Pentecost, 2017

Whitsuntide

The Lesson for the Epistle  

Acts 2:1-11

The Gospel – John 14:15-31

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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We have been promised the arrival of this day for some time now.  Over and over for the last number of weeks we have heard Scripture verse after Scripture verse telling of this day.

 

From even as far back as Good Friday, we have heard of the Spirit and His arrival and His work.  We have prayed in His name but we have also acknowledged His work.

 

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified…”

 

The Collect for Good Friday.

 

On Easter eve, St. Peter’s Epistle lesson said, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit…”

 

The Spirit then, bringing Christ to life again.

 

On the first Sunday after Easter, St. John wrote, “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.”

 

The fourth Sunday after Easter John records Jesus saying, “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.”  John obviously using those exact words in his first Epistle.

 

On the Sunday after the Ascension, John wrote Jesus’ words to His Disciples again, “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me…”

 

Over and over again, we have had fair warning and these texts have served to make us anticipate and expect His arrival...and to see His work coming to pass.

 

Not only have the promises been fulfilled but the imagery has also been all around us.

 

The day of the Resurrection, Easter Day was the first day of the week. It was a Sunday.

 

The Feast of Pentecost was also on a Sunday.  Obviously and purposely coordinated by the sovereign hand of God to make a point about the special nature of this day.

 

Sunday has remained now for 2000 years the day on which the Church gathers to worship the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ through the Spirit.

 

So the gift of eternal life was secured and inaugurated on a Sunday. 

Today, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son to give birth to the Church.

 

It is the Church’s birthday today, as well as the Lord’s Day.

 

“The time when the Church came into being was a Sunday—that every Sunday for ever might be both an Easter-day and a Whit Sunday, the living commemoration of a living Saviour.”[1]

 

This time on the Jewish calendar was the Festival of Pentecost.

 

At this time each year, remembrance was made on the day upon which the Law was given on tablets of stone to Moses.

 

Now, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost….He would be the one who would write the Law on the heart of man.

 

Recall the great prophecy uttered by Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34, ESV)

 

The time of Pentecost was also the time of the Festival of Harvest. 

 

Hear the words from Leviticus 23:15-21

 

The Feast of Weeks

 

[15] “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering….

(Counting Easter Day, today is the 50th Day or 7 full weeks after Easter…

 

And this was the festival of the harvest….the ingathering of wheat.

 

Now, with Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we witness the first ingathering of souls.  This is the first harvest, so to speak of souls to the Lord….the Gospel preached via the different tongues of the local lands.

 

We see further here that the Holy Spirit comes as one. There is one Spirit. And He came like as of fire, distributing Himself to the whole body.

 

They were all gathered together with one accord. He distributes His gifts to the whole body…but to every member individually.

 

There is one source of fire and yet many tongues…landing on each of them.

 

Likewise, as Paul says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [13] For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, ESV)

 

The multiple languages of men all throughout the world is a result and even a perpetuation of sin and division.

 

At the Tower of Babel.  Man in his wickedness decided that he would build a tall tower to heaven.

 

“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. [2] And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. [3] And they said to one another,…‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’ [5] And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. [6] And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

[7] Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.’ [8] So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. [9] Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (ESV)

 

So there is the origin of language difference and the consequent confusion.

 

Now at Pentecost we have a restoration from that curse…a repairing of the damage done by man.

 

Now we have at Pentecost a unity.  We have one message of salvation and Good News spreading across the land. 

The division of different languages has not been done away with. 

With each sin man commits, there seems to always be a residue…a reminder and a partial leftover mark of the sin that we have committed.

 

Though we commit sins, and God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, there remains something there…some sort of a reminder… to keep us from forgetting.

 

Salvation is not lost, but with the sins we commit, we can many times find temporal imperfection lying close by. Reminding us of what we have done and how it grieves God.

 

So it is with the Holy Spirit today here at Pentecost. 

The different languages remain but our loving God takes care of the problem by allowing these disciples of Jesus to speak in different languages so as to be able to mend the breach…through the preaching of the Gospel of salvation in Christ.

 

The Gospel is a calling of all men from all walks of life to repentance.

 

In our Church we confess One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

There is a universal need that all men have and that is salvation from sin and everlasting life.  It is held out but not all come to repentance.

 

Jesus says as much in today’s Gospel lesson.

“I will send another Comforter…another Helper, to be with you forever.  The Spirit of truth.whom the world cannot receive. 

 

Notice here that He is referred to as the Spirit of Truth.  This is because one of His primary works is to communicate the Truth. 

The Truth of God.

The Truth of Scripture.

The Truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

 

We are in a culture and a time where truth is growing more and more to be a strange term…a controversial term…a term that is relative to whomever even wants to admit there is such a thing.

 

But the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth precisely because there is truth. 

And it is only found in Him…and it is part of the make-up of God’s nature.

 

Jesus says in John 14 that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

The Holy Spirit’s job is to communicate that truth to the world. 

His job is to convict the world of Truth.

His job is to point us to the truth of the fact that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

 

But the very next line is also telling.  It goes on to say, “…whom (referring to the Holy Spirit ) the world cannot receive.

 

The word used here is cosmos…that part of creation that remains in rebellion to God and to Christ and the Spirit.

 

“The world cannot receive Him (the Spirit) because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.

 

Those still in rebellion against God do not see or know the Holy Spirit.  They remain in darkness.  They do not like the light.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him….And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. [20] For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (ESV)

 

In short, the world cannot receive the second Comforter…the Holy Spirit… because it has not received the first…namely, Jesus Christ.

 

Through and by the Spirit we see what the world cannot see.

 

The world cannot see Christ because the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.

 

To the Church however, we see Christ by the Holy Spirit because He makes Christ present to us still.

 

He makes Christ present in our prayers, in our lives, in the Church, in the sacraments, as well as in our sorrows and pains and temptations.

 

 

Psalm 34:15-18

 

            [15] The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous

                        and his ears toward their cry.

            [16] The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,

                        to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

            [17] When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears

                        and delivers them out of all their troubles.

            [18] The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

                        and saves the crushed in spirit. (ESV)

 

He is closer to us than any earthly friend, being not merely with us, but in us, and we in Him by mutual indwelling.”

 

The Holy Spirit, whom the Father has sent in the name of Christ, will teach us all things and will bring to mind all that Christ has said and done.

 

This is His ongoing work in the world and in the saints.  He brings to mind His word.  All that He promises will come to pass.

 

All that He says regarding our salvation that is accomplished is brought to mind through the Spirit.

 

And finally, Jesus says today, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid….I will come to you.

 

Christ said to His Disciples that He would still be with them.  That He would come to them.

 

And the same is true for us today. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is present to us.

 

(Writer)“The Church receives the Spirit in proportion to its devotion to the Person and obedience of Christ.”

 

The Holy Spirit brings Christ to us as we call upon Him. The more we rely on the Spirit, the more Christ becomes present to us.

 

The Feast of Pentecost is a most blessed day.  We could go on and on mining the blessings that are bestowed upon us through the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 

His most important work remains and continues to this day in each of us, and that is to point us to Christ and to make Christ present to us.

 

He teaches us all that Christ taught and He leads us and He comforts us.  This is how God teaches the hearts of all of His faithful people.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Excerpt From: Melville Scott. “The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/YQ09A.l