AND THE LORD GOD POURED OUT HIS SPIRIT UPON HIS BELIEVERS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
22 MAY 1994
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Today is Pentecost Sunday, which calls to mind the dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early church on the 50th day of Jesus' resurrection.
It came as quite a surprise to the people of Jerusalem, but it shouldn't have, for the prophets of old had foretold of this occurrence.
The passage that Peter quoted in his famous sermon (Acts 2) was from Joel 2:28-32:
28. "And it will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29. "And even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Those days came about at Pentecost, and have continued even to this very day.
And as a testimony of the truth of this outpouring, we should all be able to prophesy according to the word of God, that others would come to believe, as they did when Peter spoke forth.
And if any of us struggle with the word of God, it is an indication that we must seek the Holy Spirit's inspiration in our lives, and learn to submit more naturally to His Unction.
30. "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31. "The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
This portion of Joel's prophecy has yet to come about, but the next portion continues to happen every day.
32. "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the Lord has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
There will be that final culmination when the Lord returns; but in small ways, this event has been playing out all over the world for the past 2,000 years.
And it is meant for every one who is willing to receive Him.
Even when people were unwilling to listen to the commandments of the Lord God, His message of grace was still offered, as Isaiah tells us in 32:15-18:
15. Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fertile field
And the fertile field is considered as a forest.
The Spirit is being poured out from on high upon all who believe; but until the community, as a whole, is willing to change, the remainder of the prophecy is “bottled-up” in heaven.
But when the community becomes faithful, then all His glory springs to life.
16. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness will abide in the fertile field.
17. And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
18. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation,
And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places;
As a society, we do a whole lot of complaining about what is wrong with something.
At times I feel that people are elected to office just to give others someone to pick at.
We put a whole lot of effort into destroying something, but little effort into building it.
Unless we start building the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven, with the spiritual building blocks the Lord has given us, we may well find ourselves without everything that is worthwhile.
Unless we, who know the truth, absorb the Spirit the Lord has poured out upon us, no one else will follow suit.
Someone has to set the example, and if we believe, it is us who are called upon to do so.
It is only then that our life really begins to change for the better.
This is what Ezekiel was telling the Israelites who had been led into captivity because of their failure to receive the Unction of the Spirit of God; for once they start to rebuild their lives, the Lord will restore them. (Ezekiel 39:25-29)
25. Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I shall be jealous for My holy name.
26. "And they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.
27. "When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations.
28. "Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer.
29. "And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord God.
And the Lord has continued to pour out His Spirit upon all who repent and seek to serve Him.
Then there are times when we whole-heartedly serve the Lord, and we find ourselves being persecuted or ridiculed by others because of our faith, and our peacemaking efforts.
When this happens, we mistakenly think the Lord is not with us, and we have a tendency to give up.
But in such times we should strive all the harder, for we are God's witnesses to a world gone crazy.
This is what Jesus was telling His disciples in John 16:1-15.
1. "These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling.
2. "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.
I see this as an example of a lot of the strife we have in and among the various churches over denominational issues.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to be poured upon and into us, personally, then we live in the love of the Lord, and realize that our differences are really unimportant when compared to our relationship with the Lord our God.
In this, our church shines forth as a beacon of hope and peace, but it can't stop there; it must continue to show even greater love and sensitivity.
Note what Jesus says next about the people who bring strife into the church:
3. "And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me.
If you know that you are living in the love of the Lord, and that the Holy Spirit is guiding you as a peacemaking child of God, then you also know that you can't enter into any conflict concerning the things of God; for conflict and strife are not from God.
But anyone who brings conflict and strife into the church or, for that matter, any place else, doesn't really know God, and this is what this passage tells us.
4. "But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
This is why I am constantly encouraging you to analyze situations on the basis of love and compassion, for if they are not present, then the situation is not of God.
And we should recognize the source of the strife. It is from the devil, even if it occurs in the church.
5. "But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?'
6. "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7. "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
The Helper is the Holy Spirit, and He is with every true believer, and even in the presence of every non-believer, as their conscience.
8. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;
9. concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10. and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;
11. and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Doesn’t the test of love and compassion let us discern these things?
We cannot sin against God, or anyone else, if we truly love them, can we?
Doesn’t love and compassion reflect the things of righteousness?
And doesn’t this same love and compassion point out the things of the devil, the things that are subject to God's judgment?
Allow the Holy Spirit to continually show you these things.
12. "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
The prophets of old were not the only ones who were given the vision to see into the future; we, too, have been given this vision by the same Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will help us to see beyond the problems and strife of yesterday and today, and will prepare us for tomorrow.
He will help us to see into, and perhaps even enter into, the kingdom of heaven.
And from that vantage point, we can turn around and look back at our earthly situations, and see them in the same context as God sees them.
It is then that we come to realize that we no longer have to enter into such situations, for we have risen above them.
And in the process we will glorify the Lord.
14. "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.
15. "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.
The Holy Spirit will indeed disclose all these mysteries to us.
We just have to learn to let Him do it.
And besides learning, we have to really and truly want Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our life, of our entire life, and not just a part of it.
With God, there are no maybes, or sometimes, or perhaps, or we'll see; it’s an all or nothing situation.
And it's when we're sold out for the Lord, and only then, that the miracle of the Holy Spirit within us becomes evident, and the world around us begins to change.
Let us pray!
Your Comments are welcome
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