Today, is Pentecost Sunday and this year is the five hundredth anniversary of the reformation. I am continuing to preach a sermon series correcting lies that we may believe. One lie we often believe is that we are alone. The Christian is never alone. The Christian is NEVER alone. Can I get an “Amen” to that? The Christian is NEVER alone, AMEN?
I was going to focus this sermon on the Holy Spirit and the Church. God does work through His Church. But, instead, I simply wish to focus on the Holy Spirit. You see, Martin Luther might have felt alone when he nailed the 95 thesis to those castle doors at Wittenberg, but He was not alone. The Holy Spirit was with him. I am not sure how much of the church was with him, but the Holy Spirit was with him and empowering him to lead the reformation. He was not perfect in any way, but he was available and he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther fascinates me. I liken Luther to Winston Churchill. He fascinates me for the church like Winston Churchill fascinates me in politics. I had a professor of worship say that Luther was going up against the Catholic Church, it was as if he walked into a river and said the current was going the wrong way (paraphrase). But he was not alone. He could not have led the reformation alone. The Holy Spirit was with him.
Today, I wish to talk about the Holy Spirit by showing the difference in Peter when he is alone versus when the Holy Spirit is with him.
My Theme is: You are not alone.
- Look at Peter without the Holy Spirit, all alone.
- Let’s read Luke 22:54-62: Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
- This is the account from Luke, John gives some extra details. Many of you know the story. But think about it, this is Peter. Peter is known for speaking up. Peter had a disease, it was called “foot in mouth disease.” He was known for sticking his foot in his mouth. He was known for saying the wrong thing.
- In this case he did the same, but this was Peter NOT defending Jesus.
- Earlier Peter said in verse 33: But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.
- Peter goes into the courtyard. We find out that he was likely let in by John who knew the High Priest.
- They are sitting around a fire with a servant girl and some others. It seems these others were servants, maybe some soldiers.
- The servant girls looks at Peter. I imagine her looking through the fire. There is Peter shivering and nervous. There is Peter scared to death. Earlier that same evening he was ready to die with Jesus and now he is scared and cold. I imagine him holding his arms together and watching his breath in the air. I imagine him waiting for Jesus to incinerate the people with fire out of His eyes. I imagine Him thinking, “Jesus, what are you waiting for?” I imagine Him wondering when Jesus will call down ten legions of angels. (Matthew 26:53)
- Peter was present at the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus in Luke 9:28ff.
- Peter believed and he was waiting for Jesus to act. Peter was scared by Himself, but bold when with Jesus.
- Peter denied Jesus three times, but he was repentant.
- You know that is actually the way it should be. We should not do anything on our own. We have God with us. Why fault Peter. He denied Jesus, later Jesus restored him in John 21:15ff.
- Peter did not yet have the Holy Spirit. He was weak because he was alone.
- Look at Peter with the Holy Spirit:
- In Acts 2:14-41 we see Peter with the Holy Spirit. This was just over 50 days later. Look at Acts 2:14-21:
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- Peter stood up to preach.
- Peter was a coward in many ways before because he was alone, but now the Holy Spirit is with him.
- When addressing a crowd standing up is the most difficult part. Peter had the confidence to stand up because the Holy Spirit was with him.
- You can have the confidence as well, you are not alone. The Holy Spirit is also with you.
- Let’s come back to Martin Luther and the reformation. When I was in seminary I read a sermon and wrote a paper based off of it. The sermon was written and delivered by Martin Luther and called Whitsunday. This is Pentecost.
Volume II Luther: Whitsunday
Luther is able to set aside the normal expected Pentecost sermon in order to deal with historical Pentecost. Further he gives some contrast between the reason they celebrate Pentecost and the reason the Jews celebrate Pentecost. On page 48 he says, “The Jews observe the feast because, the law was literally given to them at that time; but we should celebrate it, because the law of God was given to us spiritually.” From that point Luther talks about the written law and then the spiritual law. Of the written law he says that it does not pierce our hearts. He says on page 50 that the Holy Spirit impresses the Gospel on our hearts.
- The Holy Spirit impresses the Gospel on us. But the Holy Spirit means that we are never alone.
- Some applications:
- Realize that you are not alone. Have confidence.
- If your thinking is “alone thinking” you will NOT do great things for God. Instead you will be like the child scared to get into the pool. Many times Mercedes and Abigail are afraid to go into the deep end of the pool, even if I am with them. They are scared even when they are floaters on. They have support, but their mind is thinking that they are alone and could drown. We think this way too. We act like we are alone.
- Step into the deep end of your Christian living for the Holy Spirit is holding you up. Have faith. This looks like:
- Spend time in prayer. Pray with someone else.
- Open your Bible and read.
- Try to share your faith.
- Ask a waiter or waitress if they have any prayer requests.
- Help someone out.
- Go on a mission trip, overseas.
- Step outside your comfort zone.
- For some of you, you are hurting. You are hurt yourself and so it is difficult for you to really help someone else. For you, realizing you are not alone looks like this:
- Understand deep in your heart that the Holy Spirit is with you.
- Write in a journal.
- Look up the passages about the Holy Spirit in the Bible. I recommend reading John chapters 14-17 and Acts 2.
- Talk to me or another pastor or counselor. You can do this. You can get help. Talk to your medical doctor if you feel depressed.
- Talk to a friend.
- Read a book or listen to an audio book. I recommend “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan.
Ray Jeske of ESPN radio in Massillon shared the story at FCA at Mount Union a few years ago of himself being convicted by the Holy Spirit to give his last five dollars, which he needed for gas, into an offering for a church plant. The plant was meeting in a school (I think that is what he said) and his friend was the pastor. This was their first service.
He wanted to resist because he needed the money for gas. The gas light was on and he would run out of gas driving home from Wadsworth to Akron or the other side of Akron. His gas light came on when he was driving to the church, but he kept driving thinking he could go further. The Holy Spirit told him three times to put the five dollars in the offering. The first and second time he told the Holy Spirit, “I need that money for gas, I need to provide for my family.” The second time he even referenced 2 Timothy 5:8 that if a man does not provide for his house he should be treated as an infidel. The third time the Holy Spirit convicted him he gave. He left the worship service early, thinking he has seen his friend and his friend knew he was there. The five dollars went into the offering, as a love offering for that plant. He leaves early after giving the money, expecting to have to hitch hike home. As he drives he sees a woman hitch hiking and the car steered over to her, or it was as if the car steered to her. It was like he felt like he had to pick her up. He does. She is a biker woman who says they call her “wild thing.” They start driving and she says she was bar hopping and her friends left her. She says she prayed if someone picks her up she will give ten dollars for gas. Wow! They get gas. Ray shares who he was and where he came from. She shares she needs prayer for her 17 year old son hanging around the wrong people. He witnesses to her. Her real name was Carol.
Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)