Sunday 31 May 2020
Ps Ben Hooman
Welcome to this service where we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the church as the body of Christ here on earth.
Our core Scripture this morning is from Acts chapter 2.
The chairman reports that the church congregation is at 120 people and that they do not have a building yet and are still meeting on the second floor of a rented place in the city.
Many discussions about many aspects are taking place whereof one is to replace a vacant leadership position to be filled. Besides that, not a lot is happening part of prayer and supplication. There is little money and very few people are attending due to so much fear out there that prevent people from hearing their message.
Does this sound familiar of some past experiences? Remember that this was the first and only church at the beginning of Acts chapter one. Christ has ascended into heaven and 120 believers was assembled in the upper room waiting for something that has been promised to happen.
Today all over the world many sermons are preached about what happened on that day. Many preached about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and on the power of the Holy Spirit and rightly so.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Many people today want that experience. A great number of people for their whole life run after the experience of what happened that day, but never get to walk in the fulness of the Promise, of the Holy Spirit here and now on earth. Why did the Holy Spirit come?
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no longer;” (John 16:7-10)
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore, I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)
What is the primary responsibility of the Holy Spirit and more so of the Holy Spirit that abides in a believer? So many in today’s culture identify themselves with the Holy Spirit, filled with a great deal of confusion and a lot of superstition. A form of faith that is event driven, being moved and inspired and motivated by something and by some atmosphere to get them excited again.
A form of faith that is broadly supportive of Jesus but also highly unstable by constantly depending on some new event to get going, to get inspired and to get excited. A kind of spectator Christianity supportive of our faith but turns out to be so easily swayed!
We in these times need Jesus Christ and we need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth for us and in us. That is the primary function of the Holy Spirit; to change us more and more into the character and image of Christ so that we can be a living epistle so many can come to Christ by being baptised by the Holy Spirit into Christ!
So many walked away from God been in a church for years, even served in leadership for years, sold out to the institution because it enticed them by atmospheres and events. False preachers with a high influence and by there powerful voice and their self-entered position, their charisma misleading people away from the primary function of the Spirit of God in them.
What was the first thing the disciples did when the Holy Spirit was poured out? They allowed the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to the people.
“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 ears to my words.” (Acts 2:14)
Peter then describes the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He preaches the Gospel and because of the Holy Spirit in him it’s quite clear that these people believed what he was telling them. If they didn’t, they would have argued with him or simply walked away. The Holy Spirit helps to hear and believe the Gospel!
Hearing and believing the Gospel
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37)
That’s faith right there. They believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ. They take this seriously. If Jesus is Lord, and you have spent much of your life ignoring Him or resisting Him you are in trouble.
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all that are far off, everyone who the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39)
Peter replied “Repent…” (v38). He tells people who are believing in Jesus to repent. That’s important. True faith is shot through with repentance. True repentance is shot through with faith. These are like two sides of a coin; you can’t have one without the other.
You will not repent until you grasp the love and mercy of God for you in Christ. But when you see that love and mercy, how can you resist it? Repentance and faith are birthed together at the cross.
This faith and repentance lead to baptism: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ…” (v38). Peter tells them to publicly identify themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and receive the mark, the sign, the seal of God’s promise.
What is the promise? The forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (v38). God will forgive you. He will reconcile you to Himself. Christ will give you a new life by the Holy Spirit, whom He will give to you.
The scope of the Good News
“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)
The promise of God is for you, if you have come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You feel the weight of your sin and you see your need as the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sinful life, bringing this promise of a new life in Jesus Christ for you.
The promise is for your children. It is not limited to one generation that lived two thousand years ago. It is not locked in the past. The promise is never outdated. It spans the centuries, and it is for us today!
The promise is for all who are far off. The promise of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ is for people from every background. If you feel far from God today, this promise is for you. There is forgiveness and new life in Christ for those who are far off.
God promised that through the seed of Abraham people from every nation on earth would be blessed. Forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ are God’s promise for people in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica! The mission of the church is to take this good news of Jesus Christ to every person and that by the help of the Holy Spirit in us.
The promise is for all whom the Lord our God will call. How does God call us? He calls through the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. God was calling those people right there as Peter was speaking about Christ. God is calling you today, as you hear the Gospel.
There is forgiveness for you in Jesus Christ. There is new life for you in Jesus Christ. So today, if you hear His voice, as the Holy Spirit come to you, do not harden your heart.
What does this new life in Christ look like? What does it look like when this promise becomes yours? What happens when the Holy Spirit delivers God’s promise in a person who repents and believes?
I want you to see the sweep of God’s redeeming work in a human life. What is true of you if you are in Jesus Christ?
What can be true of you if you come to Christ in faith and repentance today? What is that promise been brought to you by the Holy Spirit?
Regeneration – You have new life
“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So, it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)
When God created the heavens and the earth, we read that the earth was formless and empty “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The planet was a dark, watery chaos, then God spoke light into the darkness. He brought life out of death, forming the beauty of the world.
John tells us that the same Spirit of God who hovered over the darkness is like a wind blowing into chaotic, dark human lives that are dead to God. He gives light to people who cannot see Christ’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:4). He brings new life to people who are dead towards God, enabling you to respond to Him (Ephesians 2:1).
Regeneration means that you have new life. The Spirit gives birth to spirit. There’s new life that was not in you before, but it is now. You see Christ’s glory and you are alive to God. The Holy Spirit brings us to union with Christ.
Union – You are in Christ
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
When Paul says “Don’t you know…,” he’s speaking about something quite basic that every Christian needs to know: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…” (v4)
What is he talking about? Paul is not talking about baptism in water here. He is talking about the reality that lies behind baptism in water.
Here’s how the new life comes about: The Holy Spirit brings you a new life by plunging you into Jesus Christ, making you one with Him, so that Christ’s death and resurrection become effective in your life and experience.
You are united with Him in His death, and in His resurrection. You are in Christ and “in Christ” you are a new creation. You are a new creation in Christ.
Christ has done for us what we have failed to do. He has lived the life that we have not lived and cannot live, and when we are “in Christ,” all that He has done is ours.
The believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has, as though it were its own! That’s union with Christ. What it meant for Him was being nailed to the cross. What it means for you is justification.
Justification – You are declared righteous
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
“Justified” means that God declares you righteous in Christ. This is amazing for God justifies sinners and the ungodly can be justified in Christ.
How can God declare sinners righteous? “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood…” (Romans 3:25). As faith unites us to Christ, the power of His sacrifice of atonement becomes yours.
God justifies sinners through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and we are forgiven and declared righteous by faith in His blood, by believing in Him. As the Holy Spirit baptize us into Christ as we accept Him as Lord and Saviour, we become sons and daughters of God the Father whereof Christ was the firstborn.
Adoption – You are loved
“When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
“Adoption” means that God loves you as His own son or daughter. Notice the great initiative of God: “He sends His Son into the world…” (v4), and “He sends His Spirit into our hearts…” (v6). It is the special work of the Holy Spirit to persuade you of the love of God.
God communicates His love to us in two ways: He demonstrates His love for us through the cross: “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), and He pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit: “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
There is no love that you will ever experience in this world that will match the love of God. God loves you with an everlasting love. No one else can say to you “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.” You might find someone who will say “I will never leave you… until death do us part.” But only God can say “I will never leave you!”
God rejoices over you because He already sees what you will be when His redeeming work is complete. That redeeming work is done in the life of a believer by the Holy Spirit as we surrender to the Lordship of Christ.
Sanctification – You will be holy
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
Sanctification is the progressive work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a born-again believer by which you grow in the life that God is calling you to lead.
Bishop Ryle helpfully says: “Most men hope to go to heaven when they die; but few… take the trouble to consider whether they would enjoy heaven if they got there. Heaven is essentially a holy place; its inhabitants are all holy; its occupations are all holy… What would an unsanctified man do in heaven if by chance he got there? To be really happy in heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for heaven while here on the earth.”
The Bible says “Without holiness no one will see the Lord…” (Hebrews 12:14). That doesn’t mean we are saved by being holy, but that the pursuit of holiness is evidence that you are in Christ, who justifies you by His blood.
Sanctification here is both a prayer and a promise. It is a prayer because Paul says “May God… sanctify you…” It is a promise because he says “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (v24).
You will love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. You will also love your neighbour as yourself. And every believer that you have ever known will find that God’s purpose for them is brought to completion. What God’s grace has begun will be complete. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in you that will reflect Christ’s glory.
Glorification – You will reflect Christ’s glory
“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)
Here is what is yours in Christ: You are going to be with Christ, in glory, forever! Your whole life is preparing for that day. It is the Holy Spirit that prepares you for that day that you will rule and reign with the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.
Not only will you be in His glory, but the Bible makes it clear that His glory will be in you. Paul says “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
How do you view your Christian life? Right now, we Christians are a mass of contradictions. We love Christ, but at the same time we feel the pull of the world, the flesh and the devil. We trust Christ, but at the same time we struggle with many doubts and fears. We have new life, but at the same time we’re getting older and our bodies are subject to death and decay.
When you see Him, you will be like Him (1 John 3:2), no more contradictions. What’s at the heart of you will become the whole of you. Paul says our sufferings are not to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. This preparation is done by the Holy Spirit as we submit to His authority over our lives, getting us ready for that day!
Consummation—You will see God
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2)
Not a different earth, but a new earth. This earth will finally be redeemed, liberated from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:21). This planet will be free from the presence and even the possibility of evil.
And on this tremendous planet, John sees: “…the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (v2).
Later John describes the open gates of the city, facing north and south and east and west. Here is a vast community of people from every nation on earth, redeemed by Christ, prepared by the Holy Spirit and rejoicing in His presence.
One picture isn’t enough: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (v2). How can a city be a bride? It’s like a hologram with two pictures. First you see the life of the city, now add to that all the joy of a wedding.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
Everything that separates you from God is gone. God shares eternal life with all His redeemed people.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated at the throne said: ’Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also, He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:4-5)
Isn’t it amazing that God does this Himself? “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (v4-5).
When we celebrate Pentecost, it is because all this is ours in Jesus Christ and it is revealed to us by the Promise, the Holy Spirit that baptizes us in Christ, in His body the church.
It can be yours for the promise is for you. The promise is for all who are far off. Repent! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ! By believing you will find life in His Name as you allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in you that he primarily has been sent to do.
Let us pray:
Father God, we acknowledge the gifts and all the power that come to us, that is in us because the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit is in His people. But we so easily run just after that and not allowing the Holy Spirit to change us into the image of your Son Jesus Christ, transforming us to reflect Him here and now so that many can be baptised by the Holy Spirit into Christ. Many that can become sons and daughters and call you Abba Father. Lord forgive us for our stubbornness and disobedience where the Holy Spirit is busy with the purpose you have send Him to accomplish in our lives. Forgive us where we chased after the power and the gifts and not after the Gift given to us. Holy Spirit have your way in our lives, let us experience You working in us for our own good and out of that will flow all the promises that is in You. Father thank you for your love, to give Your Son for us and for You our Lord Jesus Christ for not leaving us as orphans but send the Holy Spirit to complete the work in us. To You all honour and glory, we glorify your holy Name, and in Your Name, we pray, Amen.