A Pentecost Sermon
Intro: Read Ephesians 5:14à “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Today is Pentecost Sunday
Pentecost: Jewish Feast of Weeksàconcludes the grain harvestà50th day after Passover. Also celebrated as a feast of covenant renewal (remembering the Law given at Mt. Sinai)
Pentecost: Christian celebrationà Gift of the Holy Spirità Marks the birth of the Church
So what? So what? Year after year, we pass right by this significant day in the life of the Followers of Jesus (Church) with little to no change.
(J.D. Walt) Imagine a Banner : “What if We’re All Sleeping?”
In a 2000 Manuscript entitled, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, authors Elmer L. Towns and Douglas Porter offered the following list of Awakenings (which I listed from most recent to earliest):
- The Baby Boomer Revival 1965-1970à The Jesus People, The Prairie Revival, Asbury
- The World War II Revival 1935-1950à Billy Graham, Duncan Campbell, New Zealand
- The 1904 Revival, Beginning in Walesà Evan Roberts, Korea, Moravian, Azusa Street
- The Layman’s Revival 1857-1861à Phoebe Palmer, Jeremiah Lanphier, D. L. Moody
- The General Awakening 1830-1840à Charles Finney, Places like Hawaii & Jamaica
- The Second Great Awakening 1780-1810à Included Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky drew between 10,000 and 20,000 people
- The First Great Awakening, 1727-1750à Nicolaus Zinzendorf, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards
- The Reformation, 1517à Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, John Knox
- The Pre-Reformation Revival 1300-1500à Medieval Timesà The Lollards, John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, and Girolamo Savonarola
- 10. Pentecost 30 A.D.à Peter, Paul, and churches in Jerusalem, Ephesus, and Corinth
What Happened at Pentecost?
Jesus had been appearing to the disciples for 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God
From the Mt. of Olives outside Jerusalem, He ordered them not to leave Jerusalem and promises them the gift of the Holy Spirit
Baptized with the Holy Spirità a new meaning of baptism. To “submerge” or “immerse” in water now also means to be filled/anointed with the Holy Spirit
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, to the end of the earth.” 1:8
Jesus then was lifted up on a cloud in their presence. Two men in white robes appeared and prophesied that Jesus would return the same way
The disciples returned to Jerusalem, went into the Upper Room (where the Last Supper was offered), and devoted themselves to prayer in one accord.
They prayed and selected Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle
[11 AMàREAD ACTS 2:1-13 ESV]
When Pentecost arrived (they were all together), SO TOO DID THE HOLY SPIRIT
Just as there was revival at Mt. Sinai when Moses gave God’s Law (Word), there was revival when God gave His Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem.
There were sights and sounds! A mighty rushing wind…tongues of fire resting on each one
There God’s Wordà presented in every language of those Jewish pilgrims who had gathered from every nation under heaven for the Pentecost Celebration
There was bewilderment, astonishment, amazement! There was also DOUBT!
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit no doubt, stood and PREACHED:
Gave the Wordà Joel 2:28-32à “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will see visions, your young men will dream dreams…in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Peter then gave a Testimonyà “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 yourself know—this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, YOU CRUCIFIED AND KILLED BY THE HANDS OF LAWLESS MEN. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Then Peter Gave more Scripture from Psalm 16:8-11 that tells of King David’s prophesy about Jesus who would not die.
He then gave an exposition on that scripture
To round out his sermon, Peter offered this stinging accusation and declaration: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
In hearing this FIRST (recorded) GOSPEL MESSAGE since the ascension, the crowd was moved: “What shall we do?” What is our response to this message?
Peter gives an altar call: “Repent (Turn) 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.”
And he gives a promise with this exhortation
Apparently some needed more convincing, so Peter continues to preach and exhort
The story rounds out with a summary statement that every preacher longs to read about their ministry: So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
There it is. The FIRST AWAKENING…the FIRST REVIVAL of the New Testament. But it’s not the first in the Bible. Let me reference an OT revival during the reign of King Josiah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 639 BC (about 50 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple).
Like the Northern Kingdom of Israel (which had been destroyed 100 years earlier), Judah had been “going through the motions” of religious practices
They meshed Jewish practices in the Temple with pagan practices of worship to Baal, Asherah, Molech, Chemosh, and other false gods. Shrine male prostitutes were even set up in the Temple! There were other shrines and altars set all over the kingdom by previous Judean kings. Abomination!
Josiah was one of the few good kings—when he was 26 years old, he had a personal revival that led to a national revival for a time.
He had ordered the High Priest, Hilkiah, to give the Temple money to workers to restore the Temple (think major Spring Cleaning and R&I on Byhalia UMC)
In the cleanup project, they found the Book of the Law (Torah). How did they ever lose it!
When it was read to Josiah, he tore his clothes (a sign of repentance)
After prayer and consultation with a prophetess, Josiah called all the elders together and read God’s Word to them…every bit of the covenant of the Law.
Josiah made a covenant with God to obey God’s Word…all the people joined in the covenant.
Then Josiah cleaned house! He tore down shrines, got rid of false prophets and priests, burned bones of the pagan priests.
IT WAS A GREAT AWAKENING THAT BEGAN WITH GOD’S WORD
JD Walt says that every great awakening contains two PILLARS : The WORD of God and the SPIRIT of God amidst the PEOPLE of God
In 2 Kings 22-23, it was God’s Word that brought change of heart and revival
In Acts 1-2 we see that obedience to the instruction of Jesus and PRAYER set the stage for the Spirit’s presence
I would add that Revival…Awakening…requires two fundamental elements : PRAYER and REPEPENTANCE
We’ve talked a lot about both, especially prayer.
We’ve offered a sacred place in this building for both
And yet we often operate—individually and as a church—without the presence, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit
We see this in the early church as well: Look at Acts 19
Paul is at Ephesus and meets a group of disciples. He asks them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard of the Holy Spirit.”
Turns out they had been baptized for the repentance of their sins (John’s baptism)
They were operating as believers in the teachings of John about Jesus, but they had never been baptized in the name (character) of the Lord Jesus.
When Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying
Tongues and prophesying—like healings, resurrections, and casting out demons—are demonstrations of the presence, power, and kingdom of God in our world.
Remember the imaginary sign? What if we’re all asleep?
The little church at Ephesus says, “We didn’t even know there is a Holy Spirit.”
That could be the epitaph of many churches today!
What if we are all asleep? What if we haven’t awakened to the Holy Spirit?
What if we Awakened from our slumber?
What if attending church was inadequate for us? What if our little holy huddles just didn’t cut it anymore? What if our $5-20 offerings seemed embarrassingly small to us?
What if our potlucks and breakfasts, while good and uplifting, just didn’t satisfy our appetites (hunger) for more of God?
What if our committee meetings became prayer meetings?
What if our vision “TO KNOW CHRIST AND MAKE HIM KNOWN” stirred us to radical outreach and mission ministries?
What if evangelism meant dozens of professions of faith and baptisms yearly?
What discipleship became so central that we had dozens of life groups where we studied and applied God’s Word together in biblical fellowship?
Nothing I’ve just mentioned is out of our reach? In fact, it is one breath away…the breath of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God and the Spirit of God in the middle of the people of God:
That’s where Jesus Christ is Lord…
That’s where the Kingdom is breaking in…
That’s where miracles are happening…
That’s where God is exalted and glorified
That’s where chains of sinful bondage are breaking…
That’s where relationships are restored…
That’s where love is abounding…
That’s where everything is changing.
“What shall we do?” That’s a question we each must answer when hearing the truth of God’s Word inspired by the Holy Spirit. By not asking and obeying the response, we might as well have stayed home and cut the grass! “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
For many in this room, Peter’s command is our reality. We have received the Spirit. But we still haven’t learned to obey the Spirit. We still want to remain President of our lives, while Jesus simply takes up Residence. God is inviting you into deeper places. How? Through ongoing repentance, prayer, and God’s Word.
Others of us may still be on the fence. Like the crowd at Pentecost, we are a little bewildered, amazed, perplexed. Maybe today the Gospel has been made clear to you. God raised Jesus up because it was impossible for him to be held by death. And because He lives, you can live also by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord. Today can be the day of your salvation. Repent and believe the Good News!
God’s Spirit is alive and dwelling every believer. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”