The Day of Pentecost – Series B Text: Acts 2:1-21 Title: “The Holy Spirit Is Still Working” Date: Sunday, June 9, 2019 Pastor Steve Bocklage “Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, and make our hearts your place of rest, come with your grace and heavenly aid, and fill the hearts which you have made.” Hundreds of times, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God or the “Spirit of truth”…but in our day, you don’t hear much about Him in Christian churches. When you do, He seems to “get a bad rap.” For instance, sometimes you’ll hear about people speaking in tongues, muttering sounds and gibberish. Sometimes you’ll hear about people suddenly falling down in the aisles at church and rolling around on the floor or breaking down and crying or laughing uncontrollably. You may have heard about people dancing and running up and down the aisles of the church. What in the world is happening? The explanation is: “They have been overcome by the Holy Spirit.” But is that what’s really happening? Is it the Holy Spirit’s job to cause these people to do these strange things? The answer is…NO! It seems that a lot of people get caught up in emotionalism…in the music, the swaying, and the crying. And they attribute that to the Holy Spirit. Many churches don’t even want to talk about the Spirit of God because they don’t want to be associated with these groups of people who look like they’re going off the deep end. Today, you are going to hear about God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. But first, let me say a few words about Pentecost…the day when God the Holy Spirit descended in a miraculous way on the disciples. Jerusalem was packed with pilgrims for Pentecost. Estimates put the crowds at over 150,000 people, which doesn’t sound like much to us, but it was huge number for that time. On one of the most crowded days of the year, Jesus brings His church out into the public for the first time. Because of this, church tradition has said that Pentecost is the church’s birthday. This morning, you are going to come to understand that the Holy Spirit’s main job isn’t to cause people to fall down in the aisles or cry or laugh uncontrollably. In our Gospel reading, Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit and calls Him “Paracletos,” which is Greek for “Counselor” or “Helper” or Comforter.” Just imagine for a moment…waking up one day and finding out that you are being sued by someone. It’s a very complicated lawsuit – you don’t even understand it yourself. Who do you call? You call a lawyer…your legal counselor. He or she sits at your side…and explains all the complicated things about the law to you. Your legal counselor helps you to understand what’s going on, and what you need to do about the situation. Without your legal counselor, you’d be lost. In a similar way, without the Paracletos…the Counselor…the Holy Spirit…Christ’s disciples would be spiritually lost. Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to send them the Counselor and says: “[H]e will testify about me.” The Holy Spirit will come to them and cause them to understand and to believe everything that the Scriptures say about Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit’s job…to cause Jesus’ disciples to mature in their faith…to counsel or guide them in the truths of God’s Word…so that they can go out and testify about the Lord Jesus Christ to others. We see that happening on Pentecost, the day Jesus promised He would send the Counselor…the Helper…the Comforter. Just like God breathed into Adam and he became a living being, so Christ breathes the Holy Spirit into His people…and His people come alive. We see this in our Second Reading for today. The disciples are gathered together, celebrating the spring harvest festival of Pentecost. Perhaps they are in the temple courts, where they always gathered together. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit descends on them in a special way. There is the sound of a rushing wind. Something like tongues of fire rest on their heads. Suddenly the disciples are able to speak in foreign languages, even though they have never gone to school to learn these languages. Then the Apostle Peter stands up, and for the first time in his life, gives a sermon to a group of unbelievers…those spiritually dead in sin. The result is another miraculous thing happens…3,000 people are raised to spiritual life by the Holy Spirit and come to faith on that one day. Here, God the Holy Spirit does His job and works in a visible way and in a fast way. But today, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nothing visible…no signs, no rushing wind, no tongues of fire…and nothing fast. Maybe converts to Christianity here and there over a longer period of time, but not 3,000 in one day. And sometimes this frustrates us! Why doesn’t God the Holy Spirit work more quickly and more visibly in our day? We might be tempted to think: “Maybe God the Holy Spirit isn’t working anymore. Maybe the Bible and the Sacraments aren’t the way to go anymore.”“Maybe it’s all up to us now…to make God’s church grow…to convince people to believe in Jesus. It’s all up to us!” Indeed, groups of Christians sometimes get desperate. They throw out the Word of God and the Sacraments and try all different kinds of things, especially the emotional kinds of things…hoping to see the Holy Spirit work in a fast way and visible way. Thankfully, Jesus forgives us for those times when we have fallen into that way of thinking. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit’s main job isn’t to “wow” you with signs. His job isn’t to shock you with spectacular religious moments. His main job, as Jesus says, is to testify about the Savior. His job is to cause people to understand and to believe all the things that Jesus the Messiah has said and done for them. And just how does the Holy Spirit do this? He does this through the Word of God, which tells you that you’re a sinner whose sins have been taken away by the blood of Jesus Christ. God’s Word tells you that Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. God’s Word tells you that someday Jesus will return, and until He does, He promises to be with you in His Word and the Sacraments and to bless you. Every time you hear or read the Word of God…that’s where you find the Holy Spirit. And He’s working! You most likely can’t see or feel His work. Certainly there’s no rushing wind or flames of fire resting on your head. But as you spend time in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is working on you. He’s causing you to grow in your faith. He’s causing you to mature as a follower of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is equipping you to be able to share the Gospel of Jesus with others. He does this in a very slow and a very quiet way. That’s how He works, and yet, His work is very powerful, and very life-changing. Years ago, engineers building a new bridge over the East River in New York discovered a wrecked hull of a ship, sunken many years before, lying right where the center piers were supposed to be built. Powerful machinery was brought in to remove the ship, but it wouldn’t budge. Then, one of the engineers had an unusual idea. Why not have the tide raise the ship. So strong cables were attached to the hull when the tide was low. The other ends were fastened to the barge above. As the tide came in, the barge gradually lifted the sunken ship up. It was then towed out into the ocean and sunk at a spot that would not cause future problems. (Illustration from sermoncentral.com). God the Holy Spirit is like the tide. He comes very quietly, very slowly. But He comes to you with a great deal of power. He lifts you up from unbelief to faith…and from weak faith to strong faith. He comes slowly and quietly. But never, ever underestimate His power! When you see someone baptized, you’re seeing the Holy Spirit working. When you take the Lord’s Supper, or when you see someone take the Lord’s Supper, you’re seeing the Holy Spirit working. It’s nothing flashy and it will not make a highlight film. Yes…the Holy Spirit is still working…still changing and transforming people. As you hear or read and study His Word and make use of His Sacraments, be assured that God the Holy Spirit will keep working. He will never stop until the day our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ returns on Judgement Day. Amen.