The Effects of Pentecost in Romans

The Effects of Pentecost in Romans

Presence, the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. You may be seated. Let me pray for the preaching of God’s word. Father, as my words are true to your word, may they be taken to heart. But if my words should stray from your word, may they be quickly forgotten. I pray this in the name and in the power of Jesus Christ. Amen. On Pentecost Sunday, the church Our churches historically reflect on and celebrate the dramatic account in Acts 2, where the Holy spirit sent by the Father and the Son comes upon the assembled crowd like the sound of rushing rushing wind, and with divided tongues of fire resting on each of them. They began to speak of the gospel and the glory of the Lord in a variety of the surrounding languages. Those visiting Jerusalem are stunned. They say, for instance, How is it that we hear each of us in our own native tongues? Verse 12 of chapter 2 in Acts tells us that they were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, What does this mean? And honestly, this is a question that’s repeated often in many church circles. What does this mean?

Where the Holy spirit and his power and his ministry, the ministry impacts of his work are discussed. We find it perplexing and amazing. And for those of us in reformed and Presbyterian circles, if we are honest, we might consider the Holy spirit a bit unpredictable. However, these acts of Chapter 2, the events of Pentecost, they’re the fulfillment of Jesus’s promise and proclamation of Acts 1:8, where he declares, You shall receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, even to the end of the Earth. The Holy spirit at Pentecost has changed things. You may have recalled that Pastor Lloyd mentioning that the spirit is mentioned over 20 times in Romans 8. Thinking about that, I thought perhaps we briefly look at the ministry and the impact of the Holy spirit in the lives of those Paul was writing to through the lens of Romans and how it will free us up to be witnesses to God’s mercy. I’ve chosen as the text this morning, Acts 2:22-28, which I’ve said was a part of Peter’s sermon on that original Pentecost morning. In it, Peter quotes David in Psalm 16.

But this won’t be a typical exegetical sermon. Instead, I like to use this as a springboard to show how Roman shows that Christ’s work of redemption is foundational to the transforming work of the Holy spirit in the lives of Christ followers, particularly in giving us life and peace. That Christ’s work was foundational is both obvious and understated. Reflecting, for instance, on Peter’s sermon, we see quickly one of the effects of Pentecost in the life of a believer that is in Peter’s boldness. He’s been rash before, but now he speaks with a new courage and conviction. This Jesus, you crucified and killed. That’s likely the charge that many of the listeners would hear. But you may want to notice two phrases that Peter adds to that core message. The first is, This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and for knowledge of God, you crucified and killed. Peter, one of the disciples who are always wondering, what is Jesus talking about? What does he mean when he says these things now understands God’s sovereignty and his purpose? Secondly, Peter remarks, By the hands of lawless men. It’s a curious phrase that Peter is using, perhaps he’s speaking to the Romans who were not under the Old Testament law as lawless, but Rome was filled with laws.

Or maybe he was making a little jab to the Jewish audience, those religious leaders who may have been there that pushed so hard to crucify Christ and to show that they were really living as lawless. That is, without the real influence of God’s good and just law, anyone following and understanding that would never have pushed for a crucifixion of Jesus. Peter, in his sermon, then was pointing out what Paul makes so clear in Romans. It’s the truth that New Testament, Thomas Schreiner writes. He says, The forensic work of Christ on the cross is the basis for the transformative work of the spirit. That forensic or legal work of Christ on the cross, Paul tells us in Romans 8:1, it results in the objective reality that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is a truth we cannot hear too often. Paul goes on to declare, The law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. We’ll talk about how the spirit brings life in a few minutes, but for now, notice that Paul has been making a series of contrast in Romans here, contrast and comparisons between the law and the spirit, between the old man and the new man, between the flesh and the spirit.

Pentecost is, if you will, the line of demarcation between those two times. Several scholars have noticed, for instance, the a parallel between Sinai and Pentecost. Sinclair Ferguson speaks of that in this way. He asked the question first, How is the gospel related to the law? And he answers his question in this way, The events of the day of Pentecost invite us to consider this question. He then goes on to remark about how in Sinai, Moses ascends into the presence of God, and the of God is written on tablets of stone, which is then brought down to the people. At Pentecost, Jesus had ascended into the presence of the Father, and the spirit of God was sent down, writing the law of God into the hearts of the people. So the gospel then, that is the good news which we are to boldly share, is that Christ, who has redeemed us from the penalty of our sin, therefore securing our justification. That’s the point Paul was making in Romans 3 through 5. Also, by the power of the Holy spirit, he sent the Holy spirit to free us from the bondage to sin, which is Romans 6 through 8.

This is a radical change, and one in which Paul uses, again, several pictures to show that dramatic change in the life of a follower of the life of a believer. One of the pictures is that of the old man, Adam, and the new man, Jesus. Jesus, in chapter 5, for instance, we see the old man who brings sin and death to all. The new man, or sometimes Paul calls him the one man, Jesus brings justification through, The grace of God and the free gift which abounds for many by the grace of that one man, Jesus. Jesus Christ. That’s Romans 5:15. Paul has, again, given us a contrasting picture of the flesh and the spirit, where the old, here, the flesh, in chapter 6 and 7, waged war against moral or righteous desires. Enslaved by sin, driven by passions, the one who is continually living by that flesh is frustrated. Is frustrated in the joy is elusive and that sin simply leads to more sin and eventually to death. That would be Romans 6:19-21. The contrast against that futile life is the life in the spirit, which frees one from bondage to sin and begins to bear the fruit of God in our life.

That’s Romans 7:4. In Romans 8:12, we’ll see, or Lloyd reminded us of last week, that if the spirit dwells in us, verse 11, we are no longer debtors to the flesh. We owe the flesh nothing. We have been freed up from all the weight and the burden of that old life. When I think of bondage, I think of baggage. When I think of baggage, I think of that time when Susan and I moved our family from Japan back to the States. We were allowed two checked bags per person, and so I decided it would be a great idea to check 14 suitcases in addition to all of our carry-ons. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m sure you can imagine what it might be like to be standing there. Susan, of course, was occupied with our youngest toddler, Sam, and I was supposed to manage the luggage and perhaps watch our four oldest kids as well. I didn’t have a chance of enjoying that trip in a Christ like fashion. And then I looked up and I saw the blue skycap of a Japanese baggage attendant. I never learned the word for help, which might tell you something about me.

Suimasem, help, omigaishimas. And I stood back asking for their help, thanking them. And then in awe, I watched this man deathly pack 14 suitcases onto his trolley, motioned us forward, bypassed the line, took us directly to the counter, whispered a few words, checked all our bags, I was free. That was living. There was this dramatic relief that occurred that now all I needed to do was focus on helping the family, not just luggage through our journey. I wonder, what’s the baggage that you might be carrying that the Holy spirit can free you from? Ten times in Romans, Paul writes about the effect of being freed from sin. In chapter 8, verse 2, he clearly reminds us that the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ from the law of sin and death. You are free. Here we see a third contrast that Paul uses between the law and the spirit or the letter and the spirit. I love how New Testament scholar, Kermann Ritterbaugh writes. He makes the following observation, he says, As a piece of writing, this is a quote, and consisting in letters of stone, it cannot touch the heart.

We’re reminded that the spirit stands against us, against it. It’s the spirit of the living God who is mighty to give what he remains, Riddabah says, because he is capable of writing on the heart. That is what the Holy spirit does in our life. I was struck by this quote because earlier this week in my own devotional reading, I’m working through Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 36:26, I read this, And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you and cause cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Pentecost was the dramatic event fulfilling that prophecy. Stone made soft what was hard and dead. Now brought into new and supple life. Another scholar notes, The law is a powerless prescription of thou shalt and thou shalt not, and this ultimately leads to slavery. Compare that with the power of the spirit over a man’s heart that therefore can freely set him to serve God truly. I think this is an important reminder that as followers of Christ, we are enabled and empowered by the spirit to live lives that are consistent with the name of Christ.

Here, Ferguson puts it this way, It is the hallmark of life in the spirit spirit, that the religious requirements of the law are fulfilled in the life of those who walk in the spirit. You might want to look at Romans 8:3-4. Now, this, of course, makes sense. When you remember that the law is good and holy and spiritual, Romans 7, 12 and 14, as well as that it is love’s very nature to want to fulfill the laws and the desires Heirs of the giver, Romans 13:8-10, will show us that whenever we get there. But as we seek to fulfill the law, we must strive in the spirit and not in our flesh. We’re always going to be tempted to move back into and under the law. We’ll always be tempted to adopt a law mindset of seeing ourselves subject to a law and therefore, again, a slave to its demands. Furthermore, we make it even worse because we regularly add to the law and therefore to our own bondage. Paul reminds us of that danger in chapter 7, verse 4, that we have died to that law through the body of Christ, that we may belong to another.

Choose rather life in the spirit and the pursuit of righteous living in the freeing power of the Holy spirit. I appreciate that the Westminster Shorter Catechism in asking the question, this is number 35, What is sanctification? Reminds us that sanctification is a work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die to sin and to live to righteousness. It’s a work of God’s free grace. The larger catechism expands that a little bit, and the phrase being renewed in the whole man adds, Through the powerful operation of the Holy spirit, applying the death and resurrection of Christ in our life. We often view sanctification as our work. We need to be reminded that the old has been made new, our stone hearts have been softened, the flesh has been put to death, and the letter has now been written in our very hearts. In all these ways, the transforming work of the spirit is bringing us life, and it also brings us peace. Now, in one sense, peace is brought about simply by being declared righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Again, Romans 8:1, There is, therefore, now no no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That should certainly bring us peace, knowing truly and deeply that the great judge, as he looks at his law, which is good and perfect and holy then sees us as righteous because of the work of his son, Jesus Christ. If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. That is an objective truth that can bring you peace. But the spirit hasn’t simply changed our relationship just to the law, although that would be enough to bring us peace on the final day of judgment. We’d rather he has to use language from New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner. He reminds us that he has also changed our relationship to the lawgiver himself. We see this in Romans 8:15, that it is by the spirit of God that we are sons of God so that we don’t fall back into fear. We have received the spirit of adoption as sons. In the Acts 2 passage in your bulletin, we get a bit of this confident piece in the quote from David, which was from Psalm 16. There, David writes, For he is at my right-hand that I may not be shaken.

Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced. Our status as adopted son, that relationship gives us relational security. We are a member of the family, and that cannot be taken away from us. But there are times in which we might need to feel even closer. Because, and I appreciated Sinclair Ferguson’s comment, there is a sense that Adam’s specter stalks the first half of Romans. The old man is always there. With respect to Pentecost and the Ministry of the Holy spirit, Ferguson makes this point. He says, The focus of the original temptation in the garden It’s theological. To destroy confidence in trust in God’s fatherly benevolence. I wonder if you’ve seen the fall in the garden in that way. That it was theological to destroy the confidence in trust in God’s fatherly benevolence. That temptation is common to us as well. You know, the reality is that Satan knows that our positional relationship with the Father is secure. He cannot destroy that relationship. So instead, he, as the accuser of the Brethren, wars against us in every possible avenue to attempt to destroy the joy that we can experience in that relationship or to, and I’m quoting Ferguson here again, to pervert it from filial communion to slavish bondage.

And we are often all too ready to help. It’s a reminder of a story, I believe it’s attributed to General Eisenhower, where he on horseback was parading his troops after a significant victory and a young girl darted under the ropes and ran straight for the general and all those horses. A trusty sergeant caught her up and warned her, You can’t go in there. That’s the general. To which little Ruth he replied, He may be your general, but he’s my daddy. I love that. It’s the spirit that enables us to cry out, Abba, Father, The Greek translation, a word that’s translated as cry here, is typically used in times of crisis. This is a few verses later in Acts 8, which we’ll get to soon in our series. But this term cry is typically used in times of crisis. For instance, the mob was out to kill Paul in Acts 19, and this was the cry. Or Steve evens prayer in Acts 7, where he’s about to be stoned and he cried out in prayer that the Lord would forgive them. Or even Jesus’s final cry on the cross in Luke 23:46. It all uses this same form of the Greek.

Here in times of crisis, we can call out that simple word, Father, Daddy, Abba. And the Lord will hear and respond because you are his children. Martin Luther remarked in this way, This is but a little word, and yet notwithstanding, it comprehends all things. The mouth speaks not, but the affections of the heart speaks after this manner. Although I be oppressed with anguish and tear on every side, and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from thy presence, yet I am thy child, and thou are my Father for Christ’s sake. I am beloved because of the beloved. I am beloved because of the beloved. You are beloved because of the beloved, and the Holy spirit dwells within you. You who are led by the spirit of God, our sons and daughters of God. You need not move back under the law, for you are a new one in Christ. You need not pursue empty desires that lead only to death, for the flesh is dead and the spirit has given you life. You need not fear the punishments of the many infractions in our lives because God’s law is written now, no longer on stones, but rather in our hearts.

The spirit reminds us that we are sons, we are children, we have been adopted by the Father, and God has written his law on our hearts, for we are his. That’s a truth that’s freeing and empowers us to share that freedom with others. I’ll close with David’s remarks. I the Lord always before me, for he is at my right-hand that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced, and my flesh also will dwell in hope. Let us pray. Father, indeed, we thank you and we praise you. You know us so well. We thank you for the gift of the Holy spirit in our lives. We thank you for Christ and his foundational work on the cross to redeem us, to defeat sin, to destroy its power, to cancel or rather, satisfy its requirements, even in his own death. Father, even as Christ ascended into the heavens, even as he is seated now at your right-hand and advocates for us, the spirit the Holy spirit is here, and he indwells each of us. And we are now your temple. Father, we praise you for that reality. That through the spirit and its transforming work, we can experience life and peace and are given a boldness to share that gospel with others.

Father, we praise you in Jesus name. Amen.

Discaimer: This sermon text was generated by an automated transcription service.