Summary: On Pentecost we see the Holy Spirit giving courage and conversion.
Courage and Conversion from God the Holy Spirit
7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?...12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
The most powerful force in the world is invisible. Do you know what it is? Scientific people will argue between nuclear and electromagnetic energy - both are very powerful, and you can't see either one. I saw a commercial the other day that said that the most powerful force in the world is love - you can't see it, but it is powerful. For math and money people, Albert Einstein once said that the most powerful force in the world is compound interest.
There is one force in the world that is more powerful than all the rest. More powerful than nuclear energy or love or compound interest, this force can do something that nothing else in the world can do. This force can change the heart of a human being. Do you know what it is?
It's the Holy Spirit. And it's not really a force. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is God, just as much God as God the Father and God the Son. God the Holy Spirit is the most under-rated and yet most powerful force in all the world today. Just think of all the miracles he has performed just this morning. Every single person sitting here this morning is a miracle of God the Holy Spirit. It's a miracle that you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who took away your sins. It's a miracle that you have rearranged your priorities in such a way today that you are sitting here instead of sleeping in at home. No one can say "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Today you have already confessed our sins, rejoiced in God's forgiveness - all of these things are miracles that God the Holy Spirit is doing right now.
Today on this Pentecost Sunday we give thanks for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we pray that God would send his Holy Spirit to others. Today we are especially going to focus on two miracles that the Holy Spirit gives - courage and conversion.
In Acts chapter 2, we see the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the disciples and those around them. It was the day of Pentecost, a big religious festival back then, where Jewish people came from all over the world to Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest and give thanks to God. On that day, the disciples of Jesus were together, and that's when God the Holy Spirit decided to perform miracles. He came with a loud sound - the blowing of a violent wind. He came visibly - something that looked like tongues of fire landed on the disciples' heads. And he gave the disciples the ability to speak in foreign languages they had never learned before.
The Bible says that everyone was utterly amazed when these uneducated fishermen from the middle of nowhere were suddenly doing this: "We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?'"
Some made fun of the disciples and said they had been drinking, and that's when Peter stood up and spoke to the crowd. And here we see one of the greatest miracles of Pentecost - the miracle of courage - this same Peter who had been too afraid to identify himself as a disciple of Jesus not long ago - remember how he denied Jesus three times? - there he was, speaking boldly to total strangers, in the same city where Jesus had been crucified. He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel, and told the crowd that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord would be saved. Courage - here we see it in the Apostle Peter - a gift from the Holy Spirit.
The other miracle was conversion. Just think of the people who were in that crowd. They had not believed in Jesus as their Savior. Many of them had been part of the crowd that had called for Jesus to be crucified. Later in his sermon to them Peter even said to them, "You, with the help of wicked men put Jesus to death by nailing him to the cross." Can you imagine standing in front of a crowd and saying that? Courageous words from Peter.
And then another miracle happened in that crowd of people. Instead of defending their sins or making excuses for their sins, they were sorry for their sins. "They were cut to the heart" the Bible says. And not only were they sorry for their sins - the believed Peter when he told them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." And they believed! They didn't turn their noses up at the idea of Jesus taking their sins away. They didn't say, "Well, Jesus could never have risen from the dead - that goes against science." No. They believed! The miracle of conversion - here we see it. 3000 people came to faith and were baptized in one day.