Read Acts 2:1-21
We know well the traditional Pentecost reading from Acts 2 which many of us heard in church this morning. How the Holy Spirit descends down upon the disciples and moved them to leave the safety of their locked room and go out into the streets of Jerusalem and proclaim the Gospel message of Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins. The result of their preaching is that 3000 are baptized that day.
The disciples will do more than just proclaim the Good News in Jerusalem however, they will go from Jerusalem to Judea; from Judea to Samaria; and from Samaria to the ends of the earth with this life saving message of salvation which is for all people.
But what of the 3000 who repent and are baptized this morning? Whatever happens to them?
We never hear of them again, as far as we know. It is possible that others in the book of Acts, like perhaps Stephan are among those who are baptized that day and go on to lead great lives in the faith.
But it is also possible that some of those who were baptized received the Holy Spirit, but then later on rejected the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they were caught up in the moment of that Pentecost Day, or maybe when they got home they never did quite make it back to hear the apostles preach again; or maybe they went for a while, but the pressures of the devil were strong against their hearts and they fell away. Perhaps a few were scared away when the persecution against the church came in full force.
The end of St. Mark’s Gospel tells us that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Among the condemned are those
who were baptized, who heard the Word but never again heard it. They are the seed that was planted among thorns, or on rocky ground, or along the path. They had the Word, they believed the Word, but they soon lost the Word.
The Word was planted in those 3000 on Pentecost; but how many went home and never returned? How many went home and neglected their devotions and prayer life? How many went home thinking they had no need of nurturing their faith ever again?
We do not know an exact number of how many were in church the next Sunday after Pentecost. I hope all of them; I hope they all brought their families and friends the next Sunday to hear the same life giving Word that they themselves had heard and were so moved by the Holy Spirit to repent and be baptized.
But when we look at the statistics of the church today, they sadly tell us that may not be the case.
Recently, I have been listening to some recordings of Issues, Etc. about the decline of
young people in the church; I have also started reading a new book entitled ‘Already Compromised’ by Ken Ham, which is a follow up to his spectacular book ‘Already
Gone’. The reasons for young people leaving the church are various, but they can be summed up quite pointedly in that at one point they were strong in the faith, and today, they are not.
Of course, young people are not the only ones who are writing off the church, their parents and grandparents are just as likely for one reason or another. At one point each of them was strong in the faith, and now they are not.
Once more, the Word must be implanted in the young and the old alike. Once more the Word must be nurtured. Once more the Word must be fed. 3000 were baptized on
Pentecost, but each of them needed to read their catechism, each needed to study their Bible, each needed to ask questions so that they might better understand the faith into which they had been baptized.
What needs to happen tomorrow and beyond, not only for the 3000, but for all those who come to church and hear the Word of God?
The Word needs to be nurtured, it needs to be reinforced. Regular worship attendance
and daily devotions are needed to ward off the continuous attacks of the devil; to give strength should persecution come back in full force.
On that first Pentecost and even today the message shared is that Christ is risen, and the blessings and benefits that we receive through His death and resurrection, including the forgiveness of sins are constantly available to us, even to those who have fallen down in the faith.