Sermon on Acts 2:1-21 for June 4, 2017, Pentecost A
The entire text is here: Acts 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
There is a strange verse in the New Testament about the Spirit. In 1John 4:1 it says:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
It is strange for several reasons. First, you would think that if the Spirit is at work, communicating something, it would be so clear, so self-evidently from the Spirit that there could be no mistaking it. But apparently that is not the case.
Second, this verse is strange because it gives the power to the Christian community to somehow “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” That means the community already has a sense of the kinds of things that are from God and which are not, and will be able to discern which is which.
You would think that such discernment comes from the Spirit, but in this case the discernment comes to tell you if the Spirit is reliably from God. It is completely assumed that the Christian community has spiritual instincts that help it know the difference between things that are of God and things that are not.
Where did we get these instincts? Well the answer is pretty clear: the Spirit has been following a distinctive trajectory from the beginning. You can see the direction of movement. So, any word or teaching claiming to be “of God” that is going in another direction is automatically suspect.
Continue reading “The Spirit’s Language(s)”