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Monday, April 26, 2010

Sermon on Pentecost, God's Story, the Holy Spirit, and the Church

There were so many gems in last Sunday's sermon at our church, Grace Fellowship. Scott is preaching through Acts right now. This sermon was on Acts 2:1-20, which is about Pentecost.

(To save it in iTunes, click on this link and scroll down to the "It's a Spirit Thing" on the bottom of the page. Right click and scroll down to "save target as". )

Scott examined a topic that has been very confusing to me—baptism of the Holy Spirit. What I appreciated the most about what Scott taught was that he explained it from the Scriptures—not from experience he has had, not from some other book he has read, not from his favorite theologian, but straight from God’s Word.

Here are some rough notes from Scott's sermon that moved me:

Scott gave this as an example of "faith training vs. "knowledge training" in our churches:

"Our culture says, 'Women, your value basically depends on your beauty'. God's story says your value is you are a created image-bearer of God...Are we living in God's story or the culture's story and are we acting like that? we treat women differently based on their appearance, or do we treat everyone as a valued image bearer of God?"

He explained how most Christians "know" that we are all image bearers of God, but do we really BELIEVE that every person is an image bearer in such a way that we ACT like it in the way we see and treat others. Scott emphasized his desire is that we have “faith training” at Grace, not just “knowledge training”, meaning that we believe God's Word as Living Truth that is shaping the way that we live and act and make decisions and treat each other.

Scott said, "[The Book of] Acts is there to tell us where we are in the Story of God. This is God's Story. This planet, this race of human beings on this planet, this is God’s Story. In this solar system, He is the sun and we are the planets. We tend to live the other way around. I am the sun and everything revolves around me.”

Scott explained that “Pentecost is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit.” (See John 13-16, where Jesus tells the disciples that he is leaving. The disciples are confused and troubled. Jesus tells them that He does not leave them orphans, but that He is sending the Spirit to bear witness about Him to them. According to Jesus, the Spirit will teach them, guide them into all truth, bring Jesus’ Words to their remembrance, convict them and the world, help them, comfort them, and glorify Jesus. Jesus even says it is to the disciples’ advantage that He leaves because then the Spirit will come to them!)

“When Jesus was here present physically, he was one guy in one place. When the Spirit is poured out on the church the Spirit is now God Omnipresent able to be everywhere working in and through everyone. And He will have a world-wide ministry of conviction. As we bear witness to Jesus Christ, where does the power come from for that to have any impact whatsoever? The Holy Spirit—He convicts the heart.”

“Pentecost is about baptizing the church with the Spirit.”

Scott explained that the word “baptize” means to immerse. Scott showed us how John the Baptist baptized with water and Jesus baptized His people with the Holy Spirit. This was made possible through the Cross.

“Being baptized with the Holy Spirit simply means that God is going to pour out His Spirit on you.”

“The Spirit has been active in the Old Testament, of course He has. But there is a sense in which the Spirit is going to be given in the new work of God that begins with Jesus Christ.”

John 7: 37-39 “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Acts Chapter 1 is about Jesus ascending in glory and Acts Chapter 2 is about the Spirit being poured out onto the Church.

As John 7 explains, people will believe in Jesus and then His Spirit will be poured out on them. Pentecost is where that starts.

What does a person have to do to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Acts 2:37-39 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 38 And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’”

“In the NT, we are commanded to be filled with the Sprit, we are commanded to walk in the Spirit, we are commanded to keep in step with the Spirit, we are commanded not to quench the Spirit, we are commanded not to grieve the Spirit. Nowhere are we commanded to be baptized with the Spirit. We receive the Spirit. The Spirit has been poured out on us when we put our faith in Jesus Christ.”

As we have received the Spirit, the Book of Acts goes on to show how we get to participate in God’s work—we are part of His story that has been unfolding from the beginning of time and that has been played out all through the Old Testament and the New Testament.

“Pentecost is about empowering…you and me for the mission that Jesus has put us on.”

“The Holy Spirit is power for the mission….The state of our faith is displayed in the way we live, not in the theology we speak. The words that we say are not the measure but the way we live. So if we say that the Spirit is the power for the mission, but we are prayer-less, never seeking the filling of the Spirit. Or we trust in our methodologies. We think that our ability is what makes a church grow or be effective….you can grow a church (attracting a larger customer base) and not grow the kingdom at all. You can get a larger group in a building and have zero new Christians, or you can get a large group in a church and have some percentage of them coming to know Jesus and fail to disciple them and equip them.”

“Did Jesus say find the people with star-power and say 'go build my kingdom'? Is that what He said? You know what’s the problem with doing that? It becomes the cult of personality. Jesus said ‘listen, you’re going to receive the Spirit—you uneducated fisherman—are going to receive the Holy Spirit and you are going to testify of me and there is going to be power there to change lives.”

“What is Pentecost? He says it very clearly here, ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.’ Now the burden of my heart when I talk about this particular point is I know what we instantly—including me— because we live in this culture, what we think power is in a ministry: rapidly growing numbers—that’s the evidence of God’s blessing and power at work. I am not saying it can’t be that God is working, and God does choose some to work through in large ways… Chuck Colson said the work of God is done primarily through God’s little platoons. Where is the church of God exploding?... Africa…India…Latin America,....through regular guys...It is the Spirit of God who is the power that accomplishes the work of God”

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”

“We want to be about Kingdom-business, not just Grace Fellowship growing, in the power of the Spirit.”

“If all you can see here is speaking in tongues in Acts Chapter 2, you are missing the point! The point isn’t about tongues. Tongues are just a sign of the point. The point is the end of the ages has come! The fulfillment of the promises has begun. The Scriptures are being fulfilled right in front of your eyes! Everything you’ve longed for and hoped for is coming!”

I’ll let you listen to the rest. It was very good.

Here is Acts 1-2.

Acts 1:1-11 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’. 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’”

Acts 2: 1-20
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine. 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,

Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

More reading: Isaiah 32 & Ezekiel 36:22f

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