Summary: A sernon for Pentecost.
Acts 2:1-24, 36-41
“I Don’t Believe in Organized Religion”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United MEthodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
It is somewhat popular these days to say something to the effect of, “I don’t believe in organized religion,” and thus, “that is why I don’t go to church.”
In saying this, folks seem to be meaning that they don’t believe in institutionalized religion or religion which is used and twisted into different shapes and forms by human beings in order to fit certain political agendas.
I don’t believe in that either…
…well, I believe it probably exists, but that is not what I believe God and the people of God are up to.
In Psalm 127 the Psalmist says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
Last Sunday morning, we talked about the Ascension of Jesus as it is recorded in Acts Chapter 1.
Jesus, speaking to His community, gave them this command, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Soon after saying this, Jesus ascended back up to heaven before their very eyes.
And Jesus’ community of disciples obeyed what their Master had told them.
Rather than taking matters into their own hands, getting organized and venturing forth with their own banners unfurled, the disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer”—trusting in Christ to make good on His promise!!!
And just ten days later, the promise became reality!!!
But before we get to that, this is what prayer really is, is it not?
It is a boldness born out of a confidence and trust in the Lord that God will be true to God’s Self and give us what has been promised.
And more than that, it is, really, the Church’s humble realization that only God can give what the Church really needs!
Every thing else is sinking sand!
It’s popular to talk about Pentecost as the “birthday” of the Church, and there is lots of truth to that.
But it might be more accurate to say that Easter is the birthday—even of Pentecost!!!
For it is at Pentecost that the power of God which brought Christ forth from the dead is given as a free gift to those who will believe!!!
Notice, in verse 14 we are told that “Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd…”
Another way of saying this could be, in my estimation, “Peter was resurrected along with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd…”
For this is what happens when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.
We die with Christ and are raised with Christ!!!
And we are given power—not military power…
…not necessarily physical power…
…and certainly not political power…
…but we are given the power of new life, fresh confidence, and new insight.
We are given power over death, and power to live—to really live lives to the full.
We are given the power to become “truly” human beings.
To be the people we were created to be!!!
We are given the very power of God!
In our Scripture we see that the dawn of God’s new day begins with an eruption of sounds from heaven and of fire.
Things are breaking loose, breaking open!
The New Creation is invading Satan’s space, so to speak.
The gates of hell are being blown apart by God’s Spirit which is entering into God’s Fallen creatures and making them new, forgiven and restored!
We are told in the very beginning of the very first Book of the Bible—Genesis—that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the [dark] waters…” and then,
“God said, “Let there be light…”
And here is the same Spirit, once again bringing something to life!!!
And that something is the Church.
It’s not a building.
It’s not some man-made political agenda or institution.
It is an assembly of believers.
It is the Resurrected Body of Christ on this earth—it is you, it is me, it is everyone who will believe!!!
On the day of Pentecost we are told that what is first heard is then seen—as “what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”
John the Baptist had said that the Christ, “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
And these “tongues of fire” bring about the gift of “other tongues” that the Holy Spirit miraculously enables the followers of Christ to speak.
And the disciples quickly move from inside the upper room to the street outside where the Gospel of Jesus Christ immediately attracts a crowd!
And out in the street, “Jews from every nation under heaven,” are for the first time confronted with the Church…