The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. AMEN.

Acts 2:1-21 (NASB) And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. {2} And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. {5} Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. {6} And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language. {7} And they were amazed and marveled, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? {8} “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? {9} “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, {10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretans and Arabs–we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” {12} And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” {13} But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” {14} But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. {15} “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; {16} but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: {17} ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; {18} EVEN UPON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy.

Year after year as we go through the Church Calendar we read the same Bible verses and stories again and again, especially when it comes to the high church festivals. So this morning we have before us the normal diet of readings for Pentecost Sunday. But no matter how familiar we are with this morning’s messages, there is always something to learn or at the least to be reminded of in the appointed readings.
The events of Pentecost Sunday were unique, but Pentecost had been around for a very long time. The Lord God, Yahweh Elohim instituted Pentecost about the same time He instituted Passover. The original name for the festival was the “Feast of Weeks.”
The “Feast of Weeks” takes place fifty days after the “Feast of First-Fruits.” When Greek became the dominate common language throughout the Greek and Roman empires, Jews began using the Greek word for “fifty.” Pentecost means fifty. The Feast of Weeks/Pentecost has been celebrated since the time of Moses.
Pentecost is one of the three feast festivals of the Old Testament that required the males of Israel to go to Jerusalem. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths.” (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts a week and begins the day after the Passover. Pentecost comes fifty days after the Feast of First-Fruits, which happens to be the first Sunday in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Booths is about six months after the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Stay with me here. I know that’s a bit confusing, but Jesus is about to make sense of all of that. If we impose the life of Christ over the top of these appointed festivals, we see that Jesus died on Passover and rose from the dead on the Feast of First-Fruits. Then, fifty days later on Pentecost/the Feast of Weeks, the Holy Spirit manifested Himself in a special way fifty days later.
Now in the Torah of Moses, the Lord God gave the Israelites instructions mandating faithful Israelites to visit Jerusalem during these special festivals. The point is simple. God the Father had foreordained the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the public debut of His New Testament Church at the time when there were be the maximum number of the faithful in Jerusalem. So on Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost Jerusalem would be filled with faithful men, women, and children from all over the known world. In this way, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit gathered members of His Old Testament Church in one place to hear “the mighty deeds of God.” (Acts 2:11).
Pentecost Sunday was not the first Pentecost, but then the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday wasn’t the first time the Holy Spirit had been imparted to the disciples either.
It had happened before. Fifty days earlier on the evening of the first Easter. “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’” (John 20:19–23)
On Easter Jesus had already breathed on them and had given His disciples, now apostles the Holy Spirit and had authorized them to exercise the authority and duties of the pastoral office–forgiving and retaining sins.
So why such a big deal about Pentecost? What a second out pouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday?
Admittedly, Pentecost Sunday came with an extra measure of drama and “specularness” which included a large crowd, sounds like a mighty rushing wind, tongues as of fire, and the apostles speaking in other languages. God wanted to get the people’s attention in a grand fashion on Pentecost Sunday and so He did.
But the resurrection itself was a pretty amazing act of God, the greatest ever. But that was before a smaller and more private audience who for fear of the Jews had were tucked away in a room, locked behind closed doors, and struggling in their own crisis of faith.
It was in the private place where Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” On Easter evening there was a subtleness about what Jesus did. No grand tongues of fire. No loud rushing wind. No large crowd. No open air sermon in the light of the morning sun. Jesus came at night on Easter and simply breathed on them, spoke to them, and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit and His authority to retain and forgive sins.
Pentecost Sunday though was the exact opposite. On Pentecost a large group of people had gathered inside a house. No one was hiding. The people outside could hear what was going on. They stood in the morning sun in the cool of the day. And they had been brought there by the Word of God given through Moses 1,500 years before. (And people say traditions and church attendance don’t matter!)
On Pentecost Sunday the people had come to Jerusalem for one purpose, although they did not know what that purpose was when they had arrived. But God had brought them from the four corners of the earth so that they would heard of the “mighty works of God.”
“Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel.”
By the time Peter finished preaching the Law and the Gospel to the large crowd that had gathered outside that house many in the crowd were cut to the quick and asked 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.” (Acts 2:37–40)
You see Pentecost is not so about the Holy Spirit being poured out on the apostles for the first time. It is about the Holy Spirit coming to the Old Testament faithful and working in conjunction with Peter’s preaching of the Law and Gospel to bring about repentance, that is sorrow over sin and trust in Jesus Christ as the complete and full payment of sin.
Listen to what Peter preached. (Acts 2:22-24) “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”
Perhaps one of the reasons the church is suffering so much today is that preachers are afraid to tell people that they are sinners and as such bear a responsibly in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
1500 years before Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit worked through Moses to establish the feasts that would bring the faithful together in Jerusalem to be witnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, then to see and hear the public debut of the New Testament Church.
On Pentecost Sunday God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were “jump starting” the New Testament Church by putting enough ears to hear and eyes to see the first post-ascension sermon and events of Pentecost Sunday. These people would go out into the world and bear witness to what they saw and heard–and indeed, there is evidence in both the Bible and in church history that indicates that is exactly what these people did. They went home and told their kinsmen and neighbors of the coming of the Christ.
In the building of the tower of Babel, the people because arrogant and vain. They thought they could do anything, so God confused their languages and scattered them over the face of the earth. But on Pentecost they now heard Peter’s sermon and the testimony of the others each in their own language.
Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is given to them and to their children.
The Pentecost was a visible illustration as to how God works in the world, namely whenever and wherever the Word of God, the Word of Truth is preached there you will find the Holy Spirit active in that preaching, no matter what language the preacher speaks.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

The Out Pouring of the Gospel

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