of showing the hope given by Christ in acts of Christian love, especially to those of the household of faith. This is why the council recommended the establishment of a helping hands fund which is outlined in your bulletin.
There’s more: So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people. The Pentecost miracle continued from church to house. Their load was lightened. They were relieved to know that they had a Savior, and so they could eat their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. I think that that is an aspect that is missing in most of our lives. We worry. We emphasize the wrong priorities. We are so busy that we fail to give time to what is most important: faith then family. Our lives will not be problem free, but God does desire for us to have worry free lives and that can happen when we put our trust in Him.
We missed out on what was heard and seen on that day of Pentecost, but the true miracle of Pentecost continues today. The Holy Spirit is still at work. He gives faith which gives hope, and we are able to reflect that hope as we exercise that faith. Amen.