Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for Pentecost/Aldersgate Sunday

23 May 2021

Welcome to our service today as we share worship and fellowship with our sister churches of Chellaston and Findern. It is available on zoom -
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 During this special time of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we also celebrate John Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Street on 24th May 1738. 

Our Call to Worship
Come, Holy Spirit, the wind of God, the breath of Life.
Come, Holy Spirit, our Advocate, our Counsellor.
Come, Holy Spirit, Teacher of Wisdom, Reminder of Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit, granter of forgiveness, giver of peace.
Come, Holy Spirit. May we feel God breathing through our worship!
May we receive the Holy Spirit in this place!

Hymn: Love divine, all loves excelling.

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Gracious God, our Creator, redeemer and sustainer of our lives, you have gathered us here and you have made us one loving community. We have come together to offer you our praise and thanksgiving, to confess our need for each other, to affirm our faith and to seek your guidance as we seek to build stonger links between our churches. Amen

John Wesley’s testimony of his account at Aldersgate and the experience of a ‘strangely warmed’ heart. 
'In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, ‘This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?’ Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.
After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He ‘sent me help from his holy place.’ And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.'

Song: Breathe on me Spirit of God

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Readings: Joel 2:28-31, Acts 2:1-21 

Song: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. 

You may like to listen as you prepare your hearts and minds for today's message.

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Sermon- Because of The Holy Spirit 

It has been said again and again that the Holy Spirit is the least known person in the Godhead. Many people don’t even know that He is a person. And when people think of God the Holy Spirit is not usually or often part of that thinking. But the Holy Spirit is a Person. The third person in the Trinity. And we meet Him the very first time we meet God in the Scriptures. 

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” 

So the Holy Spirit has been there all along as one of the three Persons in the Godhead, the Holy Trinity. We see Him at work throughout the Old Testament and we see Him descend upon Christ at His baptism before He commences His ministry. However, the most prominent and dramatic appearance of the Holy Spirit is what we have here on the Day of Pentecost, already prophesied by Joel in our reading about 900 years before the birth of Christ. The Holy Spirit arrives on the Day of Pentecost, sent by God the Father and God the Son, to effect the birth of the Church. 

He is the same as the other two persons in the Godhead: God the Father and God the Son. When Christ said I will send you another Comforter or another Helper, He wasn’t referring to someone other than God. the word translated Another means ‘one of the same kind.’ Christ was saying ‘I have been your Comforter. I will send you another One just like me. Another One of my kind.’ This sending is what happened on the day of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is God on earth. He is represented as the power of God because He is the doer of the things of God on earth today. He does things that only God can do, salvation being the chief. That was why Christ was given the Holy Spirit to do the things that He did, things which only God could do, to show that He is the Son of God. They were signs pointing to His divinity, to help the Jews recognise Him as their long-awaited Messiah. 

Today I want to examine why the holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost. And I will highlight four reasons. 
1. To Give The Disciples Power For ministry 
In Acts 1:8 just before His Ascension, Christ tells the disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

Firstly, the Holy Spirit enabled them to perform miracles: heal the sick, raise the dead etc. Just as Christ Himself had done. But these are not the greatest of miracles. One may have these miracles and still miss out on the greatest of all miracles: the salvation of one’s soul. Some examples:

Many of those who partook of the feeding of 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes turned away from the Lord. 
John 6:60 says, “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” They couldn’t bear to hear the Gospel of Christ. 

John 6:66 says, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

The Jewish religious leaders saw the miracles of Jesus but they weren’t led as a result to embrace Christ and be converted.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) the rich man asked for a miracle so that his five brothers who were still on earth would be converted. He wanted Lazarus to be sent back to earth to preach to his brothers. Surely, they all knew Lazarus. They knew that he was dead. So to see him rise from the dead bearing news of heaven and hell would surely be the unfailing secret for the conversion of his brothers, he thought. No, says Abraham. They already have all that they need for conversion – “Moses and the prophets” – that is, the Old testament. If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even if Lazarus was raised from the grave. 

Here is the record of Luke 16:27-31 “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Of course, that was put to the test at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders were still not persuaded. Miracles are not necessary for salvation. Salvation is based on believing the word of God. 

Simon Magus saw miracles but became a false convert Acts 8:9-24. 

Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 sent out to preach with power and authority over demons. Matthew 10:5-8 “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” Luke 9:1-2 “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” Luke 9:6 “And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Mark 6:13 “And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” But Judas was not a true disciple. And when Christ sent the 72 in Luke 10, they all came back rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them. Christ said do not rejoice because demons are subject to you but rather because your names are written in the book of life. The emphasis here is the priority of the ministry of the word which is the basis of salvation as it brings conviction and leads to conversion as the Holy Spirit applies the word to the heart of the hearer.  
So although the Holy Spirit was sent to give power for ministry to the disciples of Christ, it is important to note, as we have just done, that the most important demonstration of that power is not physical healing but spiritual healing or the salvation of the soul. Miracles are signs that primarily demonstrate the power of God. They are things that only God can do, and by doing things only God can do, peoples’ attention may be arrested. But such miracles in and of themselves do not save. Only as they point people to the Saviour can they be of any spiritual use. Which leads me to the second point.

2. To Bring Conviction And Conversion To Sinners
John 16:8-11
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

That is why Peter’s sermon is so important. He preaches in the power of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 souls are saved that day. The same Peter who had chickened out and thrice denied Christ now faces the huge crowd and proclaims the same Christ. He is not ashamed of the Gospel. Nor does he again deny His Lord and Master. His shame and timidity are gone.  Now in the face of mockery, Peter stands up and boldly proclaims the Christ. We are told that four signs accompanied the arrival of the Holy Spirit. First, “from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house.” Second, “tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” Third, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit”, Fourth, “they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These disciples – at least 120 of them – begin to speak in different languages that they had not learned before. There are Jews from different parts of the world who have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost, which was one of the three annual Jewish festivals that Jews were expected to come to Jerusalem to celebrate. These Jews clearly understand these new languages spoken by the disciples because they are languages spoken in the different parts of the world where they normally reside. Not only do they recognise the languages they also understand what they are saying. The disciples are praising God: They are proclaiming “the mighty works of God.” They are all “amazed and perplexed” wondering what’s going on. Mockers quickly offer a cynical explanation: “They are filled with new wine.” V13. That’s when Peter rises and delivers the very first sermon of the Church, bearing witness by referring to the scriptures, by proclaiming the word.  

3. To Give The Disciples Remembrance And Revelation
Remembrance of all that the Lord had already taught them. And revelation of what He could not teach them while He was with them. This would enable them to have the scriptures in full and set them down for the Church. 

John 14: 25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 16: 12-13 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 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.” It is clear that Christ fully expected His apostles to write the New Testament, and He made every necessary preparation for them to do so.

4. To Accomplish God’s Grand Purpose In Redemption
God’s plan had always been to create a community of His own people. That community is the Church. It is the alternative community to fallen humanity’s natural community. It is the Kingdom of God on earth. It is the community where God would display His wisdom and power - Ephesians 3:10 says God’s plan was “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

It is the community where God would bless His people as an example of the Kingdom of God. We see pictures of that community following Peter’s message and the birth of the Church. 

Picture One: Acts 2:42-47
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Picture Two: Acts 4:32-37
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.”

In this community the Lordship of Christ is established by the Holy Spirit. In addition to everything else that He does, the Holy Spirit helps the disciples in their prayer lives (Romans 8:26). He is also the primary agent in the spiritual growth of the disciples because He is the one who applies the word of God to the hearts of God’s people. In the end such a community becomes an instrument of evangelism as others see the joyous blessings of God within that community and are drawn towards it. 

We are in a better time. Christ said it was better for him to go so that the Holy Spirit would come. As our Helper. Not a Helper in a subordinate position. But on the contrary, one in a superior position. He comes as another Helper. That is, another of the same kind. So He is everything Christ is. If you are one of those people who wish that they had been around when Christ was here wish no more. He is here. The Holy Spirit is Christ in you. You became the dwelling place of the Godhead when you became born again. 

1 Corinthians 3: 16  “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to the Church, which is His Kingdom on earth, and which is also known as the Body of Christ.  

Everyone who is born again is born by the Holy Spirit and added to the church. He or she becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in each disciple of Christ is said to be a seal of God upon that person. Three other words can be used instead of seal. Guarantee. Deposit or the old word for deposit, Earnest. The point is that God has paid for and bought that person and He demonstrates this by giving them the Holy Spirit. Then at the right time He will come and take full and final possession of the person.

Ephesians 1:13-14 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

2 Corinthians 5:5 “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

Now although we would love to see miracles of the physical kind such as healing the sick, opening deaf ears, blind eyes, and dumb mouths, and even raising the dead, we must remember that even if we could do these, they are neither a guaranty nor a necessity for the greatest of all miracles – the salvation of the soul, which is the great priority and ministry of the Holy Spirit. When the word of God is preached, the Holy Spirit uses that preached word to bring conviction and conversion to the sinner’s heart. In the same way He uses the preached word to bring spiritual growth to the disciple’s life. That is why the proclamation of the word is in fact the most important part of the whole ministry of the church. Therefore the ministry of the word must always take precedent and be the priority. It must be the very heart of the worship of God’s people. It must be the primary reason that the Church gathers each time for worship. 

That, of course, doesn’t mean that God cannot or doesn’t do miracles anymore. He can and He does. However we should preach the word and leave the Holy Spirit to apply the word as He wills whether for the miracle of the salvation of the soul – which is the greatest of all miracles and the priority of His ministry – or in addition to other miracles of physical healing.

We have seen that the Holy Spirit is a person. He is God. The third Person in the Godhead, The Trinity. He is the power of God on earth poured out upon the disciples of Christ on the Day of Pentecost. He gave the apostles remembrance and revelation to give us the complete Scriptures. He is the power behind the ministry of the Church. He brings conviction and conversion to the hearts of sinners. He also brings spiritual growth to the lives of disciples. 

We have also seen that His grand purpose in all this is to create the community of God’s people, which is the Church and, for now, the Kingdom of God on earth, as the alternative community to fallen humanity’s natural community. 

So if you are born again, it is because of the Holy Spirit. And it means you have the Holy Spirit because you couldn’t be born again without Him. It also means that you are His dwelling place, His temple, because He has taken up residence in you – As God’s deposit. As God’s seal. As God’s guarantee. As God’s earnest. The Holy Spirit is therefore the greatest blessing that any human can have, the greatest miracle that any human can experience, and the greatest treasure that any human can possess. 

Because of the Holy Spirit, you have been purchased by God and He is the sign and reason that you belong to God. He is the guarantee that at the end of time Christ will come and get you and take you to Himself to be with Him forever. 

Meanwhile He is continually working in you through the Word of God to sanctify you, to set you apart for God, to purify you, and to prepare you for His coming, like a bride for her wedding. This is cause for joy and you should rejoice. This is cause for celebration and you should celebrate. This is cause for praise and thanksgiving and you should joyfully do your duty and never let your heart be empty of praise and thanksgiving. And you may sure that the Holy Spirit, who is your Helper, will help you to do even that.

Hymn: Sprit of God unseen as the wind, gentle as is the dove.

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Prayers of Intercession
The Spirit of God unites us and enables us to pray for the needs of others. Use the words below or your own words to bring your concerns before Him, before concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

We remember the needs and problems of the world, asking for wisdom and discernment for its leaders.

We remember the sick, injured and suffering, especially those known to us, and all who tend to them.

Breath your power into all of the activities of our individual churches.  Empower all those who lead with the gifts that your Holy Spirit makes available.

Faithful God, as we go out into the world we pray that this Pentecost may bring a renewed sense of unity with all Christians around the world.  May we use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us to spread the good news and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen

Hymn: And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood 

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The Blessing

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