Comment Here



Originally a sermon—“the next Pentecost,” dating from August 17, 2003

I think it is fair to say that God speaks to people in their own language. But it is more than that. He speaks to them in their culture, their circumstances, their times.


          That being the case, if he were doing today some of the things he did in the first century, I suspect he would approach them entirely differently.


          Take what happened on the Day of Pentecost as a case in point


          You can read the story in Acts 2.


          The First Christians had been through an exhilarating and exhausting experience.


                      They had seen Jesus die, painfully. They had seen him buried, they had seen him alive after he was raised.


                      They had 40 days with him before he finally ascended into heaven, leaving behind a promise and a commission.


          Then they had 10 days to digest what had happened.

When Pentecost came, the feast of weeks, which always fell about seven weeks after Passover, they were all together in one place.


          In spite of the crowds that followed Jesus, there were only 120 of them left on this day.


          What happened that day set the First Christians on fire. [describe event]


          The aural and visual manifestations were truly amazing, but just as amazing was the gift of languages bestowed on them.


                      It wasn’t that they spoke in unknown tongues. They spoke in at least 24 different known languages, and the content of what they were saying was recognized by the hearers.


                      The languages were merely a tool for doing a job.

Back to my original question. If God were doing some of the same things he did in the first century, is it possible that he would do them somewhat differently?


          In the first place, if God did this today, right here, right now, there would be no special need for languages.


                      In this country, nearly everyone speaks English and the gift of tongues would be of less value.


                      When you think about it, if the events of Pentecost had taken place a few hundred years earlier, the gift of tongues would have been pointless. Everyone present would have spoken the same language.


                      It was the disapora that spread Jews throughout the Roman world, and left them speaking a variety of languages.

And it was the Feast of Pentecost that brought Jews back to Jersusalem from places where other languages were spoken.


          I am not sure he would give us the tongues of fire thing either or the sound of a rushing mighty wind.


          Maybe, but I am not sure. We might just think it is Hollywood.

I suspect we would be just as surprised as the boys were on that Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on them in power.

And, they had a Jewish problem that we don’t have, although if he did this in a synagogue that problem might have arisen.


          We are looking back through 2000 years trying to understand, and we can only do so much with it.


          It is also possible that some of the agricultural overtones of the festivals might be different. We aren’t farmers, most of us, and a lot of that flies right by us.

But then all that raises the question, how would God speak to us in this generation.


          And how would he inspire the church? What gifts would he give to empower us now.

I want to consider the original problem God faced before the original Pentecost.


          But before I do that, I want to show you a sample of how God solves problems. There was a prophet in Israel in the days of Ahab named Micaiah. The story around him is interesting, but we’ll leave that for another day.


          He comes to a point in his prophecy where he describes what he says he saw in a vision:

(1 Kings 22:19-23) "And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. {20} And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. {21} And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. {22} And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. {23} Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee."


          I will have to confess, this sounds strange to me. It is hard for me to imagine God sending a lying spirit to Ahab.


          What is going on?


          First is the relationship between the King and the prophet. It is tendentious, to say the least.

The King of Judah wanted to follow the example of King David and consult God before going to battle.


          Okay, said the King of Israel, and he called in his prophets. It was quite a show.


          But the King of Israel was becoming more uneasy by the minute.


                      He knew well enough that these were prophets of Baal and worthless.


(1 Kings 22:7 KJV) And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Jehovah besides, that we might inquire of him?

Well, Ahab said with obvious reluctance. We do have one of those, but I hate him.

(1 Kings 22:8 NIV) The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." "The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat replied.

Oookkaay, said Ahab, and he sent for the prophet.

Meanwhile, the show went on.

(1 Kings 22:13-18 NIV) The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, "Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably." {14} But Micaiah said, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me." {15} When he arrived, the king asked him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Attack and be victorious," he answered, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand."


          Now this was not true, and I figure his voice dripped with sarcasm

          Ahab knew it, and he pressed.

{16} The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" {17} Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'" {18} The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Didn't I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?"


          Now, it is at this point that Micaiah tells Ahab about this strange vision.


          Here is my question. Micaiah was being sarcastic with his first response.


          Is it possible that he is merely telling Ahab a parable to illustrate his point?


                      Or did that scene actually take place?

Now I want us to imagine that something like that happened prior to Pentecost in the year of Jesus’ resurrection:


          Jesus to the disciples, Tarry here until you are endued with power from on high.


          And then he was gone.

Now in our imaginary vision, we can see “the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left”


          And the Lord said, “What shall we do with the saints at Jerusalem. I told them they would be endued with power from on high. I told them I would build my church. I told them to make disciples in the whole world including the Gentiles. Who will go an empower them for the work I have given them to do?

What do they need?


          And one said on this manner and another on that manner.


          And one came forward and said, “On Pentecost, they will all be together in one place. We can do it then.”


          “Yes, but do what? They can preach the gospel, but most of the Jews these days don’t speak Hebrew. They are from all over the place,” Said another.


          “That’s a problem, but these people can take the gospel back with them and spread it much faster than the 120 we have in Jerusalem.”


          “Then the problem is simple,” said another. “We’ll give them the gift of languages. That should set everyone on his ear, in a manner of speaking, and as always, we will be speaking to people in their own language.


          That’ll work, said another, but how can we juice it up. They are pretty flat right now.


          NO problem, said the first angel, I’ll go into the room with the sound of a tornado and give them a fireworks display they’ll never forget. I’ll put a stream of fire on every one of them.


          That’ll get them out of their seats and on the road.

And the Lord said, Let’s do it.

 . . . .Or something like that.

Now we know what happened:

The whole story is in the second chapter of Acts.

Now here we sit in the 21st century.


          If God wanted to make a move with our involvement today, and he asked a gaggle of angels for their input.


          What would they tell him about us.


          What do we need?

I don’t know where to begin, Lord. They need everything.


          what do you mean? Don’t they all believe in me?


                      Well, yes, but there is no hope to get them all together on Pentecost.


                                  Most of them don’t know what that day is, and those who do aren’t agreed on when it is.


                      Then there are some of them who just don’t like one another and won’t meet together.


                      And then there are those who can’t get together on their dogma and won’t meet together.


          What do you mean by their dogma?


                      Oh, they have every doctrinal idea under heaven, and often, it is a condition of membership.


                      They won’t stay in fellowship with people who don’t agree with them.


          I see. Then they are badly scattered.


                      Yes, and continuing to scatter. They are not very useful scattered as they are.


                      Some of them believe in anarchy and some of them are so organized they can’t get any work done.


          Can’t we use them scattered? After all, they are the salt of the earth?


                      That’s hard to say. They seem to have forgotten some of the basics. Consider what you told them in that parable. The one in Matthew 25.

(Matthew 25:31-46 KJV) "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: {32} And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: {33} And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. {34} Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: {35} For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: {36} Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. {37} Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? {38} When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? {39} Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? {40} And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. {41} Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: {42} For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: {43} I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. {44} Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? {45} Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. {46} And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."


                      I cannot give them good marks in this department.


          How are they doing with the kids?


                      Better, but they still have a LONG way to go. Only a handful seem to want to get involved.


                      Some bureaucracies don’t want to move on the issue.

                      And it is often hard to find people willing to teach or even clean up.


          How are they doing with their Bible study?


                      Not good at all. Too many of them are nearly biblical illiterates. They study the Bible in church.


          I’m not going to ask you about prayer because I already know about that. What about morality.


                      Spotty. They have been affected more by the world than should be.


                      In some places they accept people who are shacked up as members.


                      Fornication is not uncommon, especially among the young.


                      As for the Episcopalians, they have ordained a practicing homosexual who left a wife and kids to live with another man.


                      Some American churches are looking to africa to find a presiding Bishop.


          But can we say that they love one another?


                      Yes, but they are awfully quick to judge one another and it is not uncommon for them to take one another’s head off in an argument.


                      And Diotrephes is there.



(3 John 1:9-10 KJV) "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. {10} Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church."

Now I am going to stop this parable right here because you all know as well as I do what the list of our failures looks like.


          And I think we are all a little afraid of the Lord’s next question.


          What do we need to do to turn this situation around?


          If you were there, what would you suggest?

I’m like you, I don’t want to suggest anything. I’m afraid he might do it.


          But it may be that something is already in the works and we would do well to sit up and pay attention.


          We know what he has said and done in the past.

(Revelation 2:1-5 KJV) "Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; {2} I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: {3} And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. {4} Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. {5} Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

(Revelation 3:1-5 KJV) "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. {2} Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. {3} Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. {4} Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. {5} He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."

(Revelation 3:14-22 KJV) "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; {15} I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. {16} So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. {17} Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: {18} I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. {19} As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. {21} To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. {22} He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

There are two very big ideas in there.

1. We can expect God’s rebuke and chastisement.

2. We have got to repent and be zealous.

What do we need to do? Well, I have a little list:

(Ephesians 4:17-32 NIV) "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. {18} They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. {19} Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

{20} You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. {21} Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. {22} You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; {23} to be made new in the attitude of your minds; {24} and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. {25} Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. {26} "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} and do not give the devil a foothold. {28} He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. {29} Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


          Yes, but what is involved with that?

{31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. {32} Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

(Romans 12 NIV) "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. {2} Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. {3} For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. {4} Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, {5} so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. {6} We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. {7} If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; {8} if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. {9} Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. {10} Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. {11} Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. {12} Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. {13} Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. {14} Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. {16} Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. {17} Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. {18} If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. {19} Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. {20} On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

There is a line in a lovely song, “I may never pass this way again.”


          It says, “I will share my faith with every troubled soul.”


                      I really like that. Because everyone doesn’t want to hear.


                      But the troubled soul does, and God knows there are plenty of them.


                      And sometimes sharing your faith with a troubled soul means a visit, a bag of groceries, a warm coat.


                      Stay in touch with the lonely. Don’t let them think that no one cares.

To share your faith, your faith needs to be strong and well grounded.


          Read your Bible. Read at least a chapter every day of your life.


                      That will take you nearly seven years to finish it all, but that may be better than you are doing now.


          Pray three times a day besides meal times, (and besides your prayers while driving your car.)


                      You don’t need to pray an hour a day, every day of your life.


                      But you do need to touch God, every day of your life.


                      Focused, alone, in quiet worship.


This is a short to do list. But it is manageable for anyone.

And I have to tell you as any good teacher should.

There will be a test.

Contact us              Copyright 2009 Ronald L Dart, all rights reserved.