Part two in the What is the Gospel? series
May 24 | Sermon text: Acts 2
Our celebration of Easter corresponds with the Jewish festival of Passover. It’s no mere coincidence if we think about the Passover lamb as symbolic prophecy for the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Pentecost, fifty days later, corresponds to the Jewish Festival of Weeks. Jews still celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot). Just a little history lesson by way of introduction.
Before the crucifixion, Jesus told his followers that he must go in order for the Comforter to come. Before his ascension in Acts 1 to told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise.” John the Baptist had prophesied that one coming after him that would baptize with fire. Jesus said in Acts 1 they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I’m going to take for granted you either have read or will read Acts chapter 2. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the first “Christian sermon” and the New Testament Church Age began.
God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son. Jesus came to bring the Gospel. He was born in this world that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the leper and fed the hungry during his earthly ministry. He preached to the multitudes and personally taught a smaller group of followers, but the reason he was born among humankind was to die on the cross. He died so we can live; good news to those bound by sin and bound for hell. Jesus preached and taught the Gospel, and gave us practical examples of how to live and act toward one another. God the Father gave the world his only Son; many saw him, heard of him and listen to him, but only a few believed in him. To those who believed God sent the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit bears witness to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit acts to draw people to Christ. When we preach or share the Gospel, we are scattering seeds. Think about the parable of the sower: some will fall on stony ground, some will be eaten by birds, some will sprout and wither quickly away. Some will fall on good ground, take root and bear fruit. But when it comes to the Gospel our job is to keep sowing. Just like the farmer doesn’t know what happens under the soil (Mark 4) we don’t know what is happening in a particular person’s heart. We share the Gospel (through words and action) and the Holy Spirit whispers the truth of God’s promises into people’s hearts. He convicts of sin and gently guides people to believe our testimony. The Holy Spirit draws people to Jesus who is the Way, Truth and Life that leads to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit fills the believer. God’s Spirit was not unknown during the time of Jesus nor during the Old Testament. A prophet would be filled with the Spirit for a period of time sufficient to deliver God’s message to the intended audience. Mary and later Zacharius were filled with the Spirit and prophesied in Luke 2. But on the day of Pentecost the believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were covered, immersed, and soaked it in. To the lost person the Holy Spirit is a still small voice; to the born again believer the Holy Spirit leads to be more Christ-like. We can be lead as well to say the right things at the right times so that people that need to hear and respond to the Gospel do so. The Holy Spirit leads us to share the Gospel, gives us God’s peace over our circumstances, puts the words of truth in our mouths, directs our steps, and worships God with us when we worship! Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians that we possess a great treasure in jars of clay. Our bodies are the tabernacle in which God dwells!
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are at work together throughout the scriptures. Most will ignore the voice of conviction and choose what the world has to offer. That’s to be expected. It is a greater shame when Christians ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit and miss the blessings God has in store. We can live a victorious life of peace and power in the Holy Spirit, or we can be tortured by it we as believers refuse to yield. The Father, Son and Spirit are at work for the cause of the Gospel and we the Church are the body of Christ. We must love God and our neighbor enough to share his good news.
Part 3 next week.
Peace and blessing.