May 24, 2020

Online Service for the Sunday after Ascension

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Passage: Acts 2:1-12
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Audio Sermon

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Sermon for the Sunday after Ascension – May 24, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4, NIV84)

Acts 2:1–12 (NKJV)
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who sends the Holy Spirit to equip us,
To be witnesses of His life, death and resurrection,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Most Precious Blood –

Vaccines…are a ‘hot-button’ topic these days. While some people accept and even trust the idea of vaccinations; others are opposed to vaccines in principle. In fact, some refuse to have their children vaccinated for a large number of reasons ranging from personal preference to believing that vaccines are part of a government conspiracy to control the masses.

Vaccines aren’t soon to go away, especially now with the rise of the COVID-19 virus. There is much talk about developing a vaccine to help the human body create antibodies to combat the virus. Some will immediately get in line for their inoculation while others will stubbornly refuse. In the end, it is personal choice.

Well, believe it or not there is actually a bigger problem than the Coronavirus. It isn’t really a virus, but we are all infected with it and it is 100% fatal. It all started with one man and his wife. As a result of their carelessness, it was introduced into this world and every human being has been infected with it (save one) and will die (in many different ways for different reasons) because of it. There is no question where it all began, for it is written (Romans 5:12):

“…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…”

So, you know that I’m talking about sin and death. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and is passed on from one generation to the next because all are born in sin. We prove that we are infected when we daily disobey our Creator in countless ways – and then justify it. Just because we all have it, doesn’t mean that it’s not a big deal…even if people act like that’s true. The fact is that unless you receive the cure, you will die eternally.

Now they tell us that the vaccine for Covid-19 is perhaps a year or two away…if one is developed at all. Once developed, people will have to decide whether to receive the vaccine…or not.

We don’t have to wait for the cure for sin to be developed. God sent His own Son into the human race. He completed the work necessary to deliver us from both sin and death eternal. The cure required that He suffer and himself die to defeat sin. He didn’t do so to show us how to defeat sin, but to defeat it for us. All those who trust God’s declaration and believe in His Son will not die eternally, but will have everlasting life.

We all need the vaccine for sin; the inoculation against eternal death. In fact, many of you have already been treated with the cure. The Spirit of God washed away your sins when you were baptized. In the Word of God and through the Sacrament of the Altar we obtain regular boosters for our faith in Jesus.

We learn from the Day of Pentecost that the vaccine for sin isn’t received by breath or by fire. It is communicated by mouth thru the ears into the heart. It is received that way and spread that way…through the Word of God.

Let us Pray:
Holy Spirit, Comforter sent by Jesus, work in us by the Word of Truth so that we know the truth in Christ. Guard and keep our faith in Christ. Fill us with your power so that we delight in living according to the will of God to the glory of our Heavenly Father. Moreover, help us to be active in spreading the Good News of Salvation to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

For the last couple of months, we’ve been spending a lot of time alone with our own thoughts. While a little quiet time can be therapeutic, it can also be difficult. The longer the quarantine lasts, the more cooped up and stir crazy we feel. We begin to wonder, “How much longer do we have to wait?”

Jesus’ disciples only had to wait 10 days in Jerusalem. When the Day of Pentecost arrived, their waiting and wondering was over. They must have wondered exactly what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came upon them with power to equip them to be witnesses.

It all began with a sound from heaven. Now notice carefully exactly what is said here. It doesn’t say that there was a wind, not even a breeze. It says that a sound came from heaven, a sound that was like the sound of a rushing violent wind. I can’t help but think of the sound that can accompany a violent thunderstorm or tornado. It sounds like a freight train. But this sound…wasn’t of natural causes…it was supernatural.

This sound marked the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Evangelist Luke tells us that the sound filled the whole house where the disciples were sitting. I doubt that any of the disciples asked, “Hmmm, I wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about when He said the Holy Spirit would come with power?”

Who all was there on Pentecost? It’s an important question. When we hear the expression ‘Jesus’ Disciples’ we probably think of the 12 Apostles.

Don’t you mean Eleven, Pastor? No, actually in the verses that precede these we learn at two men were chosen from the greater number of disciples and one of them, a man named Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot. So, there were again actually 12 Apostles.

But if we back up about a dozen verses, we find that the number of ‘disciples’ or ‘brothers’ at that time was about 120 (Acts 1:14-15). I guess that makes us look at these verses a little differently, doesn’t it? It’s quite likely that more than just the 12 Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and equipped to be witnesses.

It all began with a sound, a sound like a violent wind. This sound got everyone’s attention and even brought people from all over Jerusalem right to Jesus’ disciples.

After the sound came a sight…

3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

The second thing that marked the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples…were divided tongues. Notice again what is said here…there appeared to them divided tongues like or as fire and each seemed to rest upon each of them. It was a second miraculous sign that the Holy Spirit had come upon them.

But, neither one of these things was the solution for sin. Neither the sound nor the tongues of fire served to rescue sinners from death eternal. They were only audible and visible signs that the Holy Spirit had come and something miraculous was about to happen. Neither the sound nor the fire saved sinners.

In a way it reminds me of what happened to the Prophet Elijah recorded in the 19th Chapter of 1 Kings (19:9-12). When Elijah stood in the mouth of the cave, he witnessed a great and powerful wind that tore the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces…but the Lord was not in the wind. Then came an earthquake…but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. Then came a fire…but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a still small voice.

The LORD was in the small voice.

People are impressed with ‘over the top miracles’ like the sounds and sights of Pentecost…which never happened again. People demand impressive miracles to prove that God is at work. Pentecostal Christians to this very day believe that God is at work among them because they claim ‘to speak in tongues.’ We don’t need signs and wonders, for God has given us His Word through which the Spirit of God works the miraculous, working faith in the hearts of spiritually dead human beings.

In fact, even the miracle that followed was just the beginning:

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ Disciples with power. He enabled them to speak with new (to them) tongues, in other languages, as Jesus said He would (Mark 16:17). The word translated ‘tongues’ is that from which we get the word ‘glossary.’ On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit enabled the followers of Jesus to speak in other languages they had formerly not known. It wasn’t some ‘heavenly speech’ or ‘babble.’ It wasn’t a special language that required another believer to translate or interpret.

They didn’t say whatever they wanted. They spoke the words that the Holy Spirit gave them and they glorified Jesus, the Savior (John 16:14-15) because that’s what the Holy Spirit does – glorify Jesus.

We aren’t told in Scripture to expect or ask for signs like the sound and the tongues of fire.
We aren’t told to expect or to ask to miraculously speak in another language.

We are told to speak what the Spirit has given us in the word. We are to speak the same message that Christ the Son of God came to save sinners. We are not to be inventive or come up with our own message…but speak what we have been given in the Word. We might come up with some pretty inventive stuff…but it can’t save sinners.

How do we know they spoke in other known languages? Well, people visiting and living in Jerusalem from all over the ancient world heard them speak and understood them to speak their mother tongues!

Jesus sent them to speak to the world and on Pentecost He brought the world to them!

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

People today – to one degree or another – are concerned about contracting the Coronavirus. There may well be good reason to take care. We are asked not to congregate in groups because one infected person could easily spread the virus to another and another and another. We keep our distance. We wash our hands. We wear masks.

We don’t want to catch or spread the virus.

What if the only way to save people…was to talk to them? Well, if that were the case, you can bet that there would be no social distancing! We’d be organizing meetings all over the world. Come, listen and be saved!

On Pentecost…it was the message…that served as the vaccine for the virus of sin. In fact, nothing has changed today, for it is written (Romans 10:17):

“…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The Vaccine for Sin is communicated by word of mouth…then and now.

Think of it…if we would only be about the Lord’s Work…speaking of Jesus to others…not worrying about whether they’ve heard or not or what they think of us or what might happen. If we would only pick one person today and say, “I’m going to talk to them about Jesus.” Then the next day, “I’m going to talk to someone else.” If we were as zealous for Jesus as we are to avoid the Coronavirus…then perhaps we wouldn’t ever have to worry about the shrinking size of the congregation.

It is the message of Christ that saves from the virus of sin…then and now. If we would only look for opportunity and take it then think how many people could be saved from eternal death!

12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The sound and the fire paved the way. The miracle of speaking in tongues blew people’s minds. They wanted to hear more about these ‘wonderful works of God.’ They wondered what it was all about.

They were looking for answers…and on Pentecost…Peter gave them answers…He gave them the vaccine.

So today…things happen that move people to ask questions and seek answers. Death stops people in their tracks. Health risks make people think about their mortality. People may see our hope in times like these…and ask questions.

People are still looking for answers. They may not always know the right questions…but you know the answer.

Be ready to give them vaccine…Christ.

Remember that the Vaccine for Sin is not communicated by wind or fire…but by word of mouth. Therefore, take off your self-imposed mask. Open your mouth and speak of Christ and watch what amazing things God accomplishes.

Amen!