Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pentecost: Blessed in Order to Bless

        John 7:37–39

To place this verse in context it is necessary to read some of Deuteronomy and a few more verses of John 7:
"All the men of your nation are to come to worship the LORD three times a year at the 
one place of worship: at Passover, Festival of Weeks(Pentecost in the Greek of the New Testament), and the Festival of Tabernacles." Deuteronomy 16:16

"After this, Jesus travelled in Galilee; he did not want to travel in Judea, because the Jewish authorities there were wanting to kill him.  The time for the Festival of Tabernacles was near,.... 
 After his brothers had gone to the festival, Jesus also went......................   On the last and most important day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, "Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in me should drink. As the scripture says, 'Streams of life-giving water will pour out from his side.' "   Jesus said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive."   

They received that Spirit at Pentecost, one of the three festivals that all Jews had to pilgrimage to Jerusalem for......that’s why there were so many people from so many different nations in Jerusalem on that day.

Pentecost marks a turning point, a pivotal point in God’s great plan of salvation which the Trinity planned before the creation of the world.  They knew what might happen if they made humans in their own image and so put the plan of salvation in place before creation.  1 Peter 1:20 and Revelation 13:8 speak of the Lamb who was slain before the creation of the world.

They knew that when they gave us free will, there was a strong possibility that we would use that free will to sin......and of course we did and we do – even after we discover for ourselves how destructive sin is in our lives.

God’s answer to sin was......the call of Abraham......leading to a small family......leading to a clan......leading to a tribe...... leading to a nation......leading to Jesus who became the representative of the nation and the world on the cross......leading to a concentration of all the powers of evil onto that one man, He focussed all evil onto and into Himself, confronted it, conquered it......leading to a Kingdom of people (the Church) upon whom the Spirit has been lavished, poured out, in order to bring the Kingdom to people.

It looks like this:

SIN leads to  CALL OF ABRAHAM leads to  FAMILY  leads to    CLAN  leads to    TRIBE

That is God’s answer to sin and that is the reason for be a people of power, we need His power.

“His incomparably great power for us who believe; that power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the Heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 1:19-20

Resurrection you and me! become like Jesus......which is what it means to be a disciple.  In other words, power to love and to show love and to give love.

It all began with the call of Abraham:

 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)

God only ever blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.Words like “bless” and “blessing” occur over 400 times in the Bible. On top of that there are many places where God’s blessings are being described where these words are not actually used. It is true to say that blessing is one of the great themes of scripture. God’s purpose is that his people should be the means of bringing blessing to the world; that, as we receive his blessings into our lives, those blessings should touch others. And in the history of the family, tribe and nation of Israel, when they’ve got this right, they’ve been blessed......when they’ve got this wrong, God has withheld His blessing (which is like living under a curse) – when He has withheld His blessing they have found themselves in slavery, divided, in exile, oppressed and surrounded by enemies who take away their shalom, their peace. So too the Church......does God curse His Church, punish His Church, withhold blessing from His Church – of course.  Read about the 7 churches in Revelation: eg the Church of Ephesus – “I will take my lamp stand from you.
Thyatira: I will punish you and “then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”
In this age of the Spirit, as in every age, don’t mess with God.
Laodicea: “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.”
In this age of the Spirit, as in every age, don’t mess with God.

Why does God bless His people and His Church?  Is it so that we can say, “Oh, I am so blessed......praise the Lord” or is it so that we can say: “I am so blessed......I wonder how I can bless others?”

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. 

This is the picture that comes to mind:

God’s love, His Spirit, His power to change situations, poured into us......God’s love, His Spirit, His power to change situations flowing from us – so that thirsty people get some water, hungry people some food, cold people a blanket, lonely people a visit......and in all this, God’s Kingdom comes to them, His Kingdom where there is no hunger or thirst, or loneliness, or cold.
His Kingdom comes and His Will is done......when Spirit-filled people......flow.

Percy (from Amcare) told me this week of one of the Church properties that they have an office on......10/15kms away from here......that locks their toilets and water supply, so the Amcare staff who work there, on a Church property, have no water or toilet facilities – that means the people (poor) who Amcare services there, have no toilet or water either.

Imagine a Church that locks up its water:
This, by the way, is what our taps looked like until Friday of this week.
A few months ago I decided it was time to unlock the Church Bible from its cupboard in the foyer and bring it back into the church sanctuary....this week I decided it is time to unlock the taps on our quite secure property.

The prophet Joel, hundreds of years before the fulfilment of Pentecost promised the people that God will pour out His Spirit upon all people.

Jesus, about 8 months before the fulfilment of Pentecost, promised that we can drink the Spirit from Him and then the Spirit will flow like a river......from us.

Peter, on the day of  Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, says, “It’s happened. This is the moment......The Spirit of God in us......and us in the world.  The Kingdom can now come, in us and through us.”

50 years after Pentecost, John tells us that Jesus is spitting out and judging and leaving......the churches who refuse to be a blessing.

2000 years later, you and I in Alberton, what will it be for you and me?

What will flow from you and me as a result of this Pentecost? I close with three possibilities:

 More love and more power flowing from us......out onto the streets of Alberton, just as the apostles and disciples flowed out onto the streets of Jerusalem with more love and more power.

Or, will we remain unchanged this Pentecost?

Or, perhaps Jesus has come today to set the captives among us free? Our taps are no longer imprisoned....the prophecy of Isaiah (55:1) is fulfilled:
Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink--even if you have no money! Come,--it's all free!

I don’t know what this picture means for you today, but hear this truth: There is power in the blood of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world, there is power in Him and His Spirit to break the chains that imprison you, so that you can know the blessing of God and go out and be more and more of a blessing on the streets of Alberton.

Which of those three will it be for you this Pentecost?
More love, more power please Lord....He's waiting to answer that call from you;
or, No thanks, I'll stay as I am;
or, It's time, today is the day to break free in the power of the Spirit.

I close with these words from a great Wesleyan Hymn:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, 
fast bound in sin and nature's night; 
thine eye diffused a quickening ray; 
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 
my chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee. 
My chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Let’s rise, free people, and go forth, following Him and being a blessing to the people of Alberton as He has been a blessing to us.

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...


Faith only advocates are very inconsistent when is comes to explaining the meaning of for the remission of sins that is found in the Scriptures.

Acts 2:38 The Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)

Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (NKJV)

Matthew 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which shed for many for the remission of sins. (NKJV)

Faith only advocates proclaim that for in Acts 2:38 actually means because of. In other words the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost repented and were baptized in water because their sin had already been forgiven. Were they save by "faith only?"

Did John the Baptist baptized because those he baptized had already been forgiven? Did for mean because of? Were they saved the very minute they repented. Were they saved by "repentance only?"

Did Jesus shed His blood because the sins of men had already been forgiven? Did for mean because of? Are all men saved by the "the crucifixion of Jesus only?"

The same word, for, was used in Acts 2:38, Mark 1:4, and Matthew 26:28. The Greek word eis has not been translated as because of in Acts 2:38, Mark 1:4, or Matthew 26:28. There is not one single translation that translates eis as because of. Are all translations in error? Is God not powerful enough to have His word translated correctly?

Forgiveness of sins followed the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness of sins followed those who were baptized by John the Baptist.

Forgiveness of sins, under the New Covenant, follows being baptized in water.


Men are saved because of God's grace. Ephesians 2:8.
Men are saved because of the shed blood of Jesus. Matt. 26:28.
Men are saved because of faith. John 3:16.
Men are saved because of their repentance. Acts 3:19.
Men are saved because of their confession. Romans 10:9.
Men are saved because of their immersion in water. Acts 2:38.