ACTS 2: 14-21


So England have a penalty. It’s the last few seconds of the match. If they score – they win. They miss – then they are out of the competition. Someone takes a photo of the England supporters as they wait for the penalty to be taken. Imagine what that picture would display. Worried faces. Heads bowed. Finger nails being bitten. Hearts pounding. People gripped with fear.

Then you see a photo taken seconds later. People cheering; whooping. Hands raised in the air. People hugging (pre Covid of course!). Complete joy.

So what happened? What caused this change from fear to joy? Well – England scored is what happened.

Today we are looking at the impact of Pentecost; the coming of the Holy Spirit. And so we ask – what difference does the Holy Spirit make?

Now – just before our passage, Jesus had told the disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit and they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them (Acts 1: 4, 8). And then we have Peter speaking in chapter 2 – the first sermon after being filled with the Holy Spirit. But first let’s look at Peter before the impact of the Holy Spirit on his life.

1. Pre Pentecost Peter

Mark 4: 35-41           Peter (and the disciples) are afraid in the boat when a storm hits them.

Mark 8: 16-21          Peter doesn’t understand what Jesus is talking about after the feeding of the four thousand.

Mark 8: 29                Peter says that Jesus is the Christ.

Mark 8: 32                Peter rebukes Jesus after Jesus tells the disciples what will happen to him.

Mark 14: 27-31        Peter insists he will not desert Jesus.

Mark 14: 37              Peter falls asleep in Gethsemane

Mark 14: 66-72        Peter denies Jesus

Now that’s just a smattering from Mark’s gospel. How would you summarise Peter, pre-Pentecost? Probably a bit of a mixed bag. But maybe we could summarise Peter as a guy who says lots of things but when it comes to the crunch, somehow he doesn’t deliver. He appears self-confident when he speaks but it is built on sand. In short: he is proud in self but weak in faith.

GK Chesterton said this: It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.”

So that’s pre Pentecost Peter. He is pointing to self.

2. How about Post Pentecost Peter?

What is so evident in our passage is the complete difference in Peter. He is bold. He speaks with authority. He speaks clearly about the situation that people have witnessed. He corrects but doesn’t condemn. He speaks powerfully. He quotes scripture. He speaks about Jesus. He speaks into the lives of the people listening (as 3,000 become Christians that day). He speaks with conviction.

Now why is this? Had he written a good sermon the night before and somehow had developed the power of oratory?

Clearly not. So what has happened?

3. The Spirit Poured Out

So Peter explains in his sermon precisely what has happened. Look at verse 17:

In the last days God says: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (repeated in verse 18)

Now we have been in the last days for some 2,000 years. But in these last days which we are living in now, God will pour out His Spirit. What does that word “pour” conjure up in your mind?

Some years ago Karen and I went to Zambia with a group of young people to do some work with an AIDS Orphans Charity. And one day we went to a school in a remote, rural place called Chipata. It was in the middle of nowhere and these people had next to nothing. But they welcomed us and we went into this small mud hut and sat down. Two ladies then came in; one held a large bowl; the other a large jug of water. Then one by one they waited on us. One lady would hold the bowl in front of us and we would hold our hands over the bowl whilst the other would pour the water out so we could wash our hands. It was quite moving.

But eventually that jug of water would run out. So is the same as the Holy Spirit? Does God have a limit? No – he pours out his Spirit on his children. It is lavish and generous.

And you may say: “Ah – that may be for some Christians; but not me.” Wrong: look at what Peter quotes: he pours out His Spirit on ALL people. Verse 18 – on my servants – men and women. There is no exclusion.

Now in verse 36 of Chapter 2: at the end of Peter’s sermon, the people, having heard all that Peter had said, were convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit (working through Peter’s sermon) asked this question:

What shall we do?

Well – that’s a good question for us. We might say that we understand that God pours out His Spirit on us. But for what purpose? Listen to what St Paul says in Romans 8: 5-8

Those who live according to the sinful human nature have their minds set on what the sinful human nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the sinful human nature is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the sinful human nature is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the sinful human nature cannot please God.

Get this clear in your mind: there are two ways to live: by the sinful human nature or by the Spirit. If you chose to live by the sinful human nature: you cannot please God because you do not have the power to do so.

But hear this: those who live according to the Spirit – they can live a life that is pleasing to God. So what are we to do? Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This week, people have been filling their cars with fuel. Then filling them up again. Well – we need to be filling up too. But filling ourselves with the Spirit.

So, when you wake up. Be filled with the Spirit. When you feel tired; be filled with the Spirit. When you go to work; be filled with the Spirit. Ahead of meetings or shopping or coming to church? Be filled with the Spirit. Tired? Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Feeling useless? Be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are serving coffee today or welcoming people or chatting with people: be filled with the Holy Spirit so you can live in that moment as the Lord intends. Jesus says about the Holy Spirit – ask – and the Holy Spirit will be given to you. So keep asking!

Why? So you can live a life that is pleasing to God.

You have been equipped by the Lord with the Holy Spirit. So live in accordance with the Spirit. Let him live in you! Don’t let the sinful human nature live! Paul says in Romans 6: 11-12:

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

So you might ask: what will life look like if I am filled with the Holy Spirit. Well – look at Peter. He was transformed. Think of Peter before Pentecost and after Pentecost. And all because he waited for the promised Holy Spirit.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, help us to wait on you, believing in your promise that the Holy Spirit wants to indwell all believers, changing us and enabling us to be powerful witnesses for you. Help us to accept this amazing gift without fear or apprehension knowing that the Holy Spirit is kind and gentle with all those who ask him to come into their lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour, Amen.

Category: Sermons , The Bridge

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