Pentecost is a marvelous day, wondrous to behold.
It’s the beginning of the Church. Peter preaches the most harsh Law that can be preached—the people hear, believe, and repent—but now, most people remember only that “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
We like numbers—not words.
But Pentecost is more. It’s the antithesis, the undoing, the reversal of Babel, where—in mercy—God went down and confused our language, so that we may not understand one another’s speech.
“Its name was called Babel, because the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).
In mercy He did that.
“And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:6-7).
If you teach your children that nothing’s impossible for them, you’re teaching them the wrong thing.
You mean well, but you’re wrong.
There’s plenty of stuff that’s impossible for us to do and to be, and to forget that is to lack sense.
If you teach your children that anything’s possible, and your little girl grows up and wants to be a boy, what’s stopping her—other than reality?
If you teach your children that anything’s possible, and your little boy grows up to define unborn children as merely clumps of cells or love as merely consent, what’s in his way to correct and reprove him?
Even worse, what if you grow up thinking that anything is possible, and you sin some terrible sin, and then become convinced that all you have to do is forgive yourself? What then?
It doesn’t say that nothing was impossible for them, it says, “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6).
It means that they’ve forgotten God and have replaced Him with their own conscience and will. Nothing they propose will be impossible for them, because our fragile egos can’t handle being told no.
You need to tell your children no.
Kindly. Politely. Firmly. Loudly. Repeatedly. However the situation calls for, Parents, tell them no.
Girls need to grow up knowing that they are not boys and vice versa.
Everyone needs to know that on the day a child’s born he’s about nine months old, or, in Church Year terms, the Annunciation is exactly nine months before Christmas.
Everyone needs to know that love is an action word that God speaks and does first and we love because He first loved us (cf. 1 John 4:19).
And you need to know that it’s impossible for you to forgive yourself—and that’s not bad news.
If it’s possible for you to forgive yourself, your forgiveness depends on you, and who wants their everlasting salvation to depend on such a fickle thing?
There are lots of things that are impossible for us.
In mercy, the Lord confused our language so that we would think that.
And in mercy, the Lord caused the one, true language of us all—the Gospel—to be proclaimed to all the world.
“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21), Peter proclaimed.
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
And when they heard that, “they were cut to the heart, and [they] said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself…[And] those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (cf. Acts 2:37-42).
Pentecost was the undoing of Babel, the beginning of the Church.
But don’t be led astray by all the pentecostal pomp and circumstance.
The tongues of fire fell on the apostles, fulfilling the words of our Lord: “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 14:26).
Glossolalia is speaking in unlearned foreign tongues, proclaiming the Gospel, salvation in Jesus Christ alone, to all the world.
It happened. We believe it.
But that babbling nonsense you see on tv or in tents is exactly what it sounds like: babbling nonsense.
God called it Babel after the fact—but they babbled beforehand, too.
Nothing they propose to do is now impossible for them—and that’s a bad thing.
They’ve forgotten God and have replaced Him with their own conscience and will. Their fragile egos can’t handle being told no.
They do not hear and believe.
They do not repent.
They do not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of God, for you and for your children.
They pretend and play and prevaricate.
But they are not at and do not have peace.
This Pentecost, every Pentecost, and every single day, hear and believe the Word of God.
“God has made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
But “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) who teaches and brings to your remembrance all that Jesus says (cf. John 14:26), but specifically this:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
These are not uncertain times.
We have the peace of God.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Pentecost Day, 2020
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt