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The Spirit's Message

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The Spirit's Message

May 21, 2000                Acts 2:14-41

 

Introduction:

How would you know if God had something to tell you?

He would try to get your attention, right?

The reason for that is that we often don't give God the attention he desires and so he must do something out of the ordinary to attract us.

When he does get our attention, we have the choice of discounting it as not from God, or listening attentively for what he is saying to us.

Has God ever tried to get your attention?

How would God go about trying to get your attention?

God got the attention of my friend Ivan when he got charged for a murder he didn't commit.

Now Ivan wasn't living a moral life, but he didn't commit a murder.

This was after Ivan called out to God for help not to slip into the same gang lifestyle of his brothers.

He didn't expect the kind of help he got, but God works in mysterious ways.

God put many things into place for Ivan at that moment he called out to God for help.

He put Ivan in jail awaiting charges.

He called a man to give his testimony in chapel service at the jail that brought Ivan to salvation by faith in Christ.

He called me to go into the jail in order to teach inmates about living out faith in Christ, and that is how I met Ivan.

God listened, used, and answered our corporate prayers for Ivan when I brought his need for growing faith and deliverance from gang membership to the church.

God arranged for further discipleship for Ivan by getting a Christian discipleship wing/floor/deck started in the jail where Ivan was enabled to go once I had brought him far enough to recommend him by knowing that he was committed.

Ivan eventually got released on bond and met a missionary who gave him a place to stay and taught him further.

Ivan applied late at MBI and started studies after having been approved over a standing waiting list and was given the funds he didn't have for his Bible studies through his missionary friend.

Ivan got started in a good Bible Church near his home and he and the pastor's daughter became engaged.

We could say that Ivan is being called by God for Christian work, perhaps even the pastorate that Ivan is studying for.

It is very likely that he will be one of God's champions here in the city.

Ivan had a fear of God and asked for help - however feeble his request.

Then God got Ivan's attention and Ivan listened and obeyed.

God was willing to move heaven and earth, to orchestrate all these events, for one of his children who asked for help.

          God is willing to do that for you.

          There may be some tough challenges involved, but God has good in mind for you.

          There are a number of ways that God is able to get the attention of the one who wants the help.

          Here is where God is able to do for us what we are not able to do for ourselves because we do not naturally listen to him.

          But he does take the desire of a discerning heart and acts on your behalf.

          Last week we saw how God began to do that for the scattered Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost as he begins to build his church.

Specifically we discussed what we can know about the nature of the Holy Spirit from that event at Pentecost and what the Holy Spirit does for us.

We learned that the Holy Spirit is personal, understandable, and elective. And he gives us intimacy, unity, and choice in God.

And no matter where we come from, he speaks our language.

Now with Peter's speech that follows in Acts 2:14-41, we will learn the content of the Spirit's message that will change the world by changing the heart of those who listen to him and obey.

This is the indwelling presence of God for believers in this present age that Jesus promised us.

When the 120 disciples experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit with the sound of wind and the appearance of fire, they began to speak in the tongues of the many languages of the Jews who were in Jerusalem at the time.

The God-fearing Jews out in the streets were attracted to this obvious power of God which was made manifest even outside the house where the disciples were meeting, and they came to see what was happening.

And the disciples were compelled by the power of God to take the Spirit's prophetic message out of the house and into the streets where they proceed to the temple courts.

It is quite fitting that the temple is their destination in the power of the Spirit where Peter now stands to address the crowd.

He begins by addressing their question of, "What does this mean?"

The end result of this blaze caused by the wind and the fire of the Spirit will be nothing less than amazing.

It will become a heavenly wildfire that cannot be contained by man.

The power of God, indeed the message of God, is now loosed upon the world.

The Big Question: Now that the Spirit has the attention of those who fear God, what is the Spirit's message to them?

But let us ask an even bigger question.

Why should I listen to this message?

It is because this is also the Spirit's message to you.

You also are the reason for the Spirit's coming.

The Spirit's message is also for you in these last days.

If you had observed the power of God displayed before your very eyes, wouldn't you also want to know what it means?

And it is as meaningful today as it ever was because we are even closer to the end of these last days.

And the power of the Spirit has not yet been taken from this world.

It was for them, it is for Ivan, and it is also for you.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative vv. 14-21

          B.      Implication

The Spirit's message is sobering about our need to be saved because of prophetic truth.

          C.      Illustration

          Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit in his response to the accusation of being drunk. He answered admirably and with a sense of humor. Indeed he was not drunk with wine but with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), just like we need to be.

We met a young woman whom we have known in times past from Christian circles while we were on the Hike for Life last Saturday. While standing and talking to her on the asphalt path along the lakefront a bicyclist behind us inadvertently grazed her shoulder. She immediately exclaimed to us how "these people" don't like us on the path and oppose the right-to-life and she was hit on purpose. Her attitude was not Spirit filled. I told her it looked like an accident to me and she seemed to accept the fact that it could have been.

And I admit I struggled in my mind on one occasion along the path when a  person behind me could not get through and said quite pointedly, "Excuse me!" For a fleeting instant I thought about responding, "Well, excuse me!" But instead I said, "I'm sorry I was in your way."

But Peter is not apologizing to appease, he is proclaiming in order to save. However, he is doing it with the sense and the power of the Spirit who is speaking through him. It is not the message of the flesh but the message of the Spirit that will bear fruit.

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative vv. 22-28

          B.      Implication

The Spirit's message is convicting about our need to be saved because we are responsible for Christ's death.

          C.      Illustration

V. 22 – miracles, wonders, and signs

Many treatments of Jesus get bogged down in a discussion of the possibility of miracles; properly speaking, that is a philosophical rather than a historical or even a theological problem. ... All that need be noted is that ancient Christian, Jewish and pagan sources all agreed that Jesus did extraordinary things not easily explained by human means.  While Jesus' disciples pointed to the Spirit of God as the source of His power, Jewish and pagan adversaries spoke of demonic or magical forces.  It never occurred to any of the ancient polemicists to claim that nothing happened. 

   -- John P. Meier in the New York Times Book Review (Dec. 21, 1986).  Christianity Today, Vol. 31,  no. 16.

V. 23 – the work of the cross (whose work was it?)

Artist William Holman Hunt spent 1870-73 in the Holy Land, where he painted Shadow of Death.  The work depicts a carpenter's shop in Nazareth.  Jesus stands by a wooden trestle on which He has put His saw.  Lifting His eyes toward heaven, Jesus stretches and raises both arms above His head.  The evening sunlight streaming through the open door casts a dark shadow in the form of a cross on the wall behind Him, making His tool rack appear as a horizontal bar on which His hands have been fastened.  The tools themselves look like the fateful hammer and nails.

   Though the idea came from an artist's imagination, it is accurate. From Jesus' youth, the cross cast its shadow over Him.

V. 23 – with the help of wicked men

God's purpose and mans' guilt

          {Years ago this church made an error in judgment about whether to build the second story on the church addition next door. In not responding to the desires of the younger adults and youth who wanted the church to minister to them and grow, the church lost that whole generation. The church then also left us a huge maintenance problem now. There was a lack of vision for whatever reason. We can't go back and change the past, but the past haunts us who remain. The problem has become ours by extension. I believe that this addition is an established fact in our future. But the point is that we are responsible for what they did because it is now up to us to fix it. We are responsible for what we know now in spite of their error.

So it is with our responsibility for the death of Christ. It is our sins that put him on the cross. He died for the sins of all mankind. Since all are sinner, we are responsible by extension. What will we do to satisfy our part of it?}

During his days as guest lecturer at Calvin Seminary, R. B. Kuiper once used the following illustration of God's sovereignty and human responsibility:

   "I liken them to two ropes going through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to one and not the other, I go down. I read the many teachings of the Bible regarding God's election, predestination, his chosen, and so on. I read also the many teachings regarding 'whosoever will may come' and urging people to exercise their responsibility as human beings. These seeming contradictions cannot be reconciled by the puny human mind. With childlike faith, I cling to both ropes, fully confidant that in eternity I will see that both strands of truth are, after all, of one piece."

   -- John Morren, Lake City, Michigan. Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.

The scholarly Scotsman William Barclay shared the story of a missionary who went to an Indian village to tell the story of Jesus. Following his talk, the Christian showed slide presentations of Jesus, using a whitewashed wall for the screen. When the picture of Christ on the cross appeared, a man sprang to his feet exclaiming, "Come down from that cross, Son of God. I, not You, should be hanging there!"

   -- G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations For Preaching & Teaching (Broadman, 1986), p. 93.

V. 24 – death (1Cor. 15:54-57)

0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory? This is so true that even Satan cannot deny it. Christ's resurrection and victory over sin, death and hell is greater than all heaven and earth. You can never imagine his resurrection and victory so great but that in actuality it is far, far greater.

   -- Martin Luther, quoted in The Joy of the Saints. Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 4.

When death stung Jesus Christ, it stung itself to death.

   -- Peter Joshua, Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 4.

We understand and acknowledge that the Resurrection has placed a glorious crown upon all of Christ's sufferings!

   -- A. W. Tozer in Renewed Day by Day.  Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 4.

V. 24 - resurrection

We can say that the story of the resurrection means simply that the teachings of Jesus are immortal like the plays of Shakespeare or the music of Beethoven and that their wisdom and truth will live on forever.  Or we can say that the resurrection means that the spirit of Jesus is undying, that he himself lives on among us, the way that Socrates does, for instance, in the good that he left behind him, in the lives of all who follow his great example.  Or we can say that the language in which the Gospels describe the resurrection of Jesus is the language of poetry and that, as such, it is not to be taken literally but as pointing to a truth more profound than literal.  But in the case of the resurrection, this simply does not apply because there really is no extended story about the resurrection in the New Testament other than the fact that it happened. There is no poetry about it. Instead, it is simply proclaimed as a fact. Christ is risen! 

   -- Frederick Buechner in The Magnificent Defeat.  Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 4.

You could speak of Jesus' rising as the most hopeful (hope-full) thing that has ever happened--and you would be right!

   -- J. I. Packer in Your Father Loves You.  Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 4.

The Good Friday service in Dampara Baptist Church, Chittagong, Bangladesh, was packed. Little children sat on the floor in the aisles and across the front of the church. Rows of people stood in the back, craning their necks to see the crucifixion scene as depicted in the "Jesus Film."

   Weeping and gasps of unbelief could be heard in the shocked hush as Jesus was crucified. As the Bengalis watched, they were feeling the agony of Jesus' pain and the disappointment of the disciples.

   In that emotional moment, one young boy in the crowded church suddenly cried out, "Do not be afraid. He gets up again! I saw it before."

   A small boy's encouraging cry gave new hope to the viewers of the film. "He is risen!" is the cry that gives new hope to all.

   -- William D. Barrick, Christian Reader, Vol. 35, no. 2.

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative vv. 29-36

          B.      Implication

The Spirit's message is compelling about our need to be saved because we must submit to Christ's lordship.

          C.      Illustration

The character of the Creator cannot be less than the highest He has created, and the highest is that babe born to Mary on that first Christmas morning.

   -- A. Ian Burnett in Lord of All Life.  Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 14.

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

          A.      Narrative vv. 37-41

          B.      Implication

The Spirit's message is demanding about our decision to be saved because there is no other hope (for the forgiveness of sins, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the good of our children, for the life of the church, and for separation from this corrupt world).

          C.      Illustration

V. 37 – what shall we do?

The necessary stench of guilt

In The New Yorker, (5/15/95) Sara Mosle recounts that on March 18, 1937, a spark ignited a cloud of natural gas that had accumulated in the basement of the London, Texas, school. The blast killed 293 people, most of them children.

   The explosion happened because the local school board wanted to cut heating costs. Natural gas, the by-product of petroleum extraction, was siphoned from a neighboring oil company's pipeline to fuel the building's furnace free of charge.

   London never recovered from the blast that turned the phrase "boom town" into a bitter joke. The one positive effect of this disastrous event was government regulation requiring companies to add an odorant to natural gas. The distinctive aroma is now so familiar that we often forget natural gas is naturally odorless.

   There is a tendency these days to classify all feelings of guilt as hazardous to our self-esteem. In reality, guilt can be valuable, an "odorant" that warns us of danger.

   -- Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 1.

V. 37 – what shall we do?

The guilt of selfishly usurping God

Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, "I AM." That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good. "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) is the deep heart cry of every man who suddenly realizes that he is a usurper and sits on a stolen throne.

   -- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 5.

V. 37 – what shall we do?

The need to receive

Reader's Digest wrote of the late Harvey Penick: "For 90-year-old golf pro Harvey Penick, success has come late. His first golf book, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, has sold more than a million copies, which his publisher believes makes it one of the biggest things in the history of sports books. His second book, And If You Play Golf, You're My Friend, has already sold nearly three-quarters of a million. But anyone who imagines that Penick wrote the books to make money doesn't know the man.

   "In the 1920s Penick bought a red spiral notebook and began jotting down observations about golf. He never showed the book to anyone except his son until 1991, when he shared it with a local writer and asked if he thought it was worth publishing. The man read it and told him yes. He left word with Penick's wife the next evening that Simon & Schuster had agreed to an advance of $90,000.

   "When the writer saw Penick later, the old man seemed troubled. Finally, Penick came clean. With all his medical bills, he said, there was no way he could advance Simon & Schuster that much money. The writer had to explain that Penick would be the one to receive the $90,000."  People often have Penick's reaction to the fabulous gift of salvation offered in Jesus Christ. We ask, "What must I do?" God answers, "Just receive."

   -- Eric Hulstrand, Binford, North Dakota.  Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.

V. 38 - repentance

Repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It's easy to get lost walking through the desert. You become aware that the countryside is strange. You finally say to yourself, I'm going in the wrong direction. That's the first act of repentance.

   The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. It implies that you not only do this but you admit it to your companions.

-- Gordon MacDonald, "Repentance," Preaching Today, Tape No. 121.

Repentance is not a popular word these days, but I believe that any of us recognize it when it strikes us in the gut. Repentance is coming to our senses, seeing, suddenly, what we've done that we might not have done, or recognizing ... that the problem is not in what we do but in what we become.

   -- Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 12.

V. 38 - baptism

Rites confer religious, social, and personal permission at important junctures of life.  Baptism gives the Christian permission to enjoy the full life of the church and is a mark of a good conscience toward God.  Communion permits one to share inwardly in the life of Christ.  Ordination confers permission to conduct the rites of one's faith and is recognition of being set apart for God's service.  Funerals originally were conducted to give the departing spirit permission to leave the premises for good, but now are recognized as part of the healing process for those left behind.  Weddings confer mutual sexual permission. Initiations permit new members to enter into all the benefits of a club or association.  Oaths of office confer permission to pick up the symbols of a new duty and to carry out authority. Oaths in court give permission to speak the truth of a matter to one's best ability.  Graduation ceremonies give permission to leave an institution of learning honorably and confer symbols of achievement like degrees, which grant permission to employers to pay graduates  a higher salary for special knowledge.

   -- Richard Gaylord Briley, The 7 Spiritual Secrets of Success (Nelson, 1995), p. 67-68.

V. 38 - forgiveness

When the preacher says we need forgiveness, he's not just fanning moonbeams with his hat -- we need forgiveness!  Human nature in the raw is not nice at all.  When surveyors promised not to tell, 31 percent of the people questioned confessed infidelity, 91 percent regularly tell lies, 36 percent regularly tell dark lies -- the kind that hurt people.  Half of all workers confess to calling in sick when they're not, and only thirteen percent of all Americans believe in all ten commandments.

   -- Associated Press, 4-29-91

This summary of words found printed on a Christmas card hold special significance:

   "If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior."

V. – 38 gift of the Holy Spirit

My daughter's station wagon coughed and choked all the way to the Christian bookstore in the mall. While we stood at the bookstore counter, Connie moaned, "I'm not sure we can make it home in the station wagon. If only Dave had driven the station wagon and left the Dodge Spirit for us!"

   At that moment she glanced outside the store and happened to see her husband, Dave, rush by on his way to the restaurant next door.

   "Dave! Dave!" she called. "Help! We need the Spirit."

   The clerk came to the counter at that moment. Thinking she had just overheard a devout and desperate prayer, her eyes opened wide--until Connie and Dave exchanged car keys.

   -- Martha E. Garrett, East Wenatchee, Wash. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."

V. 39 – for you and your children

One elder statesman of a Christian church has devoted himself to a fifty-year study of Christian and non-Christian families. He says that in American culture today most young adults following Jesus Christ either come from non-Christian homes where they were converted to Christ in their teenage years through a dynamic youth ministry, or they come from homes where they grew up in love with Jesus because mom and dad were so in love with Jesus that love permeated their lives. It passed through their pores. Very few believers come from homes where there was a kind of indifferent, apathetic commitment to Christ.

   This is not my idea. This is the result of this study. It is sobering and thought provoking to suggest that, in American culture, the chances are better for a child growing up in a non-Christian home to become a Christian than for a child growing up in a home that has an indifferent, apathetic commitment to Jesus Christ. See: Deuteronomy 6 suggests that a love for God must permeate the parent.

   -- Ron Lee Davis, "Introducing Christ to Your Child," Preaching Today, Tape No. 92.

My four-year-old granddaughter, Amanda, went to the doctor's office with a fever. The doctor looked in her ears and said, "Who's in there? Donald Duck?"

   She said, "No." He looked in her nose and said, "Who's in there? Mickey Mouse?"

   Again she said, "No." He put his stethoscope on her heart and said, "Who's in there? Barney?"

   Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my underwear."

   -- Carol Leet, New York.  Today's Christian Woman, Vol. 18, no. 4.

While driving to church on Easter Sunday two years ago, I told my children the Easter story. "This is the day we celebrate Jesus coming back to life," I explained. Right away, my 3-year-old son, Kevin, piped up from the back seat, "Will He be in church today?"

   -- Peggy Key, Portage, MI.  Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

V. 39 – for all whom the Lord our God will call

All Sins Swept Away: A slave describes her delayed but dramatic conversion.

   Jarena Lee (1783-c.1850) was one of the outstanding preachers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was a servant in Philadelphia when her conversion began:

   I inquired of the head cook of the house respecting the rules of the Methodists, as I knew she belonged to that society, who told me what  they were-on which account I replied that I should not be able to abide by such strict rules not even one year. However, I told her that I would go with her and hear what they had to say.

   The man who was to speak in the afternoon of that day was the Reverend Richard Allen, since bishop of the African Episcopal Methodists in America. During the labors of this man that afternoon, I had come to the conclusion that this is the people to which my heart unites. And it so happened that, as soon as the service closed, he invited such as felt a desire to flee the wrath to come, to unite on trial with them-I embraced the opportunity.

   Three weeks from that day, my soul was gloriously converted to God under preaching, at the very outset of the sermon. The text was barely pronounced, which was "I perceive thy heart is not right in the sight of God" [Acts 8:21], when there appeared to my view, in the center of the heart, one sin, and this was malice-against one particular individual who had strove deeply to injure me, which I resented.

   At this discovery I said, "Lord, I forgive every creature."

   That instant it appeared to me as if a garment, which had entirely enveloped my whole person even to my fingers' ends, split at the crown of my head and was stripped away from me, passing like a shadow from my sight-when the glory of God seemed to cover me in its stead. That moment, though hundreds were present, I did leap to my feet and declare that God, for Christ's sake, had pardoned the sins of my soul. Great was the ecstasy of my mind, for I felt that not only the sin of malice was pardoned, but all other sins were swept away together.

   That day was the first when my heart had believed and my tongue had made confession unto salvation. The first words uttered, a part of that song which shall fill eternity with its sound, was "Glory to God!" For a few moments, I had power to exhort sinners and to tell of the wonders and of the goodness of him who had clothed me with his salvation.

   -- "Camp Meetings & Circuit Riders-Untamed Faith on America's Early Frontier," Christian History, no. 45.

V. 40 – this corrupt generation

We are at a point in history comparable to the one occupied by Augustine. ... The classical vision had lost its power over people's minds, and society was disintegrating. ... Alasdair MacIntyre, who invokes the memory of that moment to illuminate our situation, adds, however, that there is one great difference between Augustine's time and ours: then the barbarians were waiting outside the gates, but now they are already in the seats of power. 

    -- Lesslie Newbigin in Foolishness to the Greeks.  Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 18.

Twenty-five years ago people believed answers were forthcoming. Today few believe that.

   -- Leith Anderson, Leadership, Vol. 14, no. 2.

V. 41 – about 3,000 were added

Dr. Len G. Broughton tells of a church which reported to its Association as follows:

 Members received, none.

 Dismissed, none.

 Died, none.

 Married, none. 

 Given to missions during the year, nothing.

 Brethren, pray for us that during the next year we may hold our own.

   -- Rev. G.B.F. Hallock, 5000 Best Illustrations (Geo. H. Duran & Co., 1927), p. 16.

Explosive growth?

   Data from 78 U.S. denominations (not including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Roman Catholics) shows that 190,420 congregations registered an annual membership gain of 32,951 people.  That averages out at less than two new members for every five churches.

   -- 1997 Yearbook of American Churches, In Pastor's Weekly Briefing, Mar 21, 1997, p. 1.

When you work around the church a while it comes quite naturally, the laughter of cynical disbelief. In 1986 the United Methodist General Conference, on the last day of two weeks of meetings, passed a resolution that said we were going to make 9 million new United Methodists by about 1994--this in a denomination that had been losing about 65,000 members every year since the early seventies. Nine million new United Methodists!

   Well, I laughed. I thought, Isn't this typical! We don't want to do the systemic changes in our church that would enable us to reach out and get new people. This is just window dressing, sloganeering, platitudes. We aren't serious about it; it's just more guilt to lay on pastors' backs!

   I went home and wrote an article, "My Dog the Methodist." In it I argued that there was no way in heaven we were going to make 9 million new Methodists unless we started baptizing dogs. And I offered as a fit recipient for the sacrament of baptism my mixed-breed terrier sleeping in my garage. I said, "This dog, as far as I know, has shown no interest in biblical studies. Therefore, it would make a perfect Methodist." I also said, "This dog has the sexual ethics of some members of my former congregations."

   I laughed. When the article came out in The Christian Century, not everybody laughed. The magazine lost about four subscriptions, and two Methodist bishops have not spoken to me since. But I was serious. The cynicism behind that move! We don't intend to really change the way we would have to change to be that kind of church. I laughed.

   -- William Willimon, "Evangelical Laughter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 137.

One thousand eighty-four people made first-time professions of faith in Christ during Easter services at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.  Pastor Rick Warren preached at seven services; three on Saturday and four on Sunday and a youth pastor preached a sunrise service.  Some 104 out-of-town relatives invited by their families made decisions to become Christians. Hundreds of others rededicated their lives to Christ or decided to join the church or be baptized.  Attendance totaled 21,988. Warren's sermons described Jesus' trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. "Jesus is still on trial in the minds of many of you," he told the audience, saying he was turning the auditorium into a courtroom, impaneling them as jurors and calling witnesses.  "And then you must come to a verdict."

   Saddleback members invited an estimated 8,500 non-Christians to the services.  Warren had told congregation members not to attend on Easter unless they brought at least one unchurched person.  It was Saddleback's first Easter in its own building, which was recently constructed on a 74-acre campus.  The church was founded on Easter in 1980 and had used 89 different facilities in five cities, including schools, country clubs, warehouses, tents, and mental hospitals.

   -- National & International Religion Report, April 29, 1996, p. 2.

The early church was not market driven.  It did not make Christianity particularly user-friendly.  Converts had to go through extensive, lengthy catechesis and examination before they were accepted for baptism.  In the ultimate barrier to new member assimilation, those who did become Christians faced the death penalty.  Nevertheless, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church grew like wildfire.

   -- Gene Veith, Modern Reformation, Jul/Aug 1996, p. 6.

          D.      Application

This promise of God is eternal life through the indwelling Holy Spirit by your faith in Jesus. This promise has generational applicability. Your faith is the greatest gift you could ever give your children.

Romans 8:11  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

What is the essence of this eternal life that we receive?

It is the gift of the Holy Spirit who will raise us from the dead.

This is the promise, v. 39.

Conclusion:

The Big Answer:

The Spirit's message is sobering about our need to be saved because of prophetic truth.

The Spirit's message is convicting about our need to be saved because we are responsible for Christ's death.

The Spirit's message is compelling about our need to be saved because we must submit to Christ's lordship.

The Spirit's message is demanding about our decision to be saved because there is no other hope (for the forgiveness of sins, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the good of our children, for the life of the church, and for separation from this corrupt world).

Timeless Truth: The Spirit's reason for coming was to proclaim the message of Christ so that all who fear God might believe and be saved.

It is in this salvation that we find the counsel of truth that Jesus promised us through the Spirit, taking from what is his and making it known to us.

13  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:13-15 NIVUS)

Through repentance and faith, Jesus gives us his salvation, his eternal life.

May you reaffirm this great truth for yourselves today.

Or may you make this great truth your own today, having had the conviction, "Brothers, what shall we do?" laid upon your heart.

And may this great truth give you everlasting hope in these last days.

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