Three Dramatic Changes Affecting You,
that began with the birth of the Church
I just read some incredibly wrong statements–they were made by men and women who looked into the future and made totally wrong predictions of what would happen. Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University said, “Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” He said this in 1929. Decca Recording company made this comment in 1962, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out”–as they rejected the Beatles as a possible recording group for their company.
Bill Gates said in 1981, “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” A banking group wrote this response, “A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make”–this was written to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies. It is amazing they could be so wrong–yet none of us knows the future, only God does.
Back in the first century, a small group of believers was gathered in an upper room, and they had no idea what was about to happen. Every time they tried to guess before, they got it wrong too–but today they will know the truth. Turn to Acts chapter 2 and take your outline to observe one of the most dramatic turning points in history–an event that affects every one of you in three huge ways.
In Acts 2, God began His new program for Christians. Acts 2 is the new map for believers. And all those who drift from the directions on this map will become lost. Acts 2 is the map to follow to stay on God’s path. Because this chapter is so important, it has been smeared with the coffee stains of controversy, dirtied by the enemy, and misused causing confusion.
Once I was backpacking with my family and we accidentally got off the trail and were lost for a time. The only way we found our way back on trail was our good topographical map. And friends, for your Christian life, Acts 2 is a map that points out three incredible truths–three landmarks we must never drift from. Acts 2 marks a big change in God’s dealings with His people. God had been working through Israel–now God will work through the Church. God had been working basically through the Jews–now He will work through all peoples. God’s focus had been upon one nation–now He will work with His children in every nation.
Look at what is about to change from chapter 1. In chapter 1, the disciples were to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit–in chapter 2 He comes. In chapter 1, the disciples were equipped–in chapter 2 they’re empowered. In chapter 1, they were held back–in chapter 2, they are sent forth. In chapter 1, the Savior ascended–in chapter 2 the Spirit descends. All the promises given in chapter 1 come to fulfillment in chapter 2. So now as the believers gathered in the upper room to receive the wonderful promise of the Father, God will initiate three dramatic changes that are still in play for you and for me today.
#1 God lives IN you and works THROUGH you Verses 1 to 13
How different would your daily life be if you remembered that the Holy Spirit, God Himself, lives in you 24/7? Would your attitudes be different, your speech, actions? Leaders, how different would your ministry be if you recalled that it must be the Spirit through you for your service to be acceptable to God? God in you and through you began in Acts 2. God will baptize you, then fill you with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised the Spirit would come in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” Acts 2 is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. Acts 2 is the coming of the Spirit to accomplish a whole new work. Acts 2:1 sets the stage, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”
It is the feast of Pentecost–pentecost meaning fifty, because it has been fifty days since Jesus died at the Passover. For forty days, Jesus appeared to the disciples, then ascended into Heaven. Now, after only ten more days, it’s Pentecost, a very unique feast. Pentecost was the second largest feast, next to the Passover–because of the time of year, being held in late May early June, it meant people could travel easier. So Jews around the entire world came to this feast, which celebrates the harvest and God giving us all we need.
Pentecost recalls Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, recalling the giving of the law on Mount Sinai some fifty days after the Israelites were delivered from Egypt after that first Passover, when the angel of death passed them by. At Pentecost, every Jew offered the first fruits from their harvest, to give back to God the best of what God had given them.
So now God is going to give His children all they need through the coming Spirit. He will be a gift available to all the peoples of the world, not just the Jews–though today it will begin only to Jews. And the first fruits of this heavenly harvest will be offered to God today in Jerusalem, as 3,000 souls are saved. The very promise of the prophets of a new covenant, a new promise, a new beginning–where God lives in you and transforms your heart will now be given in part to this new community of believers.
Jeremiah 31:31 and 33, “Days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant, …33I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Ezekiel 36:26 and 27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
It all begins in verse 2, “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” This is God’s plan—God-initiated and God-sourced. This isn’t claimed but conferred, not demanded but decreed. If you have ever heard the sound of a hot air balloon or the sound of a tornado, then something like that, a wind-like continuous roar attracts everyone’s attention.
Then in verses 3 to 13, this continuous loud noise draws a large crowd and the Spirit baptizes, then fills the saints in the upper room. These Old Testament Christ-followers have just become New Testament believers. To birth Christ’s church, the Spirit supernaturally uses the apostles to communicate the Gospel of God to the listening crowd. There are 120 men and women in the upper room, but it is only the twelve who speak in foreign languages. Verse 14, Peter taking His stand with the eleven, and verse 15, Peters says these men spoke.
The apostles are individually marked out in two ways—1) by some sort of glowing pillar of fire–verse 3, like that which guided Israel as a nation in the past, and 2) by speaking the mighty deeds of God–verse 12. They not only spoke in foreign languages that they did not previously know–verse 4, but they spoke those languages in the exact twang of their region–verse 11, “they’re talking my language.” It is a shock and a joy when a foreigner can speak your language exactly in your twang.
The crowd was amazed and perplexed (verse 12), since these were simple, untaught, country Galileans, verse 7. Others in the crowd accused them of being drunk (verse 13). If you heard a simple farmer speaking a foreign language you’ve never heard before, you might think they were drunk. But this is exactly what Jesus promised back in Acts 1:4 and 5, “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ ”
And now in Acts 2, by this baptism with the Holy Spirit, they were all made into one spiritual body, the body of Christ. This is new, a change–being immersed in the Spirit, resulting in the permanent indwelling of the Spirit. God lives in you and works through you. First Corinthians 12:13 affirms, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Galatians 3:27 adds, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Baptism with the Holy Spirit, is never commanded and never to be sought, but is a single, sovereign, unrepeatable gift of God when you are genuinely born again. Every believer is baptized with the Spirit into the body of Christ, or that professor is not a true possessor. We are glued together as a Church by the Spirit of God. All real believers are permanently immersed/baptized in the Spirit, causing us to be indwelt with the Spirit of God and allowing us to be filled with the Spirit of God.
Romans 8:9b, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” God is in you, and works through you. Spirit baptism is a gracious gift from God. Spirit baptism is exclusively linked to regeneration/salvation. Spirit baptism is a one-time, permanent event—it can’t be undone. Spirit baptism is not a measure of maturity, but of family. Spirit baptism is distinct from, but associated with, indwelling and filling.
Once you are immersed by the Spirit into the family of God, you are permanently indwelt by the Spirit. To be indwelt means you have all of the Spirit. But to be filled with the Spirit, means He has all of you. Indwelt is one time, filled is all the time. Indwelt (like baptized) is the moment of salvation, filled is every moment 24/7, minute-by-minute in sanctification. Indwelt means you are saved, filled means you are being sanctified. Indwelt means you have come to Christ, filled means you are becoming like Christ.
God lives in you and through you, Christian. And how you experience that each day is to be filled–Ephesians 5:18b, “be filled with the Spirit.” This verse is a command, given to every genuine believer, continually 24/7 to live by faith, dependent upon the Spirit, by saturating your mind with the Scripture, confessing all known sin, seeking to serve the saints in the church and share the Gospel to the lost in the world. Your goal every day is to depend and obey. Depend upon the Spirit of God by stepping out in obedience to God’s Word. Never forget, God is in you and works through you.
After the Spirit baptizes and proclaims the Gospel and great deeds of God through many languages, Peter stands up to preach to the crowd, leading to a second new priority . . .
#2 God calls His children to SHARE the GOSPEL to lost sinners everywhere Verses 14 to 41
This is why you exist. How many of you go to school? How many of you have a job? How many of you are retired? How many are home despots who are investing into children? Yes, you are getting an education, working for a salary, and discipling your children–but your key purpose there, the reason God gave you that school, that job, that home is for you to clearly explain the Gospel to the lost sinners.
Peter and the apostles could have said, “This is great! We are now at peace with God–we’ve been caused to be born again! Let’s go enjoy this new sweet community.” But the Spirit of God compelled Him to share the Gospel. And when you are filled with the Spirit, you will be compelled to share the Gospel with the lost. Like all true preaching, Peter now teaches the crowd the Word of God to point to the only way of salvation.
There is no true conviction without biblical content. In order for people to come to Christ or become like Christ, they must hear the Word of God. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.” So Peter doesn’t teach, “Just accept Jesus in your heart,” or “Believe Jesus is God,” or “Trust Christ died for sin on the cross.” No, he teaches them a pointed, word-saturated, Gospel message.
And Peter shocks us with his bold introduction in verse 14, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.’ “ Where did Peter get this boldness? This is the same coward who ran away from a little girl who asked him if he knew Jesus. What is going on here? He’s talking to maybe as many as 10,000 people here. Where did he get that courage from? The Spirit of God. Spirit-filled Peter is different than plain-old Peter. And Spirit-filled you is not the same as plain old you.
Peter quotes from the Word of God in Joel in verse 17, “ ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind.’ “ Peter says it’s now the last days and what you see here is the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit. The Jewish last days began 2,000 years ago with the birth of the God/Man Jesus Christ. And the last days will be complete when Christ returns and sets up a literal thousand-year earthly rule over the earth.
The last days have lasted so long because 1) God is patiently calling people from every nation to Himself, and 2) God is chastening Israel for their unbelief. Today we have a taste of the last days and the coming Kingdom–some call it the mystery form of the Kingdom. In the literal Kingdom, Joel says the Spirit will be poured out on all mankind, but today it is poured out only on believers. In the thousand-year rule of Christ, there is perfect peace–but now there is peace in my heart. You see, everything coming with the thousand-year earthly rule of Christ is, in a pre-sense, now living within me through the person of the Holy Spirit.
So Peter introduces the Spirit’s arrival–a new age, a new work of God with judgment soon to follow. Therefore Peter says in verse 21, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can I be saved? Peter now teaches the crowd the good news of salvation from God’s Word. Peter now focuses on the person of Christ and teaches how you can be saved because of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Our message is Christ, our witness is to point to Christ, and our lives are to radiate Christ in and through us. Peter begins reminding the crowd what they know about . . .
1 THE LIFE OF CHRIST Verse 22
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.” Something good did come out of Nazareth–Jesus! He proved He was your Messiah by supernatural miracles–altering the very laws of nature by calming a storm or feeding 5,000 or raising the dead. Peter teaches, God did this in your midst and you all know it’s true! They had all the evidence in the world that Jesus was their Messiah.
Even Nicodemus knew Jesus was from God, in John 3:2 Nicodemus said to Jesus “ ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ “ But miracles are not enough to crack the human heart. No sign will ever convince someone Jesus is the only way of salvation. So Peter describes the sovereign plan of God in . . .
2 THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Having Christ die for sins–Peter teaches God predetermined Christ’s death, and men carried out the death of Christ. This was God’s plan, verse 23, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” The word delivered means to surrender someone over to their enemies. God appointed and lovingly chose in advance Christ dying for sin by the hands of godless men. The Jews were the instigators and the Romans were the executioners.
God determined the crucifixion, but Judas and the religious leaders carried out the betrayal. God is in control, but man is responsible–both brought Jesus to the cross. But the good news is, death could not hold Him. And God proved it was all true by raising Jesus from the dead. And Christ ascending to Heaven just ten days ago . . .
3 THE RESURRECTION and ASCENSION of CHRIST
Verse 24, “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” The resurrection is mentioned no less than 104 times in the New Testament and is the key to Christianity. Without the resurrection, the death of Christ was the killing of a heroic martyr, or the pathetic loss of a deranged madman or the execution of a fraud. But the resurrection proves Jesus is God and everything He taught about life, death, life after death, how to be forgiven of sin, and go to Heaven is all true.
Peter makes the resurrection his big point, teaching the proofs of eyewitnesses, public confirmation, and biblical references in verses 25 to 36. As Peter teaches God’s Word, the Spirit of God is opening the hearts and minds of 3,000 listeners. He points his finger right at them and says in verse 36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Bam–right there the Church was born.
How did they respond? Verse 37, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ ” This reaction shows you what genuine salvation does. There is desperation—”they were pierced to the heart,” stabbed in the heart with the sword of the Word. Why? Because they realized from God’s Word they had put their own Messiah to death. They had killed Christ–they were afraid of His vengeance and they could not undo what they had done. So they plead in desperation, “What shall we do?”
As long as a person thinks they can be right with God and make it to Heaven on their own–if there is no need for forgiveness in their soul and no desire to be transformed in their heart, they can never experience real salvation. They need Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” No one is saved without a heart of desperation. It isn’t until someone is desperate that God intervenes with saving grace.
Remember what Paul said on the Damascus road in Acts 22:10, “What shall I do, Lord?” You know the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:29 and 30, “He called for lights, rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, verse 30 and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ ” If conversion is genuine, it will come from a desperate heart. Was your heart desperate for Christ?
If the heart is right, then what do we do? Peter instructs in verse 38, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” True repentance is changing your mind, which means changing life direction, causing one to turn from sin and turn to God. Repentance is a change of purpose, a forsaking of sin and a desire to follow Christ.
And Peter says, true repentance is an essential part of true conversion. It is necessary to be saved. There is no such thing as a true conversion without a willingness to turn from sin and a commitment to follow God’s Word. False repentance feels bad, but doesn’t change the will. False repentance acknowledges sin, but doesn’t hate it. Don’t be the Pharisee–be the tax-gatherer who couldn’t lift his eyes to Heaven. Don’t be the older brother–be the prodigal who was willing to be his father’s slave. Have you repented of your sin?
Peter adds, “and be baptized,” because that is the outward sign of a genuine, inward change. Baptism meant you were identifying with Christ alone and His Church alone, now as you family. Baptism was and still is commanded as a public proof of an inward transformation. Baptism is a work that results from saving faith. Baptism is an indicator you have repented of your sin. Peter says baptism shows you have been forgiven. What you see here is not baptism as a requirement of salvation, but baptism as an immediate sign of salvation.
Have you been publicly baptized by immersion? That wasn’t all that Peter taught. Verse 40 says he kept urging, exhorting, begging the crowd of listeners, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” It even says Peter testified, sharing his own personal witness of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Peter didn’t present options, but said there is only one way–and the result? Verse 41, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”
So Peter’s saved them? No, God must save them. At the end of verse 39 Peter teaches all salvation will be the result of the Lord calling people to Himself. God must get their attention in order for anyone to respond to Christ. Earlier in verse 21 Peter quoted, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now in verse 39 he affirms, God must call others to Himself. God must call you and you must respond in repentance and faith.
Peter didn’t make salvation easy. Peter expected those who responded to publicly turn their back on their life and culture–to repent. He called them to risk being outcasts among their families and society–be baptized. And he called them to believe in and follow the very one their religious leaders hated enough to kill–Jesus Christ. So 3,000 people were added to the 120 as the Church of Jesus Christ was born.
God’s new plan is this–to live in me and through me as I share the message of salvation with all those who are without it, even churchgoers who don’t get it, even family members who influenced you but do not follow Christ. And something new was formed that day—that you who are God’s true children are immersed in as well . . .
#3 God placed you into an eternal COMMUNITY called the BODY of Christ Verses 42 to 47
In God’s plan, there is no such thing as a churchless Christian. Therefore every true believer is to commit to the will of the Spirit by immersing themselves into the body of Christ, expressed in a local church. Luke describes to us in 98 words what the first church was like so FBC can compare ourselves to them corporately. And you can compare yourself individually as Peter describes what genuine salvation produces.
True saving faith immerses you into a body of believers. The true Church is, and a true Christian is . . .
First A SAVED Church
As described in verse 41, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.” True churches and genuine Christians love the Word of God–they want to hear it. They publicly identify with Christ through baptism. They are not ashamed of Christ just as Jesus taught.
Matthew 10:32 and 33, “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” They are not secret about their faith. They also to seek to live out the Word in their lives. A true church is also . . .
Second A TEACHING/Studying Church
Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They are passionate about accurate teaching. They want to be exhorted in sound doctrine and they want those who contradict refuted. First Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babes, [they] long for the pure milk of the word”–true believers want to learn the Bible, only the Bible, and all the Bible. The true Church is . . .
Third A FELLOWSHIPPING Church Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves . . . “to fellowship.” Fellowship is not red punch and stale cookies, or even coffee and donut holes, or catching up on how we feel. Fellowship is literally sharing what we have in common–it means to give Christ to each other with our words, our touch, our actions and our possessions. Fellowship is when we are so full of Christ, He leaks out of us to each other. The true Church (and a true Christian) is . . .
Fourth A REMEMBERING Church
Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves . . . to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They loved remembering what Jesus did for them, so they came together to enjoy, communion, the Lord’s table. They never want to forget the incredible sacrifice made by God Himself on their behalf. The true Church is . . .
Fifth A PRAYING Church
Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves . . . to prayer.” Not only did they love talking to each other, but they loved talking to the Lord together. The true Church is . . .
Sixth A Church where God’s hand is seen
Verse 43, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” During this apostolic age, there were proofs that these apostles were given the authority of Christ to perform signs like healing the lame, even raising the dead. All were intended to point to Christ. The apostles were uniquely given power to do miracles in order to confirm the Word they preached.
Today we see His hand in answered prayer, in the salvation of souls, in the movement of providence, in His abundant gifts and gracious provision and His choice to heal. A true Church is also . . .
Seventh A GENEROUS Church
Read verses 44 to 46a, “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.”
Motivated by love, when someone had a need, another believer would voluntarily sell something to supply that need. The first Christians acknowledged that Jesus owned both themselves and their property, so they met each other’s needs by selling off their property and opening their homes. Christ was their life and the church was their family.
Eighth A GLAD and genuine Church
Verse 46 adds, “They were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” The word “gladness” is a weak translation. Friends, these Christians were exulting in exuberant joy, from the root word, to rejoice greatly with great joy. When you came in contact with this group, there were no prune-faced, pickle-hearted, marinated in dead tradition and personal preferences–they were joyful! And “sincerity” is the word genuine, or simplicity, smooth–their hearts were without the rocks of false motives and personal agendas. They were genuine, soft and honest. Plus the true Church (and a true Christian) is . . .
Ninth A PRAISING Church
Verse 47 adds that they were “praising God”. They loved to praise God and they were not subdued. Look at how this word praise (used eight times in the New Testament) is used in Luke 19:37, “The whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen.” And in Acts 3:8, “And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”
You may say, “That’s not me.” Wrong–this is you in the future. Revelation 19:5 to 7, “A voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.’ 6And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, [it’s loud] saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ “
The true Church will give praise to God with a loud voice now–they will rejoice, be glad, and shout hallelujah now! And friends–all of this makes the true Church . . .
Tenth An ATTRACTIVE Community of people
Verse 47 finishes with, “and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Non-Christians had two reactions to the true Church–the Jews were kind and gracious to the early Christians. (Later there would be intense persecution.) And using the incredible witness of this kind of Church, this sweet environment, God called many daily to repent and join His new body.
After Acts 2, God is in you and works through you. If you’re in the Spirit, you will share the Gospel. And you are now immersed/interconnected to a body of believers. Let’s pray, and as we do, allow me to ask some questions which spring from our study of Acts 2.
1 Is God the Holy Spirit living in and through you?
2 Have you responded to the Gospel message by repentance?
3 Have you been obedient to the first command for the Christian to be baptized by immersion before the church?
4 Are you committed to the Word of God alone as the way people are saved and Christians are matured, and are you hungering for it more and more?
5 Is your commitment to the local church moving closer to, or farther from, the blueprint of Acts 2?
6 Are you loving Jesus, buying every opportunity to be with the people of God as we together praise Him, rejoice and experience great joy in Him?