Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
9 June 2019
New Series — Acts: To the Ends of the Earth
Sermon: Acts 2
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound, the multitude came together, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing them speak in his own language … And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
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. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
“‘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;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
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?”
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. 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.”
The word of the Lord. May God add his blessings to the reading, preaching, and hearing of his word.
Today is Pentecost Sunday. It marks the fiftieth day since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and the tenth day since the ascension of Jesus into heaven. On this day, the Father and Son poured out the Holy Spirit on all flesh. In other words, they sent the Holy Spirit into the world on a mission to the ends of the earth.
A Personal Story: embracing the pentecostal Spirit
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit of God hovered over the deep waters. He brought order out of chaos, shone light in the darkness and filled the emptiness with living things. He is the Lord and Giver of Life.
When God made man from the dust of the ground, he breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living being.
After the fall of man and his exile from paradise, mankind increased in sin. When God saw the wickedness and violence of mankind, he said, “My Spirit shall not contend with man forever, for he is flesh.” A short time later, he destroyed the world with a flood, but he saved one family and many animals in an ark. Thus, God “re-created” the world and mankind.
The new mankind were fruitful and multiplied. Yet, sometime later, they revolted against the Lord and determined to build a skyscraper and make a name for themselves. So, the Lord God confused their speech and scattered them to the corners of the world.
Little by little, the Spirit of God moved in the world among God’s chosen people.
He gave some visions and dreams. He gave others wisdom and power. He led the people of God out of slavery into freedom, from death to life. He gave them the Law of God. He provided manna and water on the exodus. He led them through the wasteland by a glorious pillar of cloud and fire.
He came upon elders and they prophesied. He came upon craftsmen and they built the holy tabernacle. He came upon judges and they delivered God’s people from enemies. He came upon kings and they ruled with wisdom. He came upon prophets and they spoke the truth.
In all these things, the Spirit of God moved in the world among God’s chosen people.
But God desired a true and better communion with his people, so he promised to do even more.
So he spoke by the prophets and made his promises known to his people.
God promised in Isaiah 44:3 –
I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
And God promised in Ezekiel 36:26-27 —
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
And God promised in Zechariah 12:1, 10
Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him … I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a Spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
And finally, God promised in Joel 2:28–29
And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters…your old…and your young…
Even on the male and female servants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit.
So all that serves as the backdrop for the day of Pentecost.
Remember: The followers of Jesus were hoping and waiting on God to do something like restore the fallen kingdom. They were devoting themselves to prayer and expecting God to keep his promises.
All of a sudden, the upper room became like the holy mountain where Moses and Elijah once stood. There was a violent storm – a great and strong wind, followed by fire – and the Spirit of Lord was in the storm. Not as a gentle whisper of a small voice, but as the thunderous roar of many voices.
The Spirit shone light in their darkness and filled their hearts. He breathed new life into God’s people and they proclaimed the good news and praised the glory of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fifty days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, ten days after the ascension of Jesus, the Father and Son poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life.
The curse of Babel was reversed by the blessing of Pentecost. Each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language.
What Moses once desired, Jesus now delivered. The Lord put his Spirit on all his people. Not on a few, many. Not on prophets, priests, and kings only, but also on laymen. Not on men only, but also on women. Not on the adults only, but also on children. Not on the elderly only, but also on nursing infants. Not on the wealthy only, but also on the poor.
But when there was a mixed response from the crowds.
Everyone was amazed and perplexed. Some were curious and wondered, “What does this mean?”But others were cynical and waved it off, “They are filled with new wine.”
Like them, we don’t know what to do with the Holy Spirit.
Another personal story: unholy trinity // “too deep for me” and “went back to heaven”
In response to the crazy responses, the apostle Peter explained, “This is what was uttered through the prophet Joel.”
[[ On a side note, I must point out that the Spirit moved Peter to preach from the Holy Scriptures, not apart from them. I say this for those who try to separate the Spirit and the Word. ]]
In the context of his book, God spoke through the prophet Joel and said,
Call a solemn assembly; gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders;
gather the children, even nursing infants.
According to Peter, who was carried along by the Holy Spirit, Pentecost was that solemn assembly; the called meeting at which the promised Holy Spirit was finally poured out on all God’s people.
That is why he said, “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.”
So, just as Moses threw the blood of the covenant on the people at the first Pentecost, so Peter and the apostles “threw” the waters of the new covenant on men, women, and children at the last Pentecost.
And three thousand souls were baptized with water.
For as God promised through the prophets —
the Servant of the Lord shall sprinkle many nations (Isa. 52:12)
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. And I will give you a new heart … and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26)
When God calls you to himself, he calls you by his word and his Spirit. When the Spirit and word of Christ do their proper work in you, the foreskin of your heart is circumcised. It is changed from dead rock to living flesh.
When you respond to the Spirit’s gracious work in your life, you ask questions. You wonder what you must do. What you can change. You turn from your old selfish identity and take on a new identity in Christ. “You join the company marked out with the sign of the ‘new exodus’ — you come through the water of baptism to leave behind slavery and sin and to find the new way to freedom and life.” (NT Wright, Acts for Everyone, p. 42)
When you respond to the Spirit’s gracious work, you recognize your truest and deepest problem is sin, and your truest and deepest need is a savior. So you call on the name of the Lord. And as the Spirit says, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
When you respond to the Spirit’s gracious work in your life, you mark a distinction between yourself and your crooked generation; you follow the Holy Spirit out of sin and death into righteousness and life.
When you respond to the Spirit’s gracious work, you find rest for your soul in the gift of love which the Father and Son have poured out within your hearts.
A third and final personal story: IVP Book Club / Dr. Fergie c. 1997 / 2010
The Story of the Bible is the story of the Promise-Maker and the Promise-Keeper. That story shapes our life by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.