Skip to comments."Spirit, Breath, Wind: The Lord and Giver of Life" (Sermon for the Day of Pentecost)
Posted on 05/26/2012 8:24:57 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
Spirit, Breath, Wind: The Lord and Giver of Life (Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15; Acts 2:1-21)
Today is the Day of Pentecost, a day when we call special attention to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. That is what I would like to do now, using as our theme a phrase we just spoke in the Nicene Creed, where we called the Holy Spirit The Lord and Giver of Life.
Life--this is what the Holy Spirit is all about, giving us life. The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, gives life to dead people. The Holy Spirit gives life in connection with Christ. And the Holy Spirit gives life through his empowering the church to proclaim the life-giving gospel. Well come back to each of these points in a little bit. But to start lets just say that The Lord and Giver of Life well describes the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now what about the person of the Holy Spirit? I mean, weve said something about his work, which is to give life, but what about his person? In other words, who is he? Is the Holy Spirit just some impersonal force or power? Sort of a May the Force be with you Star Wars kind of a thing? No, the Holy Spirit is a personal being, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, true God, divine in his nature. OK, so is the Holy Spirit--or Holy Ghost, as the old English put it--a ghost like we would think of Casper the Ghost? No, thats just a misunderstanding of the language. It just means hes a spiritual being. He didnt take on human flesh like God the Son did. No, when we call the Holy Spirit the Lord and giver of life, by saying the Lord we are confessing his divinity, that he is true God in his essence. Again, as we just said in the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. We could not say that unless the Holy Spirit is true God, the Third Person of the Trinity. This is why Jesus, in his Great Commission, gave us the name of the triune God as the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. We can see that in our lessons today. Now particularly when we look at our reading from Ezekiel and our reading from Acts, I especially want you to notice the mention of the terms breath and wind in connection with the Spirit. This is significant. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New, the terms breath and wind are closely associated with the work of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, in both the Hebrew language, which is what the Old Testament was written in, and in the Greek, which is what the New Testament was written in, in each language there is one word that can cover all three terms, S/spirit or breath or wind. In the Hebrew, it is the word ruach, spirit, breath, or wind. And in the New Testament, it is the Greek word pneuma, again, translated as spirit, breath, or wind, depending on the context. And when the breath or the wind is associated with the work of the Holy Spirit, it is generally related to the Spirits work of giving life.
Look at the reading from Ezekiel. The prophet Ezekiel is shown a vision of a valley full of dry bones. Can these bones live? Not normally. Dead, dry bones cannot come to life on their own or by any human effort. But the Lord says to Ezekiel: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. Ezekiel does as he is told. The breath comes into them, and they live.
The breath that gives life is a picture of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who gives life to dry bones and dead people. The Lord God says, And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. Now hear the word of the Lord. This is a word for us. We were like dead, dry bones. Our sins had killed us, condemned us to death. We had no life within us, according to our fallen sinful nature. We were dead spiritually, which leads to physical death and eternal damnation. But then the breath of God came, the life-giving Spirit, who raised us from the dead and stood us on our feet. This is the Holy Spirit, breathing life into us. Spirit, breath, wind: The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.
So first: The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, gives life to dead people. Second, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life, gives life in connection with Christ. This is what Jesus says, isnt it, in the Gospel reading from John. In teaching there on the Holy Spirit, Christ tells his disciples: He, that is, the Holy Spirit, He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. The Holy Spirit gives life to us by glorifying Jesus. There is no life, real life, apart from Jesus. The dead bones would still be dead if it were not for what Christ did to win life for us, the very life that the Spirit now gives us.
This life comes from what Christ has done for us. To raise dead bones, the life has to come from somewhere. And it comes--it only comes--from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf. By his death Christ conquered death. And by his resurrection he brought life and immortality to light. Jesus Christ died the sinners death for us on the cross, the righteous and holy Son of God dying in your place and mine, taking the punishment for our sins upon himself. Jesus broke the back of sin and death in the process. Death lost its hold over you. Forgiveness was won by Christs blood. And then when Jesus rose again on the third day, it was showing the victory of life, the victory that Jesus now shares with us. And it is the Holy Spirit who delivers this life of Christ to us, to each one of us personally and to all of us together, through the ministry of the gospel.
I often describe the work of the Holy Spirit as taking all the benefits that Christ won for us on the cross, back in Jerusalem in A.D. 30--the Holy Spirit is the delivery man, the Fed Ex man or UPS driver who delivers the goods to us, with our name on the package, here where we live, now in the year 2012. And the vehicle that the Spirit uses to deliver the goods is the gospel, the preaching of the word and the sacraments which Christ has instituted. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ in this way, and this is how he gives us life.
The Holy Spirit gives life to dead people. The Holy Spirit gives life in connection with Christ. And now third, the Holy Spirit gives life through his empowering the church to proclaim the life-giving gospel. This is where the wind comes in. Literally. Or at least the sound of a mighty, rushing wind.
That is what we hear in the reading from the Book of Acts: When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind. Before his ascension, Jesus promised his disciples that soon he would empower them to be his witnesses, to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations. Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem--this is where and when it begins. The sound of the rushing wind signals the arrival of the Spirit for the purpose of empowering the witness, the churchs gospel witness that will give life to people.
And so this is what happens. The company of believers are all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they begin declaring the mighty works of God to the assembled multitude. Peter gets up, and he begins preaching a sermon. We get the first part of Peters sermon today; well get the rest of it next week. But the bottom line is that he preaches the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he calls people to repentance and faith, with the promise of the forgiveness of sins. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There it is. The Holy Spirit is giving people life through the preaching of the gospel of Christ. And the sound of the wind signals the Spirits arrival.
That wind is still blowing today. The Holy Spirit is still giving people life in our day, here and around the world. Where the preaching of Christ crucified and risen for our salvation--where that is happening, there the Holy Spirit is giving life. So it is happening, right here, right now, this morning. The Spirit is glorifying Christ Jesus, your Savior. The Spirit is breathing life into you, raising you from deadness to life. Breathe in the life. Feel the power of the wind. The Holy Spirit is doing his work.
Spirit, breath, wind: The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. On this Day of Pentecost, we do worship and glorify the Holy Spirit for doing his life-giving work among us.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. Then he said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 (ESV)
[Jesus said:] When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. . . .
I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, Where are you going? But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Acts 2:1-21 (ESV)
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God. And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, What does this mean? But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine.
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Thank you for the ping to the ‘pingst’ sermon.
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