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The Day of Pentecost

May 31, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Acts 2:1–2:21

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Acts 2:1-21
Date: May 31, 2020; Pentecost Sunday; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday.
  • The word “Pentecost” is from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth” - since this celebration comes fifty days after Jesus’ Easter victory. 
  • On this fiftieth day, Jesus kept his promise to send a Helper to be with us always (John 14:16).  
  • A Helper who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps us in the true faith.
  • In our reading from Acts we heard the account of Jesus fulfilling his promise in a miraculous way.
  • His people were gathered together in one place when suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind and divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on them.
  • Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
  • They were speaking the Good News that it had come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!
  • That Helper who miraculously called God’s people to faith and holiness on that first Pentecost is the very same Helper who calls us now.   
  • The Helper our Lord promised is the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and makes us a new creation by bringing us to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
  • We need this help desperately, because without it, we are spiritually blind and dead.  
  • St. Paul teaches in his letter to the Corinthians that, “The natural [sinful] person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
  • Being born spiritually blind and dead means that we are wholly reliant on the Holy Spirit to call and bring us to faith through the Gospel.
  • Through the Gospel, the Good News of the salvation that we have in Christ, the Holy Spirit invites to faith and enables us to believe in the promise of a new life on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection. 
  • St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 2 Thessalonians 2:14).
  • The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel to call us and to actually deliver to us what the Word of God promises - forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
  • The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens - and he sanctifies us.  
  • To be sanctified means that we have been made holy.
  • St. Paul teaches, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • The Spirit first sanctifies us by bringing us to Christ to receive his gifts through faith.
  • The Holy Spirit then sanctifies us by strengthening our faith and increasing its fruit in our lives.  
  • We learn in Galatians that, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  
  • The Holy Spirit makes us a new and holy creation who desire to overcome our sin and bear this good fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
  • We don’t become sanctified by doing good works, but do good works because we are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
  • As God’s people we lead holy lives, but that holy living is not self-generated.
  • Our life of love and good works begins by receiving God’s love and salvation in his Son by the power of the Spirit.  
  • These gifts then flow from him - through us - to others.  As we have freely received, so we freely give (Matthew 10:8).
  • The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps us in the true faith.  
  • In 1 Peter we learn that we, “…by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).
  • Being sanctified, being cleansed from the pollution of sin and its devastating consequences - the Holy Spirit keeps us in the faith by safely bringing us into the presence of the holy Trinity where we receive his gifts, pray, praise, and adore his holy name.
  • We are kept in the faith by God’s means of grace: his Word and Sacraments.
  • Through these gifts God gives us the Holy Spirit who dwells in us so that we receive by faith forgiveness, holiness, and life.
  • And we are called upon to maintain the holiness God has given us - to keep holy what God has made holy.
  • This involves daily contrition and repentance so that our sins are washed away.
  • This involves drawing near to God where he draws near to us - which is why hearing, reading, and mediating upon God’s Word is so important.
  • The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is not a onetime event, but is a continual receiving - a continuous flow of the Spirit and his gifts to us.
  • And we don’t look for the Spirit in our emotions or feelings or in some grand experience.  
  • There is no certainty there.  There is no promise that the Spirit is at work in these ways. 
  • No, we look for the Holy Spirit where he has promised to be at work for us – in the Word and Sacraments in the Church.  
  • It is objective and outside of us.  It is not dependent upon our feelings and emotions.
  • It is true that we might have feelings and emotional reactions to what God has done for us, but we do not base our faith on them. 
  • I can be moved when I confess my sins and then receive the forgiveness that Christ won for me on the cross.
  • I can be emotional when I approach the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus.
  • There are times when I am brought to tears when we sing a hymn that really seems to speak to me at a given moment.
  • Sometimes a reading from Scripture will hit me in a certain way.
  • There is no doubt that our feelings and emotions are part of our relationship and lives with God.
  • But there are times, quite honestly, when I don’t feel so moved or emotional.  
  • For some of us today our emotions and feelings might be out of whack because of everything we are experiencing with the pandemic.
  • But thankfully, regardless of how we feel - the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten, sanctify, and keep us in the true faith.
  • He continues to give us the peace and comfort that surpasses all of our understanding – no matter what we are facing in our lives.
  • Our faith, our peace, our hope - our life -  all rest on God’s promise that it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:1-21).
  • Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Amen.

More in Pentecost

July 5, 2020

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 21, 2020

Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 14, 2020

The Second Sunday after Pentecost