Page last updated

 

 

When God Sends Forth the Spirit
John 15:26 - 16:15
John Nadasi, lutherfetch@yahoo.com

“Oh, I sure am happy to see you, " the little boy said to his grandmother on his mother's side. Now maybe Daddy will do the trick he has been promising us."

The grandmother was curious. "What Trick is that?"she asked. "I heard him tell Mommy," the little boy answered, he would surely climb the walls if you came to visit, and I can’t wait to see him do it!”

You know, throughout time, communication has always been a problem. There has always been a gap between what people say, And what others hear.

There exists a giant gap between what is expressed and what is often heard.

Yet, 2000 years ago, something truly amazing happened. It was one of the most wonderful and exciting moments in the history of the Christian faith.

The Holy Spirit had fallen fresh on the lives of believers. People were filled with the passion and the fire of the Holy Spirit. They were shouting joy from all directions.

They were gathered from every culture and every city, every nation and province, all glorifying God, speaking in foreign tongues but understanding each other, expressing different voices but still in one accord.

This was the time of Pentecost, when God saw fit to pour out the Holy Spirit which spawned the birth of the Christian Church.

The Day of Pentecost ushered in a new age, the age of the Spirit - the age of new life - for all people.

All the old rules had changed. The Advocate, The Holy Spirit was here and humanity was forever changed.

Now, in our day and age, we often hear about beginning new eras and new periods in human life.

Every time a new milestone in technology is achieved, some important official addresses the people and speaks of a new era, a new start, a new creation, a new epoch.

But in fact life goes on as it has before, We struggle with the same problems that we have struggled with for the last Several thousand years, with perhaps a few extra creature comforts thrown in.

Yet, real human newness has never been found in a new building, a power plant, landing on the moon, or a flight to Mars, nor is new life found in the latest psychological theory, a sociological paradigm, a new communication system, or even by the federal government’s attempt to repeal the second amendment.

You cannot change the quarrels in a family by eating better food, by installing a large screen TV or by buying a bigger car. A real evolutionary step can only be made if mentalities and attitudes change; real progress can only be made if outlooks and judgements change.

And that is what we find this morning in our texts. That is what happened at the moment that the Spirit of God descended, at the moment that all the disciples of Jesus became not only capable of speaking all kinds of languages, but were willing to use those languages to contact people they never would have thought of addressing before.

It happened when they went from believing in forgiveness to showing forgiveness, It happened when they went from believing that God would protect them to actually venturing forth from the upper room into the danger filled streets of Jerusalem.

It happened came when they went from thinking about what Jesus had said, to proclaiming what he said - in word - and in deed, and reaching out to heal, to serve - and to love - all those around them.

The presence of God, The presence of the Holy Spirit became real. It was no longer just something talked about, but it was real, tangible, visceral, Alive! And it surrounded them, spoke through them, Allowed them to understand God, each other, and their mission.

I believe that there is a mysterious moment in our all of lives a moment when belief comes alive It is no longer a teaching of the church in our heads, But an extension of Christ through our hands.

That moment is the gift of the Holy Spirit. That moment is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which now dwells in all flesh, and seeks to bring us closer to God - and closer to one another.

For the first disciples that moment happened with a rush of wind and tongues of fire and it still happens that way for some people.

For John Wesley - the founder of Methodism it came when he was listening to Martin Luther's Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Romans,and he felt his heart "strangely warmed". For me it came when I accepted Christ as my savior.

For still others - it comes it other ways - and as with the first disciples, as with John Wesley, and even as with me - it changes lives.

Most of us here today can look back and find a significant moment in which God has spoken to us. For some it came as a pivotal and transformational moment with a Direct encounter with the Holy Spirit.

For others, transformation has come through the form of God sending people to you To shape and direct your life, with only moments of hearing God’s Spirit whispering In your ears.

Either way, the Holy Spirit has influenced your life By speaking to you in a language that you can understand.

What made Pentecost such a powerful experience is that the Holy Spirit Was not just poured out upon people individually, the way in most of us have experienced the power of the Spirit, But it was poured out on a mass aggregate: a congregation, a collective of people.

This means that the whole body of believers were immersed in the energy and power of the Holy Spirit.

In this moment, walls were knocked down, divisions that were mended, strife and impediments were overcome for the Glory of God.

Can you imagine the joy God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost had at such a willing display of humility and obedience?

Can you imagine how winds swept and the earth shook with joy because finally the people came together of one mind and one spirit?

And as I think about how amazing that moment was, How powerfully God moved through the church, How receptive the people were to God’s presence, I am left asking…

Where is that now? Why can’t we have that experience today? How are we as a church, as a denomination, or even the fullness of Christ’s Body and church to ever have such an experience of the Spirit again?

It seems so frighteningly far away.

Too many churches have become mausoleums for the dead rather than coliseums of praise for a living God.

They have lost the spirit of Pentecost. They have lost their joy for Jesus and find themselves suffering from "Institutional and Spiritual Dry Rot."

Inside the institutional church, we might find talk about the Spirit of Jesus. After all, it is easy to say, "Jesus has left us and his Spirit is here," but that doesn't necessarily mean we hold his values or live out the Spirit’s witness.

Sensing the spiritual void this causes, the church turns to other resources to bridge the gap.

The latest bandwagon the church has jumped on is the political correctness fašade. Somehow we are going to save the world for Christ if we avoid offending anyone. And by doing so, we continue to live in a world that ignores its Creator, a world that peddles sound bytes instead of truth, a world that deceitfully tells us that we can make ourselves righteous if only we keep trying harder, (whisper) and we wear a smile and don’t offend anyone.

And our world, our nation, our church, continues to hunger for the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile the church is preoccupied on its latest agendas rather than listening for The Spirit of Christ to move.

We struggle in the church to wait for the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to live by the Spirit who has many things to tell us that we cannot yet bear to hear.

It is difficult to wait for a Spirit whom we cannot touch or see. No wonder, then, that sometimes in our impatience we turn to flesh and blood. We turn to other resources for undue authority, expecting a list of what we should and should not do.

Sometimes it is easier to look elsewhere for our security and approval. Like the day when Charlie Brown stopped at the psychiatric help stand to talk with Lucy. He confesses, "My trouble is I never know if I'm doing the right thing. I need to have someone around who can tell me when I'm doing the right thing."

Lucy says, "Okay. You're doing the right thing. That'll be five cents, please!" Charlie Brown walks away with a smile on his face.

In a few minutes, he returns with a frown. "Back already?" asks Lucy. "What happened?"

Charlie Brown says, "I was wrong. It didn't help. You need more in life than just having someone around to tell you when you're doing the right thing."

Lucy says, "Now you've really learned something! That'll be another five cents please."

"When the Spirit of truth comes," said Jesus, "he will guide you into all the truth." That is the instruction we need, and that is what Christ promised to us. If the world grows deaf and blind to its Creator, the Spirit says, "All things were created through him, and without him not one thing came into being"

If the world confuses you with tempting alternatives, the Spirit says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life".

If the world hates you, mistreats you, abuses you, the Spirit says, "The world hated me before it hated you ... and I have chosen you out of the world". If the world tells you that you are all alone, cut off from all help and strength, the Spirit says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing"

Perhaps it is time… Perhaps it is time that we look back to our birth this morning, Back to the birth of the New Testament church To remember what it was that God envisioned for us in the first place.

That vision God had for us has a name… We call it Pentecost.

Pentecost marks the beginning of a new spiritual movement in Christ; a movement birthed through the fire of the Holy Spirit; a movement steeped in the spirit of hope, renewal, and spiritual transformation.

If the Church is to survive the next millennium it must recapture some of the praise and enthusiasm it had two millennia ago. The spiritual energy and vitality of Pentecost has now sustained the Church through two millennia, as now we venture into a third.

What is Pentecost? First, it is the spirit of a people fully open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! One writer said the Christian religion can be divided into two basic groups: those who have been trained to constrain or hold the Spirit within and those open to expressing or letting go of the Spirit!

In the first group, the discipline of self-control must be practiced at all times, where the believer will not lose control of himself in the Spirit because it is intellectually, ethically, and behaviorally inappropriate.

Religion is about being still and listening, to be silent and contemplative in the things of the Spirit. To express oneself openly is synonymous with losing control of oneself. The point here is never to become too emotional, passionate, or outwardly expressive of the movement of the Holy Spirit upon and within one's life.

Folks, that is us. That is who we are as Methodists. We sit, we listen, we contemplate, and hopefully, Hopefully we go and find a way to live out these convictions.

Yet, in our worship, We are very orderly, quiet, reflective, and liturgical. These are not bad things, its just who we are. (Whispering) We are very quiet during worship out of our respect to God.

The second group are those entreating the Spirit to come in and have its way, which always culminates in the outward, emotional, enthusiastic expression of religious faith and belief. The point is not to maintain control, or even maintain a modestly intelligent theology, but instead allow the Spirit to come in to express itself through the person.

The goal here is for each believer to clear oneself of all external restraints and worries so that the Holy Spirit may come in, take up residency in the human soul, and transport the believer into higher realms of spiritual consciousness and expression.

This is achieved by opening the door to the Spirit and permitting it to come in and use the person to reach a previously unrealized domain of spiritual consciousness. Worship involves crying out during the sermons, speaking in tongues, Falling over in the Spirit, and under highly emotive and theatrical Levels of expression.

So in the first group, (lt hand) the Spirit is controlled by the person's capacity to reach a certain level of restrained disciplinary expression. It is characterized as being highly intelligent, but spiritually come across as dull.

In the second group, the Spirit freely takes believers to heights of spiritual expression, But in many of its expressions, it operates outside even the realm of common sense. A sect that John Wesley in his day referred to as “Rank Enthusiasts.”

So, where does that leave us when both of our options are limited? People of God, I believe the Spirit of Pentecost was reflected in a third group, which was a combination of these two.

The people had a profoundly life-changing and intelligent experiences with the Holy Spirit, but it was so deep and cataclysmic that it transported them into new and higher realms of consciousness and religious expression.

Pentecost was an explosion of the Holy Spirit and the realization of a whole new level of spiritual belief and understanding among believers.

Pentecost was such a deep and life transforming event, That it was, perhaps, the first time in human history these two religious expressions, Both intelligent and emotional, became one voice.

For the first time in human history these two separate groups became one group, filled with the Holy Spirit, reaching previously unrealized heights in thought, spirit, mind, body.

These two groups became one group which reached a third realm of religious belief, passion, and expression because they were all open to the outpouring and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever intellectual or emotional barriers separated and kept them divided were demolished because they were all receptive to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This is the spirit which gave birth to the Church. This spirit is the power of Pentecost! It is a redeeming, sanctifying, and liberating experience which compels the people of God to focus on our commonalties rather than our differences.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

The only question that remains in my mind is, Where do we go from here? How do we recapture the Spirit in our church?

People of God, we now live in the age of Pentecost. That new age that was born 2000 years ago, And is an age that allows for a true transformation, for a new way of living.

I have often heard evangelists and preachers talking about a great revival Or a new movement of the Spirit.

And, people of God, I hope that indeed happens within our lifetimes. I would love to see peace on earth, Goodwill towards men and women of every nation and race. I would love to see it begin here in our church to see the family Squabbles that began 20 years ago finally resolved.

I would love to see it!

But I do wonder, I wonder if God has already answered this great prayer.

No, there has not been a great new movement of the Spirit that I am aware of. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, it just means I am unaware of it. I am waiting like the rest of you.

But I do wonder if perhaps God has answered us. I wonder if God has already answered our prayers and we just have not listened.

That answer is, “Use that which I have already given you.”

I have given you the power of the Holy Spirit. You have an Advocate, the Paraclete, the Counselor, the Holy Sprit. Use him. Call on him by name. He is here for you, not in the future, but now!

I have given to you the spirit of outpouring and anointing; the spirit of people speaking in other languages of fire the spirit of consensus; the spirit of joy, hope, and power; the spirit of love and heightened expectations of what God can do through the people of God; the spirit of reconciliation; the spirit of transcendence, and deliverance.

People of God, rather than waiting on God to move again in great power, It is our turn to step up to the plate, And respond to the grace that God has already given to us.

The power of God can fill the body, inflate the mind, swell the soul, lift the Spirit and make us more than we ever imagined.

It'll make you young when you're old, and it'll make you live even when you die.

The power and presence of the Spirit will disturb, delight, deliver and lift.

When God sends forth the Spirit, "the whole face of the earth is renewed."

When God sends forth the Spirit chaos is changed into creation

When God sends forth the Spirit: A young woman says "Yes". Jesus is born and life is never the same.

When God sends forth the Spirit amazing things happen: barriers are broken, communities are formed, opposites are reconciled, unity is established,

disease is cured, addiction is broken, cities are renewed, races are reconciled, hope is established, people are blessed, and the church begins to live again.

Who else here wants to see it? Folks, it isn’t in the future, it is right here, right now, for you.

Thanks be to God!

And the people of God said, Amen!