TEXT: ACTS 2:1-21/GENESIS 11:1-9/JOHN 14:23-31
THROUGH THE WORK AND WORDS OF JESUS
THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVES THE LOVE OF THE FATHER
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ: Ten days after Jesus ascended the eleven were gathered together at the third hour of the day. That means it was 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning!  Sounds familiar!  Gathered together like you are today suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind…and divided tongues as of fire rested on each one of them.  The Greek gives the impression of one flame initially that then separated.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Sunday morning at 9AM on the Day of Pentecost and what do you get?  Tongues and words from the Holy Spirit proclaiming Jesus Christ and repentance and baptism and the forgiveness of sins in His name!  Sunday morning at 9AM in the year 2010 and what do you get?  Tongues speaking words from the Holy Spirit proclaiming Jesus Christ and repentance and baptism and the forgiveness of sins in His name!

TEXT: ACTS 2:1-21/GENESIS 11:1-9/JOHN 14:23-31
THROUGH THE WORK AND WORDS OF JESUS
THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVES THE LOVE OF THE FATHER
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ: Ten days after Jesus ascended the eleven were gathered together at the third hour of the day. That means it was 9:00 AM on a Sunday morning!  Sounds familiar!  Gathered together like you are today suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind…and divided tongues as of fire rested on each one of them.  The Greek gives the impression of one flame initially that then separated.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Sunday morning at 9AM on the Day of Pentecost and what do you get?  Tongues and words from the Holy Spirit proclaiming Jesus Christ and repentance and baptism and the forgiveness of sins in His name!  Sunday morning at 9AM in the year 2010 and what do you get?  Tongues speaking words from the Holy Spirit proclaiming Jesus Christ and repentance and baptism and the forgiveness of sins in His name!

Dear Christians, the Holy Spirit is no spook – flitting about from one fancy to another.  Nor is the Holy Spirit the product of your intellect or imagination or emotions or mine.  The Holy Spirit is God – one with the Father and the Son – who bears witness not to Himself but to Jesus (John 15:26).  He brings the presence of Jesus Christ in water and word and bread and wine.  He convicts the world of the sin of unbelief in Jesus.  No human court will convict anyone of that in Wisconsin.  No man-made spirituality will label that as sin.  But the Holy Spirit does!  He also convicts of righteousness that comes only through the blood of Jesus (John 16:8).  He does this all through words spoken by human tongues!

That’s why our texts today literally explode with verbal activity – with tongues and the words they speak.  Pentecost is a miracle of speaking and hearing!  At the Tower of Babel all the tongues were speaking one language.  Try to imagine everyone in the world having the same words (Gen 11:1)?  No Mandarin Chinese or Spanish or English or German or Polish or Arabic or Russian or Hebrew or any of scores and scores and scores of languages.  What strength that would seem to be in this troubled world of ours!

Yet what man sought to do with that united language was not good in God’s eyes!  Man did not seek to hallow God’s name or to glorify God when all the world had the same words.  Rather they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…  In other words, one common language intensified man’s efforts to play God.  The language God gave at creation was shared by all human beings until it became the foundation for this united idolatry.  Then… the Lord confused the language of all the earth…and…dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

And yet in whatever language they operate, the tongues of fallen man still participate in similar efforts to play God.  They speak when they ought to be still!  They lie still and silent when they ought to speak up. Tongues may easily jump into action to tease or to complain or to accuse or to blame or to gossip or to boast (making a name for ourselves).  Tongues may be quite content to refrain from praising God’s name in weekly worship or calling on God’s Name in daily prayer.  Tongues may continually balk at explaining everything in the kindest way for our neighbor.  Since Adam’s tongue was silent when it should have spoken up and since Eve’s tongue was active when it should have been silent, no one can tame the tongue.  You cannot tame your tongue to pray as it should and to praise at it should and to give thanks as it should and to protect as it should and to point out evil as it should and to stifle itself as it should. Scripture describes the tongue as a world of iniquity that defiles the whole body, full of poison and set on fire by hell (James 3:1-10).

That’s why the tongues as of fire from heaven on the Day of Pentecost trumpet such a beautiful, freeing gift!  The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is all about tongues, the tongues of man, the tongue of the God/Man, the tongues of the apostles proclaiming Christ.  This is true because the tool of the Holy Spirit is words, the words of the Word made flesh and the words of the apostles He sent.  As Jesus promised, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  Immediately before this He said…Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

Pentecost is a miracle of words – words the Holy Spirit brings us from the tongue of Jesus – which words he received from the Father.  These words of the Holy Trinity are so vital that they determine whether we love God or not.  God’s words and our treatment of His words and not our feelings determine that love.

Love is regarded by Jesus not as an emotion but as a watchful keeping and treasuring of God’s Word.  Not only the singular “word” is used here, but also the plural “words”.  Words are the tool, the weapon, the vehicle, the means of the Holy Spirit.  Refusal to cherish Jesus’ words is a rejection of the Father.  Refusal to hear and treasure Jesus’ words is a rejection of the Holy Spirit.

That’s why the Third Commandment is so crucial – that we do not despise preaching and His Word.  The Holy Spirit enters the hearts of people through the ears of people.  The Holy Spirit revives our hearts through our ears.  He is here at 9:00AM each Lord’s Day to do just what He did at 9:00AM on the Day of Pentecost.  He is present in your words of witness to the Gospel of Christ to others.  His office is fulfilled when He revives in our hearts what Jesus does and says and gives.

When they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues (languages) – that is when the curse of Babel was temporarily set aside – they spoke about Jesus.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Then their tongues proclaimed the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  Then their tongues preached baptism and the forgiveness of sins that comes in Jesus’ name.

These eleven had been so full of fear and foreboding!  Now they were full of courage and joy!  Seven weeks earlier they had denied and deserted a man who hung for hours naked and bleeding in public shame for the whole city to see until His corpse was sealed in a garden grave.  Now, in that same city they publicly proclaimed the mighty works of God in the name of this same man – Jesus of Nazareth - crucified and risen.  It wasn’t that they had marshaled their inner strength.  It wasn’t that they were so ashamed of their failures that they were determined to do better.  No, the difference was the fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to them hours before he went to the cross.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

His tongue was not set on fire by hell but fired by God’s love for us sinners.  His tongue spoke forgiveness from the cross.  His tongue spoke peace upon His resurrection – the same peace He set forth here.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  That’s what they received on the Day of Pentecost – Jesus and His presence and His peace by the work of the Holy Spirit!  What an astounding change for the apostles!

What an astounding change for you!  Sunday morning at 9:00 AM and what do you get?  As the Holy Spirit is at work in this gathering you get Jesus.  You see, the tongues of fire were temporary.  The sound of the rushing wind was temporary.  The simultaneous hearing in all those native languages as the Galilean apostles preached was testimony that all the divisions of language and culture and race are transcended by oneness in Christ – but that miracle of tongues was temporary. The proclamation of Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He bestows is not temporary!  The Word of the Lord endures forever.

And here you are on this Sunday morning to hear His Word.  You came here knowing that the sermon would center on Jesus and not primarily on current events or generic spirituality.  You came here knowing that appointed texts from Scripture would direct the service and the sermon not the headlines of the news agencies.  You come here in fact, believing that Pentecost continues as Jesus continues to pour out His Spirit, baptizing, absolving, forgiving, freely giving eternal life through His Word.  And so He does!

Pentecost isn’t over and you are the heirs of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit who hovered over the face of the deep at creation hovered also over the waters into which you were baptized.  The water and Spirit baptism you received carries with it the very kingdom of God in and with the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit who brought you that gift of rebirth is present now to comfort you whose tongue cannot be tamed.  But it can be forgiven!  In fact, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  

In heaven there will be one language again and you will know it perfectly.  No language courses, no translators will be needed.  We will all have the same words again.  Those words will all praise the Word made flesh, the Lamb who was slain, whose blood sets us free.  Even now He is present among us to say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

In His name, Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMEN.