Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Church – A New Beginning (part 2)

[Acts 2 opens with the Apostles all together, praying, and waiting for God to empower them, just as Jesus commanded. When the Holy Spirit came, they heard the sound, then they saw the fire, then they were filled with the Spirit and spoke in foreign languages, and began to witness to those gathered for Pentecost, we continue the story with Peters sermon to the Jews.]

25 For David says concerning Him: (Psalm 16:8-11)
      ' I foresaw the LORD always before my face,
      For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
      Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
      Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see
You have made known to me the ways of life;
      You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'[d]

29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,[e]
31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

[Jesus proved his pedigree by his behavior in keeping the law, and by the miracles he performed. Likewise the Holy Spirit was validating the witness of the Apostles. Peter says David predicted this resurrection because David's body is still in the tomb, and their speaking in foreign tongues is evidence Jesus is alive.]


32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

[Adding their personal testimony, Peter says they were witnesses to the resurrected Lord.]


33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
      ' The LORD said to my Lord,
      " Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'
(Psalm 110:1)

36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

[So Peter had reasoned by prophecy, by personal witnesses, and by the proof of the Holy Spirit, that the resurrection was not only true, but it should have been expected. In short Peter says Jesus is the messiah, the Christ was here, God kept his promise, and all of you missed it!]


37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
38 Then Peter said to them, "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. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." 41 Then those who gladly[g] received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

[Here also is the clear work of the Holy Spirit calling these men to salvation. The word translated "cut to the heart" means a violent stabbing. You know what that feels like because you were all convicted, before you were saved. Only under the conviction of the Holy Spirit do people realize that unbelief, and false worship are terrible sins requiring repentance, for salvation. Baptism is the outward testimony of the inward transformation. To follow Christ in baptism is to bond with other believers as the Church, one faith, one savoir, one baptism, and one Spirit. Note that he said "you shall receive the Holy Spirit", it was not some conditional event for new believers. And verse 39 makes it clear this promise will be for people near and far, to as many as respond to the call of the Lord. That day the Church began 3,000 souls by the faithful preaching of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

You have to understand that the apostles were empowered when they were FILLED with the Spirit. This is not automatic. When the Apostles went to Jerusalem to wait and pray, they had emptied themselves, left everything else behind, and decided that nothing matters but Jesus. Only then were they filled with the Spirit. I would say that maybe they were more filled with the Holy Spirit because they were more emptied of self. We fill our lives with so many things I have to wonder how much room is left for the Spirit of God to fill.]

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

[It's easy to see that someone is truly saved when they are completely transformed. Notice these believers whose teachers and preachers are practicing this completely selfless life of faith, followed their example and become a selfless faith community. All those with a surplus, sold those things to provide for brothers in need. Their charity built up this unity among the believers. The Apostles continued to exhibit these spiritual gifts as a sign to everyone that God had chosen them as his messengers.]

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church[h] daily those who were being saved.

[Here we begin to see the momentum the Apostles had in the beginning of the church. Every day they went to the temple to teach, every day they had fellowship and meals in the homes of other believers. The Spirit of God was moving among the Jews in Jerusalem. The simple joy, simple faith, and simple lifestyle had a mass appeal. "And the Lord added to the church[h] daily those who were being saved." The Greek word for church is ekklesia and is generally translated as assembly, but an assembly of what? Well the root words are ek-kaleo which means called-out. Now compare that to verse 39 where is says "as many as the Lord our God will call", the Greek word translated "call" is pros-kaloe which is a directional call, calling to someone. So the Church is an assembly of those who are called out by God. Peter told us all who hear God's call and repent receive the Holy Spirit, and are baptized into the Church. So the church grew every day. I challenged you last week to see, how we measure up to the early church. So I want to throw it open here to ask what attributes or characteristics do you see in the early church?

  • Empowered – v 43
  • Apostles Doctrine – v 42
  • Fellowship – v 42
  • Prayer – v 42
  • Baptism – v 41
  • Caring and sharing – v 45
  • Frequent meeting – v 46
  • Praise – v 47
  • Good reputation – v 47

[One of the hardest things for any organization is transitioning leadership from its founder to the next generation. But with Christ as the eternal head of the Church, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, God has shown he can grant authority and leadership to whomever he chooses. But the message and the mission do not change, and they work today just as they did on the day of Pentecost.]

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