Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Church – A New Beginning

[The Book of Acts represents an amazing transition. Those who conspired to kill Jesus were sure that his death would bring an end to this movement, as it did with all the false messiah's that came before and after Jesus. How could they continue what Jesus began, without him to lead them? Well that's a trick question because the answer is Christ would remain the head of the Church. As long as the message was Jesus, the leaders were the ones he chose, and they were empowered with the same spirit as Christ, then the Church could legitimately continue the ministry that Jesus began. ]

Acts 2

Coming of the Holy Spirit

 1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

[The timing here is important. For the miracle of tongues to have it's full effect you need another large gathering in Jerusalem as we will see a little later. In obedience to Christ's command, they had gathered to wait for the promised empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Notice the similarities to Jesus Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended visible, followed by a voice from heaven, to begin his ministry, and witness to John and his followers (John 1:32). So here the visible representation of the Spirit as fire, touches each of the apostles, and gives them a heavenly gift to speak in other languages.]

The Crowd's Response

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."

[Because of the Roman oppression Jews were dispersed from North Africa to Southern Europe. 50 Days after Passover for Pentecost, the Devout Jews would gather to celebrate the day of first-fruits. As Passover symbolized Christ death, so Pentecost symbolized his resurrection, and the new beginning of the Church. First as the Apostles are praising God a crowd gathers, because all these pilgrims are hearing Galileans speaking in these foreign languages. Some even think the miracle extended to the listeners as though one speaker was heard in multiple languages at the same time.]

Peter's Sermon

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
' And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
       That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
      Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
      Your young men shall see visions,
      Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
      I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
       And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
      And signs in the earth beneath:
      Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
      And the moon into blood,
      Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
And it shall come to pass
whoever calls on the name of the LORD
      Shall be saved.'[b]
[Even when seekers here God's word there will always be mockers with hard hearts who are not ready to listen. Just as Jesus explained his miracles were the fulfillment of prophecy, so Peter quoting Joel 2:28 says this outpouring of God's Spirit was to validate the continuing ministry of Jesus, through the apostles. They had become witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus said (Acts 1:8). Here they would preach to men who would otherwise not have listened to them. Instead of thinking they were drunk at 9 AM this was a moving of God's Spirit, to announce the time of salvation. Not all of Joel's prophecy was completed, verses 19 and 20 will not be fulfilled until the tribulation.]

22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken[c] by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

[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. They could not do these things had Jesus not sent the Spirit, and Jesus could not send the Spirit if he were still dead. So Christ is risen and this speaking and preaching in unlearned languages, not only validated the apostles, but the resurrection of the Lord.]

(continued next lesson)

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