The sermon you heard tonight in the epistle was pretty impressive, and not just because Peter preached it. You haven't seen tongues of fire rest on me, and you probably won't. I speak English fairly well, but even though I can read some other languages, preaching in them would be a serious problem.
The Holy Spirit has not promised to come to me in that way. On the day of Pentecost, the Father sent the Spirit in Jesus' name, and in that gracious sending, He gathered all nations. The Gospel is proclaimed to every people on the day of Pentecost. Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Asians, Romans and the rest. And tonight even to Illinoisans. And even in your own language, or as close to it as a Montanan can come.
The Holy Spirit comes just as Jesus has promised he will come. And the people on that Pentecost morning were cut to the heart. They asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter's answer was simple.
He said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The Name's the thing, beloved. The name. All that God wishes to give us He gives in the Name of Jesus. And so, on this day, we remember the gifting of the Holy Spirit. Peter proclaims the fulfillment of Jesus' promise. Our Lord said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things.”
Jesus gives us the promise. Peter gives the how and the when. Water. Word. Baptism. It is here that you receive the Name of Jesus, dear Christian, and it is here that you receive the Gift that comes in the Name, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life.
No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit, and no one receives the Holy Spirit apart from the Name of Jesus. You are sealed. The Father has placed His Son's Name on you. Do you not know that as many of you has have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ? And so you are in Christ, and Christ is in you. And where He is, so is the Father, and so is the Spirit. God doesn't give Himself to you piecemeal. You are begotten of the Father, in the Name of Jesus, by the washing of water and Spirit. The Trinity is yours, and you are His.
We can be tempted to look for the Spirit apart from His promises. Looking for the Spirit. That's good. Looking for Him apart from His means, that's not. The Spirit is at Saint Paul's, dear Christians, and there's no doubting it. The Word of God is breathed out by Him, and when your faith grasps onto the promises of the Gospel, that is the Spirit's work. He promises to teach you all things, and that's what He does.
The Holy Spirit is your Help. He is your Comfort. He speaks to you by His holy prophets, and in their word of comfort you have peace. Jesus has come to you and said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
You don't need tongues of fire. You don't need me to preach in Latin, Greek, Aramaic, or German. English will do. The Holy Spirit can even work through me, and He can even do it in English.
You don't need any spiritual gift except the ones that the Spirit gives to all Christians. He gives you Himself, and with that, you receive all that you need. You receive faith that grasps Christ. You receive life. You receive the forgiveness of all your sins. You receive salvation, now and finally without remainder at the Last Day.
The Holy Spirit brings you these gifts every time you hear the Holy Gospel spoken, read, sung, or preached. He brought them to you in water when you were baptized. He brings them to you in bread and wine when you receive the Lord's Body and Blood. These are where the Holy Spirit has promised Himself to be. This is where all Christians must seek Him.
The season has come for seeking Him elsewhere, and some of you may from time to time seek him in a swimming pool, a lake, or a hiking trail. You may seek him under sheets and with your head lying comfortably on a pillow. Turn aside from these temptations. The Holy Spirit does not promise to come to you there. When His holy word begat you of the Father in the waters of your baptism, it happened here. He delivered you into the Church. And it is in that same holy Christian and apostolic Church that He comes to you today.
By the power of His Word He has absolved you. By the power of His Word, he has preached to you. By the power of His Word He will give you to receive Jesus' own body and blood in ordinary bread and wine.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Be not afraid. The Lord Jesus has suffered in your place. He has borne your sin to the cross. There is no eternal wrath left for you. The blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin. Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Holy Spirit tells me so. That, dear Christian, is what the Holy Spirit loves to do. He points you to the cross. He reminds you that your sin was destroyed there. He gives you to believe that all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life, and the Life He has given you is Jesus.