The Holy Spirit Changes People
This same Holy Spirit gives us salvation. Never forget that the Holy Spirit’s primary work is bringing us to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Now more than ever it is necessary for us to bring that message to others. There are not many paths to heaven. There is only one. That path is Jesus Christ. He lived and died for every sinner. He rose again to give us eternal life. Now we know that our sins are forgiven and that we can live forever in heaven. May the Holy Spirit strengthen our faith in Christ!
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Take a moment and think of two or three events in your life that have changed you significantly. You might say your wedding day, the birth of your children, graduation day, an honor bestowed while in the military. Maybe it was a near death experience through an automobile accident. Some might even point to a particular occasion when they realized their lives were going downhill rapidly and they decided that they were going to take a new course of action.
On the day of Pentecost, a life changing event happened for many people – at least 3,000 we are told later in this chapter. The Holy Spirit worked through baptism and the preaching of the gospel to change heathen men, women and children into God-fearing believers. Today let us consider the opening words of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost – words that he quoted almost word for word from the prophet Joel. These words help us to see that
The Holy Spirit Changes People
The Holy Spirit gives us courage
The Holy Spirit gives us understanding
The Holy Spirit gives us salvation
There are different kinds of courage. Soldiers can display courage as they go into battle. Parents can display courage when they make tough choices for their families. People from all walks of life display acts of courage – many of those courageous acts go unrecognized. We like to identify courageous activities and call those doing such things heroes. There were no heroes on that first day of Pentecost. If you know anything about those disciples who received the gifts of the Spirit that day they had not displayed courageous faith. All of them had – at one time or another - been ashamed of the message of Christ. We are a lot like them.
We are often too timid or shy to confess who Jesus is or what he has done for us with boldness and confidence. We were born cowards. We were born afraid of God and afraid of people. Even now, even while being children of God by faith, we find ourselves reluctant to defend Christianity. We find ourselves tongue tied when we should speak up. We find ourselves hiding behind the cross instead of holding up the cross. Christians aren’t heroes. We are sinners who are saved by God’s grace!
On the day of Pentecost, things changed! Peter and the Eleven – Matthias has now replaced Judas – displayed a courage that had not existed within them previously. Oh, it’s not that they weren’t Christians before this. It is just that now they were changed people. The Holy Spirit gave them courage to stand up and present the message of the gospel to people from all over the world. They urged those who were listening to pay careful attention to what they had to say because the words they were sharing had the power to change people’s lives. So, they spoke the truth. They spoke of sin and consequences. They spoke of Christ and grace. The people repented of their sins and believed the good news of Christ. The change which the Holy Spirit was working in their hearts that day was a change foretold by the prophet Joel.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” The last days are upon us. They are the days from the ascension of our Savior to heaven until our Savior’s return on judgment day. In a very real sense the last days began on that day of Pentecost when Peter quoted these words. Certainly, God has always wanted all people to hear of Christ and to enjoy the gift of the Spirit – faith. But for the most part the Jews failed to share the gospel to the ends of the earth. Even though God had instructed them to be “a light for revelation to the gentiles,” the gospel message remained a treasure primarily hidden in the land of Israel. Joel foretold that there would be a day when the Holy Spirit would go out into the whole world – a day when people from all corners of the earth would confess what great things Jesus Christ has done.
Pentecost gave the Christian church courage to proclaim the good news of Christ to all people all over the world! The Holy Spirit “pours out” his gifts on people through the word of Christ.. The greatest of these spiritual gifts is the gift of faith itself. Romans 10 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to share the message of Christ with all people because we know that the gospel message does make us courageous Christians. The gospel changes people! May God give us courage to tell others about the God who has given us His Son to save us eternally!
The Holy Spirit not only gives us courage to speak up, but he also gives us understanding. Twice Peter reminds us that the Holy Spirit is “poured out” on people. The picture you have is not of a few drips of spiritual blessings. The picture you have is that the Holy Spirit lavishly floods us with his gifts to change us into people who understand his Word and know how to apply it in our lives. Not only are those gifts given to you and me, but to the whole Christian church on earth. The Holy Spirit gives Christians understanding of God’s Word so that through the Word we grow in faith and are better equipped to use the gifts the Holy Spirit pours on us.
The spiritual gifts that are highlighted by Peter as he quotes from the prophet Joel is the gift of understanding. It is a gift that is given to young and old, male and female, rich and poor, black and white. God says, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible so that we can share God’s word with others and help them to understand what God has done for us. The Holy Spirit helps us to imagine a world in which the gospel is carried to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit helps us to dream big dreams and to see great sights of what can be as we do the work God has laid before us.
God has not told us that we can expect revelations from him outside of what he has revealed in Holy Scripture. Rather, we can expect that the Holy Spirit will change us so that we understand God’s truth and see the opportunities given to us to touch the lives of others with the gospel.
God says, ‘I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” God will give us understanding of all the signs and wonders, the miracles, God is doing in our world to remind us that the Day of our Lord’s return is approaching. Could we have had a clearer picture of this than the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii? You heard the reports. People displaced. Homes destroyed.
With the gift of understanding, you see these things as reminders that this world is coming to an end. The Holy Spirit can change people so that we listen to his Word and understand that the clock is ticking on planet earth!
This same Holy Spirit gives us salvation. Never forget that the Holy Spirit’s primary work is bringing us to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Now more t