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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1305

June 4, 2017 Pentecost Sunday Acts 2:1-24, 32-36

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)



“The Voice of Jesus: Through the Holy Spirit”



  • Review


Before we jumped into 1 Peter the last five weeks, we had been listening for the voice of Jesus through the post-resurrection stories. I decided to save the last of that series for today, Pentecost, the day that Jesus began to speak through the Holy Spirit at the birth of the church. We covered Jesus speaking to Mary at the tomb, to the two on the road to Emmaus, two times to the disciples in the upper room, to Thomas, Peter, and Paul. We learned how we might hear Jesus anew through his appearances after Easter and how we might tune our hearts and ears to hear today. In each of these stories, we had the physical presence of Jesus. It was the living Jesus, risen from the grave, shocking to those who saw him, an amazement to all who heard him. (Series based on the book, Jesus Speaks, Viola and Sweet).


What is really unique about the Pentecost aspect of Jesus’ voice is, while we still hear Jesus through all the post resurrection stories, the same Holy Spirit we see descending on the disciples in Acts 2, is the same Spirit with us today. Jesus is not physically with us as he was with the disciples, or with Mary, or with the two walking along the road to Emmaus. But the Holy Spirit is present! The Holy Spirit is here and now just as the Spirit was descending upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. For me, that sets this voice apart in a way like no other story. We hear Jesus through the Spirit in Acts 2 and we hear the voice of Jesus through the presence of the Spirit today.



  • The Voice of Jesus: Through His Ever Present Absence

What we see and hear in Pentecost, is the absence of Jesus, yet he is ever present through the Holy Spirit. But this is exactly how Jesus said it had to happen. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). The disciples found it hard to believe that Jesus’ leaving would better for them. It was not until Pentecost that all the plans and purposes of God finally clicked in the minds of the disciples. It was not until the Holy Spirit came that the voice of Jesus was fully understood.

Now the voice of Jesus is also known to us through the ever present Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks still today, though absent in body, ever present in and through the Holy Spirit. His voice heard through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, through the Holy Spirit in the church, through the Holy Spirit in that still small voice, a whisper within our souls.


  • The Voice of Jesus: Through the Holy Spirit


Jesus speaks to us today through the Holy Spirit. It is the same spirit blown into the nostrils of Adam, the same Spirit that breathes life into the Bible, the same Spirit Jesus promised to us before he ascended. The word for Spirit in the New Testament can mean spirit, breath, or wind. We might think of the Holy Spirit as God’s breath among us. Speaking is done through breath. Think about when you are out of breath and because of that, you can hardly speak. We need our breath for the sake of speaking and the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, is Jesus’ ongoing speech to us, day after day. Jesus is able to speak to every generation since he departed this earth because he sent His Voice in the Holy Spirit.

We often neglect speaking about and thinking about and communicating with the Holy Spirit. We emphasize Jesus at the expense of the Spirit. We look to the Father, yet ignore the Spirit. But think about this, when we hear the Spirit, we are hearing the voice of Jesus. When we sit under the authority of the Spirit, we sit at the feet of Jesus.



  • The Voice of Jesus: He Speaks Every Day


What Pentecost brought for the disciples and for us is the voice of Jesus every day for every generation from Pentecost Day in Acts 2 to our celebration of Pentecost today. We get to hear Jesus today because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be His voice with us after he physically left. He gave His life that we might live forever. He gave His Spirit that we might hear Him speak throughout our lives (and for lots of other great reasons). He speaks when we pray, when we worship, when we read scripture. He speaks in the wonders of creation, in the words of a friend, in the comfort of family. He speaks in all kinds of ways and through all kinds of avenues, but when He speaks, He speaks in concert with the Bible. What we hear in every day hearing is discernible only through what we have been given in God’s Word.

One of the things that the Word helps us to do is become more aware of God’s presence in our lives, that is, the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Word helps us to see that Jesus speaks every day. He tells us of his love every day. He give us hope every day. He speaks every day. Just listen. Just listen and we can know the voice of Jesus.


  • Hearing Aids


Through the Word – How do we hear Jesus? First, I believe, Jesus speaks to us through His word, the Holy Bible. The Bible is God speaking to us. The Bible is Jesus’ voice of revelation and salvation. The Bible is the Spirit inspired, breathed word, reliable, authoritative, Truth, everything we need to hear the Lord’s voice. I can testify without question that the more we know the Bible, the more we can recognize the voice of Jesus in our lives. The sheep know the voice because they know how the shepherd talks, his cadence, his tone, his words, his leading. When we believe that Jesus has spoken a word to us, we always have the charge to compare what we think we know with what His word has already revealed to us. God will never tell us something that contradicts his written word. I think this is the primary voice we are to hear, first and foremost. All the other hearing aids should be measured against the Bible. Whatever we think we hear in the Spirit, whatever we hear through the Church, whatever heard in life experiences, it all needs to compliment what we hear in the Scripture.

The Scriptures are the first and best hearing aid for us. It is the first answer I give when someone asks me how to listen or hear Jesus speak. Let me pair that up with the voice of the hearing aid of the church because the Bible also speaks most clearly when we read it as a body. When we gather for worship, when we gather in study groups, when we gather with two or three or more, Jesus is in our midst, speaking through His Scriptures and through His people.



Through the Church - The second hearing aid is the church, all the people who make up the body of Christ. I have the tendency to think about Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 2:16 as each individual having the mind of Christ. But the grammar of the passage is a plural “you” meaning that we, as the body of Christ, have the mind of Christ. It is a collective wisdom and hearing and discernment. This is probably one of the most neglected ways of hearing the voice of Jesus, through the collective hearing of the church. My sheep hear my voice is not just about individual sheep, but they all hear and heard their way to the voice. The mind of Christ is known through the collective hearing of the members of the church. No single individual has all the hearing, but together we can hear more clearly.


Through the Spirit (still small voice) – How do we hear Jesus? We hear through the Spirit’s whisper. Now, we all know that to hear a whisper, we must have quiet. To hear a whisper, we need to really listen. This voice, this hearing aide, is known through the simple disciplines like silence, solitude, or prayer. It may be heard through journaling, writing down our thoughts and recording events. The voice might be heard in a walk or in the many everyday events of our lives. One way we can hear Jesus is to simply pay greater attention to our life and the experiences of art, music, food, family, friends, work, and in many of the least likely places.