June 4, 2017 – Caught up in Something Much Bigger than Ourselves
Preacher: Rev. Charles Drew
Sermon Series: Parting Reflections
Acts 2:1-24, 33-36 (ESV)
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 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. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘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;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Introduction: Almost everything about the Day of Pentecost was weird. It was so full of strangeness that it is very hard to believe that anybody made it up. God was up to something world-changing on that day.
I) On Pentecost God gave us a foretaste of our bright social future
A) Peter’s declaration from Joel
v. 17, 21: And in the last days…I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and daughters shall prophesy…And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- God’s promise at the culmination of human history: A world united in praise.
- Tongues: the sign of the final inundation: The earth shall be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11.9)
B) The quest for harmony between people
- God’s own quest
- The church is the future
II) On Pentecost God exalted Jesus as the reason for our bright future
A) vv. 22ff:
…Jesus Christ…was delivered up according to the definite plan…of God…God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it…Having received… the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you are seeing and hearing.
B) God’s great surprise
- The cross: God’s plan.
v. 23: This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified by the hands of lawless men.
- The cross: the necessary prelude to Pentecost.
C) The gospel: Good News, not just good advice on how to get along
Take away: Never wander far from Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.
Questions for Reflection
- Almost everything about the Day of Pentecost is weird. Itemize the strangeness. Try to imagine being there at the time, a godly Jewish pilgrim from Libya. You hear the wind, see the fire, and then hear a Galilean fisherman declaring God’s glory in your native tongue. What do you make of it?
- Reflect on the following: The skeptic in us will want to dismiss all the strangeness of Pentecost, or certain elements of it (there were those on the scene who said that the disciples were drunk–v. 13). But then we have another problem to solve: How did the demoralized, frightened, and scattered disciples of Good Friday change so dramatically. What caused them to spring to life with such bold confidence and clarity of message that (as historians of all stripes will attest) they turned the world upside down?
- Reflect on the difficulty human beings have getting along at every level—in families, in congress, on university faculties, in and between businesses, and between nations. What do the events of Pentecost tell us about God’s attitude towards human division and his solution to the problem? What does Pentecost suggest about how you might work to repair a broken relationship in your own life?
- It has been said that the church is, by God’s design, where the world gets to see the bright social future of the world—the beginning of the end of every social division. Do you agree? What gets in the way of the church living up to its God-given purpose? Pray for the church.
- Where have you seen the reality of Pentecost in your church experience? At EPC? Thank the Lord for what you have seen.’
- Look over Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:22-36. How does he tie Pentecost to Good Friday and Easter? Why was Good Friday the necessary prelude to Pentecost?
- It has been rightly said that the gospel is not good advice on how to get along. It is rather Good News about what God has done and will do to heal every wound both social and spiritual. Spend time thanking the Lord for what he has done.
Prayer of Confession
Mighty God, thank you for your great love for our broken world. Thank you for the healing and uniting power of Pentecost, for the promise of a whole new order that your Spirit brought when he fell upon us. And thank you for your chosen sufferings, for they opened the way for you Spirit to descend upon us without harm. We confess that we are not mindful enough of what you have done and will do. Too often we live as if our lives have not been renewed, as if your forgiveness is half-hearted and subject to withdrawal, as if the present sorrows and divisions will go on forever. Too often we keep the Good News to ourselves or speak of it as if it were little more than a new set of rules. Forgive us for living as if the cross and Pentecost never happened. We pray in the name of Jesus, who died for us and lives in us. Amen.