Summary: Pentecost: A sermon focusing on the double edged sword: Being led by the Spirit puts us at odds with the world. Not being led by the Spirit puts us at odds with God.
Text:  …Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8.14-16)
It is Pentecost Sunday. Today we remember and celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit. This launched the Christian Church, so in effect, today we celebrate the Church’s birthday. Today our focus will be on answering the question: What does Pentecost Day mean to us?
Are you led by the Spirit of God? Answer yes or answer no – each has its own set of issues. Rev. Dr. Leopoldo Sánchez is a systematics professor at Concordia Seminary. He is one of the very few – maybe less than a handful – of Lutheran pneumatologists. Leo was always amazed at people who would say: Hey listen, I want the Holy Spirit to lead me and guide me. He was amazed because the Bible is chock full of some pretty eye opening things that happened to people led by the Holy Spirit:
• The Virgin Mary: became a pregnant teenager when the Holy Spirit came to her;
• Joseph and family were led into exile in Egypt by the Spirit;
• Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil for 40 days;
• When Jesus began his three-year ministry, the Holy Spirit led Him to announce that He was the Messiah to his hometown synagogue. Jesus was run out of town and the people tried to throw Him off a cliff;
• When the Apostles received the Holy Spirit they proclaimed Jesus and were beaten, thrown in jail, driven out of town and all but one were martyred;
• Steven, a man full of the Holy Spirit – was stoned to death.
The leading of the Holy Spirit always challenges the thinking of the world. We heard earlier that when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the first Pentecost Day, it caused such a ruckus that the Apostles were accused of being drunk. So I ask you – do you want to be led by the Holy Spirit? Are you ready to be led by the Holy Spirit?
You say, “Pastor, what’s the other option?” That’s a great question. Here it is: without the Holy Spirit, you will be lost in your sins. One day you will meet God and there will be absolutely no possibility that He will receive you as his child. You see without God the Holy Spirit’s help, we have no capacity to look to Christ as Savior. In fact, without the Spirit, what Christ did will seem foolish. Without the Spirit, people ridicule the work of Christ on the Cross. (1 Corinthians 1.18). And if we do that, we lose any opportunity for heaven.
You see, that’s the choice before us in the starkest of terms. If we can’t trust God, to lead us by his Spirit then we loose the opportunity to enter heaven. And that is not a good option because hell is real and it is hot. But if we do follow the Spirit, then we become targets of the world. And that can be a difficult thing. I can’t tell you how many times the burden of being a believer has been shared with me. In this life, being a believer can be tough. But not being a believer can be even tougher.
Last week, I visited the adult Bible class. During one class discussion, one of the gray haired folks in the class said something really cool. To paraphrase, he said, “I think we need to get back to the basics; the explanation to the Third Article of the Creed says, ‘I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” Beloved, God the Holy Spirit shows us Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to grasp forgiveness by faith. (1 Corinthians 2.11-15)
So let’s consider the possibility of being led by God, the Holy Spirit. The fringe benefits of that are huge! God the Spirit will point us to the Cross of Jesus. There we will find what can be found nowhere else – love so profound that we can’t understand it; Forgiveness to complete that even the most vile person is made holy; Life so abundant that it will last for eternity; And an inheritance as sons and daughters of the living God.
Today is we look to what happened on Pentecost – when a group of uneducated, scared, confused, unfocused group of followers of Jesus were changed and became the people that God used to launch the most incredible movement ever: The Christian Church. From the moment the disciples stepped out speaking a buku languages – God the Holy Spirit has pushed believers into the world to tell what great things God has done in Christ.