Sermon Options: Pentecost Sunday 2022

February 2nd, 2022


JOHN 14:8-17 (25-27)

Jesus is God's greatest gift to the world (John 3:16) . But God wasn't through giving! In our text, Jesus, on his last night with his disciples, revealed to them that God was planning to give them another gift—a very special, very personal, and a very unique gift—the Holy Spirit.

I. This Second Gift (the Holy Spirit) Is Also from the Father
It is important to note that this gift is from "the Father" (vv. 16a, 26). Often, the giver of the gift is an indication of the value or worth of the gift itself. The old adage, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" was probably first spoken by the recipients of a wonderful gift presented to the city of Troy by their enemy, the Greeks, under the guise of peace. The story of the Trojan horse still lives today! Yes, the value of the gift is often related to the gift giver.

Or maybe you've been to a party where gag gifts were given. Something silly or naughty or worthless. But the Holy Spirit is no gag gift from God. And the Father is not our enemy that he would give us a gift that would hurt or harm us. Instead, the Father gives good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:9-11). The Holy Spirit is a "good gift" from the Father.

The reason for emphasizing this is because not all Christians are convinced of the full value of the Spirit. While they believe in the Holy Spirit they are also frightened of something they can't control. Their mistake is in forgetting that the Holy Spirit is from the Father and is, therefore, a "good gift," not to be feared but to be embraced. While we may not always agree on how the Spirit works in our lives—let us not ignore or discount the gift itself. For the Holy Spirit is at the core of the Church today and without the Holy Spirit the Church is dead!

II. The Holy Spirit Was Given for a Purpose: As Our Counselor
The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to serve as our counselor (or "paraclete"). Jesus tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will be "another" counselor (vv. 16b, 26). That is because Jesus also served as a counselor or Paraclete (1 John 2:1) .

The basic idea of a counselor is someone who stands beside another to help or aide them. It also indicates someone who stands beside another in court and represents or defends them. In this text, Jesus is promising that when he leaves this earth he will ask the Father to send another counselor to carry on with the disciples. To stand beside them and help them, and if need be, defend them.

III. The Gift of the Holy Spirit Is Forever
This second gift from the Father is forever (v. 16c). Some gifts break after a day (like the toys we give our children on Christmas morning) or become obsolete in a few months (like computers) or wear out in five years or after 100,000 miles. But not this gift from the Father. The Holy Spirit lives in us forever. He is with us for all time. We are never alone. We always have God's presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

IV. The Holy Spirit Is an Exclusive Gift—For Believers Only
Jesus promised this gift to his disciples and only to them. In John 14:17 he said, the world cannot accept the Holy Spirit because it neither sees him or knows him. But the disciples know the Holy Spirit because he lives with you and in you. When, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in Acts 2, Peter tells the people to repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is for all whom the Lord will call (Acts 2:38-39).

Please notice the process necessary to receive the Holy Spirit. First one must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then repent of their sins, be baptized, and then receive the Holy Spirit as the Father's gift to his children.

Paul explains that the Holy Spirit was given to believers as a deposit or down payment on our future inheritance and as God's seal on believers, to show that they are his own people ( Eph. 1:13-14). And Paul makes it very clear—if the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have life, if not, you do not belong to Christ ( Rom. 8:9-11).

Today is Pentecost Sunday. Let us celebrate the coming of God's second gift! Let us give thanks to God for his Holy Spirit! And let us renew our commitment to the Father and the Son and be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Michael M. Jones)


GENESIS 11:1-9

Voltaire quotes a lady of the court of Versailles in a letter to Catherine the Great: "What a pity that bother at the tower of Babel got language all mixed up; but for that, everyone would always have spoken French!" I don't think it's as simple as that!

Consider the tower of Babel more closely. The passage itself is very straightforward: (1) Once upon a time all the earth spoke one language; (2) the descendants of Noah moved eastward to the Babylonian plain, settled there, and decided to build a city and a gigantic tower to "make themselves a name" and keep them from being scattered; (3) they built the city and the tower, and God came down to "take a look" at this achievement; (4) God decided this tower was a foretaste of man's ability to create whatever he could imagine, and so God confounded their one language and scattered the people.

Amazingly, there is no further mention whatsoever in the entire Bible of this episode of building the tower of Babel! It is popular in Jewish legends, however, with one account saying the tower was seventy miles high. Truly it was, as the name Babel means, the "gate of God." According to Genesis 10:10 Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, made the city of Babel the center of his kingdom. A legend says that God, when he heard of the tower being built, told the seventy angels closest to the throne to go down with him and make the one tongue into seventy. One legend says that the result of this confusion of tongues was that a bricklayer would ask for a brick, and his helper would hand him a bucket of mortar, and get a brick thrown at his head for his troubles.

I. The Lessons of Babel
The overwhelming lesson of this story of the tower is that it reveals in a graphic fashion our sinful nature and why we act the way we do.

They rejected God's will. It is obvious from the garden onward that God's intention for humankind was to scatter and have dominion over the earth (2:28; 8:17; 9:1, 7). But Noah's descendants rejected that plan, and determined they would stay together. That decision was unanimous, but it was an empty unanimity (vv. 1-4). Here at the start of the story we see in humankind a solidarity we can only imagine! It is a very prosaic lesson in the fact that a group can be unified in the wrong direction and around the wrong goals. Simple unity is not enough.

They were filled with a humanistic pride. Humanism is defined in all sorts of ways these days, but in the sense that humanism makes human beings the measure of all things and self-sufficient, then the folks who built the tower were filled with a proud humanism. This tower was a monument to their illusion that they could do without God. Notice the reasons given for the building of this ziggurat, or tower: to make a name for themselves and to prevent being scattered across the earth (v. 4). Doré's famous biblical etchings show a man standing on a block of stone in a stance of arrogance, raising clenched fists to heaven. Josephus says Nimrod built the tower to defy God and escape any further flood. The whole project was human-centered from the start; verse 3 makes a point of the fact that they did not use natural building materials but manmade bricks instead.

Helmut Thielicke puts his finger on the heart of the story when he says they had displaced God from the center of their lives, and thus unbalanced, the spiritual centrifugal forces flung them into the darkness of the world. When they put God out of their lives, life, like some old unbalanced clothes dryer, began whirling faster and faster, thumping and shaking and flinging itself to pieces into the darkness.

II. The Reversal of Babel
Now if we stopped here, there would not be much that is good news or positive about this story. The sin of Babel left us with the barrier of language, and what happened on the Day of Pentecost shows us how the barrier is removed. Sometimes we fail to examine the account of Pentecost in enough detail. At Pentecost we see a group unified and with a dedication to a purpose. But as they preached, a miracle took place; either a miracle of the tongue or a miracle of the ear, for people of over a dozen native tongues all heard the gospel in their own language as these Galilean fishermen preached! It was intelligible! It is at Corinth, and in the modern phenomenon of "speaking in tongues" that the speech is unintelligible, but not at Pentecost. Pentecost is the reversal of Babel.

At Pentecost the crowd asked, "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12) . Here is what Pentecost means in the light of the tower of Babel in each life. First, in Jesus Christ there is a true basis of unity beyond nationality or language. Second, when we put God's will for our lives through Jesus Christ in its proper and central place in our lives, we have peace, unity, and purpose. Just as the confusion of language at Babel is the symbol of our putting self in the place of God, so the reality of God in our own lives through Jesus overcomes the barrier of language. The cross of Jesus, in any language, is taller than the tower; the cross of Jesus, in any language, draws men and women to it under the blessing of God. The cross of Jesus, in any language, gives a security beyond this world.

In the heart of the prophet in the Old Testament and the vision of the seer in the New Testament the curse of Babel is lifted in the coming of Christ: "Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent" ( Zeph. 3:9 KJV). So spoke Zephaniah. Then we hear John from the island of Patmos telling us how he saw heaven opened, and the throne room of God Almighty stretched before him. And the four and twenty elders sang a new song because God had redeemed his people out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

In Jesus there is but one language: the language of love, grace, and forgiveness, spoken by the Holy Spirit in a way all of us can understand. (Earl C. Davis)


ACTS 2:1-21

There appears to be a renewed interest in the subject of the Holy Spirit. It is good because there is a great need for him in our day. Arthur Moore stated, "If the church is to rise to its fullest stature in God, if it is to enjoy the abundant life, if it is to meet all foes in the spirit of triumph, it must rely, not upon its numbers or skills, but upon the power of the Holy Spirit."

One could personalize that statement by simply inserting a personal pronoun in place of the word church. That insertion makes an impressive impact on an individual's need.

I. To Experience Pentecost Is to Experience the Person of the Holy Spirit
Our Trinitarian doctrine states that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. He is ever present, convicting humankind of sin, witnessing to our conversion, and empowering believers to live victorious Christian lives.

The power we possess does not come by what we have done, or who we are, or the denominational label we wear. Any power we have occurs because we have invited the Spirit to dwell in us. When we give our hearts to him, he empowers our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits. We become holy people, living abundant lives because of his presence.

II. The Experience of Pentecost Has a Wonderful Message of Jesus' Presence
The disciples watched in horror as the Romans and Jews collaborated together to kill Jesus by crucifixion. These men lost their hope that Friday when Jesus died on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus also brought the resurrection of their hope. After several days Jesus took them up to Bethany and blessed them. As he was blessing them, he was carried into heaven (Luke 24:50-53). However, before he left he promised to send the Holy Spirit so they would receive power (Acts 1:8) . That power is the power of Jesus!

Gordon Brownville tells about Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who first discovered the magnetic meridian of the North Pole. He also discovered the South Pole. On one of those long trips, Amundsen took along with him a homing pigeon. As he finally made it to the top of the North Pole, he reached inside the cage and set the bird free.

Can you imagine the joy of Amundsen's wife, back in Norway, when she saw that homing pigeon circling the sky above? No doubt she exclaimed, "He's alive, my husband is still alive!"

After the Ascension, when Jesus had gone back to heaven, the disciples clung to his promise to send the Spirit. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit circled the sky, came through the doorway, and looked on the hundred and twenty in the upper room. The disciples had the continual reminder that Jesus was alive and at the right hand of the Holy Father. He gives us Jesus' presence all the time. That's the same message of the Spirit today.

III. The Experience of Pentecost Had a Power
When the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples at Pentecost it was with limitless power. As a Christian commits to God, his Spirit increases the power voltage. What is that power?

A. The power to love—even our enemies. In a "Peanuts" cartoon strip, Lucy looks longingly at Schroeder and screams out, "Guess what . . . if you don't tell me that you love me, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to hold my breath until I pass out!" Schroeder casually looks up from his piano and quietly tells her, "Breath-holding in children is an interesting phenomenon. . . . It could indicate a metabolic disorder. . . . A forty milligram dose of vitamin B6 twice a day might be helpful. . . . I think that's probably it. You need vitamin B6. You might consider eating more bananas, avocados, and beef liver." As Schroeder finishes his thought he returns to his piano playing without missing a beat. The last frame shows dear Lucy sighing and saying: "I ask for love, and all I get is beef liver!"

Power-packed, Spirit-filled Christians will give the world God's love, not a meaningless substitute!

B. The power to resist temptation. When temptation approaches it offers the possibility of sin. The Holy Spirit is like an alarm bell in the heart reverberating throughout a person's entire being. He rouses the Christian to instantaneous action to stop sin from taking hold by giving one the power to say "no" to sin.

Pentecost is the center of holiness. Experience the glory of the Spirit's presence among us! (Derl G. Keefer)

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