THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS US WITH NEW LIFE
Not only does the Holy Spirit bring us to faith, but He also works in us to accomplish more than we can on our own. Coming to saving faith is not just a change in opinion, but a new spiritual life that causes us to live differently. We see this in the disciples also. – They had been cowardly and hesitant, but now they were brave and bold. They were not well-educated men, but now they not only spoke, but preached in different languages. They had been followers, but now they were leaders, admonishing all to repentance and comforting the repentant with forgiveness.
The sermon for the Festival of Pentecost, May 23, 2021, Pastor Edward Bryant, Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.
Acts 2:1–13 (CSB)
2 When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. 3 They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. 4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout people from every nation under heaven. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd came together and was confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 They were astounded and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it that each of us can hear them in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who live in Mesopotamia, in Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts), 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the magnificent acts of God in our own tongues.” 12 They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But some sneered and said, “They’re drunk on new wine.”
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus: I think you all know what this is. It’s a balloon. So is this. Notice that each of them behaves differently. What’s the difference? Well obviously this one has no life. It needs air if it is going to behave like the balloon we are used to. This one is lively because of what is inside it.
This is the way we are as human beings. By ourselves we are naturally one way: Unbelieving, spiritually dead, spiritually blind, and enemies of God. Only by the Holy Spirit, Who, working from the outside and coming into us brings us to faith and spiritual life, are we able to know the true and living God, know our deep guilt against Him, and know of His great mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.
Not only does the Holy Spirit bring us to faith, but He also works in us to accomplish more than we can on our own. You see, faith is not just a change in opinion, but a new spiritual life that causes us to live differently. We see this in the disciples also. – They had been cowardly and hesitant, but now they were brave and bold. They were not well-educated men, but now they not only spoke, but preached in different languages. They had been followers, but now they were leaders, admonishing all to repentance and comforting the repentant with forgiveness.
What was different was what was in them. What was in them was the Holy Spirit.
Just as the Holy Spirit caused the change in their lives, He caused the change in ours – and still does. In some ways just like the Apostles, in some ways different, but in any case,
THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS US WITH NEW LIFE
- The Holy Spirit Works in All Christians
- The Holy Spirit Gives a Variety of Gifts
The Scriptures reveal how the Holy Spirit, Who came in a special way to the apostles that day, fills us today; that’s the focus of our sermon today.
- The Holy Spirit Works in All Christians
In the first place, we are Christians because of the change the Holy Spirit has worked in us. “Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3, CSB)
If anyone confesses from His heart that Jesus Christ is true God and Savior of the world, he possesses saving faith and salvation; it is alone by the grace of God.
Christ Himself told Peter, when Peter so clearly confessed Him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17, CSB)
The Holy Spirit is the One who gave the Apostles the truth of God that is contained here in this Holy Word and given now also to us, and that truth is in fact the word of God . So Jesus said, “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26, CSB) But that truth is not only information, but the power of God that fill us with life (reference balloon). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16, CSB)
To fill with life is to convert from unbelief to faith. It is through this word that the Holy Spirit works in us to bring us to faith and salvation. He is active in us through this word and only through this word, for “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” (Romans 10:17, CSB)
But this conversion begins by convicting us of sin. As Jesus says of the Holy Spirit “When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment:” (John 16:8, CSB)
We are at a common stage in history, wherein people are in rebellion against God and His basic order of life, protecting life and family at the very least.
Without the Holy Spirit bringing the law into its full clarity, many think they can act with impunity against the Lord. But the Holy Spirit makes it ever so clear and final: If you have ever sinned in your life, exalted your desires above him, and made man the measure of al things, then God will have nothing to do with you. Heaven will go on without you. An eternity of despair is yours. Have you ever sinned? If you are judged on the basis of the law of God, then you are lost. “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed.” (Galatians 3:10, CSB)
Nobody is converted to faith by the law alone. The law can only leave us in spluttering self-righteousness, trying to justify ourselves, or in abject despair without hope.
But the Holy Ghost not only clarifies the law, He also brings us the Gospel, the good news of our salvation. The good news is NOT that there is some exception to the law, that somehow we have slipped through. It is not that God has had second thoughts. Satisfaction must be made for sin. There is judgment upon individuals and upon nations.
The Good news is this, that in God’s eyes you and I HAVE suffered to make satisfaction for sin, inasmuch as Christ did in our place. We have paid for our sins, in Christ. As Paul says “Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3–4, CSB)
By participating in His death through His gift of baptism, not only are our sins paid for, but the Holy Spirit works to change us so that we actually live a new life. Just as the balloon became different with the air in it, so with the life of faith and the Holy Spirit in us we live a new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, CSB)
2. The Holy Spirit Gives a Variety of Gifts
In doing this, the Holy Spirit brings a variety of Gifts to believers, beginning with the gift of saving faith itself. But there is more. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” (Galatians 5:22–23, CSB) These are the gifts by which God blesses His people through one another.
Don’t you just wish you had these in greater abundance? One prayer I have for myself and for all of you is that we be “a blessing to others and an honor to our savior.”
That is counter-cultural in a world that exalts the self, that makes man the measure of all things, that despises the word of God and rejects His message of grace.
In spite of this corrupt spirit of our age, the Holy Spirit works in God’s people love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. This is above all so that the Lord may be known as He is – Holy and opposed to sin in wrath yet bearing that wrath for us on the cross so that there may be forgiveness of sins.
This love also shows in the people that God gives to the church. We have pastors and missionaries and teachers and Sunday school teachers and guild workers and youth leaders and committee members and on and on. And all of these because the Holy Sprit is active and working in the world through His word.
God Our Savior has created us and made us His own.
He has redeemed us from our Sin and atoned for the sins of the world.
But finally, He has touched our hearts so that we may despair of our own righteousness and rely on the righteousness He gives us. And He has touched us yet again so that we live out that righteousness, imperfectly now, but in perfect joy in heaven.
So on this Pentecost day, let us pray God to send the Holy Spirit to us richly, let us covet His gifts and seek Him ever through His Holy Word.