Acts: For the Cause of Christ #6

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #6

A Healing and a Witness

Acts 3:1-26

Introduction:Review of Chapter 2:41-47

Last week we looked at the example given for us of the early church in Jerusalem. We saw the highlights of the keeping to the teaching of the Apostles and fellowship. We saw how fellowship included meals (including the Lord’s Table) and prayer. We saw how some the fellowship and love was shown. By the selling of personal property and goods for the needs of other members of the church. By worshipping together in public (at the temple) and spending time together in each other’s home. We saw that the Jewish community in large viewed the church in a good way. The following is an example of 2:43. Acts 2:43 says that the Apostles were doing signs and wonders in public before the rest of Jerusalem

Today we are looking at an example of one of those wonders. It’s like Luke told us what was going on, then provided a specific example to show what he meant by the apostles doing signs and wonders. But as well see in a couple of weeks, this miracle lead to some resistance.

1. The Healing of the crippled man – v1-10

We find Peter and John heading to the Temple for the afternoon prayer service at about 3pm, this would be the 9th hour from sunrise (about 6am). This is an example of 2:46 where we are told that the church meet in the temple daily.

On their way into the temple they passed a crippled man who was sitting next one of the gates, which was called the Beautiful Gate. This man was crippled from birth, the literal meaning is “from the mother’s womb”. This gives the idea that he had this damage while he was still inside his mother. Fortunately for him, there was no 1st century Planned Parenthood of Jerusalem to pressure his mother into an abortion. I keep referring to him as crippled rather than lame or paralyzed, because this was probably damage to his feet and ankles, and maybe knees or hips. This may have been some birth deformity. However he was crippled, he was unable to get to the Temple by himself. We see that he was being carried to the Temple gate, this may have been his normal place.

We are told that he is set there by the Beautiful Gate everyday to beg for coins. We see that he was by the gate called Beautiful. We are not sure where exactly this gate was located. There are two views: the first being that this was the gate that lead from the Court of women to the Court of Israel or Court of Men, this gate was named the Nicanor Gate sometimes called the Corinthian Gate as it was cover in Corinthian bronze and had lots of ornate carvings. This gate was larger than other gates. The other view is that the Beautiful Gate was the Shushan Gate which was a gate that led from the Court of the Gentiles to the Court of Women. Either way this was a good place for him to be at to get coins. He was asking the devoted worshippers as they were heading into a daily service for coins. Giving to beggars was taken seriously by the Jewish worshippers as they believed that God would honor giving to the beggars as an act of compassion.

We see the crippled man is there, working his corner if you will, as Peter and John are entering the Temple and he calls out for coins. The verb used shows that this is a repeated appeal for coins, so this may have been an ongoing appeal to Peter and John or just a repeated cry to all those passersby.

Luke now begins to focus on Peter as he calls for the beggar’s attention. This was to let the man know that a response to his plea was coming. The beggar turns to the two Apostles. The term used here as the beggar turns to Peter means “to be especially observant”. This term is used in 1 Timothy 4:16 as an instruction from Paul to Timothy. The crippled man turns probably hopeful to receive coins from Peter and John. But what he receives is so much better.

Peter tells the cripple he doesn’t have any silver or gold, but something better, a surprise, a call to be healed. In the Greek construction of the sentence the phrase of silver and gold is at the beginning for greater emphasis. Remember what we saw last week in chapter 2, the Apostles are live modestly with the church community which shared goods among its members. No longer would this man need to be carried to the Temple to beg for coins. The force of the verb walk shows that the ability will continue for the rest of his life. There is a story told about the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas as he visited Pope Innocent II one day as the Pope was counting a large sum of money. The Pope said, “You see, Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” Thomas replied, “True, holy father, neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”

Peter was now doing the work that Jesus had done during His ministry, but Peter an only do this as a mediator of what Jesus alone has the authority to do. Peter’s gift enabled the man to live and take care of himself. This is how the church should engage the larger community, by showing compassion in visible ways that help, but can develop people’s capabilities.

Verses 7 and 8 are proof of the healing. Peter lifts the man up with his right hand. It’s possible that the cripple had lifted his right hand expecting coins, instead Peter grabs it and lifts him up. The healing took place as Peter grasped his right hand, this allowed him to walk into the temple for the first time in his life. Muscle atrophy would normally take 2-3 months or even up to 6 months of rehab therapy and exercise to develop or redevelop occurred instantly. This idea of immediate healing is common in Luke’s writings on miracles. We see it in his gospel account in 1:64; 4:39; *5:25; 8:44,55; 13:13; and 18:43. This man was not only walking, he was leaping and praising God for his healing. Luke’s use of repeating verbs indicating movement stress the success of the healing. One source says, “The newly healed man knows that God has been at work and that God had been at work through Jesus. He has received an new kind of alms” (Bock, Darrell L., BECNT, © 2007, p. 163).

Now we begin to see the reaction to the healing in verse 9 and 10. All the people at the temple recognized the man as the crippled beggar who would sit at the Beautiful Gate. The people were filled with amazement and wonder at this sight. The Greek words used here for amazement and wonder are not used in this combination anywhere else in the New Testament. The word for wonder is used in two other places in the New Testament, all in response to miracles being performed. The word for amazement appears in 6 other places. in the New Testament, this term describes someone who is emotionally impacted by the experience. The miracle has drawn a crowd, but not created faith. This miracle needs to be explained.

2. Peter gives his second recorded sermon – vv11-26

Here in verse 11 we’re not sure of the timing here, as we don’t have a reference given in the text. This may have been after the prayer service as Peter and John were leaving the Temple, they may not have even made it in yet and this was causing a commotion during the service which could be another reason for the chief priests to intervene as they did. We do know that we’re are in a different section of the Temple complex called Solomon’s Colonnade or Portico. This was on top of one of the walls dividing the Outer court and the Inner court. This was an area that was commonly used for teaching at the Temple, Jesus Himself taught here in John 10:23. While here the healed man was clinging to Peter and John, perhaps to show the crowd who it was that healed him.

Peter, in verse 12, takes the opportunity of the crowd drawing around him and the healed man praising God to correct any misunderstanding that he had anything to do with the miracle and to proclaim Jesus. He asks the crowd why they were so amazed at the miracle. Had they been paying attention during the recent days they wouldn’t have been surprised at the miracle or been staring at John and himself. Peter is trying to correct the idea he and John had special powers or were more godly that God was persuaded to act because of them. In verse 13 Peter invokes an image of the God of PRomise, the God of the nation with his phrase “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. He also identifies himself as a Jew by birth by calling God “the God of our father[or ancestors]”. This makes himself and the audience objects of the Promise. He is saying that God is at work in a new way for His people. This new work includes the glorification of Jesus, God’s servant. The word servant used here is not the common word we hear, but is used as a title. This makes Jesus one who is commissioned by and serves God. Peter is tying Jesus to The Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52 and 53. Peter is tells the crowd of Jesus’ (The Servant’s) glorification and then tells of His suffering. This is similar to how Isaiah talked about the Servant in his prophecy. Peter hold the crowd (the Jews of Jerusalem) responsible for Jesus’ death. His wording here, fits with Luke’s account of the Passion in Luke 23:13-25.

Peter continues to explain who Jesus was to the crowd in verse 14 and 15. Here he calls Jesus “The Holy and Righteous One”, then titles are rooted in the language of the Old Testament. So every Jew around him knew exactly what Peter was inferring about Jesus. Peter tells them they had denied their king and savior when Pilate had was ready to release Him. The crowd had asked for a murder’s life be spared over the Author, the Source of life. That’s backwards! Peter goes on that though the crowd had Jesus killed, God raised Him, and this was something He and the other Apostles could testify to.

Peter answers the question he raised in verse 12, here in verse 16. The power that healed the crippled man came from the name of Jesus, and the cripple had exercised faith on the name tapping into the power. There are arguments about whose faith is referenced here. Some say it was the faith of the Peter and John, some say it was the faith of all three men, but the cripple is a key part of the passage. Peter said it was the power from the name of Jesus, but the name points to the person. Peter validates the healing by reminding the crowd that they know the man healed, they had seen him day after day at the entrance of the Temple begging for coins. Peter mentions faith to drive home the fact of the healing and that God is working through Jesus.

Peter closes the first part of his sermon in verses 17 and 18. He calls them brethren, or brothers and sisters, this ties back to their shared Jewish heritage, that he is part of as well. He tells them that they, the people, the nation, and their leaders acted of ignorance when Jesus was killed, but that this still fulfilled God’s plan. Here we see a glimpse of human responsibility and divine purpose or sovereignty working side by side. Even though they had acted out of ignorance, ignorance does not remove the need to repent. Their ignorance was the failing to understand, not from a lack of opportunity to understand. Peter then begins to show that the Messiah had to suffer as part of God’s plan, though this thought was not expected in Judaism, and he references the Old Testament Scripture. Peter is trying to get the crowd to alter its view of Jesus.

Peter begins his closing statements and begins to apply what he’s been saying here in verse 19. While faith was the key in verse 16, repentance is the key here in 19. He issues a double imperative, a double command: repent and turn back. Repent “stresses the need to change direction or change one’s mind about where one is” (Bock, 175). While turning makes the same point it shows that the idea is ending up inline with God. Turning’s result is the blotting out or wiping away of sin. Blotting or wiping out is another term for forgiveness. We see that the early church already had a variety of terms to describe responding to the Gospel. This term means “wipe away”, “erase”, “obliterate”. Darrell Bock explains the term this way, “It was used of washing papyri to remove letters written in ink…Peter offers the opportunity to have the penalty of sin removed completely” (Bock, 175).

In verses 19 through 21 we see a promise to the individual, the forgiveness of sins, adn to the Nation of Israel, times of spiritual refreshing. Peter is actually calling for a national repentance from Israel, since the nation, through its leaders, denied Christ and had Him killed. The idea was that if the Nation repented. Christ would return and fulfill the rest of the Prophets. “Three blessings are offered in verse 19-21: the forgiveness of sins, the promise of times of refreshing, and the opportunity to participate in the rerun of the Messiah Jesus brings all of this over time…The process starts with forgiveness and runs through Jesus’ return” (Bock, 178).

Peter now begins using specific passages and examples from the Old Testament to show what he is saying is true. He first reminds them of Moses’ messianic prophecy by quoting Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19. This will get Jewish attention as Moses is held as the first and greatest prophet of Israel. The context of this passage is the establishment of prophets of God being raised up to communicate to the people after Moses. The statement had, by this time, been viewed as a messianic statement long before the Apostles and the early church. Peter continues in verse 24 to say that Samuel and the rest of the Prophets all foretold of the messianic days. Though Samuel is not recorded with a specific Messianic prophecies, he anointed David King, spoke of the establishment of David’s kingdom and promises that he made to David were fulfilled in Jesus.

Peter closes in verse 25 and 26 by reminding them they should have accepted Jesus as the Messiah as they are the descendants of the Prophets and children of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12; Gen 15). Peter has shown the Jesus is the particular seed of Abraham that would bless all nations through Israel.

Conclusion:

  1. The healing of the cripple is a living example of new life in Christ
  2. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah
    1. Faith on Jesus as the Messiah is the only way
    2. Repent for salvation, there is no excuse
  3. We must accept Jesus and turn from our sins to be healed of being a spiritual cripple.

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #5

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #5

The Church

Acts 2:41-47

Prayer: Lord as we come again to this time dedicated to Your Word, let our minds be clear, let our hearts be unified. And we ask that Your Holy Spirit convict us where we need it, embolden us where we are weak, and heal us where we are hurt. I pray that you will use me as the vessel, let Your Words and Your message be spoken now. I pray this for your glory, in the name of Jesus our Savior, Amen.

Intro:

Last week we saw how the Lord used Peter’s sermon at the day of Pentecost to convict a large number of Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah they were waiting for and how they had let their authorities have Him crucified by the Romans. This was the beginning of the church, but what happened after that?

1. The Entrance v41

This section of verses is really the ideal picture of the new church, what every church should in some way seek to follow. This group of believers in Jerusalem swelled from 120 to over 3000 in one day. These 3000 were the one who acted on their faith, repented of their sins and believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They were then baptized to publicly identify that they were following the Messiah. This was following the great commission given Matthew 28:19-20. We will see very often in the book of Acts that baptism followed almost immediately after salvation. The timing of baptism isn’t really vital, the important part is that there is evidence of salvation, of a true profession of faith, before baptism is administered. I was saved at the young age of four, but it wasn’t until the age of sixteen that I decided I needed to be baptized. In the church we went attended in Ankeny, we had lady realize that though she had thought she was saved, had been baptized, graduated from bible college, been a member of churches, including that one, was married and had children, that she hadn’t actually taken that step of faith, repented of her sins and accept Jesus as Savior. She was re-baptized and then added back to the church’s membership rolls after her profession of faith before her church family.

We should also note, that baptism is never associated with infants in the New Testament. Here in verse 41 we see that “those who accepted the the Word” or other translations read “gladly received his word”, this is evidence of belief. This evidence of intentional, rational belief and acceptance. When’s the last you saw an infant make a rational or intentional choice?

So how about you? Have you made that choice of repentance? If you have, have you taken the next step of obedience and been baptized? If not, why not? What is keeping you from accepting Jesus Christ as savior? What is keeping you from getting baptized?

2. The Commitment vv42-43

This group of new believers devoted themselves, committed themselves to two things, the teaching of the Apostles and to fellowship. I know that there are two more items listed there, but most commentators put those underneath fellowship. The Apostles teaching were authoritative as the teaching was from the Lord through the Apostles by the Holy Spirit’s power. The teaching of the Apostles was authoritative. This was Christian doctrine. This helps the new believers understand this new program God has instituted, and it guards against error or false doctrine. The New Testament is the writings of the Apostles’ teaching as the authors were lead by the Holy Spirit.

They also fellowshipped together. The idea for the word translated fellowship is “sharing in common”. Luke’s point of fellowship is a personal interactive relationship with the church. One writer says it’s, “A real sense of connection to, between, and for each other” (Bock, Darrell L. BECNT:Acts © 2007, p 150). Like I said most commentators I looked at list the next two items of breaking bread and prayer under the heading of fellowship. So let’s look at these now.

The breaking of bread has two possibilities, one being the Lord’s Table and the other being a fellowship meal. The problem in knowing which one it is lies in the fact that in the early church the Lord’s Table was often observed after a large meal. From the resources i looked at it was about split 50/50. Either way, everyone in the church was involved and participated. It was a matter of their community life. If we view this as referring to the Lord’s Table, then we see that the church was performing this regularly, helping the community’s fellowship. This also serves to help protect new believers from the danger of a superficial belief. The Lord’s Table is solemn time of remembrance for the church as we reflect on the Christ’s redeeming work on Calvary.

The prayer they were partaking in was probably their own appointed season of united prayer, a weekly or daily prayer meeting. In chapter 3:1 we see that the Apostles, at least, also attended the Jewish prayer services at the Temple. It is also possible that these prayers were public and similar to those that the Jews used in the Temple. Why wouldn’t they be? All 3000 of them were Jews who realized that Jesus was the Messiah. So I have no doubt that some of the prayers followed a Jewish model, but the content probably differed because of Jesus. The Jewish prayers would have new meaning in the name of Jesus. But these times of prayer were times when they would be where they show their earnestness toward Christ, where they would be united in the presence of God, through the prayer the power of God could be realized and possibly received if some were filled by the Holy Spirit during these prayer times. But these prayers are also a way to help protect new believers from the danger of independence.

In verse 43 we see how this was seen from the outside. Some translations say, “fear came upon every soul”. The word I have is “everyone” it is the same idea, but the Greek word used here is the same word used in verse 41. My version reads people in verse 41, others read soul there as well. The idea is people. The very spiritual essence of the people were in awe. Now my version uses the word awe, others use fear. Different translations of the same word, phobos. If that sounds familiar it is where we get our term phobia from. But what was happening in Jerusalem? The unbelieving Jewish community were filled with fear or awe, probably a sense of reverence of this new community for how real their life was. They also saw a powerful life as the Apostles were doing signs and miracles among them testifying to God’s presence within this new community. Peter had shown in his sermon that God had worked through Jesus, and that work was extended past Jesus’ crucifixion. “Now the work continues through the Apostles, indicating that God supports the new community as well” (Bock, p152). So how are you doing? Are you fellowshipping with our church family? Are you keeping to the teaching given through the Scripture? These are vital to a healthy church.

3. The Community vv44-47

The early church here in Jerusalem had a fervent love for each other. They showed this by demonstrating a spirit of sacrifice. Verses 44-45 really highlight the fellowship and mutual care the believers shared. This commenness is seen favorably as showing the depth of their fellowship and mutual care for each other. They held everything in common, they had unity. We have seen that they have shared a common faith, they believed in the same Lord and Savior. They had a communal fellowship in that they were together, they meet regularly for services.  And now we see that they shared their goods when a fellow member had need. This holding of things in common was not mandatory, but was voluntary and done in love. One author says, “That a community [or church] is really functioning with appropriate love and compassion is evident when material needs are also a concern and are being generously provided” (Bock, p152).

As I mentioned earlier, this was done voluntarily through love and concern for fellow believers, this was not a form of communism where all goods are divided “fairly”. The idea from the verb here is verse 45 is one of ongoing distribution, when there was need that came up, help was given. They didn’t sell everything off at once, they sold what they could when they could to help. It is possible that Jesus teachings may have provided some background for this generosity and not wanting to hoard earthly items. Think about the parable of the rich man in Luke 12:13-21 who had so much he was going to build large barns for his crops, so he could take it easy and live the “good” life, until God told him that his life was coming to end. What good is storing up treasures on earth? Remember you don’t see u-huals behind a hearse.

Verses 46 and 47 highlight more of the worship and the work they are doing. In the early church, at least here in Jerusalem at this time they were worshipping together everyday. We see that they are having public worship by meeting in the temple. This reflects the Jewish practices that they came from, and the temple is the natural center for Jews for worship. But we also see that they fellowshipped and worshipped together in their everyday environments, they broke bread and ate with each other in their homes. Again there is thought that the term broke bread here refers to the Lord’s Table, but it is possible that here it can be taken in the more broad sense as the language here, “ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts”, is referring to regular meals.

Their joy spilled over into praise to God and they found favor in the outside world as well. The idea is that the outsiders were appreciative of the new community within the city. They see this vibrant and living community that extends itself in two directions, toward God and toward the neighbor. This looks like the living out of the great commandment:  “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:37-40). This gave them a good reputation with the outside world, this was part of their witness. And we see that the Lord was blessing them as He added believers to their numbers daily, so that this community was growing regularly.

Closing:

In September 2005, Our Daily Bread published the following article:

“Pastor and author Greg Laurie says that churches are “well” when they practice these activities: W-orship E-vangelize L-earn L-ove

Like the early church, we should be active in these ways today.

Worship. We must meet together for fellowship, communion, prayer, and praise (Acts 2:42,47). God is to be the focus of all we do in His church.

Evangelize. As we share the Word, the Lord will add new believers to the church (v.47). We can all take part in spreading God’s Word by developing a friendship, by giving someone an article about the gospel, or by sharing some Scripture verses with a stranger.

Learn. We must continue learning sound doctrine taught by qualified leaders (v.42). The Bible is filled with instruction for living, and we should take every opportunity to learn from it, apply it to our lives, and teach others.

Love. We are to share with whoever has need, and enjoy the fellowship of other believers regularly (vv.45-46).

A church whose members worship, evangelize, learn, and love will be a “well” church, effective in the community, and appreciated by “all the people” (v.47).” (https://odb.org/2005/09/18/a-well-church/)

So is our church “well”? What can we be doing better at? Let’s pray.

Prayer: Lord as we close our service today, I pray that we as a church will take a long look at ourselves through the lens of Your Word here in Acts chapter 2. Help us to see the areas we need to work on. Help us then to correct those areas in the Holy Spirit’s power, which is Your power.

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #4

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #4

Pentecost Pt 2: What’s going on?

Acts 2:14-41

Prayer: Lord, We come now to a passage that declares your salvation. I pray that your Spirit will be at work here this morning. That you will open the hearts and minds of those within the reach of my voice. Help us to be focused, free from distraction. And may this be all to your glory. Amen.

Intro: Last time we left with the the disciples having received the gift of the Holy Spirit from heaven and then being filled by the spirit to begin giving praise to God speaking in the tongues and languages of several distinct languages visiting Jerusalem for the feast. The audience was amazed and confused at this and some thought that the disciples were just drunk. So we pick up today by beginning with Peter’s rebuttal to this charge.

1. Peter’s Rebuttal vv14-21

After hearing this charge against the disciples, Peter and the rest of the Twelve stood up on something to elevate themselves above the crowd to be heard. I think that is safe to say that wherever the events from the beginning of the chapter (1-4) started from, this part of the account is probably at the Temple. More than likely in the Outer Court, which is also called the Court of the Gentiles. Peter once again is the spokesman for the Twelve here. He starts by correcting the assumption that they were drunk by reminding them that is was pretty early in the day, “nine in the morning”. Other translations will say “the third hour of the day” because the day began at sunrise, which is usually around 6am. If the comments about being drunk were supposed to be generally funny, Peter’s response was probably one of good humor. He was pretty much saying that it was just too early for anybody to be drunk already.

Peter then links what is happening with the disciples here at Pentecost with Joel’s prophecy of the day of the Lord and quotes Joel 2:28-32. This passage in Joel has to do with the nation of Israel in the end times, and coming judgement called “the day of the Lord”. Peter is saying that the same Holy Spirit that led Joel to prophesy, and mention in the prophecy, is at work now with the disciples. Not everything mentioned in this quotation took place here at Pentecost, the prophecy in full will come to pass during the end times. Some try to tie elements of the prophecy back to Jesus’ crucifixion and some of the events that happened there, however I don’t see a good connection and it seems to be an argument from silence as Scripture doesn’t directly link those things together.

Peter’s statement would have certainly gotten the Jewish attention, as most Jews thought that the Spirit of God would only come upon a select few (Moses, David, the prophets), but here were 120 people, men and women, sharing the same Spirit, the same blessing, and the same experience. “It was indeed the drawing of a new age, the ‘last days’ in which God would bring to completion His plan of salvation for mankind” (Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Dynamic, © 1987, p30).

So Peter had dismissed the charge of drunkenness and gotten the attention of the crowd by linking the what was happening to a prophecy of end time events. Now he would get to his main point and give his rebuke to those listening.

2. Peter’s Rebuke v 22-36

Peter is now addressing his main theme: Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. He reminds them of the miracles, signs and wonders (or mighty works). Peter doesn’t have to detail them,as these events are recent history to most of them that are there. Remember Jesus was ministering for about three years, and Pentecost is an annual feast, most of these visitors would have been in Jerusalem off and on during Jesus’ earthly work. Three different terms are used to describe how God showed that Jesus was the Messiah. The first term is miracles, there are deeds of great power which are viewed here as supernatural. The Greek word used here for miracles is the same Greek root for our English word dynamite. The second terms used is wonders, these are acts that brought wonderment and awe to the witnesses. The third terms is signs, these are deeds and words which serve as proofs of His person and mission.

Peter continues to explain that through God’s foreknowledge and plan Jesus was crucified. Paul references God’s plan in Romans 8:32 where he says, “He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all…”. Peter, however, lays the blame for Jesus’ death (both direct and indirect responsibility) on the Jews, and how the Jewish authorities used “lawless people”, the Romans who are outside Jewish law, to sentence and carry out the crucifixion. But Peter then moves on to tell them that Jesus’ conviction, sentence and execution by the earthly court had been overturned by a “higher court”. What do I mean? Look at the beginning of verse 24, “God raised him up, ending the pains of death…” God reversed the death sentence given, because the Messiah could not be held by death.

Verses 25-28 Peter again quotes from the Old Testament. This time Peter is quoting from David’s writings in the Psalms. He quotes Psalm 16:8-11. Peter’s quotation cannot be in reference to David, as David is dead and buried, these words must refer to the Messiah. F. F. Bruce points out that “These prophetic words, Peter goes on to argue, have been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth and in no one else; Jesus of Nazareth is therefore the expected Messiah” (Bruce, NICNT: The Book of The Acts, © 1988, p65).

In verse 29 Peter shows those listening that David couldn’t have been the only one that Psalm was talking about as he reminds them that David is dead and buried, and that they know right where his tomb is. This contrasts with Jesus’ tomb as Peter could have walked any of them over to it, but unlike David, Jesus wasn’t there. Peter continues by reading them that God had promised something to David in Psalm 132:11. Peter is saying that Jesus is the descendant of David that God raised from the dead, this was something the he and the others could all testify about.

Peter then continues by stating that not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but He is now exalted at the right hand of the Father. Jesus had received the promised Holy Spirit and then gave the Spirit to His representatives, His disciples, to continue His ministry on earth. The signs seen at Pentecost were tokens of the spirit being poured out, and further proof the Jesus was the exalted Messiah. Peter again uses another Psalm quotation in his argument. This time Psalm 110:1. Again Peter is saying the invitation given in this Psalm wasn’t for David, but for a son of David or a descendant of David. This was, again, fulfilled by Jesus. Peter concludes with a pronouncement of Jesus as the Lord and Messiah, and accuses the Jews of His crucifixion.

Peter had rebutted the charge of drunkenness, and now has rebuked the Jewish nation for rejecting their Messiah. What now? How will they respond? They seek salvation.

3. People’s Repentance v 37-41

The people are responding to the message Peter gave. Perhaps more accurately, the Holy Spirit had used Peter’s words to convict the audience. They had realized they had killed the one their hope rested on, now they wondered if they still had any hope? In verse 38 Peter tells them there was hope. They need to repent and believe Jesus is the Messiah. Then as proof of their sincere repentance and faith in Jesus they should be baptized.

The wording of the this verse is hotly debated. At first glance it appears that Peter is saying that baptism is required for salvation and to receive the Holy Spirit. However, the rest of the New Testament teaches that salvation is grace alone through faith alone. So what is going on here? Part of the debate is actually down to one Greek preposition, eis, translated as “for” or “unto”. I’m not going to go into the technical details here, but generally there are four views for this verse. The first one I already alluded to would say that the baptism is physical water baptism only and this opens the verse to salvation by works. The second view is that the baptism is spiritual only. That Peter is only referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While this fits with the theology we find in Acts, it doesn’t fit the immediate context or how baptism is used in the book of Acts. The third one is subtle, and a bit complicated to explain. The idea “would be ‘Repent for/with reference to your sins, and let each of you be baptized…’” (Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics © 1996, p370). While this one works well, if your not up on your Greek Grammar it can get a bit complicated. The last view, and I think probably the best, is that Peter had both the physical water baptism and the spiritual in mind. Peter seems to have this view in Acts chapters 10 and 11. Look at 11:15-16, turn back a page or two to chapter 10:47.

Peter continues with his explanation of the hope by telling them it isn’t just for them in the audience, but for their children, future generations, as well as those not in Jerusalem (as well as Gentiles as we’ll discuss later). He tells them that those who do respond have been called by God. F. F. Bruce puts it this way, “Those who call on the name of the Lord are those whom the Lord Himself has called – and called effectually” (Bruce, p72). Peter continues talk, we are not given all of what he said or for how long he and the rest of the disciples were there. He calls them to be saved from the ‘corrupt generation. In verse 41 we are told that of everyone there heard Peter’s message, 3000 people trusted in Jesus, and were baptized to publicly identify with Him. These 3000 were added to the 120 from the upper room. That small group could not be ignored as it now had visibility within the city.

Close: This is how the church started. The Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the rest of the 120, they went out praising the Lord, Peter delivered a message to Jews at important feast day and another 3000 people were saved. So I say to you today as Peter said then, Repent of your sins and be saved from this corrupt generation.

Acts: For the Cause of Christ – Sermon #3

For the Cause of ChristActs: For the Cause of Christ #3

Pentecost Pt 1: Acts 2:1-13

A Promise Fulfilled

Prayer: “O Lord. Show me yourself within your Word. Show me myself and show me my Savior, and make the book live to me.”

Intro:

We left the Apostles and the rest of the 120 disciples after they had filled the opening among the Apostles left by Judas with Matthias after prayer, specific qualifications and the use of an Old Testament process of casting lots. However they are still waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Well, now their wait is over. It has been 10 days since the Lord ascended into heaven and leaving them with the command to wait for the Holy Spirit and after that to begin proclaiming the gospel throughout the world.

1. The Coming of the Spirit v1-3

Christ had told them that the Holy Spirit would come “in a few days time”. As it turned out that few days was about 10. Pentecost or Feast of Weeks (Exod 34; Duet 16) is 50 days after Passover sabbath. It is possible, and has been thought, that Pentecost is also the anniversary of the Law being given to Moses.

The Holy Spirit came upon all 120 of them where they were gathered. The actual “place” in verse 1 (house” v2) is not known for sure. Some scholars think it is the upper room while others think it is the Temple. There is no definitive evidence given in Scripture to know for sure, however I tend to think it was the upper room since this seems to be their primary location in Jerusalem right now.

When the Holy Spirit came there were three signs given to the disciples. The baptism in tho the Holy Spirit is not a physical experience. The first sign given to the disciples was the sound of rushing wind that was filling the whole room where they were (v2). This might be an allusion to the vision Ezekiel had of preaching to the dry bones scattered in the valley and the breath of life that revived them (Ezek 37:9-14). Or this could be an allusion to Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3:8 [read passage]. Luke calls it the sound of a violently rushing wind or mighty wind. I can only guess that it sounded like the wind from tornado or hurricane. But we can’t know exactly what the disciples experienced here.

The second sign given was the sight of what looked like tongues of fire resting on each person in the room. Why fire? One reason can be that fire can represent God’s divine presence, think of the burning bush in Ex 3. I also think this was fulfilling what John the Baptist had foretold in Luke 3:16, “..He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire…”. The Greek word used there for spirit can also be translated wind. So the disciples were given to signs reminding them and showing them that they were receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I want to be clear here. Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens still today, it is a private experience that happens whenever a person in identified with Christ. This is not done externally. We do water baptism to publicly identify ourselves as Christians, showing in a physical example what has already happened within our spiritual lives. Warren Wiersbe said, “The baptism of the Spirit is that act f God by which He identified believers with the exalted Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, and formed the spiritual body of Christ on earth. Historically, this took place at Pentecost; today, it takes place whenever a sinner trusts Jesus Christ and is born again” (Wiersbe, Be Dynamic p 26, © 1987). We need to remember that this was unique point in history and unique display by God to identify His church. We should not expect to see, and we do not see tongues of fire resting upon a person at their conversion, we do not hear the sound of wind at a person’s conversion. These were unique to the beginning of the church here at Pentecost.

Do you know if you have been baptized into the body of Christ? Are you able to answer yourself “yes, I have been redeemed, I have been baptized into Christ’s body, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me”? If not, there is no better time than now.

You’ll remember that I said there were three signs of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples, and, if you noticed, I only mentioned two. Let’s look at our next section of verses.

2. The Filling of the Spirit v4-6

So the third sign given was that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. We need to be clear here. Being filled by the Holy Spirit and being baptized by the Holy Spirit “are two distinct experiences and they must not be confused” (Wiersbe, p27). So what is the difference? Well Christians being filled by the Spirit is experienced numerous times by New Testament Saints, even some the people here at Pentecost will experience this again (Acts 4:8, 31; 9:17; 13:9). Christians are commanded to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. Filling is a repeatable experience where the Holy Spirit in some form takes control of the Christian’s life for a time. Baptism is done to the Christian by God as once and for all to identify the believer with Christ. In the Old Testament, those taken of filled by the Holy Spirit would prophesy, as in Numbers 11. Here at Pentecost the prophetic utterances were given through other tongues.

What were the disciples doing? What is speaking in tongues? Speaking in tongues in the Bible is where the language or words used are either partially or completely beyond the speaker’s control and normally not a language the speaker knows how to speak. This was a very specific gift given by God to the early church to help spread the gospel. The New Testament is clear that tongues was a true spiritual gift, we find evidence of that in 1 Corinthians 12:10, 12:28-30, and 14:2-19.

Why was tongues used? This was another example of miraculous events happening at a moment of revelation from God, we see another example in the giving of the Law in Exodus 19. The disciples’ utterances here were those of praise. It is quite possible that they began speaking and praising in these various languages while they were still in the upper room, and that their praise spilled onto the streets of Jerusalem and headed toward the temple. Remember this was a feast day, and there were people from all over in the city. Luke will later reference 15 distinct language regions.  It is possible that here are Pentecost God was reversing the curse of Babel. There men’s selfish desires lead God to confuse the languages and scatter the people. Here God is showing that all people can be united in the Spirit. Wiersbe has said, “ God wants to speak to every person in his or her own language and give the saving message of salvation in Jesus Christ” (Wiersbe, p28).

Those that were hearing this were amazed and confused. They found it hard to believe that 120 Galileans could each be speaking in languages from around the world, perfectly so that each them could understand that the disciples were praising God for his work. The Jews in Judea, Jerusalem all probably spoke Aramaic and Greek, but what the disciples were speaking were probably more local dialects that they would not have known. As mentioned before, there were 15 distinct language regions represented there at Jerusalem. What a better way to begin the work of the church than drawing the attention of Jews from around the world by praising God in their own language. Unfortunately not everyone saw it for what it was and being to mock the disciples by saying they were drunk from new or sweet wine. “One type of ecstasy is superficially like another” (Bruce, NICNT:The Book of the Acts, p 59, © 19). Paul even used the example of drunkenness to contrast willing of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. “The similarity lies in the control of the person by another force, either a physical intoxicant or the Holy Spirit (Kent, Homer A. Jr., Jerusalem to Rome, p30 © 1972, 2007).”

I have to leave you with a cliffhanger here, coming back next week to find out what happens next.

Closing:

Have you accepted that gift of salvation? Today we have Bibles translated into almost every language on Earth. I have a Bible app on my phone that has the Bible in over 1200 different languages. They all have the same message. Humans are sinners needing salvation. Jesus Christ is the answer to the need of salvation. But accepting that gift is up to each person. So have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior?


This sermon was originally preached at First Baptist Church of Brownsdale, Minn on August 5, 2018.