The Day of Pentecost [c] June 9, 2019
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians–we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
In the Name of Jesus.
Wouldn’t we like to know God’s will for our lives? If only a sign, and indication, telling us which way to go.
The student considering college, should she take mathematics at New Mexico State, or marketing at UNM? Which is God’s will, how will she know?
The husband and wife considering buying a home, should they buy now, or save up for two more years to get a better down payment? How will they know God’s will for that?
A man considering a job in Chicago with a big pay increase, or the job in Dallas which seems to have more room for advancement? Chicago or Dallas? Will God give some indication of his will?
Me, as I sit down to watch the news, should I watch CNN while drinking a Shiner Bock, or Fox News while drinking an I.P.A.? How will I know God’s will for that?
Peter seems to give an answer.
Much bad theology, though, springs from trying to determine God’s will for our lives where God has not promised to give his will.
Are you sincerely open to God’s urgings so that you can feel when he’s spiritually prodding you to do something? Is your will in tune with God’s will—in tune enough that you are sensitive to his nudges?
Much bad theology, and much unnecessary guilt, is created by trying to determine God’s will for your life.
But Peter seems to give an answer. Acts 2:17:
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
Peter gives the promise of prophecy—to you and me, to our sons and daughters, to everyone in the Church, they shall all prophesy.
To prophesy is to speak the will of God. It is to know God’s will in Heaven, and to proclaim it here on Earth. To be a prophet is to be appointed by the Lord to hear his Word at the heavenly throne, and to bring it to sinners on Earth. To prophesy falsely, to speak God’s Word when it is not really his word but only yours, is to be a false prophet. The penalty for that is condemnation.
In the Old Testament, the Lord appointed men such as Abraham and Moses, and Elijah and Isaiah, and the rest. But now Peter speaks of prophesy as coming not from ordained prophets, but from every Christian—your old men and your young men, your sons and your daughters, everyone in the Church will by prophesying, no barriers.
Should the young woman take mathematics in college, or marketing? Prophesy and tell her which is God’s will.
Should the mom and dad buy a house now or save for two more years? They need to know God’s will. Get your will aligned with God’s will and prophesy to them.
Should I watch CNN this evening or Fox news, what is God’s will for me? Prophesy and tell me.
Much bad theology springs from the desire to state God’s will for our lives. And much guilt. Think of the guilt of a husband and wife who buy a house totally convinced that it was God’s will, then when the house has foundation problems, they must wonder why God let that happen. The young woman who signs up for a math degree, only to figure out 3 years later that she doesn’t particularly enjoy it, and now she thinks that when she didn’t sign up for the marketing degree, she must’ve sinned against God.
When we pretend to know God’s will when God has not promised to make his will known, we will end up in guilt.
So what does Peter mean when he says everyone in the Church will prophesy?
The prophetic office, that office filled by such men as Abraham and Moses, Elijah and Isaiah, has done its job. It has proclaimed the Savior throughout the generations. Now, the Savior has come. Jesus has accomplished all that the prophets spoke, he has finished the job, he has redeemed all sinners.
Jesus is the last prophet. The one full, complete prophet of Israel, who not only proclaimed the Word, but is the Word—after he accomplishes on the cross all things for the redemption of the sinner, the office of prophet is filled to the brim and completed.
God, who at many times and in various ways spoke to our fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
So standing in front of the people, many of whom had helped crucify Jesus, Peter says,
“Therefore, [this Jesus,] being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:`The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
When they heard what Peter said, the people were cut to the heart. But Peter did not want them left in fear. So he gave them the gift of the Gospel. Acts 2:38:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Peter comforts the people with the word that the promise of Baptism is to you and your children, to all who are far off, everyone whom our Lord calls.
Who is to be baptized? No one is to be left out of the promise. Neither neighbor nor foreigner, neither man nor woman, neither old man nor infant, no one is to be left out of the promise of Baptism.
Who is given to prophesy? Your sons and your daughters, your old men and your children, no one is left out of prophesying.
For, to prophesy means to speak the cross. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke the cross which was to come, speaking it as the Lord gave them glimpses of the coming Savior.
Now the cross is an accomplished fact in history. Those after the cross, we and our children speak the cross in its fulness. We speak to one another, encouraging each other with the Gospel.
And when we do speak of Jesus crucified for all sinners, and of the promise of Baptism which is to all, old man and infant, and we speak of the Holy Spirit bringing the Body and Blood of the cross for us to eat and drink now for the forgiveness of sin, when we do speak this Gospel, that is prophesy.
Not to tell the young student whether it is God’s will for her to sign up for the math program or for the marketing degree, for we have no promise or word from God on which classes she should take and we don’t want to put her under a false guilt of doing or not doing God’s will. Jesus didn’t die in order to sign us up for the right college courses. He died to forgive our sin. That’s prophesy.
He didn’t die to tell the young couple who wants to know when to buy a house what God’s will is for their money. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to give investment advice. He died to cleanse our consciences. That’s prophesy.
God’s will—what is God’s will? God’s will is that we love God with all our heart and all our soul and we love our neighbor as ourselves.
And God’s will is that when his Law shows us our sin, so that we say, as those people said to Peter, “What, then shall we do,” we then hear his word of prophesy, that the promise of Baptism is to us and to our children, and this Baptism is for the forgiveness of our sin. [Acts 2:38]
God’s will is always that we hear his Gospel that all sin is atoned for by the blood of Jesus, and that he, Jesus, stands us before God the Father clothed in his own righteous.
In the Name of Jesus.