Today you are technically joining us for a new series, but really, it’s just a continuation of what we covered the last four weeks culminating with the great story of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
And as amazing as that is, and something we actually celebrate every day, the resurrection was only the beginning of the story that is still going on today. So, I titled this series “To Be Continued” because the story didn’t stop on the first Easter, and it actually is still to be continued today!
Last week, we left off at the end of the first day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first Easter. During that first day he appeared to several people including Mary Magdalene, a few other women, Peter, those two guys on the road to Emmaus, and then finally to the remaining 11 disciples and the others who were with them by appearing in a locked room.
At first they were all a bit freaked out and thought he was a ghost, but he let them touch him and even ate in front of them.
Then he said this:
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
Last week I left off there, but he actually continued saying,
49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
He was referring to the Holy Spirit which he had promised earlier…
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
So, Jesus is telling them here again, after he has been resurrected that the promised Holy Spirit will come.
Now, we are not sure what happened right after this meal and appearance of Jesus or how long he stayed with them, but we do know that Jesus wasn’t done appearing to people. In fact, he would be around for another 40 days as we will soon see in the beginning of the book of Acts.
During that time, the disciples must have gone to Galilee for awhile as Jesus had instructed them both before his crucifixion and again once he was risen. Then they must have come back to Jerusalem near the end of the 40 days because that is when and where Jesus ascended into heaven.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not record much about what happened during those 40 days, but John adds a few more details.
Little Side Note
If you read the Gospels, you will find that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are all very similar and tell basically the same details, while John is quite different. The reason for this is that John was written much later than the other three. They were already in regular circulation by that time, and he didn’t feel the need to repeat all the same details, but rather expand on what they had already written.
For instance, John records the famous scene of “doubting” Thomas.
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
It is understandable that Thomas would be so skeptical – people just don’t come back from the dead! But he changed his tune once seeing and feeling the risen Jesus. Many today want the same experience before they will believe, but Jesus makes it clear that it is better to believe without seeing.
John also records another appearance.
1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee (that’s James and John), and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Peter wasn’t just saying he was going to pass the time fishing while waiting for the Holy Spirit, he was saying – I’m going back to be a fisherman. Sure it was impulsive, but that was Peter. Jesus may have been alive, but he wasn’t there physically with them all the time like he was before – and so, they were all pretty much at a loss for what to do because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
This illustrates just how important the Holy Spirit actually is. Basically, we can’t do anything without it.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (The Greek is more like: “You didn’t catch any fish, did you?”)
“No,” they answered.
Basically, Jesus was pointing out that their old line of work wasn’t going to be fruitful for them. They had been chosen for something entirely different, and he was about to prove it to them.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
That’s just like Peter. The first to give up and go back to fishing, and the first to just jump into the water and swim for shore instead of staying in the boat with the others. Last time he got out of the boat like that for Jesus, he was walking on the water!
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
I’m sure that must have been an awkward breakfast – at least for the disciples. Here they are effectively caught with their pants down, so easily giving up on Jesus….again! And here he was again feeding them. I imagine they ate in silence, no one daring to speak.
You know what this illustrates? That even after seeing Jesus alive again, the disciples were the same chicken hearted bunch of goons that ran for their lives when he was arrested. Nothing had changed….yet.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
I could give a whole sermon on this little interchange. Maybe some day I will. But quickly, this conversation doesn’t have the same meaning in the English as it does in the original Greek. In the Greek, the first two times, Jesus is asking Peter if he AGAPE loves him, while Peter is responding that he does PHILEO love him. The third time, Jesus asks Peter if he PHILEO loves him, this is when Peter is hurt because he had been answering in that term all along.
The difference is that AGAPE love is not primarily a feeling, but a sacrificial love of action. Jesus was asking Peter if he was willing to sacrifice for him, and Peter was responding by saying that he had deep affectionate brotherly love feelings toward Christ. In perhaps a modern sense you could say that Jesus was asking Peter if he loved him and Peter was responding that he really liked him back. And finally Jesus asks him if he even likes him, which hurt Peters feelings.
This wasn’t because Peter didn’t have the greatest love he could have for Jesus, but that Peter didn’t feel worthy to tell Jesus he would AGAPE love him, sacrificially love him, after he had proven already that he couldn’t when he denied him!
But Jesus puts all that in the past and still charges Peter with taking care of his “sheep”, meaning those who would soon follow Christ. This is a great example of the forgiveness and love of Christ and how your past does not change what God can do with your future.
Our God is a God of second chances! And third, and fourth, and many more. He will never give up on you, no matter how much you give up on him!
Then Jesus gave him a hint about his future.
18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 (John adds:)Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Jesus was predicting that Peter would die by crucifixion as Jesus had. Tradition says that Peter was indeed crucified some 30 years later, but that he requested to be crucified upside-down because he felt unworthy to die the same way as the Lord.
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Again, Peter is just like us. Or at least like my kids. Jesus just told him some amazing stuff, and gave him the charge “Follow Me!” And instead of just saying “Yes Sir” he has to ask about the other guy…and Jesus basically responds with “You worry about you! Follow me!”
And apparently Jesus’s response became a rumor that John the Apostle would never die. Ironically, despite John making it clear that that is not the case, there are some today of a certain false ‘Christian’ faith who think he’s still alive.
And that’s where John’s gospel signs off.
These appearances illustrate so well the personal nature of God. Jesus didn’t just appear once to a bunch of people at a distance. He appeared to individuals. Allowed them to touch him, even to handle his wounds. He fed them, and ate with them. He addressed their individual concerns. And he does the same thing today! That is the kind of God we serve!
So, we’ve established that Jesus and the disciples spent some time in Galilee after the resurrection before going back to Jerusalem.
While they were up in Galilee is also when the “Great Commission” that Matthew records happened.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
“Some Doubted” indicates that there were more than just the 11 in the group, as was almost always the case. The specific mention of the 11 only means that the 11 were among the group and were the focus of the story.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Contrary to what is often assumed, this was not the scene of his ascension. This is in Galilee and the ascension takes place near Jerusalem as you will see in a minute. But here, Jesus is issuing the great command, the great commission, that this truly is only the beginning and must be continued. They were to go and make more disciples, followers of Jesus, to baptize them, to teach them to obey! And it would be possible because Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth and he would be with them, with us (the future disciples), to the end of the age.
This was the beginning of the church, and we’ll see today and the coming weeks what that church was at the beginning and what it should be today.
That takes us to the end of the Gospel accounts. Their main purpose was to show who Jesus, and in that they succeeded. The rest of the New Testament is mostly comprised of letters between church leaders and churches or individuals, which is where we get most of the practical how-to’s of the Christian life. In addition to those letters we also have one book of prophecy at the very end – Revelation (which I will be teaching on in the fall), and a book of history right after the Gospels – Acts.
The book of Acts, or more properly, The Acts of the Apostles, was written by Luke as a second letter to Theopholus, to which he had written his gospel, and picks up pretty much where his Gospel leaves off.
Luke has been renowned as one of the greatest historians of the ancient world by Christian and secular scholars alike, and in this book we have the story of the early unfolding of what the resurrection of Christ had begun. We will be in the book of Acts for the remainder of this series, so let’s get started!
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is a reference to what he said in Luke 24:49, which is where we began today. It is actually uncertain when this statement was made. It seems it could have been during that evening appearance on the first day because the text is in that immediate context, but it could also be referring to a much later time since here he instructed them to stay in Jerusalem after also clearly instructing them to go to Galilee. We saw a minute ago they definitely went to Galilee, and now they are back in Jerusalem. It could also be simply from the fact that Luke, the author, was not an eye witness but had researched these happenings and he simply didn’t catch or omitted the parts about Galilee. It’s really not that important as the other evidence clearly shows there were some appearances in Galilee and in Jerusalem but not at the same time.
So, here they are in Jerusalem at the beginning of Acts at the end of the 40 days.
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
They were still looking for an earthy kingdom.
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
This charge is similar to the Great Commission in that Jesus is charging them with spreading the news about himself. And he specifically calls out Jerusalem (where they currently are), Judea (the immediate surrounding area), Samaria (a little farther away and made up of people the Jews hated.) and finally the ends of the earth.
Notice now that they are called APOSTLES rather than DISCIPLES. Before they were disciples because the role of a disciple is to follow. Now they are apostles, because the role of the apostle is to GO. Apostle comes from the Greek word APOSTOLOS – which means “sent one.”
Jesus was commanding his APOSTLES to go everywhere, to be his witnesses. But they wouldn’t be doing it on their own power. They were about receive a new power from the Holy Spirit.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
It’s kind of funny. The angels appear and all these guys are just staring up into the sky. Clearly the angels know why they are looking. I think they were just poking fun at them. Anyway, Jesus is now gone again, but this time he’s not dead. He’s alive and has just floated up into the sky. And now they are to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to arrive.
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
A “Sabbath day’s walk” was about 3/4 of a mile. It wasn’t the distance a person was ABLE to walk in a day, but ALLOWED to walk on the Sabbath day. So, Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives which was about 3/4 of a mile from the city of Jerusalem. They all gather in the upper room of a house and Luke lists who was there.
Most of these we would expect. Peter, John, the other disciples. The women who had been with them all along and Mary the mother…but it’s quite fascinating that his brothers were there. During his life, the brothers of Jesus rejected him, but now they were believers. Apparently, Jesus had appeared personally to his brother James at some point – as is stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. James would go on to lead the Jerusalem church, and pen one of the books of the New Testament. Another brother of Jesus, Jude, also became a believer and we read his letter too. If you can get your own brother to believe you are the Son of God, then it MUST be true!
So, they stay together like this for ten days waiting for this “Holy Spirit.”
While they’re waiting, they decide to choose a replacement disciple for the traitor, Judas.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)
This aside that Luke makes shows us that there were far more than the 12 disciples and a few women involved in these things. In fact, that was the case most of the time throughout the gospels. It’s just the 12 that get talked about the most as they were the inner circle. Jesus was actually followed by dozens of people almost all of the time. It is also likely that the ascension on the Mount of Olives was when Jesus appeared to 500 people at the same time as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians (or it could have been when he gave the Great Commission in Galilee – we’re not sure). Either way, it was rarely just the 12.
16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
This was in addition to him hanging himself.
20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
See, how Peter is indicating that there were others with them the whole time?
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
We never hear about Matthias again. Same with most of the other twelve. But they all did great work for the Lord according to church tradition.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
“Pentecost” simply means 50th as it was the 50th day since Passover and the beginning of another feast. Since Jesus ascended on the 40th day, this was 10 days later.
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.
This is a fascinating occurrence that is never repeated in history. Yes, later some are able to speak in “tongues,” but never again is there this audible and visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Luke does his best to describe it based on what he heard from those who were there. It was a sound LIKE a violent wind coming from heaven – it wasn’t actually wind. Then there was something that SEEMED to be like fire resting on each of them, but it wasn’t fire. It was the Spirit of God making his presence known in dramatic fashion.
Then they began to speak in other languages…
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
This is because the Pentecost feast was a big one that many of the more serious Jews would come to Jerusalem for.
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.”
They weren’t just speaking nonsensical tongues – they were speaking actual languages and saying things that the native speakers of those languages could understand perfectly. This would be strange anyway, but the people were even more perplexed because these were Galileans doing this. Galileans were generally uneducated and mostly looked down on. An American equivalent would be the back woods illiterate inbreds from certain areas of our country (Danny-Bob). Sorry if I offended anyone.
So, these rather unlikely bunch of rednecks were now speaking effectively every known language fluently! That would be a sight, or sound, to behold!
So, some were amazed, while others dismissed it as them being drunk. Now, I don’t know of anyone who gets smarter when they get drunk. They certainly may THINK they are smarter, or better looking, or more talented, but we all know it doesn’t work that way.
No, clearly something SUPER natural was happening here.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
Now, I was curious about what language Peter was speaking, so I looked it up. Turns out there are two theories, since it doesn’t spell it out for us. Either he spoke Aramaic, which was a common language among Jews regardless of their nationality so they would all likely be able to understand him (and others when they all travelled to Jerusalem). Or, he SPOKE his own language but everyone else HEARD their own language, which would be pretty amazing!
It’s an interesting thought experiment, but at the end of the day, the important thing is that clearly everyone could understand what he was saying – one way or another.
“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! (that was a joke) 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.’
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. 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.’
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.”’
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Can you believe this? This is the same Peter who denied even knowing Jesus during the false trial. The same man who didn’t believe until he saw Jesus in the flesh, and even then decided to go back to fishing. Here he is now giving a sermon for the ages possibly in a language, or multiple languages at the same time, that he didn’t know before. He’s laying it out there and throwing the blame for Christ’s death on his audience. He’s speaking boldly and with power when before all he did was cower.
Clearly something had happened here! This was the power that Jesus promised when the Holy Spirit came upon them. And that same power is available to you and to me just as it was to Peter’s original audience.
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?”
The same question that should be on the hearts of everyone who hears this for the first time! Because, guess what? You and I may not have driven the nails into his hands. We may not have shouted “crucify him!” We may not have conspired against him! But it was indeed OUR SIN that was punished on that cross, so we too are complicit in his death, and just as guilty of His blood as they were.
Indeed, what shall we do??
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 – means to change your mind. To open your heart to the reality of Christ, his suffering, and resurrection – and believe!
Repent means to recognize your guilt, your sin for what it is, but also to recognize that Christ paid for that so you don’t have to.
And when you do that, when you change your mind from thinking you are in control of your life and allow God to take control. That is what it means to be saved! And when you do that, just as Peter promised, you will receive the Holy Spirit just like they and many others have. Though likely not in the same dramatic fashion.
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.
Since the bible usually only counts men, it was likely more than 3,000 who were saved that day. That must have been quite a scene as they all marched down to the river to be baptized!
And the church had begun, in dramatic fashion!
And as Jesus told Peter months earlier – Christ just laid the foundation of his church on the rock – the confession of faith in Christ – and the gates of hell shall not overcome it!
Then or now or ever!
And what did that brand new church look like? That freshly filled with the holy spirit church? What did they do after this monumental day?
Well, Luke was kind enough to tell us!
They immediately got incorporated and did a building fund, bought several acres of land, erected a stadium, launched several other campuses, and got a spot on live TV. Then they did everything they could to be cool and blend in with the culture so that everyone would want to be a part of their new club!
Oh wait…wrong book…
Here’s what the first church really did..
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What? No banners? No billboards? No rock concerts? No skinny jeans?
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (for us that’s the Bible) and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The apostle’s teaching for us is the Bible. The fellowship is us doing life together. The breaking of bread is us eating together (which we do a lot of!). And prayer is how any of this is even possible as we constantly seek the will of God!
They were also generous, willing to sacrificially share with anyone who had need.
And what was the result??
“the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
It wasn’t them doing it. It was the Lord. As they focused on loving God and loving Others, God did the rest. And that is what I believe the church of today should be as well.
We covered a lot of ground today, but the story isn’t over. There are 28 chapters in Acts, and we only covered 2. I’ll be covering the rest over the next four weeks, and trust me, you don’t want to miss any of them!
I didn’t include them in my talk today, but in my notes you can find answers to a few questions that might have popped up for you:
Why don’t we see that kind of visible and audible power anymore?
That’s because God only needed to launch his church once. Whenever God did something new in the Bible, he always ‘announced’ it via great signs and wonders so that it was obvious to the people that what was happening was from God – and probably so that people would remember it. God was starting something new and huge here, so he made it known by a dramatic supernatural event that could not be missed or ignored. And he does more of it in the rest of Acts which we will cover in this series, all for the same reason. God still moves and there is still great power present, but God uses it as He wishes and for His purposes.
Why the emphasis on baptism?
Peter does say to “Repent and be baptized,” and all of those saved that day were baptized. Does that mean you have to be baptized to be saved? No. The guy on the cross next to Jesus was never baptized.
Baptism is an outward physical sign of an inward spiritual reality. The emphasis on baptism at this point was Peter actually making it harder for all of them to make the commitment. He was saying, “It’s not enough to just say a prayer and quietly go on your way. If you are going to commit to this new faith that might get you killed – do it publicly!”
Baptism is not required for salvation, but it is commanded as the first act of obedience to make your faith public. If you’ve never been baptized or didn’t do it on your own accord, I strongly urge you to be baptized if you are a believer. If you would like to do that soon, mark that in your bulletin and if I get enough who want to we will do it as early as next week!
What about speaking in tongues? Is that a sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit? If I don’t speak in tongues, and I really saved?
The short answer is that speaking in tongues is only ONE manifestation of the Spirit that is not given to everyone, as is clear in later writings. The reason it was so prevalent at this time is the same reason I stated for why we don’t see such great showings of power. God was establishing something new, and was showing it with great signs and wonders – including people speaking in tongues.
I won’t go into more about that today, but I’d be happy to talk with anyone who has further questions.