Samuel G. Beltz

May 17, 2010

Pentecost- Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-21, John 14:23-31

We cannot speak the same way in airports as we do in everyday life.  We cannot say bomb, explosion, Taliban, or “what is that in your shoe?” Last week I was flying home from my little sister’s graduation thinking, “why can’t we speak the same in airports?”

I came to the conclusion that we, as the world, are afraid of death and looking like terrorists.  Now, you might say you are not afraid of dying I pray that to be true, but you still alter the way you speak because your neighbors are afraid.  They are afraid of dying so you must change the way you speak as not to offend them. You do not want them to be afraid. Plus, you do not want to be considered a terrorist yourself!  After-all only a terrorist would come into an airport talking about bombs, Allah, and explosions.

All of this in the end is a civil matter, and as Christians we are to serve our neighbor.  However, in Spiritual matters are we to serve our neighbor at the expense of Christ?  You tend to shrink back from convicted Christian speaking and action because society says it is not polite to talk and act that way.  You do not want to offend anyone.  Culture says you must be tolerant of an individual rather than faithful to your God.  You are no different than Peter and the other ten disciples in that respect no matter how much smarter or advanced you consider yourself.

The disciples were afraid of dying too.  Do you remember Peter in the court of the high priest?  Jesus was being questioned, Peter was warming himself by the fire and a servant girl of the High Priest came up to him and asked him if he was with Jesus.  Peter denies Jesus.  He betrayed his heritage as a Galilean.  His appearance and speaking gave him away as one who was with Jesus.  Rather than be courageous Peter and the rest of the disciples hid and they changed they way they talked and lived all because they did not want to die or be considered “terrorists” at that time. All of this history takes place before one key event though.

Today we celebrate Pentecost; the event where God’s Holy Spirit is poured out on His People.  We learn that the work of the Holy Spirit is to inspire faith, courage, power, and unity among us Christians in our Lord Christ and His work of salvation as we are always faced with the fear of death on account of our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord!  We hear about this work of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:14-

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them all…”

Peter stands up in-front of hundreds of Jews and preaches a fiery, very Lutheran, Law & Gospel sermon.  No longer cringing and running from an association with Jesus-Peter and the eleven boldly preach Christ crucified.  They think nothing of their death.  They are not afraid.  Even though these are the very men who killed Jesus.  Their speaking is convicted, unwavering, powerful and unified.  Their hearts are filled with courage.  They do not resemble the men they once were.  Isn’t this amazing? What do we learn about God the Holy Spirit and His work?

First we learn that the work of Jesus and the Work of the Holy Spirit are different, even though they are the same God.  Here I must be careful.  We enter into the mystery of the Trinity.  Let us look again to Scripture for clarity:

We learn from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John that even after the Resurrection there was, unbelief, fear, and doubt in the hearts and minds of Jesus’ disciples.  This tells me that even seeing the Risen and Resurrected Jesus, and touching Him, does not change the hearts of men.  It was Jesus’ work to live, die, rise, and ascend to His Father for our sake, to ransom us, so that we might ascend to the Father someday.  The Holy Spirit comes to us and inspires us to believe that all the work of Jesus was for our sake, for us!  That is why, as Jesus tells His Disciples, it is better that He (Jesus) go so the Helper, Encourager, Paraclete, or Holy Spirit may come so that we might believe fervently what Jesus does for us.  What else do we learn from this passage in Acts about God the Holy Spirit?

Look at the disciples after Jesus appears to them and then Ascends.  What I find most interesting about them is that they are not preaching.  They are not sharing, by their living or speaking, the Gospel we preach and try to live so adamantly.  Here again we see the work of the Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit comes and inspires faith in us He drives it so far into our hearts that words and actions of faith pour out of our hearts through our mouths, hands, and feet.  Look at what happened to Peter and the eleven on this day and the years after the Holy Spirit came.  They were humble fishermen even afraid of Jesus after His Resurrections and now they were not willing to let the Jews (who had gathered around them in a public place may I remind you) alter their speech or action.  Instead, they speak boldly and with great courage despite death.  They gather together in synagogues and churches to worship.  They travel to Rome even though they would certainly die.  They Preach and Pray while they are being stoned to death.  They sell all they have so that widows and orphans may have care.   The disciples do not shrink back from any kind of speaking.

The disciples tell the Jews just what they have done to the Lord of the Universe.  They preach repentance and also forgiveness.  Disciples do not shy away from their faith in the work of Christ.  The Holy Spirit has kindled a faith in them that believes Jesus Christ has defeated all the enemies of humanity.  Courageously they proclaim what God does in Jesus because they are convicted by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is truly LORD!  Just what has your Lord done to make you so courageous and assured of life and love in the face of this world, the devil, and death?

The whole world became confused in language and divided by sin at Babel.  Your language became so confused and ungodly that when your God came to Earth to save you, you did not understand his faithful speech and action.  Rather than hear or see any more of His godly words and actions you killed Him.  However, God raised Jesus from the dead.

Your sin and faithlessness did not keep God away from you.  He loves you.  He overcame death and all its fears for you.  He places you into this community for your protection and care.  He does this through baptism, absolution, and the Holy Supper.  Take Heart!  Have Courage!  And Fight! against this world and the devil as they try to destroy your faithful speaking and acting in the same way they tried to destroy Jesus in the grave.

You will be tempted to speak like the world, and against one another.  Your flesh will try to convince you to give in to the times and that the church is better run like a fortune 500 company.  The language, worship, and songs of the church seem old an irrelevant to this world.  The language is hard to understand.  If you are sitting here today thinking that very thing I encourage you to come to bible class where Pastor Fritsche can teach you.  The World will not understand the language, worship, and singing of this church.  Because the world is completely controlled by the devil.

Do you remember what the world and Cesar did to Jesus, Peter, John, Steven, and Luther because they were speaking the faithful language of God in servant-hood and prayer!  As Christians living in this world you can expect the same thing and like those men you can stand up in all boldness against them without fear.

You speak boldly the Faith of Christ as a church every time you worship here and each time you Baptize and eat together.  The Holy Spirit has convicted you to do so.  You can stand-up in courage against the nations that might one day outlaw Christianity as you and this Church confess it.  You are not as tolerant as they want you to be.  The world and the devil want you to change the way you talk and act.  Will you let them or will you fight and stand your ground?

You speak a different language because you have a different future in view.  You live and speak as people who know the outcome. You speak and live as a people of God, forgiven and justified by God’s action for you and believing He is coming back to earth again for you!  Let all of Staunton from this moment until our Lord’s return be certain of your allegiance.  Let them know that the conviction and fire you speak with, live by, and love one another in, is that of the Holy Spirit of God who is poured out on you once again here today as you worship, pray, and eat together. The same Holy Spirit remains on you as It remained on Our Lord Jesus Christ who is Lord of All because He has overcome this World and death for you!  Take Heart!  Do not be Afraid.   Amen.