Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:
Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit
© June 21, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #664:
About Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12); Prayer
Hymn #214: We Bless the Name of Christ the Lord; Choruses
Prayers and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Scripture Verse: Acts 2:14-41
Let us pray…
Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this Father’s day 2015, which also coincides with Summer Solstice, the day that the North Pole is closest to the Sun; Summer’s first day. Our lesson last Sunday entitled, Standing Firmly in God’s Grace, examined how the Lord never leaves or forsakes us in trying times. We found how a test or trial should not be the cause of us having a diminished faith as the more we persevere, the more we glorify Him, and the greater the reward of God’s grace is given to us.
In today’s lesson, Fullness of Joy from the Promised Spirit, we will examine some of the amazing changes brought to the disciples, now part of a contingent of some 120 apostles or messengers of the Gospel, after they received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. For a brief review of the significance of Pentecost, which Christians generally recognize as the birthday of the Christian Church, let us look to our Wikibits:
Pentecost – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.
In the Eastern Church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost; hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days inclusively (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).
The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from this New Testament event, as the movement emphasizes direct personal experience with God, akin to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
While the beginning of the Second Chapter of Acts does record with the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the 120 gathered in the Upper Room, our focus will be primarily on the Apostle Peter, whom Jesus described as being the rock upon or foundation for His church.
Before we look today’s Scripture Verse, Acts 2:14-41, which features Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost, let us get some context for Peter’s Message by briefly reviewing the thirteen verses previous to today’s featured Scripture passage:
Acts 2:1-13 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 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[a] 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.”
With respect to those mocking the apostles for their utterances in various tongues, I do not know of any wine, new or old, which enables them to speak in a multitude of languages and be understood. This ability is a gift of the Spirit given to the believer.
Now let us look at Peter’s Sermon delivered in the morning of the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:14-41 (ESV):
Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost
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.[a] 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[b] 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,[c] 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. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 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.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent 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. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Peter begins his message by addressing the “men of Israel” gathered in Jerusalem for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. For this targeted group would understand the three Old Testament Passages that Peter refers to within his sermon. The first of these Scriptures comes from Joel 2:28-32 (ESV), where the prophet describes the Lord’s promise to pour His Spirit upon all flesh, both men and women, of all classes, who will experience visions and prophesies:
The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit
28 [a] “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Footnotes: a. Joel 2:28 Ch 3:1 in Hebrew
But Joel’s prophecy warns that the gifts of the Spirit and the salvation on the day the Lord returns will be given to those believers who call on the name of the Lord, Jesus. It is these believers whom the Lord calls.
Peter continues his discourse by reminding his audience of the prophet David’s comment of the joy, gladness, security and confidence that he will never be abandoned or forsaken by the Lord, which is a reference to Psalm 16:8-11 (ESV):
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.[b]
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Peter continues to describe how the Saviour sent by God, overcame death to be raised up and exalted at the right hand of God, as we read in Psalm 110:1 (ESV):
Sit at My Right Hand
A Psalm of David
110 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Peter reminds the congregation that Jesus, a descendent of David, was resurrected by God and ascended to Heaven, as was prophesized in the Scriptures. The arrival of the same Holy Spirit to the apostles is yet another prophecy, and promise from God, come to past.
The truth of Peter’s message cut to the heart of those listening, and they became convicted by the Spirit to repent of their sins in the name of Jesus and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift from Lord is not available only to that generation, but to their decedents, as well all others whom the Lord calls. Some 3,000 souls responded to the call from the Lord and on that day Jesus saw the birth of His Church. The Church today is the single body of believers that we now call Christian.
The boldness of Peter’s speech to the multitude is in stark contrast to his behavior just few weeks prior; where upon the arrest of Jesus, Peter fearing for himself, denied knowing the Lord not once but three times. The rest of the disciples had the same fear for their own safety after Christ’s crucifixion had cloistered themselves in the Upper Room. Their feared turned to joy when Jesus, now resurrected from the grave, appeared to them in the same room. But the disciples’ joy was short lived when the Lord announced that he had to leave them, but he promised to send the Holy Spirit in His place. The Spirit would bring guidance, understanding and the continued presence of God with each of them at all times. This included Thomas, who was absent when the Lord first returned to the Upper Room and actually had to see the wounds from the cross on the Lord before he believed.
Upon the arrival of the Spirit to the 120 believers who were gathered in the Upper Room, some ten days after the Lord ascended to Heaven, we see how the Spirit gave them the ability to speak in all tongues and be understood by all those present. The joyful behavior demonstrated by the apostles after they became filled with the Spirit was mistaken by some as intoxication. Peter set the record straight by delivering the Good News that Jesus had come to fulfill Gods promises to bring forgiveness to sinners who confessed; the gift of the Spirit to those who believed; and the reward of the resurrection. Peter spoke with boldness of Spirit gifted by the Lord on that Day of Pentecost.
That is how the Spirit works then, but you may ask is that same fullness of Spirit at work today?
I witnessed on CNN the answer to that question, which came this week from the families of a prayer group who had gathered last Wednesday at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was at this prayer meeting, that a disturbed young man, with designs on creating a racial war, murdered nine prayer warriors who had welcomed him into their midst. Two days later, at the court arraignment that the grieved family members, whom the judge permitted to speak, revealed the power and love of God given by the Holy Spirit by forgiving the man who admitted to murdering the nine victims. Many of the victims’ families included in their statements to the court, that they prayed for God’s forgiveness and mercy upon the disturbed young man. It is how amazing to see the love, grace and joy flow, even through tears of grief, like a river from the Lord, when the Holy Spirit is present.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #192: Joys Are flowing Like a River
Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.