Pentecost and a Reborn Church Sermon 31st May 2020


Pentecost and a Reborn Church.  31st May 2020

Reading – Acts 2:1-21

C.H.Spurgeon, insisted that: “A church in the land, without the Holy Spirit, is rather a curse, than a blessing. If you have not the Spirit of God, Christian worker, remember that you stand in somebody else’s way; you are a fruitless tree, standing where a fruitful tree might grow!”

The direct ministry of God the Holy Spirit, to encourage individual Christians, is a remarkable thing! He teaches us the truth of the Bible. He helps us to pray according to God’s will, and even prays for us! He provides the power we need for Christian living, and for reconciliation. He equips us with His spiritual gifts – not as we covet them, but as He desires. He alone is the source of the spiritual fruit of love, the fruit by which we are known. And God the Holy Spirit, takes away our fear.

Pentecost didn’t mark ‘the birth of the church’, or its commissioning. The church was ‘birthed’ on Easter Sunday evening, in the upper room, where the terrified disciples, had locked themselves in, “….for fear of the Jews”! The Risen Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ”. (John 20:19-23). That, was when the church began and was commissioned – Pentecost, was when the church was ‘empowered’, as those first disciples and believers, numbering about 120, were baptised in the Holy Spirit, as God had promised for thousands of years!

Moses had longed for that day; “I wish,” he said to Joshua, “that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29).

God spoke through Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh – and I will put my spirit in you…”  (Ezekiel 36:26,27) – which Heather read for us last Sunday.

God spoke through Joel, “ I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit, in those days.”

Which days? Time marched on. And then, John the Baptist promised it would come through Jesus! “Jesus will baptise you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire!” (Luke 3:16).

Soon, but not quite yet. Then, Jesus Himself quietly attending the Feast of Tabernacles or ‘Booths – shocked everyone! On the last day, as the Levite choir sang the ‘Hallel’, (Psalms 113-118), accompanied by flutes and trumpets – and singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” As the people waved branches and palms in the air, as they marched 7

 

 

times around the altar. As thousands more watching cried out, ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’ – “Oh Lord save us, save us now!” As a priest, now in complete silence, poured water from the ‘Pool of Siloam’, from a golden pitcher over the altar – asking God to bring rain upon a parched land, to bring life to the dry ground – the loud voice of a Man rang out! (John 7:37-39), our other reading today. “On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By which he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him, were later to receive. Up to that time, the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus, had not been glorified.”

What a moment! – but still not a patch on that first Pentecost to come!

Pentecost reminds us then, of a church ‘reborn’, with a new power; not our power, but Heavenly Power, the creative, the healing the redeeming power of Jesus! Not just on one day, 2000 years ago; but available today, if we choose to receive it.

It reminds us, that, as C.H.Spurgeon said, we can do nothing to forward God’s Kingdom on earth – without the inward power of the Holy Spirit!

Here’s the best illustration I can think of. Karen and I, love the Norfolk Broads – we have wonderful memories of hot summer holidays in boats and cottages – and a few rainy ones too!

One of the things we love about the Broads, is the old windmills. Today they stand, like sentries, stark and gaunt, against the skyline. 200 years ago, they were vital to the economy of the country – the reclaimed land was peat rich, and the bread basket of the land, but, without the windmills to catch the constant wind, to grind the corn into flour- there could be no bread!

But, after the invention of more modern machinery, powered first by steam, and then by electricity, the old windmills of Norfolk, shuddered to a halt; their great sails locked down, facing away from the wind.

And that was how they remained for many, many years – picturesque landmarks of the past! Then came the 2nd World War, and with it, the need to adapt the industrialised factories and their machinery, to aid the war effort. Bullets, not bread, became the priority! Soon, because of the Nazi blockade, basic food began to run short, rationing was introduced, for every man, woman and child, in the land.

Then, someone in the Food Ministry, remembered the old windmills, standing old, idle and ineffective, throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Within a month, the ragged sails were repaired, adjusted to catch the constant wind and turning! The giant wooden cogs meshed; the grinding wheels engaged; and the bushels of precious corn, were once again

 

 

ground into flour. Wholesome, life-giving bread, to feed the hungry people, was available again, for all!

The constant powerful wind had never gone away – but for the old static, torn mills, to be powered by it, they had to be repaired, renewed and redirected, to catch it.

It’s the same with the church today. War is upon us – spiritual war. All that is evil, threatens all that is good. The Holy Spirit, like a mighty wind, has, since the first Pentecost, always been available, to the church; but the church has not always been available to the Holy Spirit!

The machinery of the church, the organisation, the liturgy, the ceremony, the tradition, is still there, but it’s rusted solid and cog-bound’ it’s facing in the wrong direction! It needs cleaning, (cleansing), and reviving. It needs turning and adjusting so that it can once again, catch the wonderful wind, that has always been there, and set into motion!

And since the church is made up of many individual believers, it’s for every Christian, each one of us, to open ourselves up, to the fullness, the filling, and the re-filling, of God the Holy Spirit. For we are the gears and the cogs; the different parts, that make up the whole body, the church of Christ.

We are the sails, that turn and catch the Holy wind; the wheels that grind the corn; the sacks that hold the flour. We are the distributers of the Life, that can feed the people, who are starving for the Living Bread of Jesus, and the Word of God!

 

How did that first church respond to Pentecost? Well, let’s first note what it was they were promised, and received.

(Acts 1:8) “But you will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Power, and then witness – in that order!

To witness, without having received the power of Holy Spirit, is futile! Without the Spirit, our service, our preaching and teaching, will merely resemble, “a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal.”

There’s always a ‘pre-Pentecost’, and a ‘post-Pentecost’, in the life of a born-again Christian. Note what those first disciples were like before Pentecost, and then, what they were like, after Pentecost.

Before Pentecost – weak, cowardly, self-centred, self-seeking, rebellious, arrogant and proud, and although they were the best men, Jesus could find for His purposes, they were totally lacking in spiritual discernment and understanding, power and humility.

After Pentecost? Heroes, to a man, full of courage. Jesus-centred, God-seeking, Spirit led,

 

 

 

submissive and full of humility – the greatest spiritual leaders and teachers, the world has ever known. All because they were now baptised in the Holy Spirit!

Those who met them, were stopped in their tracks! They were startled out of their complacency, and often convinced, convicted, and converted! Why? Because, always, the most powerful means of witnessing to lost sinners, is through the transformed life of a Spirit-filled Christian. Far more souls are reached through Holy living, than through religious speech! In the end its not only words that count, but actions! Those Christians, called to work in the world, need to remember that!

We’re all called, like those disciples, to be holy – and, believe it or not, we’re all also called to be heroes! In our actions, and in our willingness to speak up for Jesus.

Sinners, it seems, can be reached by God’s Spirit-filled heroes!

(Acts 4:13), “When they saw the courage of Peter and John…..they were astonished, and they took note, that these men had been with Jesus.”

The bravery of those in the early church, who suffered imprisonment, torture and death, clearly convicted and converted, many of the pagans who lived around them.

The blood of the martyrs became, and continues today, to be the seed of the church. Where did this, ‘holy courage’, come from? It was part and parcel of the power that came upon them, at Pentecost. No longer did they consider their cause to be a futile, defeated one! Jesus had ascended to heaven, out of their sight – but the Holy Spirit – “another Comforter, another Counsellor, had come to them. (John 16:7-11).

Little wonder, on that first day of Pentecost, when Peter had preached the Gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit, 3000 lost souls cried out, cut to the heart, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

They recognised that this was no short-term, flash in the pan, northern madness; some Galilean stupidity, that would drift away, like mist, in the morning sun!

You see, a Spirit-filled church, is also a conquering church! Full of courage and without fear.

A Spirit-filled church is also a ‘radiant’ church, full of joy and gladness. The first Christians, baptised in the Holy Spirit, presented a striking contrast to the deep depression, the note of sadness, that prevailed, throughout the Middle-East. Palestine, Judea, Greece, Egypt, and much of the known world was made up of conquered towns, cities, countries and people. Joy was in short supply!

Spiritual revival, in the church, brings many things – obedience to the Word of God; passionate believing prayer; sacrificial service; generous giving; holiness and unconditional love – and with it comes, ‘apostolic gladness and joy’ – a gladness and joy, like in the days of the apostles. The church becomes ‘radiant’.

 

 

 

Look around you, at the world in which you live. There’s not much gladness and joy to be found is there? Especially during this time of Covid-19, there’s isolation, depression, worry, bereavement and sadness. And when it’s all over, the world will go back to its’ aimless search for hedonistic pleasure, that’s here today and gone tomorrow. But radiant gladness! I don’t think so!

The revived church needs to recover, ‘apostolic gladness’ – and it can only come with the post-Pentecostal power of God, the Holy Spirit!

If the cleansed Spirit-filled church, is a conquering church, and a church full of radiant gladness and joy, it’s also a church of unity.

Sin, is the great divider. It separates man from God, and man from man.

It creates divisions in humanity, in nations, and in classes; in men and women, the old and young, the rich and poor – and in churches too! Divisions everywhere!

But God, the Holy Spirit, is the Great Unifier.

At Pentecost, He created a new society – the Kingdom of God on earth, in which all divisions ceased.

Interestingly, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, did not create denominations! He created Spirit-filled Christians – all equal, though with different tasks in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Love; the fruit of which is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22).

At their fellowship meals, the ‘Agape’ or love feast, Jew and Gentile, slave and master, male and female, sat side by side, in Holy Communion, (Gal 3:28), looking into each other’s faces, with awe and wonder, saying, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers!” (1 John 3:14).

This ‘unity in love’ compelled their unbelieving neighbours to say in amazement, “See how these Christians love one another!”

The greatest curse in any church is disunity and strife. A church is paralysed by gossip, quarrelling, and rebellion – towards leaders, towards individuals and towards one another. The first fruit of spiritual revival, is repentance and reconciliation, between estranged Christians. Unity is the result of the Holy Spirit coming in power. Get holy, and we’ll get God and all His people; and more of the Holy Spirit, than we can ever imagine!

We’ll get unity!

If the Spirit-filled church, is a conquering church, full of radiance, joy and gladness, and

unity – it’s also a church that evangelises. Immediately the Holy Spirit came in power, to infill the disciples – their hearts were set on fire, to make Christ known to the world.

 

 

 

 

Pentecost, was the great festival of the Jews. Jerusalem was crowded with devout Jews, from the ends of the earth. Right into the midst of this crowd, the fearless Christians

went, to testify, to witness to their Risen Lord, and to offer salvation in His name. The result? “And the Lord added to their number daily, those who were being saved.”

The driving force of all successful evangelism, is the Holy Spirit.

It’s not training, or methods, or systems, or programs, although some of these things may help, it’s God, the Holy Spirit. Whether it’s across the seas, to Africa, or across the coffee table to a neighbour, the key lies in the power of the Holy Spirit. Without Him and His love, within us, we remain the same, ‘resounding gongs and clanging cymbals’!

Just another noise, in an already noisy world! Let there be no doubt – the Normal Christian Life, as Jesus intended it to be, cannot be lived without a Pentecost!

It cannot be lived as God intended, without the initial fullness of the Holy Spirit, followed by a daily prayer, to be re-filled again and again. Only then can we be used effectively, for the salvation of men, and the divine purposes of God’s Kingdom.

But we must ask God for this Holy deluge! It doesn’t just happen. Luke 11:13 is clear. Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So let’s not be solemn today, or downcast at what is going on in the world – let’s be glad, excited, and full of joy and gladness, for as A.W.Tozer said, “Pentecost didn’t come and go! Pentecost came and stayed. Chronologically the day may indeed be found on the historic calendar; but dynamically it remains with us, in all its fullness of power!”

In other words, what arrived first on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago – goes on and on, until Jesus returns. The only question is, do you and I want it?

Have we all received God the Holy Spirit in His fullness? If not, will He love me enough to fill me today?

Here’s one of my favourite poems by Stewart Henderson – it should answer that question.

It’s called simply – Pentecost is Every Day.

 

“I share and share and share again,

sometimes, with a new language, which

if you are open, will take you behind the

sky, and award you cartwheels across the sun.

I give and give and give again,

 

 

 

 

not restricted , by the church calendar,

or concocted ritual.

I have no need of anniversaries, for I have

always been.

I speak and speak and speak again,

with the sting of purity,

that can only be Me,

causing joyous earthquakes in the mourning

soul of man.

I am and am and am again.”

 

Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to fill you, and He will! Then ask Him to refill you every morning when you awake to a new day. There’s nothing to lose, and a Kingdom to gain!

 

                                                                                                                        T.C.R.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Intercessions 31st May 2020
Pentecost Sunday

Intercessions for Sunday 24th May
Intercessions for Sunday 24th May

24th May 2020 7th Sunday after Easter, First Sunday after Ascension
Scriptures: Ezekiel 36:24-28, Psalm 68:1-10 Acts 1:6-14, John 17:1-11.

17th May 2020 Sermon
Acts 17

5th Sunday of Easter 10th May Sermon
Jesus gives navigation instructions to his Disciples. Acts 7:51 to end, Psalm 31:1-5,15-16, John 14:1-14

3rd May 2020 Sermon
Jesus: I am the Gate by David Cain LLM

26th April 2020 Sermon for the third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a 36-41, Luke 24:13-35. The Road to Emmaus Sunday 26th April 2020

Intercessions 19th April 2020
Intercessions 19th April 2020

18 Apr 2020 Sermon
Faithful Thomas John 20:19-29.

Easter Day Sermon 2020
Easter Sermon 2020; Acts 10:35-43 Matthew 28:1-11

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