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Evan Earwicker: All Things New, Acts 10, 15, 17

May 14, 2023

Audio Recording

What we believe about God and the Bible matters. But not everything matters equally. In Acts 15, church leaders decided it was more important to remove barriers to the Gospel than to get everyone to agree. by the time Paul gets to Athens, he’s ready to use their pagan altar to point to Jesus. There’s only one way to the Father, but the paths we take to find Jesus are many. Who do we exclude from our community based on differing views or opinions?

New Endings for Old Stories Sermon Series at Westside Church
New Endings for Old Stories
Evan Earwicker: All Things New, Acts 10, 15, 17
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us. We're gonna be in Acts chapter two today. We have been walking through all the way back before Easter through Luke's account of the journey Jesus took to Jerusalem, his crucifixion, his death, his burial, his resurrection. And now we continue Luke's account all the way into Luke's account called the Book of Acts. And so the last three weeks we've been talking about the really the, the center of the Book of Acts, which is the outpouring of, of the Holy Spirit of God, which reveals Jesus even after Jesus is no longer physically present with the disciples. And in these weeks, really enjoy kind of reframing and resetting our expectation of, of what the Holy Spirit is and how the Holy Spirit interacts with us. And if you missed Pastor Steve's story last week about bud in a bar in Weezer, Idaho, it's worth a listen.

00:55 Just throwing that out there. Acts chapter two, starting in verse one says, on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place, and suddenly there was a sound from heaven, like the 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. Let's jump to verse 12, out of the esv actually, and it says this, and they were all amazed and perplexed saying to one another, what does this mean? But others mocking said they are filled with new wine. Filled with new wine. Well, today's message, I want to present to you this really, really simple idea that God is up to something new.

01:51 God is up to something new. You know, I think about every time I, I have the opportunity, the honor to preach to you. I think about all of you and, and those that come week after week and are so faithful. But I'm especially aware of those who come maybe for the first time with a distinct and specific need to experience God's touch on your life. And if that describes you today, that you are here, not as someone who you know, has been here through thick and thin for years and years, but you're here today because you need to know if God is present, if he's real, and he has, if he has any power or ability or willingness to heal you, to touch you, to, to move in your life and you're here. I I just want to say, I know that Jesus sees you and today he has a response for you that matters.

02:44 And so today's message that God is up to something new, I I hope that that is a, a statement of hope and not a threat. , sometimes newness is a threat, right? To the, to the way that, that we've always done things, the way we've always thought things, the nice categories that we put other people into, all those things. Once we come up with a system that works for us, it is so hard to pivot. It is so hard to, to embrace new things so often when the old things work just fine. Do you remember when text messaging first came out? ? This is like 20 years ago. I remember it. I don't know why I remember this so specifically. This had to be the late nineties, and my oldest brother was studying abroad and he, I think his cell service was understandably poor in Costa Rica or wherever he was at.

03:32 And so he sent a text message and it was the first test text message we'd ever received to my parent's cell phone. And I remember, we read the text about how he was doing, and none of us really knew what texts were. And my mom said, I think they're like emails, but shorter , . And I, I thought, how would you even type on that Nokia? Because there's just numbers. And do you remember this before we had keyboards on our phones to write letters of the alphabet? Like a would be one, B would be one, one, yes, C would be 1, 1, 1, and so on and so forth. It would take the better part of a day to send a single text. , and I don't know, millennials in the room. I know you get me. So, so older generations, you're probably still into phone calls.

04:20 Grace to you, if that's you, gen Z, you've probably moved on from texting. There's probably some other way that you communicate that is foreign to me. But millennials, I hear you. I see you texting is the only way to communicate. If you call me unannounced, I'm not expecting your call. It doesn't matter if it's the middle of the night or two in the afternoon, I'm gonna assume it's an emergency. Cuz why else on God's green earth with someone make a phone call. , right? Text first. This is just polite folks. My goodness. You're like, pastor Evans angry today. , every time, something new comes out, it has the potential to disrupt the old. But this is, this is the way the world often works, especially in modern society. Not only every generation and new things come out to disrupt the old, but it seems like every week something new is coming out to disrupt the old.

05:18 And it can be, jarry, it can be threatening and it can be confusing. But if you'll hang with me today in scripture, we need to hear the voice of Jesus who in himself, he said, I, I am bringing something new. And to the Pharisees and the religious leaders that we're gonna see him talking to, it represented a threat to how things had always been done and how they had always seen God. But in the newness there was salvation and hope and the potential that just maybe God was doing a new work of transformation. And that promises for us, us today. So we're gonna look, rewind a little bit into Luke's gospel, Luke chapter five. Now remember, Luke records in Acts chapter two, that when the Holy Spirit comes, people say, I think they're filled with new wine. This is an echo to Luke chapter five.

06:12 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, these religious leaders who were very, very content to hold to only the old ways, the law of Moses, and the many, many religious restrictions that they were more than happy to enforce on the people around them. Luke chapter five, verse 36, it says, then Jesus gave them this illustration. No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined and the new patch wouldn't even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wine skins for the new wine would burst the wine skins spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins, but no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. The old is just fine. They say, isn't this strange that Jesus is describing the new kingdom of God that he represented and was instituting?

07:10 He's referencing not only the work of the kingdom that he was preaching about, but the the coming of the Holy Spirit that would make salvation open not only to the Jewish community, but to gentiles, to all people. And don't you think if you're trying to sell that idea, you would use an example that does not hold up new wine as something delicious and good? Have you had new wine? You probably have on a salad. It's called vinegarette dressing. Okay. , right? New wine is not good wine. Old wine is good wine. If you were to go, you know, take your mom out for a nice dinner tonight and you'd turn the server and say, we want your finest bottle of wine, whatever the most expensive bottle is, that's what we want. He says, oh, very, very good, sir. We have a a, a lovely cabernet.

07:56 actually the grapes were picked just last Thursday. You're gonna love it. , no sir, that is not fine wine, that is grape juice that has not been refrigerated, right? That's all it is. Later in communion, we're gonna share in some grape juice that has not been refrigerated. But new wine is not good wine, old wine is good wine. And I think what we assume Jesus is doing is saying, Pharisees, all the old ways are the bad ways. You're mistaken in believing all that stuff. You were mistaken in embracing all the old ways Moses had it wrong. But here's what he's not doing. He's not saying the old ways are wrong. He's simply saying that unless we expand our ability to hold the new thing, we're gonna run out of the old and we'll be left with nothing. Imagine this, if we were to go to a vineyard and we show up and, and, and we get out of the, our car and, and we start looking around, and something strange we notice is that the fields are completely empty, no vines, no grapes.

08:58 And we go in and we, we speak to the owner of the vineyard and, and we say, you know, where, where are all the grapes? And, and she says, well, we don't like new wine. Old wine is good wine. And so actually, we don't even bother with new wine. We don't, we don't mess with grapes. We don't, we don't worry about that whole process because all we like is old wine. You know what we would say to that vineyard owner? We'd say, you're not actually a wine maker. You're a wine collector, right? You might have fine taste and, and you might have some of the best bottles, but you are a wine collector. And, and we used to have this poster hanging on a wall somewhere in the building, maybe we still do, and said, we are a movement, not a museum.

09:39 And I wanna stand here before you today and tell you that we absolutely honor and understand all the good things that God has done in our history. But we don't live in the past. We stand in the present and say, Jesus, speak your word to us today. God, move in our hearts today. God, do something in our families. Do something with our, our children. Do something with, with our relationships. Do, do, do something. Not, not that we just sit around and reminisce about the old days. We acknowledge and honor what God has done, but today we look towards the new thing that he will do. Somebody could say, amen. It would help me out. Amen. It would help you out.

10:23 The new wine is the necessary part of what God is doing. And and we have this, modern understanding of, of how, you know, wine is made. Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But in the old ancient time that Jesus was speaking to these people, wine would've been stored fresh after it had been, the grapes had been pressed, and the fermentation process was about to begin, they would put the grape juice into not barrels, not, you know, fermentation vats, none, none of this. They would put them into animal skins. And the reason they would choose animal skins is because a, a new animal skin had the ability, as the process of fermentation would happen with this grape juice, and as, as the grape juice would slowly become fermented and transform into these fine wines, that what comes off of that juice is carbon dioxide. And like a balloon, these skins would have to expand to accommodate the process of transformation that was happening with this wine.

11:20 And so when Jesus is talking to the Pharisees, and he is saying, listen, we don't put new wine in old wine skins that have already experienced the stretching and have already experienced that process, and now are no longer elastic enough to accept new wine because there's too much transformation at work in new wine. And I want to tell us today that for us to receive what God is doing in our day, in our moment, in our families, in our own hearts, we have to have the elasticity to expand with the work of the Holy Spirit. And so the question for us today, and I want to ask this of myself as much as I hope you ask it of yourself, is my heart elastic enough to be shaped by a new work of the Holy Spirit? Is my heart elastic enough to be shaped by a new work of the Holy Spirit?

12:10 Would you pray with me? Father, we thank you that, we have an active current working of the Holy Spirit. Even in this room, even as I'm speaking, your, your Holy Spirit is with us and among us and rest on us. And because of that, we need hearts that can receive the transformative work, not a work of, of, of memorializing and storing the old things that you've done. But today to receive the new life and the new hope and the new work of the Holy Spirit God, change our hearts, change our minds, old ways of thinking, old ways of doing things, old, old expectations, old, old views of, of, other people and, and, and who's in and who's at all those things. God, we, we submit those to you and say, God, do a transformative work that would expand our hearts. Pray this in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

13:06 Amen. if we look at the Bible all the way from the beginning to the end, we'll find a pattern about who God is. And by the way, the Bible is a story about who God is and who we are. many times we look to the Bible to to be things that actually it never promises to be, but what it does promise to be is the expression of the kind of God we worship and who we are in light of that. And so from the very beginning in Genesis, we find that the name of God, in our English bibles, it will just say God. But the actual Hebrew word in the very beginning is the word Elohim. It means creator from the very beginning of the story and the way that the ancients would've told the story of God to one another. They wouldn't have just said God, they would've said creator God.

14:02 Elohim spoken to the darkness and said, let there be light. Elohim the creator. God formed humankind out of the dust of the earth and breathe into them his own breath. And he made them man and woman in his own image, Elohim created. And so from the very beginning, we see the nature of God is one who creates. He, he makes new things where there is nothing in the chaos and darkness of, of those moments, God speaks and newness is created. And then we go all the way to the very end of the story in Revelation chapter 21, 1 chapter before the end. And one of the final things that Jesus speaks in John's vision of the revelation is Jesus saying this amazing phrase, he said, behold, I make all things new, not only God from the beginning as creator, not only the one who makes new things at the very beginning, but the God who at the very end is still making all things new.

15:04 And here we are stuck somewhere between the pages of the Book of Acts and the Book of Revelation. And if we ever feel stuck, if we ever feel like God has, has moved on from us and is unwilling or unable to get into the real stuff of our lives and change old habits and change old, perspectives and break off addictions and, and, and, and, and resuscitate broken relationship, we don't know the God of the Bible because this God is always doing something new from the beginning to the end. And it took a lot for the, the children of Israel and the Old Testament to understand the nature of God in this way. But in Isaiah chapter 43, and we're gonna go there if you want, you can follow along in your Bible. Isaiah 43 is speaking to an exiled people. They've been captured by the Babylonians.

15:52 Many of them have been taken from their homeland, and they're, taken as servants and and slaves in a far off place. And in that far off place, these exiles would talk to each other, I assume as a, as a coping mechanism because they were so discouraged about their current state as exiles far away from home. And so they would tell each other the stories of the Exodus, stories of Moses leading the people out of the hand of Pharaoh, out of Egypt, the story about how they were backs against the wall, backs against the Red Sea, nowhere to go no way out as Pharaoh's armies just descended upon the children of Israel. And, and God made away miraculously they would tell stories about how he led them through the desert as they wandered until finally they entered in the promised land and found a new home.

16:42 And so Isaiah recounts some of these great stories about the miracles of God for the people. And then he says this in verse 18 of Isaiah 43, he says, but actually forget all that. Forget all that. It is nothing compared to what I'm going to do for, I'm about to do something new. See, I've already begun. Do you not see it? I'll make a pathway through the wilderness and I'll create rivers in the dry wasteland for those exiled into Babylon in Isaiah's day. It wasn't just a metaphorical desert, there was a desert between them and their homeland, and metaphorically as well. It was an impossible situation to think of them being freed from the hand of those Babylonians to get back home. And so probably for them, it was much easier to live in the old stories of God's miracles than it was to believe in that moment that God could do something again.

17:40 And so it is for us, it is much easier to look back on the good things that God has done in the past and camp out there than to hope, against hope, the dangerous hope that maybe today in the wall I'm facing in the desert, that I I am staring down that God could possibly come through again. And here's, here's what I hope that you hear today, is that the good things that God has done in the past are not the end. But for us in this day, our day, our generation, our moment, God will be faithful to his word and he's the God of miracles still. And that means whatever we face, whatever sickness, whatever disease, whatever fear about tomorrow, wherever our, our families are headed, wherever our nation is headed, if we believe in the God that we've been preaching about for so, so long, we have to believe again that God can do something new in this moment.

18:37 And I extend that out to anybody who today feels stuck, feels buried, feels like it's an impossible situation that God would make for you. A path of the wilderness and rivers in a dry wasteland. New ways of thinking, new ways to hope. Again, not too far from here, maybe a couple miles away, is Tumu Reservoir. Have you ever been to Tumble Reservoir? we have a picture of Tumble Reservoir and there it is, . Look at all that water. yeah, if you notice, , the main thing about this picture, of course we notice is there ain't no water there. And based on that picture and that well-established road, there hasn't been water there in a long, long time. See, tumah Reservoir was built in the early 19 hundreds. In 1904, a man by the name of LA Law promised that if people would just band together and invest in the cutting out of, tumah Reservoir, that he could provide irrigation for about 27,000 acres of land near Tlo Creek.

19:49 And so people banded together, landowners pitched in, invested, and in 1915, laid lock completed the reservoir and began to pump water into the reservoir. Well, the thing laid law didn't know was what central Oregon soil is like , and these little things called lava tubes that turn into drains. And so as they pumped, all these, these thousands of cubic feet of water into Tumular Reservoir, as quickly as they were pumping it in, it was being sucked out through these lava tubes and our, our wonderful fertile central organ soil . And very quickly they realized that what they had hoped would be a source of life and sustenance for their crops in this irrigation reservoir was turned out to be a scam. They completed it in 1915, it failed to hold water. And the town that Mr. Lela had founded, which he aptly named Lela , was quickly renamed to Tullo and what was supposed to be and was promised to be the center of Central Oregon.

21:02 Now is a small community, lovely, by the way, if you live in Tullo love you, but definitely not the center of the community. And when that water ran out and they realized that the Tullo Reservoir would not be holding water, we kind of moved to what was the old mill Chevlin Hickson company started an old mill, you might know it today as r e i. And, and today we have Bend as the center of population for Central Oregon. Why? Because when the water dries up, we would do well to find that place where there's water again. And that's exactly what people did. They left Tlo Creek and they came to the Deschutes River, and Ben began to spread and grow and thrive. Jeremiah talked about what God had said to the people, the people of Israel had, had really struggled with sin and they had been worshiping other gods.

22:01 And, and all this frustration, was, was kind of being channeled through Jeremiah to the people as, as God's spokesperson. But Jeremiah said this to the people, he boiled all of their mistakes down into these two things. In Jeremiah chapter two, he said, they have abandoned me the fountain of living water, and they've dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all. And I read that I, I I thought of Mr. La Law and this promise that, you know, we can do this, we can build something that can hold water and that can create life. But when that life runs out and when that, that manmade artifice that's supposed to hold life fails us, we would do well not to stand staring at the dry ground, but we would do well to find our way back to the river, the river of living water, the source of our hope again.

22:54 And I want to, in these last few moments before we share in communion, I want us to search our hearts and find those, those places in our lives and our hearts where we're stuck. Maybe we've embraced an ideology or a way of, of looking at the world and, and other people that, that we've been stuck in. And Jesus today would say, you need to, you need to lay that down and follow me. Maybe our faith is, has dried up. We used to really believe in Jesus and, and, and worship with our whole hearts, but now it feels like that's distant and that's, that's far off. And our faith has dried up today. The imitation is come back to the well of living water and find that Jesus is real to you. Again, for those that need a new touch of the Holy Spirit. You've been, you've been living off the old wine, but it, it's running dry today. You need to receive and expand your heart to receive a new work of the presence of Jesus today. It's here for you. So often we are caught between yesterday and today, right? We want to, for security and safety, we wanna keep one hand on the old. And, and, and yet kind of one hand on the new today, Jesus would say, it's okay. I got you. You can take that hand off what, what you've always known and embrace what I'm doing today in your life and your generation, in your moment in this place.

24:20 So would you pray with me? Jesus, I pray that we would follow you into the newness even when it is scary, even when it threatens our sense of security that you would take our hearts maybe that have become calcified and and hardened by life and experiences. And then in that place, you would give us a heart that can expand to receive the new work of the Holy Spirit in our day, from the youngest among us to the oldest, we pray, Jesus, expand our hearts to receive the work of your Holy Spirit. Jesus, right now, I I even pray for those who have been wrestling addictions for, for years feels like it'll never end even to the point of giving up today. Jesus, I pray for a special grace to fall. I pray for a grace that, that a spark of belief would, would be kindled in our hearts to say maybe just maybe God's given you a new start and a path through the wilderness. Jesus, for anyone who, who feels stuck in ways of thinking and believing in whose faith is has grown dry Jesus, we've, for the new wine and the new water of your Holy Spirit to saturate and the soak into the fabric of our lives and our souls, refresh and restore your people today,

25:52 Lord Jesus, we receive the work of your Holy Spirit. If you need to just receive His, his Holy Spirit today, receive the work, receive a newness in your life, would you just put your hands out in front of you and just whisper that Holy Spirit, I receive you Holy Spirit, I receive you. I receive a new work. Do something new in me. Just pray those prayers do something new in me. Holy Spirit, thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.