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Posted: May 31, 2012 5:10 p.m.

Scharf: The power of Pentecost is in the Spirit

Why are you wasting your time reading this? Why do you waste your time going to church? It makes no sense for you to throw that chunk of your weekend out the window; you've got so many other things to do - unless, of course, you see the power of Pentecost. You see, Pentecost was that day full of miracles recorded in Acts 2 where the sound of a wind filled the city, the tongues of fire danced on the disciples' heads, they spoke in the languages of every person there and more than 3000 were brought to faith.

Now, if you've been a part of those miracles, if you've seen the power of Pentecost, then I won't be able to keep you away from celebrating that with your fellow believers. So, do you see the power of Pentecost?
Open up your Bibles and read the account of Pentecost where you'll see the power in the miracles I just described.

Of course, as in the face of any miracle, there are those who try to find some "rational" explanation of it (although it rarely is truly rational). The naysayers accuse: "Oh these guys miraculously communicating in languages they've never heard must be drunk." Let me tell you, that's far less rational than believing the miracle. I worked for years at a major league ballpark. I met plenty of drunks. Not once was I impressed with a single one of them for an improved power of communication.

But, it seems that unbelievers are willing to believe anything as long as it doesn't give God glory. Yet, God gets the glory. Look at the text - those miracles turned the attention of the people to God. Our God does the same today, doesn't he?

Think about this question: did God want them to worship him because they heard a wind or a fire? No - but he used that to bring them. Did you come to church the first time for "right" reasons? Probably not. But God did something (or maybe he's doing something right now) to bring you.

Of course, we humans like to try to look at all the "wrong" reasons. Sometimes we fail to see the miracles God is performing to get our attention. Yet, you're listening now, aren't you? God is good. Keep reading and you see something far more powerful than some wind or fire. The absolute power of Pentecost is in the Spirit.

That's where Peter points when he shoots down the crowd's assessment that these guys were drunk: "These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! "No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people" (Acts 2:15-16).

You see what he just did? He turned the discussion to the word of God. That's where the power is. That's the tool the Spirit uses.

And then he tells us the real miracle that Word accomplishes: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Acts 2:21).

Isn't that amazing? Think about it. Like we said before, people don't come to church the first time for the right reasons - to praise God and grow in their relationship with him. Without the Spirit's work, we have no desire for either of those things. But God uses other miracles to bring them, maybe wind and fire like on Pentecost. Or maybe he uses something else.

I think of the mom who brought her kids to Vacation Bible School because it was something for them to do to keep them busy for a week in the summer. And then their dad, who, once he had custody, later brought them to church because they kept begging to go back. He brought them out of a sense of parental responsibility. But then he came back, again and again, they came back, and the Spirit worked and soon they were all baptized.

Maybe it is the teenager who goes to church because he wants to win points with the girlfriend, maybe it is the curiosity of "what's a Lutheran," maybe it is for business contacts, maybe it is the fact that this person just came up to my door and invited me and I'd like to be around nice people like that, maybe it is guilt or fear, or countless other things that get us into church or into the word. But it is there that we see the real miracle. It is there we see Pentecost. We see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as God's word is read and sung and preached. The Holy Spirit touches our hearts, causing us to call on the name of the Lord, and we are saved.

But don't miss why. Look at verse 11. Look at what all of these people coming for the wrong reasons were encountered with. "We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues." That's what you hear when you come here. You hear how God loved you enough to sacrifice his one and only Son, to pay the price for all of your sins and mine of focusing so much on self that we fail to see Him, of looking to ourselves for success instead of trusting our Savior God. You hear how Jesus rose and ascended and now rules over all things for the good of us - His church. And you are motivated by the Holy Spirit using God's word and sacraments to live a new life of hope and peace and love and work - trusting in God for the results.

That's the power of Pentecost!

In Christ, Amen.

 

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.

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