Server Outage Notice: is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

2359 sermons as of April 17, 2024.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
 send email...
 Free Reformed Churches of Australia - FRCA
Preached At:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
Title:Pentecost is the fruit of Christ's resurrection
Text:Acts 2:1-47 (View)
Topic:Christ's gathering work

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps. 63: 2, 3

Ps. 119: 34 – 36  

Ps. 143: 5, 6

Ps. 51: 3, 4

Ps. 43: 3


Scripture reading:       Lev. 23: 9 – 21; Acts 2:1 – 47

Text:                            Acts 2: 1 – 47

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Ps. 63: 2, 3

Ps. 119: 34 – 36  

Ps. 143: 5, 6

Ps. 51: 3, 4

Ps. 43: 3


Scripture reading:       Lev. 23: 9 – 21; Acts 2:1 – 47

Text:                            Acts 2: 1 – 47



Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,


This morning we will focus on Pentecost – the historical event, and also its meaning for us today.


When you speak to a Pentecostal or Charismatic, he may ask you:

“Have you been baptised with the Holy Spirit?”  

And: “Did you speak in tongues when the Spirit came upon you?”

“Did you have a Pentecost experience in your life?”


They believe that each believer should have a Pentecost experience.  

And with that they mean that each believer must be baptised with the Spirit in the same way as it happened on the day of Pentecost.


When you receive the Spirit, when you are baptised with the Spirit, when the Spirit is poured out on you, then you will also speak in tongues they say.   Or you will have dreams and visions and prophecy.  Or you will receive special gifts from the Spirit, extra ordinary gifts, such as the power to heal people miraculously.   Or other wonders and signs will follow when you are baptised with the Spirit.


Pentecost has to happen over and over again, they believe.   Pentecost has to repeat itself over and over again in the life of each believer, they reckon.   And it has to be confirmed with wonders and signs and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit – or else, they say, you have not yet been baptised with the Holy Spirit.


They also call the baptism with the Holy Spirit “the second blessing”.  

The first blessing is to receive faith in Christ, they say.   The second blessing is then a Pentecost experience in which you receive the Spirit in abundance.   The wonders and the signs are then viewed as signs and proof that you have the Spirit.   And it becomes very much a matter of assurance.   For: if you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ.   And so, there is a great search for these things.   Each one earnestly desires that he may also speak in tongues, or receive visions, or receive special powers of the Spirit.


Dear congregation, should we be seeking after these things?

And is that what Pentecost is about?


What does it mean that the Spirit has been poured out?


From the side of the Pentecostals and Charismatics, they also accuse the Reformed churches that we do not give enough attention to the Spirit, and the baptism with the Spirit, and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.   We are not seeking earnestly enough for the Spirit, and the working of the Spirit is lacking among us, they say.


Some will also point to our confessions, and say: Why do you give so little attention to the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit?   The Heidelberg Catechism devotes only one Lord’s Day, LD 20, to the Spirit.   And then it is also the shortest Lord’s Day in the whole catechism.   Of the Holy Spirit we simply confess that He is with the Father and Son true and eternal God, and second, that He is also given to me to make me by true faith share in Christ and all His benefits, to comfort me and to remain with me forever.

That is the whole Lord’s Day.   Two sentences!  


When we turn to the Belgic Confession, we again find only one short article, Art. 11, about the Spirit.   And there we simply confess that the Spirit is true and eternal God, proceeding from the Father and the Son.   Again, that is a very short article.


And, when we turn to the Cannons of Dort, there are indeed references to the work of the Spirit with regard to faith and regeneration, but no separate article devoted specifically to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.


Is the accusation then valid that the Reformed churches give too little attention to the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit?    And should we make up for that by having, for example, Pentecost sermons about the Spirit, and about the gifts of the Spirit?

Maybe you even expect to hear today a sermon on the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit!


But then you will be disappointed by the Pentecost sermon of the apostle Peter.

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter held a sermon; a Pentecost sermon.   But, his “Pentecost sermon” is not about the Holy Spirit, or about the gifts of the Spirit.   His whole sermon focusses on Christ; what Christ did and what Christ is doing.   Christ died, and was buried.  And He rose from the dead, as proclaimed in Psalm 16.   The prophets spoke about Him.   The prophets also spoke of His ascension to the right hand of God.   That is what happened.  He ascended.  And He poured out His Spirit on the church.


Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.


Now, when they heard this, they were cut to the heart.   The apostle proved to them, from the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ.   Three thousand came to faith, believing the gospel that Jesus is both Lord and Christ, that He died for our sins, and that there is forgiveness in His Name.


Is that the kind of sermon that you expect on the day of Pentecost?   A sermon focusing on Christ and what He has done?


Should the apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost, not have preached a sermon about the Holy Spirit?   Should he not have focussed more on the baptism with the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit?   Is that not what Pentecost is about?


Dear congregation, what is Pentecost?

Pentecost is the firstfruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Pentecost is about Christ gathering His church by His Word and Spirit.


And, with regard to the question whether we should learn from the Pentecostals and Charismatics and focus more on the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit – we confess differently.

Christ Himself said that when the Holy Spirit comes “He will testify of Me” – John 15: 26

When the Spirit is poured out, He will proclaim Christ.


Again, Jesus said that the Spirit of truth, when He comes, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” – John 16: 14.


Christ says that the Spirit, when He is poured out, will proclaim Christ and all that belongs to Christ.   He will testify of Me, and glorify Me, and proclaim to you what belongs to Me, Jesus said.   On the day of Pentecost, you will hear about Me, Jesus said.


The Spirit focusses our eyes on Christ.   And all the work of the Spirit can be summarised as: joining us to Christ.   As we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism:


He (the Holy Spirit) is also given to me, to make me by true faith share in Christ and all His benefits, to comfort me, and to remain with me forever.


The Holy Spirit joins us to Christ.   He joins us to Christ by a true faith, so that we receive all God’s blessings in Christ.  


That is the summary of what the Holy Spirit does: He joins us to Christ by a true faith in Christ.

Or, as it is summarised in the Form for Baptism: The Holy Spirit makes us living members of Christ, imparting to us what we have in Christ.


Wherever the Spirit works, the focus is on Christ.


And thus it happens on the day of Pentecost.   The apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaches Christ.  He does exactly what Christ said would happen: driven by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit of truth, he proclaims Christ, glorifies Christ and proclaims all the riches of God in Christ.


Pentecost was a climax in the revelation of the glory of Christ.  

On the day of Pentecost we see the first fruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  

And so I proclaim to you the gospel of Pentecost, with the theme:

Pentecost is the fruit of Christ’s resurrection.


We will note…


i.                    That Pentecost had fully come

ii.                   The work of the Spirit as seen on Pentecost

iii.                 What Christ has done on the day of Pentecost


In the first place we note that…

Pentecost had fully come


Pentecost belongs to the feast of first fruits.  Pentecost is the Greek for fiftieth.   It was the fiftieth day of the feast of first fruits.


During this feast, the first fruits of the harvest were devoted to the Lord.   A sheaf of the first grain had to be brought in on the first day of the week – that is: on the day after the Sabbath.  Fifty days later, an offering of new grain had to be presented to the Lord.   This also had to happen on the first day of the week.  

They had to count seven Sabbaths.   7 times 7 gives 49.   They had to count up to the day after the seventh sabbath, to the fiftieth day.   That was then on the first day of the week.    So, Pentecost, the day on which Christ gathered the first New Testament congregation, was on the first day of the week – the day after the seventh Sabbath.   And this is where the word Pentecost comes from.   It refers to the fifty days between the first sheaf of grain that was cut off up to the offering of new grain.


Now, this feast of first fruits found its fulfilment on the day of Pentecost.   This feast of first fruits pointed to the fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ was the first sheaf of grain, the firstfruit of the harvest.  


Scripture speaks about Christ as the beginning, the firstborn from the dead – Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5.  

“…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” – 1 Cor. 15:20.  


Christ was the first to rise from the dead – Acts 26:23.


When we hear this, that Christ is called the beginning of the harvest, the firstborn from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, and that He was the first to rise from the dead, we are every time reminded of the feast of the firstfruits.  

And every time when Christ is called the first of the harvest, Scripture joins it together with His resurrection from the dead.   He is the first of a countless multitude who will be raised from the dead.


Christ’s resurrection guarantees the rest of the harvest that will follow.   Our resurrection is the infallible fruit of His death and resurrection.


The feast of the firstfruits had its fulfilment on the day of Pentecost.   The fulfilment of that feast is described for us here in Acts chapter 2.   That is what Pentecost is about.   That is why the apostle Peter, in explaining the events of Pentecost, makes the link back to Christ’s death and resurrection.  What happened on Pentecost, was the first fruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  


Now, Pentecost, which means fiftieth, happened fifty days after Christ’s resurrection.    The very name of this feast, Pentecost, makes clear that we are dealing on this day with the fruit of Christ’s resurrection.       

Yes, the fruit that is gathered in on Pentecost, 3 000 souls – the first New Testament congregation – is the fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Those who came to faith on the day of Pentecost, they were the first fruits of Christ’s resurrection.   Christ is gathering in His harvest.   And on that day the harvest was 3000 souls at once.   These were the first fruits.   The first of the harvest, which Christ started to gather in.


Now, the apostle Peter starts his sermon by saying that the speaking in tongues is the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy.  

And then? 

We would expect a sermon on the Holy Spirit and the work of the Spirit, would we not?   Or a sermon on the gifts of the Spirit; the gift of prophesy and the speaking in tongues.

But no, Peter immediately draws the attention of the multitude to Christ; to His death and resurrection from the dead.   And he explains it from Psalm 16: 8 – 11. 


Here in Acts 2, from verses 22 – 32, he shows that Jesus is the Christ who had to die, but who – according to the Scriptures – rose again.

And then he tells the gathering that the outpouring of the Spirit is the work of “this Jesus whom you crucified”.   He now sits at the right hand of God.  


            “...God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (verse 36)


It is this Jesus, the Christ, who has poured out His Spirit according to the promise.

He reigns at the right hand of the Father until the Father will make all His enemies a footstool for his feet.  


Do you see what message the apostle proclaims on the day of Pentecost?  

Jesus is the Christ.  He is the Lord.   He will put all His enemies under His feet.   Repent and believe.  There is forgiveness in His name.

It is the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.


That was the message proclaimed on the day of Pentecost.  

When the multitude heard this message, 3 000 repented, and believed the gospel.


It happens on the feast of firstfruits.   It was with the very purpose of celebrating this feast of firstfruits that they were all gathered.  

And now the shadow finds its fulfilment.   The 3000 who believed were themselves the new grain offering to the Lord, the grain was gathered in as one bread, a congregation of Christ. The sheaf of grain became bread offered to the Lord, the firstfruits to the Lord, according to Lev. 23.


Dear congregation, we have to note that all these things happened exactly as it was prescribed in the law of Moses.   Christ dies as the Passover Lamb on the precise day of the appointed month on which the Passover lamb had to be slaughtered: on the 14th day of the first month – all according to the prescriptions in the Law of Moses.   Then Christ Himself rose from the dead as the firs-fruit from the dead on the day of the firstfruits – the day after the first Sabbath.   Then they had to count 7 Sabbaths, until the day after the 7th Sabbath, which is the fiftieth day.   Fifty days after Christ’s resurrection the Holy Spirit is poured out.  That is: on the day of Pentecost.   3000 believe in Christ and are made alive in Christ.   They are the firstfruits of the great harvest which Christ is now gathering in His barn.  

They are the fruit, the first-fruit, of His resurrection.


Dear congregation, do you see that Pentecost points us to Christ: His resurrection from the dead, His ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God.   It is He who now gathers His church by the preaching of this gospel.  

And the Holy Spirit was poured out with the very purpose to confirm this gospel in our hearts.   By the working of the Spirit 3 000 believed the gospel.   By the working of the Spirit, through the preaching, 3 000 were joined to Christ by a true faith.


Christ is gathering in His church by His Word and Spirit.


This gathering of the first fruits happens through the simple words of Peter that Christ died for us and rose again from the dead.   This Jesus is the Christ, our Lord, who will also come to judge.   Let everyone repent of his sins and believe the gospel.


Dear congregation, we too, who are gathered here this morning, are part of this harvest being gathered in.


What, then, was the work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost? 

We note that in the second place…

The work of the Spirit as seen on Pentecost


The apostle Peter stands up and proclaims to everyone that the last days have come.

It is the last days of which the prophet Joel prophesied.   That prophecy of Joel spoke about Judgement day.  

God’s judgement is at hand.  

That sets the time and context of the message.    In this context the apostle proclaims redemption: “…everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (verse 21). 

Now, this redemption, he says, is in Christ who died for us, who rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of God.


The crowd who shouted: “Crucify, crucify Him!” is now cut to the heart.  Not because Peter is such a good speaker or lecturer, using such convincing and logical arguments.   No, also not because their healthy minds, and good reason, convinces them of the truth.   No, when they hear this gospel, simply proclaimed, they are cut to the heart because the Holy Spirit gave them faith.   He opened their ears to hear this gospel.   He enlightened their minds to understand this gospel.   And He opened their hearts to receive this gospel.


Thousands did not believe.  

All of Israel was gathered for this feast, but only 3000 believed the message.  

Many did not believe.   And, in fact, no one would ever have believed!   But now the biggest wonder of Pentecost happens: sinners come to repentance and faith, because the Holy Spirit proclaims the gospel, by the mouth of Peter; and the Holy Spirit works faith in the heart of the hearers, and so join them to Christ.


The Holy Spirit was also doing this during all the time of the Old Testament.   

It was not a different Spirit who was poured out.   And it was also not a different working of the Spirit.   The only difference was the abundance with which the Spirit was now poured out on the church, due to Christ completed work and His exaltation at the right hand of God.  


The apostles believed in Christ long before the day of Pentecost.  

The Spirit worked a true faith in their hearts, so that they confessed Jesus as the Christ long before Pentecost.   In fact, the Spirit worked faith in the hearts of all believers right from the beginning of history.   But now the Spirit was poured out in greater abundance.  

And this great abundance with which the Spirit was poured out on the church of the New Testament, was promised beforehand.   It would happen in the last days.


The last days have come.   It is time for the harvest to be gathered in from all nations, tribes and tongues.  

Judgement day is at hand.


The apostle Peter continues his preaching and he applies the message of salvation in the following way; he says:


“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission 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” – verses 38, 39.


The simple fisherman, Peter, is filled by the Spirit.   He received the Spirit long ago already, but now, after the outpouring of the Spirit, the Spirit works more powerfully in him.   And with power the apostle starts to preach Christ, boldly and clearly.  

And while the Spirit worked faith in many hearts before Pentecost, He now does it in greater abundance.   3 000 come to faith after one sermon!  They are cut to the heart and repent.   And believe the gospel.


Dear congregation, we too, receive this morning the same message.   Repent, and believe gospel.  

Let us respond to this gospel with repentance, believing the gospel.

The new life which the Spirit gives us in Christ, is a life of faith and obedience, of repentance and sanctification.


Brothers and sisters, we received the Holy Spirit, and we know this, not through some strange experience, by speaking in tongues, or by wonders and signs, visions and dreams, but by believing the gospel.  

And the fruit of the Spirit is seen through a new life of obedience.     

By this the work of the Spirit is known.


The gift of receiving the Spirit, and also to be filled with the Spirit, is part of the promise of the covenant.   The promise which Christ has given that He will pour out His Spirit, that He will baptize with His Spirit and with fire, is part of the promise which God already made with Abraham.

For it is through the Spirit of God that we are raised from our spiritual death.  It is through the Spirit that we receive faith and all the riches of God’s blessings in Christ.  It is through the Spirit that we are engrafted into Christ and became children of God.   It is in this way that God becomes our God, and that the promise of the covenant finds its fulfilment.


Without the working of the Spirit no faith is possible, no adoption as children, no fulfilment of the promise.


The Holy Spirit makes us to share in all the blessings of the covenant by joining us to Christ.   It is the Spirit who unites us to Christ and to all His riches.   It is through the Spirit that we call God our Father.


It is through the Spirit that we walk in communion with our God.


This promise of the covenant is also for us, and for our children.   As the Apostle says: “…the promise is to you and to your children…” – Acts 2:39.  


Yes, the promise is also for our children.   This gospel was signed and sealed to them at their baptism.


But the promise reaches out even further: the promise is also “to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”.   The gospel will be preached also to the heathens, who were far from God.   The Lord will call them also through His Word and Spirit. 


Brothers and sisters, we are not Jews by nature.   We are not the physical descendants of Abraham.  And yet we are reckoned, counted, as his children – all who believe in Christ – Gal. 3: 29.  It no longer makes any difference to which people or race we belong.  We, who were afar off, may now also hear the gospel and receive the promise of adoption.

The promise to be filled with the Spirit of God, and by the Spirit to be joined to Christ, is also made to us and to our children.


Repent, and believe the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection, and you will be filled with the Spirit.


What does that mean?


The visible outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as on the day of Pentecost, is not repeated over and over again at the conversion of each individual.   The signs and wonders which took place at Pentecost were part of the signs and wonders which characterized the ministry of Christ and also the whole ministry of the apostles.   As we read in Hebrews 2:4 that the signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Spirit were to testify to the divine origin of the gospel.   But when God had completed His revelation of this gospel, the wonders and miracles which characterized the time of the apostles have ceased.  


The signs and the wonders were given with a specific purpose: it was God testifying to the fact that the Word preached by the apostles was indeed from God.


But God has completed His revelation, and gave it to us in the Scriptures.   His work of revelation through the prophets and apostles has come to completion.  His Word has been given to us in writing, and no one may add to it.   God does not give new revelations today which may be added to His Word.   He does not give new prophets or new prophecies.   No, the church is being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.  That foundation is laid once and for all.


After the day of Pentecost it did indeed happen that the apostles placed their hands on people and that they received the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the gospel in other languages – as in Acts 19:6.   And on all their mission journeys signs and wonders took place.  But, it was a very specific time in which God was revealing His Word through the apostles; and that time has come to an end.   We do not need new signs and wonders today, because we have God’s Word. 

The signs and wonders, which we should believe, are recorded for us in the Bible.  Through these signs and wonders God witnessed to the fact that the apostles were sent by Him, and that the gospel, as we have it in Scripture, truly came from God.  But God doesn’t need to confirm the gospel to us today through new signs and wonders.


He wants us simply to believe His Word.  And in His Word all the signs and wonders are recorded for us, and they still have the same power to confirm God’s Word to us when we read of them.


The Lord does not have to repeat the signs and the wonders which He has done in Egypt; they are preserved in holy Scriptures and in the hearts of everyone who believe.   God doesn’t have to repeat the wonders and the signs which He has done through Elijah, for they are engrafted in our hearts when we read the Scriptures.  

The same applies for the signs and wonders of Pentecost.


Various charismatic movements teach that Pentecost has to repeat itself over and over again.   According to them every one who receive faith has to experience Pentecost anew by speaking in tongues, prophesying, and by experiencing new wonders and signs.


But that’s not the meaning of Pentecost.   The Holy Spirit was not poured out to entertain us with all sorts of experiences and with signs and wonders.   The Holy Spirit was poured out to grant us faith in Christ, to unite us to Christ, and to sanctify us in Christ, in order that we may live in and through Christ.


Pentecost shows us the firstfruits of Christ’s death and resurrection; the church that is being gathered in in His barn.  

The promise to be filled with His Spirit is for us and for our children and to all who hear and believe this gospel.


After the apostle proclaimed the promise to them and reminded them of the judgment that is to come, we read in verse 40:


“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying: Be saved from this perverse generation.”


The perverse generation of which he speaks, was very religious.   It was especially the scribes and Pharisees and the religious Jews who rejected Christ.   This corrupt generation is not only the heathens who walk in darkness who never heard the gospel.  

All those religious men who did not put their trust in Christ – they are called a wicked generation.

It is not good enough to be religious.  

Without faith in Christ every man is wicked and perverse.


Yet, with the words “perverse generation” he means also the wickedness of the world in which we live.    And he warns us that we have to flee from it.  Yes, with many other words he warned them and he pleaded with them: Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.


Exhort also your children to repent and to flee from the pollution of this world, to be alert and to walk carefully.  For the promise is also to them with the command: repent and believe.


The Spirit calls us and our children continually through the proclamation of this gospel, also at home with family devotions.   When we open God’s Word the Spirit is present to fill us with faith and love and knowledge and hope, and to sanctify our lives to the honour of God.  As often as we hear the gospel and repent and believe, the Spirit fills us with joy in the Lord, and equip us with every gift we need to serve God.


In the third place we note…

What Christ has done on the day of Pentecost


Christ is gathering a congregation for Himself.


Titus 2:14 says that Christ “gave Himself for us, that He may redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”

And we see this so clearly on the day of Pentecost.   Through His death Christ has purified a special people for Himself, zealous for good works.   When the Spirit gives faith to the elect to trust in Christ, they become one people, a holy people, zealous for good works.


We read it here in our text that those who gladly received the word “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” – verse 42.


These are the marks of a true church.   Those who believed also continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine.  It means they were eager to be equipped with the Word of the Lord.   They continued steadfastly in it, not departing from it to the left or to the right.   They preserved the word as the apostles preached it to them.  

That they continued steadfastly in the doctrine of the apostles also means that they lived according to it.


They also continued steadfastly in the fellowship.   The fellowship does not only refer to the fellowship of the apostles, but also the fellowship with one another – the fellowship or communion of the saints.   This fellowship includes mutual exhortation and encouragement, to edify one another in the faith and to correct one another with the Word of God.  

This fellowship also includes church discipline.


They also continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread; that is: in celebrating the Lord’s Supper.   


And they continued steadfastly in prayers.


They immediately form one community, one body in Christ, all continuing steadfastly in the true doctrine and in the communion of saints – a congregation zealous for good works, a people whom Christ purified for Himself through His death and made alive through His resurrection.


This also is the work of the Spirit.  Therefore they continued steadfastly.   It is the Spirit who inflames them with faith and love and zeal, and joins them together.   Therefore all who believed were together – verse 44.


This also was the work of the Spirit.   He binds the believers together in such a way, that no one calls his possessions his own any more, even though it is his own.   They served one another with joy, also with their belongings.

Yes, we see an amazing love and a unity which only the Holy Spirit worked among them.


Furthermore, we see that every day they continued to meet together in the temple, daily with one accord – verse 46.   They had such a hunger for the Word that no one wanted to stay away from the temple, for there the apostles were giving instruction to the multitudes – at least until the persecution broke loose.

But while they still had the opportunity to gather at the temple, they gathered there daily.   All of them together, with one accord, went up to listen to the instruction of the apostles.


Once again this is the work of the Holy Spirit.   By nature we are all blind and deaf to the Word of God and by nature we do not desire to be instructed by it.  But when we are filled with the Spirit, we long to be constantly fed with the Word of God, then we gather all together in the worship services, and make use of every opportunity to be instructed by God’s Word.   Then we are also glad when it is time again for family devotions; and exited to the catechism classes, and to the church services.   Then we do not want to miss one service!

This also is the work of the Holy Spirit.


There was also no individualism.   Everyone did not believe on his own his own message, and in his own manner, serving the Lord his own way.   No, those who believed were together, they did everything with one accord, one in the faith, one with each other, one in heart and mind.


If anyone wants to be a Christian all on his own, separated from the congregation, he does not have the Spirit of God.


And their joy was not generated by outward display, or glitter.  No, in all simplicity and with humble hearts they lived soberly.   While they sold their belongings and had fellowship with the humble, they knew true joy in the Lord.

They were no longer chasing each one after his own honour and his own ambitions, but exercised the communion of saints in all simplicity, and with humble love.


It is another wonder that the Spirit worked.


And while they lived in such simplicity praising God, they were also in favour with all the people – verse 47.   The people who did not believe were astonished by what they saw: the unity, the simplicity and sincerity, the joy in the Lord and the love that sacrifices everything for another.  A congregation of Christ zealous for good works – that is the wonder of Pentecost!

Christ is gathering a special people for Himself through His Word and Spirit.


And then we read, the last sentence of verse 47: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved”.

The Lord saves, and those whom He saves, He adds to the church.  He joins them to the congregation.   If the Lord has not joined a man to the congregation, then he is not saved.   Those whom He saves, He also unites with the congregation.   The congregation is Christ’s gathering work and He joins us together to be one body.


Does your heart start to burn within you when you hear of such a congregation?  

Shall we not pray the Lord that He may also fill us with His Spirit and make us such a congregation, zealous for good works, and that He may unite us in the unity of faith to serve Him together with such a love?  


Or is this all just history?


No, surely the work of the Spirit has not ceased.  We received the Spirit already when we came to faith in Christ.  For no one can believe in Christ if the Spirit of God does not dwell in him.   If we believe in Christ, we may be sure that the Spirit of God dwells in us.

And yet, we also have the instruction from God, the command: be filled with the Holy Spirit – Eph. 5:18.  

We do not have to search for this in all sorts of strange manners, seeking for some strange experiences.  We simply have to believe the gospel and repent.  

The promise is also for us and for our children.


Of ourselves we are not able to do anything good.   In ourselves we have no power or life.   In ourselves we would remain in sin and death.   It is the Spirit of God that gives life.  He raises us up unto a new life as He makes us to share in the power of Christ’s resurrection.


Do you see what Pentecost means?   It is the firstfruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Christ is gathering a congregation for Himself, zealous for good works.


Through Christ we may again call upon God: Father – our Father! 

The promise is also for us, and for our children.   







* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster

bottom corner