Summary: Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church. This sermon looks at what we were born for.
Knowing The Holy Spirit May 15, 2005 Pentecost
The Spirit and the Church
Acts 1:1-11, 2:1-47
You may remember what I’ve been saying about how the Trinity is involved in the creation. How the Father and the Son work together to form the whole of creation, and how the Spirit, who is the breath of God comes and breathes life into the creatures and creation bringing the whole cosmos to life.
You can see the same thing happening as Jesus, with the Spirit and the Father, forms the church in the three years of his ministry. He pours his life into these twelve men, concentrating on three of the twelve. He teaches crowds, but at Pentecost there are about 120 disciples gathered. He has formed the seed of the church, just as Adam was the seed of all of humanity. And just as the sixth day of creation was Adam’s birthday, when the Spirit breathed life into him and he became a living being, Pentecost is the birthday of the church, when this body of people has the breath of God breathed into it and it becomes a living being.
Wait for the Spirit 1:4
I think that this verse may be the most important for our understanding of what gives the church life. What makes the church the church is the presence of the Spirit. Jesus tells the disciples to wait; “don’t do anything until the Spirit comes.”
Until the Spirit comes at Pentecost, the disciples are just a bunch of people with similar experiences of Jesus. Granted, they have all been touched by God in a special way, but If they went out and tried to accomplish all that Jesus had promised without the spirit, they would fall flat on their faces like a kite with no wind. At best, they would have all been immediately arrested, and killed, at worst they would have been successful in building an institution with no life in it.
We need the Spirit to breathe life into the church
John 3:6 “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” The things that we try to do under our own steam will not last, only the things that are birthed by the Spirit are spiritual and lasting.
What makes the church the church is the presence of the Spirit.
Things we use to judge a church
All these things are a product of the Spirit’s work – the Sprit comes first, he is what gives the church life!
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Romans 8: 5Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.
Community – he is the Spirit of Unity (Eph 4:3)
Enthusiasm – means en Theos – indwelt by God
Effectiveness – he is the life giving Spirit, without the Holy Spirit, there is a smell of death to every thing we do
“the effectiveness of the church is due not to human competency or programming but to the power of God at work. The church rides the wind of God’s Spirit like a hawk endlessly and effortlessly circling and gliding in the summer sky.” – Pinnock, p.113-4
Outreach – It is the Spirit who drives us out into the world.
John Stott’s commentary on the book of acts is called “The Spirit The Church The World” and the words in between the large words say, “The Spirit sends The Church into The World.”
I’ll say more on this in a moment.
While all of the things that we might want to see in a church are good, they all flow from the church being brought to life by the Spirit!
So, what did this birthday of the church look like?
The Coming of the Spirit
Born to be alive
Just as the spirit hovered over the deep and brought cosmos out of chaos in the beginning, the mighty wind of God comes and fills the house where they were staying.
Just as God breathes into Adam’s nostrils and he becomes a living being, the spirit comes upon the church and brings her to life!
The wind is not a soft breeze, Luke uses the language of a mighty tropical storm, a gale so to say – just as natural birth is violent for both the child and the mother, the birth of the church is violent – the power of God breathing his life into this group of people is born out in the very atmosphere!