COMPELLED BY THE SPIRIT
In a certain church, where infant baptism was
practiced, the pastor was talking with the
preschool children during the worship service.
They had been studying about the meaning of
baptism, so the pastor stood with the children
by the font and asked, "Why do we use water in
baptisms?" A thoughtful youngster piped up,
"To make the baby's hair grow."
In another church, Kathy watched quietly and
intently as Father Smith baptized her little
brother. But when the ceremony reached the
pouring of water, little Kathy became nervous,
she edged up to the baptismal font and
exclaimed, "And wash behind his ears too,
Well, baptism may not have the magic function
of making your hair grow. If it did, my
Pastor most definitely missed a spot right...
about... there! Rather, in a symbolic way,
baptism is about being washed from our sins in
the blood of Jesus Christ. Christian baptism
is about making a public confession that we
belong to Jesus Christ. Christian baptism is
about identifying ourselves with the people of
God. We proclaim to the world that God is our
Father. We are His children. And we are
brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the day of Pentecost. It
was on the day of Pentecost many years ago
that the Spirit of God came down upon the
disciples and empowered them to continue the
work that Christ had begun. The day of
Pentecost represents the beginning of the
Church of Jesus Christ.
As follwers of Christ, we are compelled to
tell the story of God's intervention in our
life. The Story of Acts chapter 2 illustrates
how the disciples were compelled by God's
Spirit to proclaim the work of God.
I want to read from Acts 2 the events that
took place on the day of Pentecost.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from
heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw
what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on
each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began
to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were
staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under
heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in
bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own
language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who
are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them
in his own native language? -- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." 14 Then Peter [compelled by the Holy Spirit] 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. 15 These men are not drunk, as
you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was
spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 "`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. 18
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit
in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the
heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows
of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to
blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' 22
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited
by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among
you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed
over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the
help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of
death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the
fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the
Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see
and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
"`The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand 35 until I make
your enemies a footstool for your feet."' 36 "Therefore let all Israel be
assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both
Lord and Christ." 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the
heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we
do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in
the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your
children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God
will call." 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded
with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those
who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand
were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What a great story. Imagine the power of the Holy Spirit, who
compelled Peter and the apostles to proclaim boldly the Truth
about Jesus Christ. The people were convicted by the message
that we cannot be saved unless we confess our sins and accept
Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord. The apostles were
compelled by God's Spirit to share the Good News that Jesus
Christ is alive and that He lives in us.
All fear of ridicule and persecution was gone in that moment.
And on that day the Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear in a language
that everyone could understand.
The message is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had come
to offer salvation to anyone who would believe in Him. The
message is an invitation to believe in the saving power of Jesus
Christ, whom God has raised from the dead. The message is
about God's effort to reconcile mankind to Himself.
The message that the Holy Spirit compels the Church to preach
today is still the same. "Save yourselves from this corrupt
generation." Repent from your life of sin, and commit your life
to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Our four baptismal
candidates have followed this invitation, and they want to confess
their faith publicly today. We rejoice with them and praise God
for all that He has done and will yet do in and through their lives.
As we all continue to grow in our commitment to Christ we
remember that every one of us is also compelled by the Holy Spirit
to share, through our words and our actions, what Jesus Christ has
done in our lives. Making a public confession of our faith in Jesus
Christ makes a preacher out of every one of us.
The Church of India has a custom that's a part of the act
of baptism. the candidate places his hand on his head and
says, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." This is part of
the baptismal services of new members, not the ordination
of ministers. Through our words and our actions we all are
preachers, compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak of God's mighty
deeds in our lives.
As we remember the events of Pentecost, and as we are witnesses
to the confession of faith of our new brothers and sister, let us
allow the Holy Spirit to take hold of our lives to the glory and
honor of Jesus Christ.
In closing, may the words of Ephesians 3:16-19 be an
encouragement to share our faith with others: I pray that out of his
glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your
inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I
pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power,
together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is
the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that
you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.