Pentecost Sunday June 5, 2022
224, 229, WS #739, 45
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ All Hail the Day of Pentecost, the Coming of the Holy Ghost! +
Prayer of the Day: O God, on this day You once taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us in our day by the same Spirit to have a right understanding in all things and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
In the name of our ascended Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has sent us His Spirit for our blessing and the blessing of others, dear fellow redeemed;
According to Old Testament prophecy the promised Christ was to carry out His work of redeeming sinful man so that we could become heirs of eternal life. Upon completion of His mission of mercy, He would return to His heavenly throne and then pour out His Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, in special measure so that more and more people might receive the eternal benefit of His salvation.
The Old Testament Scripture text from Joel, which we are considering on this anniversary of Pentecost, is one of those prophecies that foretold this special work of the Holy Spirit. This is the prophecy that the apostle Peter made mention of on that first Pentecost, declaring they were witnessing the fulfillment of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Starting on that day, the Holy Spirit blessed the Church of believers with extraordinary gifts by which they would receive divine revelations concerning the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus. This included receiving heavenly dreams and visions.
Ordinarily the reception of divine revelations through dreams and visions was reserved for called prophets like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and others. However, in the early New Testament age, this special gift of the Spirit was not limited to the prophets. The prophet Joel foretold that the LORD would send His Spirit to a wider group of believers in giving them revelations from above. We hear the LORD declaring in our text, “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, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” The Holy Spirit would send heavenly dreams and visions to Christian Jews and Gentiles, to believing males and females both young and old alike. Not only would the Spirit bless this wide array of believers with divine revelations, but He would also enable them to understand and accept in faith those wondrous truths of God.
There are folks in Christendom today who mistakenly believe that they are able to receive new divine revelations through the miraculous means of dreams and visions like those of old. But as the apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 13:8) a day would come when this gift of the Spirit would stop. And they did stop when the Holy Scriptures were fully recorded and there was no longer a need for further revelations from God.
While this special gift of the Holy Spirit is no longer present or needed in the Christian Church, the Spirit of God is still at work through the revelations found in the Bible. Through the precious Word of God, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual eyes to see, discerning minds to understand, and believing hearts to receive divine teachings of heavenly wisdom which save us and lead us in the paths of righteousness. This wonderful gift of the Spirit has taken place with us from little on as we sat at the knees of our parents, attended Sunday School classes and catechism instruction, and as we heard the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit and continued to study it at home and in adult Bible class.
We should never take for granted or look lightly upon the Spirit’s gift of knowledge, understanding, and faith in the teachings of the Christian Church, because to the worldly wise all this is regarded as sheer foolishness. They consider it nonsense to believe in a God who has revealed Himself as a Triune God or that we are by nature lost and condemned sinners or that a person named Jesus saved us eternally by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Thanks and praise be to God that we do not look upon these truths of God as foolishness, but as the absolute truth which reveals to us the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation.
Another gift of the Holy Spirit which all believers in Christ receive is that He opens our lips to speak like the prophets. From our text we read once again what the LORD declares to us, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”
Very often when we read or hear of the term “prophesy,” our immediate thought is that this is only referring to that special gift of the Spirit of foretelling the future. However, this term is not limited to this meaning. Take for example the case of Moses and his brother Aaron. When God called Moses to serve as His prophet to the children of Israel and Moses didn’t think he was the man for the job because he was slow of speech and slow of tongue, the Lord said to him, “Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall speak.” (Exodus 7:1,2) Just as Aaron served as a prophet or spokesman for Moses who received revelations from God, so also as Christians we serve as prophets or spokesmen for God who has made known revelations to us in Holy Scripture.
When the Old Testament prophets or the New Testament evangelists and apostles, or for that matter the many different Christians in the early church, received divine revelations, those revelations were not simply or only intended for them. Shortly before Jesus ascended into heaven, He said to His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) These words of our Lord apply to every Christian in every age. Christian witnessing was not reserved for the called ministers of the Word. The apostle Peter said to all of us who are believers in Christ Jesus, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) We who have been called out of the darkness of unbelief and brought into the glorious light of God’s saving grace are to proclaim those wonderful truths to those still living in darkness.
When we look over the account of the first Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts, we can see that as all the Christians, both men and women alike, were filled with the Holy Spirit that they all began to proclaim the wonderful works of God to the many people who were gathered around them that day. As a result of their witness concerning the saving gospel of Christ there were 3,000 souls who came to faith in Jesus in that one day.
In our role as Christian witnesses, there may be times when we feel like Moses who said that he was “slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) How many times haven’t we entertained questions and doubts about our ability to testify of our faith, saying of ourselves that we simply don’t know what to say or how to say it. The devil takes great pleasure and delight in seeing Christians questioning their ability to bear witness of the Savior Jesus and remaining silent about Him, because the fewer the Christian witnesses the less unbelievers will have opportunity to learn of their Savior.
The Lord does not expect us all to be learned theologians who are fully informed about the many teachings of the Bible or be polished and eloquent spokesmen of God. He simply calls upon us to share what we have learned from our Bible readings, the Sunday sermons, and the Bible studies we have had with fellow believers, and to do so as best as we are able. But do we even try to do that? May God have mercy upon us for those times we remained silent about the Christian faith when God placed an opportunity before us to bear witness of Him.
Whenever we are interested in getting good at doing something, we practice doing it over and over again, such as playing an instrument or cooking or playing a sport or whatever it is. Can you think of anything more important and more beneficial to practice that of sharing with others the Christian hope that is in us?
As we practice bearing witness of Christ, the Lord has promised us that He will send us the Holy Spirit to aid us in our witnessing. In those situations the Lord puts us in to testify of Him and His Word, He says to us, “do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11,12)
The special outpouring of the Holy Spirit did not stop after that first Pentecost Sunday or after the early New Testament era, but continues down through the ages and will continue to do so until the very end of time. Praise God for giving us the Spirit of prophecy, opening our eyes to see like the prophets and opening our lips to speak like the prophets. May the Holy Spirit continue to bless us with increased understanding and faith in the saving truths of God and help us to open our mouths to bear witness of the Christian faith. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.