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Ben Fleming: Pentecost, Romans 8; Acts 2

May 29, 2023

Audio Recording

Since the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God operates within His people, with eternal ramifications. The Apostle Paul outlines the ministry of the Spirit in us for regeneration, sanctification, and assurance.

New Endings for Old Stories
New Endings for Old Stories
Ben Fleming: Pentecost, Romans 8; Acts 2
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:07 What I wanna focus on is some things that have this real eternal ramifications when it comes to Holy Spirit. So the Apostle Paul lines these out really, really well and there are regeneration, sanctification, and assurance. These are the three things, the three ministries that the Holy Spirit operates with us in even now. And he outlines these in Romans chapter eight. And I'm gonna start in verse one of that. It'll do a little bit of reading, but it's so good. Some of the best writing that Paul does in all of scripture exists right here in this chapter. So he says, so now there's no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. And the law, Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.

00:52 So God did what the law could not do, and he sent his own son and a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sins control over us by giving us His son as a sacrifice for our sins. And he did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us who no longer follow our sinful nature, but instead follow the spirit. So Paul's talking about we get to unfollow our sinful nature and follow the spirit. Instead. Paul is way ahead on this whole social media thing. All right, in verse five he says, those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

01:37 But letting the spirit control your mind leads to life and peace for the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws and it never will. And that's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. Now pay attention here in verse nine. We're gonna talk about the regeneration ministry of the Holy Spirits. But you are not controlled by your sin nature. You're controlled by the spirit. If you have the spirit of God living in you. And remember that those who do not have the spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all. And Christ lives within you so that even though your body will die because of sin, the spirit gives you life because you've been made right with God, the spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.

02:20 And just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by the same spirit living within you. One of the temptations as we read through this verse where Paul is talking about how incredible the Holy Spirit is and what it does in our lives, it's tempting to look at these verses and say, okay, this is where all the work is. Paul's pretty good at giving us lists or giving us this idea. You gotta, you gotta put, set aside these things. It even sounds a little bit like heavy metal from Paul, right? We're gonna put it to death. We're gonna get our DERs and our swords out and we're gonna put this sinful nature to death and we're gonna go out and we're gonna work hard. It's tempting to do a bunch of faith-filled pushups right here at this moment.

03:03 But Paul isn't talking about behavior modification. He's not even just set talking about setting aside, some sins that we have in our life. He's saying the spirit goes beyond just improving how we live in our morality. And instead the Holy Spirit brings life where there was death. How many of you know that we don't need another person that's just a simple coach in our lives, but we need someone to bring us the resurrection that Jesus also experienced in our lives. We need to move not just from bad to good, but instead from dead to life.

03:41 The Holy Spirit doesn't exist just to remind you that you're a bad person or that you need to shape up the Holy Spirit is not your conscience, jimy cricket style. Let your conscience be your guide. You know, I haven't watched it in a long time, but I'm in my mind that voice was very, very well done. , don't spoil it for me. The Holy Spirit comes in to give us eyes to see in these places that we are dead and bring us life. Because often our eyes don't work in such a way. I remember, moving in to the house that my wife and I currently live in. It's on a half acre lot on the northeast side of town. We won a little bit of space cuz both my wife grew up out in the middle of nowhere. my family lived on an acre, but we were football fields away from the closest neighbor creek on the backside.

04:27 My wife grew up on six acres. So moving into Bend, we thought half acre sounds about as close as we can get in the city limits, to something like what we grew up with. The whole outside needed to be redone. The grass was full of weeds and the gardens and everything. I'm sure it didn't resemble anything like it initially had when whoever had planted or built what was built. And I remember going to work on a lot of these things and pulling some of the weeds and trying to simply just use what already existed. I tried to refresh what was already in the flower beds and, and what was on the side of the road. And I remember bringing over my father-in-law who is just a green thumb. One of those people, you know that you love him and really you hate 'em because for some reason they have this gift that you don't have.

05:16 And I remember looking at this specific garden area and I said, look Mike, I've done this and I've done this and this still isn't working. This bush is still looks like this and I don't know why I can't figure this stuff out. And said, can you help me fix these, these plants? You know? He goes, yeah, I can help you, rototiller, you need a rototiller, you need to take all this stuff out . And I was like, what , I just spent weeks working on this stuff, you're telling me it's not gonna work. And he said, well, you know, I guess it could work, but it's not gonna turn out now you're hoping it'll turn out. It's a disaster.

05:53 This isn't it. It's okay Ben. Rent the road tiller. It's $50. You put it in the back of your pickup for the day. The real people that know what they're talking about, you know if that if you rent it on Friday, they'll give it to you the whole weekend for the same price. Pro tip . See you gotta rip this stuff all the way out. It's, it's not about fixing what's here instead it's about starting over and I promise it'll be okay. And sure enough we go til all this stuff up. We plant new things and the life that exists now and that part of the garden is beautiful and it's thriving. We need the Holy Spirit to point out areas in our lives that we often simply can't see where God wants to bring life, where there was death. So the Holy Spirit regenerates us the spirit of regeneration.

06:42 And Paul goes on in verse 12. He says, therefore dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your simple nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates you will die. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live for all who are led by the spirit of God are also children of God by the Holy Spirit, we are sanctified, we are set apart as holy by the Spirit we put to death this sinful nature. It's not putting, it's not putting my own will against behavioral sin. Instead it's better than that. We are sanctified and set apart and set aside not just because we say so or we think it over and over and over again, but because of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives that is present here in this room today.

07:33 But here's the crux of the whole thing. So those two things are really, really important. Regeneration, sanctification. But both of those things I believe can't exist. And I believe that Paul is making this argument in Romans chapter eight. They can't exist without this third thing. And that is assurance, well assurance of what Paul tells us here in verse 15. He says, so you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you receive God's spirit when he adopted you as his own children. And now we call him Abba Father for his spirit, joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children and since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share in his glory, we also must share in his suffering. So Paul makes the argument here that all of these things have an incredible value, but none of them come into focus for our lives unless we begin to see God through the Holy Spirit the way that Jesus Himself did.

08:33 Now Jesus twice in scripture references God the Father as Abba. Now this is the Aramaic word that the Palestinians would've used in reference to a father. But what he's trying to do is not use a specific language for a specific purpose. But Abba is so relatable to every single one of us in this room because we are a child. Or maybe you have had children or grandchildren. The word Abba is beautiful not because of exactly how it translates to daddy, which it does for us. But Abba is beautiful because it's formed out of pure noise that small children make when they're trying to make sense of the person that is holding them, the father that is holding them. My dad is a grandfather of like 11 or 12 grandkids, can't keep track of it. My sister asked seven, she did most of the work.

09:28 So I was very thankful for all that. We're just gonna stick with two in Jesus' name, and my dad, grandpa has been called dam by all of the grandkids because the first one, Isaac SRA could only make so many noises as a small baby. And this noises sounded something like instead of grandpa. And it's stuck. And that's who we call my dad. That's how we call my dad. And maybe this has happened in your house too. You've got these little traditions or these little things that maybe you don't notice till somebody comes over. But my son called Cheerios yays when he was little and we still call them yays to this day. You know you've got your kicks and you've got your checks and you've got your yays. And if you dare convince my kids to say something other than yays, I will hunt you down cuz this is the most beautiful thing in the world.

10:28 And Jesus is using this word ABA because it's so relatable, not just to the Palestinians and not just to the Jews that he's speaking to at the time, but he's referencing God as daddy. And what it means is it puts Jesus in this sweet, beautiful, trusting, hope-filled place where he's looking up at the Father and he's saying, I have no power. I am weak and you are strong and I give you all of my trust, everything that I have because I call you daddy, I call you Abba. The Holy Spirit allows us now to relate to God, not just as the big boss in the sky, not just as the bad guy that's hoping that we perform everything right, not just as Santa Claus. He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. Instead it allows us to relate to God as father.

11:13 And this is also evidence in the story of the prodigal son that Jesus tells. And if you're unfamiliar, it's this parable that Jesus tells out of Luke chapter 15 in which this son comes to the Father and he says, father, I wish you were dead. I'd like all my money now for my inheritance so I can live however I want, goes and lives however he wants, loses all of his money and has this idea that I could come crawling back. But here's the main strategy of coming back for the prodigal. It's I will now become an employee in my father's house. I will remove my name as son but I will relate to the Father through this idea of working for my employer. Then at least I'll find a little bit of safety and it won't be exactly how things were, but it's the best that I can do for now.

11:58 And so the son actually prepares this speech and then he approaches the father and he says, I've sinned against you and I've sinned against God. And the father in his haste to restore his son to his household doesn't even allow him to get to the pitch where he says, and I'll just be a worker in your house. He cuts 'em off and puts the robe on him and he puts the family ring back on his finger and he throws a festival and a party for his son was lost. And now he is found. Our relationship to God again is not just his teacher, it's not just his disciplinarian and it's not just his boss, but God has a great desire for us to relate to him as an infant. Relates to the Father looking up and gazing with hope and trust this ultimate trust and love that at, at those moments when we're three, four months old, we are sure it could never end.

12:45 This is perfection, this is all that I need. And somehow as we get older, we begin to look at our parents a little bit differently, right? We begin to look at our grandparents a little bit differently. And that's because each and every single one of us, no matter how hard we've loved, how hard we've tried, we will always fail the other person that expects us to love us perfectly and trusts us with that love. But God through the power of the Holy Spirit now gives us the opportunity to experience this belonging. No matter who we are and where we come from, we get to refer to the Father in this way that would've been mind blowing for the disciples to hear Jesus say as daddy one that I trust one that holds me up that I've given my whole life and safety to.

13:33 So what I want to contend today is that unless we truly embrace as best we can, this Abba Father way of relating to God, we will miss the power that the Holy Spirit can bring to our lives. And I would say that some of the things that you're dealing with, the insecure way maybe that you're living or the frustrating things that you're going through, so often we feel all these feelings cuz we have lost track of the fact that we belong to God in such a way as an infant looks at their father, that we are secure, not because we have built up the highest castle in the strongest walls, but that because we have found the love and experienced the love of the greatest Father.

14:17 All of our efforts, no matter what, no matter how high we climb, the corporate ladder will always leave us feeling like there is something else and that something else comes in the form of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. There's a humility that comes along with this following Jesus and experiencing Christ in this way. And it's with this humility that we see the early church receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. So in Acts chapter two, this is after Jesus has died on the cross, risen again from the grave and had a conversation with his disciples in which he says, behold, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age. And I will leave you a, a helper that will lock alongside you. Now, I don't know about you, but if Jesus is telling me this stuff and he's saying, look, I'm gonna be with you, but I'm gonna go, I'd be like, Hey, how do you leave and stay Also this helper, sounds nice, your assistant fantastic. Can we just keep you instead though, because this is good, we got a good thing going on. You know the whole, you died and you came back. You kind of seem invincible thing we'd like you to stick around.

15:36 So what they do then is they find themselves in what is known as the upper room. And it says, on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place and suddenly there was a sound from heaven, like a roaring of a mighty windstorm. And it filled the house where they were sitting and then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. And when they heard the loud noise, everyone came running. They were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. How can this be? They exclaimed? These people are all from Galilee and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages. The Holy Spirit arrives to be with the people of God.

16:30 My wife and I got to go to Greece last year, which was an experience. my wife and I have a hard time picking vacation locations just cuz we disagree on so many things. , heat being number one. Every time I say vacation she says Hawaii. And I say Alaska, you know, Iceland for me, please, , Greece we kinda landed on because I felt like it was a decent compromise. I wanted, I love a lot of these historical sites and of course Greece is just abundant with all these things. I didn't know. This is totally my ignorance. Of course. They're just, there's constantly unearthing more cities and everything they're doing digs and they dig a certain amount and they uncover a certain amount just so that they can get tourists in to bring money to these places so they can bring money so that they can use the money to dig some more and locate others.

17:24 It's wild finding stuff all the time. And so I am immersed in this world of museums and the Parton and we had a tour guide, which is the best by the way. I'm a very prideful man, and I'm like, I don't need tours. I'm smart and I can read, you know, I can do this stuff. This tour guide was magic. She had so much wisdom and knowledge and understanding. Oh my gosh, it was fantastic. You're like, yeah, that should be obvious. That's what tour guides do. Thank you. I understand that. Now, , we're in this museum and she talks about this mosaic that we were looking at that featured, leader called Alexander the Great. That was about 360 years before the death of Christ before this moment. And Alexander the Great died at the age of 33, ironically similar to the age of Jesus, and was considered one of the greatest leaders, certainly one of the still considered probably one of the greatest military leaders that ever lived, expanded his empire so far beyond in even just 10 years so far beyond anything that the world had ever seen. But Alexander the Great, even though loved and had a lot of loyalty from his soldiers, was poisoned like many leaders back in that time. And as Alexander the Great was on his deathbed, somebody asked him, what happens now to your kingdom?

18:46 And Alexander the great answers, my kingdom belongs to the strongest. And what ensues is what they call funeral games, that at the death of the leader, all of these factions rise up, begin to war against each other in order to retain or gain the throne. And this went on for two centuries as people fought over this crown in this throne to replace this so-called great leader, the followers of Alexander the Great chose violence and bloodshed to retain power and to move that power throughout their world. And instead what happened was a collapse of the empire that they had tried so hard to build. And now we have Jesus who dies but rises again at the age of 33. Now, what did Jesus' followers do after he says goodbye?

19:43 They wait because here's the thing about the kingdom of God is that Jesus is never intended for his throne to be taken by mere mortals in humanity and to be held onto through blood and violence. Instead, who will inherit the earth? Well, of course it's the meek, not those who cry out in battle, but those who cry out for mercy. That is what this faith is built on. And I gotta be honest with you, what happens with the Macedonian empire, with Alexander the Great, it makes a lot of sense. There's this power void and let's fight over it because our interests are at stake. And what if life doesn't turn out how we had hoped to? Because we get the wrong leader in the wrong position at the wrong time. And Jesus in the disciples at this moment, their concern is not to run out and grab as much power as they can to fill this void. Instead Jesus says, I will send something else that will fill that void and it will be even greater than when my existence was here in physicality on earth. I'll give you my spirit. And so what the followers of Jesus do at this moment, instead of running out and waging a war, now that they have a new bravery, now that they understand that they've seen Jesus rise in, ascend into heaven, that he is God, even more affirmation, they don't run out and grab their weapons and begin to force the culture and the world around them to adhere to their story and to their way of living. Instead, they gather in a room

21:17 And they wait. Now I feel like something should be done first,

21:28 Right?

21:29 And we're, we're going through something right now as a church. For those of you who weren't here this last weekend, pastor Steve Nichol, who's led this community for the last decade and been on staff for more than that is, is becoming a district supervisor for our denomination to help lead the culture of hundreds of churches in northwest and beyond. And I have so many jokes about Jesus and Steve being the same and leaving us, but that's not appropriate right now. But we find ourselves at this, at this moment of like, I gotta do. It's kinda like when you, when you're at home and you're getting ready, you know you have to go somewhere, you gotta get in the car and do you do the thing that I do where you kind of start patting for the keys and the wallet on the phone? Okay, three things, keys while phone keys while phone missing, I'm missing something.

22:24 I

22:24 Gotta do something in the disciples on this day of Pentecost. I wanna talk about the power of the Holy Spirit at a time of great transition and wondering they wait. I wonder if we can't learn from that and do the same. Pastor Dave Daley sent me this quote from NT Wright in preparation for this message. It says, the community, rather than taking matters into its own hands and getting organized and venturing forth banners, unfurled has withdrawn to wait and to pray. Why? Because the next move belongs to God. I want to invite you on this Pentecost Sunday into, an environment that traditionally I'm uncomfortable with. Now, if I would've walked into West Side Church and would've heard someone like me at the very beginning of their message say, it's Pentecost Sunday and we're gonna talk about the arrival and the power of the Holy Spirit, I'd be like, oh, I'll come back next week. This sounds scary and weird

23:38 And I feel that way because a lot of experiences that I've had, and I've been really wrestling this thing with God when it comes to, when it comes to tongues, when it comes to, prophetic, when it comes to healing. I've prayed over a lot of people that I really believe would be healed and they weren't healed. And I've sat under a lot of prophecy that now I really believe was manipulative and not the voice of God, but instead the voice of a person trying to get something from myself or my family. I feel deeply, deeply, many times cynical about this entire peace of the Bible.

24:21 But in wrestling with that, with God over this last week, knowing that I was gonna speak this message, I began to, to hear God speak to me and re reiterate to me that those experiences that I've had, of course, they weren't moves of the Holy Spirit and so to discern with wisdom, all right, what is and and what isn't. Maybe the voice of God is part of my effort here today, but I wanna encourage us as Westside as we go forward, each and every single one of you individually, let us not allow people with bad intentions and manipulative motives to take over the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us not allow people who are after their own desires to turn prophecy into something that God has never intended prophecy to be. There is nothing that enrages me more immediately than seeing a post on social media or something coming to me in an email with somebody claiming to be a prophet that is simply trying to gain some kind of clout because they're trying to predict election results.

25:20 Or they're telling me that people in Haiti are suffering from an earthquake because God hates them and hates their sin. I refuse to believe that this is the power of the Holy Spirit and the prophetic voice coming through those people. These are hateful words and angry issues that I do not find God in. But where I do find God in, I believe that we have forgotten that this is actually a prophetic word of the Lord, is that when you as a friend, when you as a brother or a sister, that when you as a boss or a coworker, that when you as a coach or a teacher, you approach somebody in your life and you help them turn their heart back toward the ways of God through your encouragement and your love and your self-sacrificial living. When you go to somebody and you say, you know what I see in you, it's not all the failures that you feel like overwhelm your life. Instead, it's this thing, this belonging, that this love that you have, that I have, that we all have when we call the other people around us, up into a new way of living into a new expression of love. That is the prophetic word of the Lord moving forward in Central Oregon. It's not about fortune telling, it's not about understanding whether, and it's not about predicting elections and culture wars. Instead, it's about drawing the people of the Lord, which is everyone into this new understanding of the heart of God.

26:45 That is the power of the Holy Spirit. Will God tell us things about the future? I believe it will God heal our physical bodies. I believe it. But even more than that, I am confident that the Holy Spirit is here to remind us of our Abba Father. And he will speak to us in these moments when we choose to stop and wait. Amen. So we're gonna practice this for a moment. Hey, we're gonna take a few minutes here and we're just gonna, the music's gonna be just like this and we're gonna wait together. And I believe that God is going to speak to us. Now, don't be ashamed or feel like you did it wrong if you don't hear something, this isn't even about just the hearing. It is about the waiting. It's about the, the posture of our hearts that happens when we wait. But I believe that God will speak to some of us, if not all of us, in this moment, this moment of some transition for our church and wondering what the next thing might be. And if you're wondering what the next thing might be, what the next move, how, how you might take on more or maybe take on less or how you might walk forward from this point forward as a community or as an individual. Before you make any of those decisions today,

28:06 I want you to just wait,

28:10 Stop

28:12 And listen.