Tag Archives: Pentecost

it’s pentecost, ya’ll, and walls are coming down

It’s Pentecost, ya’ll, and walls are coming down.

I’ve read and studied Acts 2 for years but tonight I heard something new when the preacher talked about the miracle of everyone hearing the gospel procaimed in their own tongue.

I was struck by the amazing, barrier-breaking, outlandish and lavish ways God extends God’s self in order that someone somewhere would believe the Good News. The miracle of people speaking in languages they do not know but some do, and the miracle of some hearing their language while someone may be speaking another, is nothing short of Divine Grace saying, “I love you so much that I want nothing getting in the way of you hearing this news.” Speaking in tongues, in this instance, is perhaps less about a specific thing that happens when the Holy Spirit falls and more about a God willing to use whatever means necessary in order that some might be saved.

Pentecost is about tearing down walls.

This has implications in 2018, as it did then. Today there are people who can’t hear the Good News because of walls. They have walls because they have been hurt by the church or shown a distorted, sinful picture of God through the church’s actions or inaction. They have walls because of broken homes or abuse or addiction or fear. They have walls because they can’t imagine anyone truly loving them because no one has ever stayed, or walls because someone important told them at some point that they were unworthy of love.

Walls abound. But where walls abound, grace abounds even more.

That’s what I heard today at Pentecost. The way the gospel is proclaimed today may not break my walls or your walls, but it’s breaking down the walls of someone somewhere. I’m sure in Acts 2 there were many conversations after the fact where people said, “I didn’t hear it like that,” even though they all heard essentially the same thing: God loves you and sent his son Jesus Christ to save the world, including YOU. Where and how people are hearing this message, even if it’s not in the “tongue” you and I might speak, we should rejoice and be glad.

What if in 2018 the Church seized the power of Pentecost – lavish Grace – and ceased to criticize the ways in which someone else is proclaiming the Good News and instead celebrated everywhere we witness walls coming down? I may not say it the way you would say it, and you may not say it the way I would need it, but perhaps we can trust that God is bigger than our language and so long as we are lifting up Jesus, God can sort out the details among those who understand your tongue or mine.

Everywhere that walls are tumbling and people are hearing the name of Jesus is reason to rejoice and be glad.

It’s Pentecost, ya’ll.

Salvation is Supernatural

My devotional reading this morning was taken from Acts 1:5, You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.    William Law writes in his book The Power of the Spirit that Christ commanded his disciples to wait for this gift of the Spirit before they bore witness to the world about what they humanly knew of His birth, life, teachings, death and resurrection.  

Law continues, 

As salvation is in its whole nature the inward birth and life of Christ in the believer, so nothing but this “new creature in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17) can bear true witness to the realities of redemption.  Therefore a man, however expert in all Scripture learning, an only talk about the gospel as of any tale he has been told until the life of Christ has been brought forth, verified, fulfilled and enjoyed through the power of the Holy Spirit in his soul.  

 

No one can know salvation by a mere rational consent to that which is historically said of Christ.  Only by an inward experience of His cross, death and resurrection can the saving power of the gospel be known.  For the reality of Christ’s redemption is not in fleshly, finite, outward things – much less in verbal descriptions of them – but is a birth, a life, a spiritual operation which as truly belongs to God alone as does His creative power.

We must never forget that Jesus said “you must be born again.”   Salvation truly wrought is always a supernatural act of God whereby God takes a heart bent on bringing glory to self and transforms it into one that seeks only to glorify God.  All that is good and all that is evil comes from the heart, and thanks be to God we have a God who loves to do heart transplants!  (Ezek. 36:26).  

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Come, Holy Spirit, come.   

 

I Killed Him

Due to illness we did not attend church this morning but had family worship at home.   Being Pentecost Sunday I read Acts 2 and we discussed the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.   But this post is not about that.   It’s about the conversation that took place because of my 8 year old son’s curiosity and fear over a confession I wrote in the margin of my bible.

I didn’t quite understand the worry in his face when I asked if anyone had any questions following our bible study.   Maddox looked as though he were about to cry as he pointed with a shaky finger to the words I scribbled in the margin…

I killed Him.

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“What does this mean, Daddy?”   The question opened up an opportunity, no doubt initiated by the Holy Spirit, to talk about something every Christian needs to remind themselves of often, for we so easily forget.

I killed Him.  It’s what I wrote in the margin of my Bible next to Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Portico, where he is rehearsing once more the history of Israel and their guilt over murdering the Messiah.    Acts 3:14-15 reads,

But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead.

I killed Him.

At some point over the past year during my devotional reading the Spirit spoke those words to me, placing me there on the scene – at Pilate’s sham-of-a-trial, at the walk towards Golgatha, at the foot of Calvary – hissing and jeering the entire time, insisting that I will not allow anyone, not even God, get in the way of my own self-interests.

I was there, driving the nails through the hands and feet of the Author of Life, because my sin and shame made it His passion to let me.

I killed Him.

All of my betrayal, lust, selfishness, pride – all the pain it caused all those I thought I loved, all the depression, anger, loneliness, and despair  – was on his shoulders as I hoisted him up on the cross to die.

I killed Him.

It’s a heart-wrenching thing to realize, that you killed the Author of Life.   If you are so fortunate to have the Spirit whisk you away from your current place and set you down at the foot of the cross I assure you you will never be the same again.    When you see the weight of sin this Sinless One bore for you, for all the world, the veil is torn and religion dies, only to be replaced with what John Wesley called “a heart strangely warmed.”     Religion is replaced with holy passion and yearning, and sin – that which enslaved you the day before  – loses it’s deathly grip.

It’s easy to lay the blame elsewhere. It’s easy to watch the death of Jesus unfold like a bystander then rail against the social powers-that-be, the evils of society, the injustice of a fallen world.    I was once a pastor who was so wrapped up in the social sins I saw, in large part because I did not want to see the personal sins within.   Getting wrapped up in the social evils which make for good Facebook or Twitter fodder was far more appetizing (and crowd pleasing!) than sitting alone at the foot of Calvary, weeping over my own sin which put my Jesus there.

I don’t ever want to lose sight of the cross or my explicit hand in the whole bloody affair.   I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that Jesus was on that cross for me, dying for the very things that made me take a hammer to his hands.   I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that I killed Him.

And yet, amazingly, He still loves me.   What a Savior!