MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
KJV Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
The Day of Pentecost marks 50 days after the Passover. The title literally means 50, but to followers of Christ it marks the beginning of the Christian Church.
The coming of the Holy Spirit is remarkable because of its absence in Israel. The Holy Spirit departed from Israel because of the apostasy of God’s chosen people. Apostasy means falling away from the faith, those who were once believers but turn into enemies of the faith.
The best way to think about Pentecost is as the continuation of the work of the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of time to the end of all history. The Holy Spirit spoke to Israel through the prophets in the era of the Old Testament.
KJV Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
KJV 2 Samuel 23:2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. It is also the gift for all those who believe in Christ. One reason we baptize infants is to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit, planting faith in their hearts and giving them God’s guidance in their daily lives.
Notice how the self-described Pentecostals pervert the meaning of this day in several ways. Of course, one way is by not observing the Day of Pentecost, because it is “too Catholic” to mention any special days, except for Christmas and Easter. Also, a Pentecostal will always oppose infant baptism and really treat all baptism as unimportant.
God says, “This is how you will receive the Holy Spirit,” but the Pentecostal says, “I don’t want to hear about it.”
How can I say that water baptism is Spirit baptism. In John 3, Jesus said, “Unless one is waterSpirit baptized, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The passage reads this way in the KJV:
KJV John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
The English rendering is “born of water and of the Spirit” but the Greek text puts these words together without the article. The effect of this is to emphasize the unity of water and Spirit baptism. The Pentecostal and the Lutheran Pietist will say, “I was baptized but I was not a Christian yet.” Or he may say, “I was a Christian but not a REAL Christian.” Both statements blaspheme God’s Word, because the person who is baptized by water and the Word is also baptized by the Holy Spirit.
This is a great comfort, because all baptized people may return to their baptism as the reason for their sorrow for sin and their plea for forgiveness. The confession of sins is really a response to our baptism, so every liturgy begins with a recollection of our baptism. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this Lord unto us all.” That is a key part of the absolution pronounced by the minister.
How sad that so many people despise the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism and deny it to their children. I have never denied baptism to a child, because it is God’s work alone. The parents may neglect their responsibility, but God does not. The child who is baptized still has the power and guidance of God. That is why so many people fall away from the Means of Grace for years and yet feel moved to worship again.
Another error of the Pentecostals is their insistence upon tongue-speaking as their sacrament. Notice how they deny the very clear sign of God’s grace and Holy Spirit. Either one is baptized or not. We have baptism certificates that say, “on this day you were baptized.” It is objective and divinely ordained. Tongue-speaking must be learned. It is not difficult to learn. But then the problem is: how much is enough? One Pentecostal said you had to be flat on your back on the floor yelling glory, glory, glory. He did not like people just raising their hands in church to say they were smitten by the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals have many dozens of factions. Tongue-speaking does not unite them.
But baptism unites all Christians. No matter how divided the denominations are, we still have this one reality, that anyone properly baptized is a Christian, whether he is baptized in a Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox church. Proper baptism means using the correct Trinitarian formula and not feminist bastard-English, such as baptizing in the name of the Creation, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
This great unity means that we can discuss the Gospel with anyone, because the true Gospel brings believers together. Today very few know what the Christian faith means, and we want to know more when we discuss it. So all discussions about the Word of God are good in developing genuine unity and (also) honest separation. I cannot be a part of Lutherans who deny the work of the Holy Spirit, so I would rather have that out in the open than hidden in the name of creating a false unity.
In this light we can see why the Bible will use “Word” and “Holy Spirit” as synonyms. In other words, the work of the Holy Spirit is always through the Word and never apart from the Word. The Word is always divine, always powerful and effective.
KJV Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
KJV Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
This also makes the work of man very paltry and inconsequential. Look at what people do to “gain others for Christ.” They have celebrity guests, special plays, special celebrity music, humor, holy laughter, phony miracles, dancing in the spirit (so-called), gift Sundays (when children get gifts for bringing a friend to church), cookie and bakery Sundays, Masonic Lodge Sunday (gets the Lodge to church, for once), girl scout Sunday, boy scout Sunday, Campfire girls Sunday. They try everything except the Word of God and end up with the fruit of man’s wisdom by using gimmicks. They are really saying, “We are ashamed of the Gospel. We do not trust God to do His will through His Word.” One of their common forms of self-praise is to say “This program is anointed by the Holy Spirit” or “This program is very anointed.” How bizarre to deny the Word being anointed by the Holy Spirit and then claim that man’s word is “very anointed by the Holy Spirit.”
Pentecost for a faithful Lutheran is a glorious day of grace. The believer says, “Every time I hear the Word of God I hear the Holy Spirit.” Both the minister and the congregation know that the Holy Spirit is at work during every baptism and communion service. If they happen to have a baseball game, they do not nudge each other say, “This will bring in the new members.” If they pave the parking lot, they do not say, “Now that is going to do the job. We will pave today, build a new addition next year.”
I just got the Episcopalian paper. They announced a new goal: Double their membership in 10 years! They called this, and I am NOT making this up, “A Big Hairy Audacious Goal. A BHAG.” In the same issue they had a display ad for their feminist lesbian activist seminary at Harvard. A feature article said that the homosexual agenda was dividing the denomination. An editorial favored the new unionism agreement with ELCA. I thought, “People will line up for blocks for that combination of activism, unionism, and trendy thought.”
The Day of Pentecost marks the birthday of the Christian Church. The apostles began preaching the Gospel. Thousands were converted and baptized. Persecution followed, but this drove the Gospel across the paved network of highways built by the Roman Empire that did not tolerate the faith of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
God does not ask us to measure His work or decide whether it is successful according to the Big Hairy Audacious Goals of recent Fuller graduates. Instead, He allows us to enjoy His success and glorify His name for accomplishing what we could never do.