A Journey Thru Acts 4: Proclaiming The Gospel (2:1-41)
4th post in Acts—we are continuing to build on the foundation of 2016—what does it mean to elevate God, elevate Christian community, & elevate others (non-Christians)? We are looking at the early Christians in the book of Acts to learn: what do we do NOW with this Biblical foundation? So excited for us all. Going to focus on verses 29-41 this morning, but we need to go back to verses 1-28 to set the stage.
What was the situation for the disciples?
Had been about 50 days since the Lord Jesus was crucified.
They were locked up together in a room (understandably) scared & confused.
The Lord Jesus appeared to them over 40 days with encouragement & a specific mission.
They continue to meet together for prayer (Acts 1:14) & to wait for the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
What did Holy Spirit immediately enable the Christians to do?
Proclaim the Gospel, the “wonders of God”, with their words!
Many want more miracles/signs&wonders from the Holy Spirit—He DID do those, but not even right away! He gave boldness & wisdom to speak the Gospel. Many just want to see certain miracles, but after being freed from Egypt, God’s people saw some of the most spectacular miracles of all & it didn’t help their lack of faith. So what we need today from the Holy Spirit is not more signs & wonders but more boldness, courage, faith, humility—the “boring” miracles of the fruit of the Spirit in our previously dead character.
- Ephesians 3:14-20: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
My biggest need isn’t power to make the lame walk (as amazing as that would be!); I need power from the Holy Spirit to have faith in the Lord Jesus because my faith in Him is WEAK—I am too easily scared away from my mission of telling others about the Lord Jesus, I am too easily discouraged like Israel’s army before Goliath or ALL of Israel except for Joshua & Caleb before Jericho.
I need power from the Holy Spirit to truly grasp the love of God…HIS definition of love! Because if I were truly amazed by the LORD above all else I would tell others about Him! But I am more amazed by so many other things that I can easily tell others about. I don’t just need more courage or strategy or money—I need more amazement at God and less amazement at things like technology and sports and celebrities and tips for losing ten pounds—the things that make up the conversations of this world.
- Then, when empowered like this by the Holy Spirit, we can say like Paul in Ephesians 3: 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
The Holy Spirit broke down the barriers to the Gospel in others:
- spiritual opposition/distance (pride; conviction of sin)
- geographical opposition/distance (til then, God drew people from world to Jerusalem/Judaism/the Temple; in Christ, God sends us to the world like sheep among wolves—WE are His Temple—but Holy Spirit is preparing the hearts of those who will believe & be saved!)
- language/understanding opposition/distance (without the Holy Spirit the Gospel sounds like bad news or ridiculous news, either a fairy tale or a nightmare [many people—even some church-attenders!—are offended at the idea of God’s wrath against sin, of sinners like us needing Christ to be punished in our place. Holy Spirit enables us to REJOICE, not recoil, at the Truth])
The Holy Spirit broke down the barriers to the Gospel in Christians:
I’m sure they felt unqualified/scared/overwhelmed! They/we SHOULD feel like this—Paul did! Moment we feel confident in our strategies/techniques/bank accounts/education we are in grave danger of pride, like David trying to wear Saul’s armor!
- Acts 4:13: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5: “weakness, fear, trembling, not with wise/persuasive words, but…a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so your faith will rest not on me/my personality but on God’s power!”
But they were given a BOLDNESS by the Holy Spirit to do the mission that the Lord Jesus gave them—to be His VERBAL witnesses!
- Ephesians 6: “Pray that I may declare [the Gospel] BOLDLY/FEARLESSLY, as I should.”
Back to Acts 2:
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Always has been & will be those who make fun of Christians & Christ’s message—can’t avoid public ridicule. I used to think Christians were such prudes—didn’t know how to have fun! But now in Christ, by His grace I realize that ONE Sunday morning of worship, Bible preaching, & Christian fellowship is better/MORE FUN than ALL the ways I rebelled against God on Friday & Saturday nights (and other nights!) chasing the culture’s definition of “fun.” Better is ONE DAY in Your courts than thousands elsewhere…I’d rather clean the outhouses of heaven than live in the penthouses of the world…
- John 19:38: Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders.
We need power from the Holy Spirit to stop caring what other people think of us, stop trying to have the favor of Jesus AND the favor of non-Christians. We want them to see we are so “modern” and “progressive,” we want them to see that we believe parts of the Bible but not the “offensive” parts—we try to agree with non-Christians on things like the origin of the universe, who gets to go to heaven, what behavior/lifestyle isn’t sinful, etc. We will talk about this more in a few posts, but for now we must be ok with many in the culture thinking we are nuts, offensive, idiots, or all of the above & worse, or else we won’t be able to live out the Lord Jesus’ mission for us; we will become salt that has lost its saltiness (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
- Galatians 1:9-11: As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Back to Acts 2:
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
Peter REFUSED to stand up & identify himself w/Christ—he was afraid of culture;
Disciples REFUSED to stand up & identify with Christ—ran away in Garden;
Now, empowered by the Holy Spirit in the face of danger & ridicule,
they stand together and address the crowd with their voices, with the GOSPEL!
“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ [Joel 2:28-32]
That is our message, that is our mission–to proclaim this beautiful Gospel! Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved—no matter what you’ve done or failed to do! But yes (and people WILL often ask this!), if you don’t, you won’t be saved and the result is eternal and unchangeable!
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
Not exactly how Christians would teach people to evangelize non-Christians, but God’s ways are not ours! Peter didn’t try to say the nicest/kindest/easiest to hear words—he got to the heart of the matter: Your sinfulness crucified Christ, but God was and is in control! Peter didn’t make things sweet to try to get them to come to church next week—Peter simply told the Gospel, with all its beauty and power and in-your-face-ness!
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ [Psalm 16:8-11]
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’ [Psalm 110:1]
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified,
both Lord and Messiah.”
Again not hiding the people’s responsibility! Yes of course God loves the people Peter is talking to, but Peter didn’t focus on that! He focused on WHY it is amazing that God would love these people—because of their horrific sinfulness in initially rejecting Christ and in needing Christ to die in their place! Peter focused on HOW God shows His love–by sending His Son to die for the sins of all who will trust in Jesus! Peter declares that Jesus is LORD—not just self-help guru!—and MESSIAH—Savior, not just buddy/pal/mascot/cuddly stuffed animal! This is our message as well, and may the LORD forgive us Christians for saying nothing at all, or for saying anything different than this powerful and polarizing and perfect Gospel!
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
That is what the Holy Spirit does—cuts people to the heart so that they know they are sinners, so that they realize they need a Savior, so that they feel bad about their sin and reach out for relief and a solution! What shall we do?! This is how people get truly saved, loved ones—being confronted with the Gospel so that they can be comforted by the Gospel!
And how does Peter respond? He doesn’t talk in generalities, he still doesn’t sugar-coat it or make things easier—he keeps things Biblical! He doesn’t say just stay the way you are, just keep living in your sin and have Jesus as your life-insurance policy so you can live how you want. No, Peter says:
38 Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
REPENT! Turn from your sin! Don’t just add Jesus to your life like jewelry or a fashion accessory to your wardrobe/lifestyle—receive Jesus as your wardrobe (Galatians 3:27), agree that you are spiritual naked without Him and let Him clothe you with His perfection because you are far off from God (Ephesians 2:13), no matter how respectable/small you think your own sins are! You are far off, but Christ has come near to you!
Repent, submit, surrender—no more being in charge of yourself, being independent, trying to be cozy with the culture and with Christ! Friendship with the world is enmity/hatred toward God! (James 4:4) Don’t give Jesus the guest bedroom of your life—give Him the MASTER BEDROOM and every other room as well so He can do the demolition and rehab needed to live in you Himself forever (Ephesians 2:22)!
Be baptized, stand and publicly align yourself with Jesus—go under the water symbolizing your death to your old life & come up from the water symbolizing your new life in Christ—not an enhanced version of the old you but an entirely new person reborn through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ Lord and Messiah!!!! THAT is the Gospel, loved ones! Let’s proclaim it!
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
How do you see our generation, loved ones? Improving, progressive, modern, with much to be proud of? Or do you see it Biblically—we need to be saved from this corrupt generation and this culture’s ways of thinking, ways of living? As you grow in Christ, are you standing out from the culture more and more, or blending in more and more? When the culture comes accusing you of violating their precious beliefs, do you deny Christ to make peace with the world or deny the world to make peace with Christ? If your non-Christian friends knew all of your Biblical beliefs, would they high-five you as one of their own or wave goodbye to you as one of His own?