• 8 June 2022
  • Stuart Robinson

June 1st, 2022, Sermon St Michael’s Vaucluse

Acts 2

The last three decades or so have been marked by great change – sometimes for the better.

Friday was Mabo Day.

This moment celebrated the 1992 High Court decision that ruled in favour of Eddie Mabo and other claimants that their people had occupied the island of Mer in the Torres Strait prior to the arrival of the British.

This historic decision effectively recognised the existence of native title rights and rejected the concept of terra nullius, which claimed Australia was a land belonging to no-one prior to British occupation.

These past three decades have also seen the introduction of words into everyday parlance such as, ‘9/11’; ‘Uber’; ‘social distancing’, COVID, ‘Tesla’, ‘Google’, and ‘apps’; simple words, seismic shifts.

And although the changes of the past 3 decades are remarkable, I think they pale into insignificance when compared with the great and everlasting changes wrought by God – over three decades or so, at the start of the first century AD.

For in that small window in time – around 33 years, God reached into our world, and inaugurated a powerful, eternal transformation that shapes the trajectory of our lives this very morning.

I put it to you that there is nothing more important than understanding and embracing the change that God made through his Son, through his Spirit, and through his Church (the people of God) – in the first 33 or so years of the first century.

And looking back to the day of Pentecost 33/34 AD, is a great anchor point for this conversation.

Pentecost was the Jewish feast that took place 50 days after the Passover – when the grain harvests were being in-gathered and celebrated.

Some also viewed Pentecost as a celebration of when the Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The events surrounding this Pentecost, recorded for us by St. Luke, the historian (in Acts, the second of his two-volume historical treatise), are remarkable; unprecedented.

Change number 1:

Through Jesus – friendship with God on his terms is a possibility for all people everywhere.

On the day of Pentecost St. Peter declared, “God has made the crucified Jesus, both Lord and Messiah…repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins…’. Acts 2:36.

Now that is a change.

Friendship with God comes NOT through trying (goodness and moral rectitude) but through trusting in Jesus’ sin-bearing death and resurrection, and turning to him as Lord [That’s repentance…and baptism is the outward, visible, and public attestation of a changed heart and mind].

Change number 2:

Through the Holy Spirit – friendship with God becomes intimate and transformative.

All who turn to Jesus, says St. Peter (in Acts 38,39) will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And the reason the crowds have gathered to hear St. Peter’s sermon is because they have been seeing and experiencing the Spirit’s transforming power in the life of Jesus’ disciples.

Most of you know the story well: Jesus told his friends that he would send the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4) and true to his word, that manifestation of God’s presence and power took place on the day of Pentecost.

Jesus’ Galilean friends were given the divine ability to ‘declare the wonders of God’ (Acts 2:11) in at least a dozen or so languages and dialects.

The people who heard this remarkable phenomenon were Jewish by birth or by conversion, and they had gathered from across the Roman world for the Feast of Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit spiritually reanimates or enlivens people – who in and of themselves are dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)

And that possibility, says St. Peter, is a reality for all who trust in and turn to the Lord Jesus.

He says, ‘the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call’. Acts 2:39.

Change number 3:

Through the Church (the people of God), friendship with God is modelled and proclaimed.

Jesus said to his friends (recorded in Acts 1:8), ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’.

The people of God have been given the glorious responsibility of being agents of God’s grace and love.

St. Paul puts is so beautifully thus, ‘God reconciled us to himself through Christ and God gave us the ministry of reconciliation [that we might tell people] that God was reconciling the word to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us: God made him [our Lord Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.”

Now on the day of Pentecost, following the disciples’ public proclamation of the wonders of God and Peter’s powerful sermon, St Luke says, “those who accepted the message were baptised and about three thousand were added to their number that day”. Acts 2:41.

That is, the church increased one hundred-fold (and some) – and through the kindness and love and generosity of the church in Jerusalem, verse 47 concludes, “and the Lord added to the number daily those who were being saved”.


I started out by saying that there is nothing more important than understanding and embracing the change that God made through his Son, through his Spirit, and through his Church (the people of God) – in the first 33 or so years of the first century.

My friend John finally grasped that truth at age 42.

He was, at the time, an Anglican Priest – an Archdeacon, and as he sat in one of his little churches in the north of England and pondered these and other texts, it dawned on him that he needed to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’; that it was imperative that he himself repent of his sins and invite Jesus to be his Lord and Saviour such that he might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and serve as a true ambassador of Jesus.

John did just that.

He prayed a very simple prayer expressing his grief over sins past and of the fact that ‘religion’ had blurred the importantance of a relationship with Jesus.

John trusted in, and turned to Christ, and was wonderfully transformed by the Holy Spirit.

He went on to become an Anglican bishop and as an ambassador for Jesus, he invited all who might listen, to be reconciled to God.

I would like to close with a prayer that does two things.

In it, I will thank God for his remarkable intervention in time and history through his Son and by his Spirit, and I will also lead those of us – for whom it is appropriate, in a prayer of turning to and trusting in Jesus, confident of the transformation that God by his Spirit will bring.

May we pray?

Our great God and Heavenly Father,

How transformative were those first three decades of the first century; from the birth of the Christ to the birth of the Church!

And we thank you that the work of the Son and the work of the Spirit reconcile people to God – and that for eternity.

This day, I commit or recommit my life to you.

I turn from sin and trust in Christ.

Please fill me with your Holy Spirit.

May I be a conduit of your mercy and grace.

Thank you for such great and everlasting changes; thank you for hearing and answering this prayer.


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