Acts Chapter 2
The Birth of the Church:
(Read Acts 2:1-3)
In this chapter we see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to begin the church. The descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles is really the birth story of the church. Since the time of Babel, the nations were divided by languages (Genesis 11:1-9). This outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was used by God to unite the people who are saved. The Holy Spirit draws attention to Christ and the gospel is made available to all nations and all languages. When the disciples were together in one place in Jerusalem, suddenly they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages (Acts 2:4). The descent of the Spirit on the apostles is the birth story of the church. The Old Testament Pentecost occurred 50 days after Israel left Egypt (Leviticus 23). It was a harvest festival. The New Testament Pentecost occurred 50 days after Christ had risen from the dead. Pentecost means fiftieth and is celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the First fruits. Passover is the picture of Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 5:7). The feast of the First fruits speaks of Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Fifty days after the Feast of the First fruits was the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23). Pentecost celebrated the birth of the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:5). While Old Testament Pentecost witnessed the slaying of 3000 souls, the New Testament Pentecost witnessed the salvation of 3000 souls. Pentecost was a once for all event that will not be repeated. We should not expect another Pentecost any more than we would ask for another Calvary. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given only to a selected few to perform specific tasks. But in the church the Holy Spirit is given to all believers (Romans 8:9). The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself but to Christ. The coming of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by three special manifestations. It was like rushing wind and like a divided tongue as of fire, and praising God in other languages. At Pentecost the curse of Babel begins to undo. The gospel is now available to all nations and all languages. The age of grace has begun. The wind is symbolic of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 37:5-9). The fire and wind make a graphic picture of the coming of the Spirit of God (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). The filling of the Spirit was for service (Ephesians 5: 18).
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
(Read Acts 2:4-13)
The Holy Spirit could not have come upon the disciples before Christ was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven (John 7:37-39). At Pentecost believers are baptized into the spiritual body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13). When Christ was raised from the dead and sat at the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. Thus, the church came into being. The church is made up of Jews and gentiles. To show that there is no difference between them, the sign- gift of tongue was given. Jews from 17 nationalities were there to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The gift of tongue enabled them to hear the Word of God in their own languages (Acts 2:6). This was God’s timing to reverse what had happened in Genesis 11. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy given to prophet Joel (Acts 2:17-18). Peter preached the first sermon which marked the birth of the church in Jerusalem through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is considerable difference of view among believers concerning this subject. Some consider baptism, a second blessing of the Holy Spirit that makes them more spiritual. There is no scriptural support for such a view. Some accused those who spoke in tongues as being drunk. God has not given us the Spirit of fear but power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
Peter Preaches to the Crowd:
(Read Acts 2:14-36)
Peter standing with the eleven addressed the crowd. How important it is to have unity of Spirit in the ministry! They were filled, drawn, and inspired by the Spirit. According to Peter, the last days have begun. Peter also made it clear that it is not a custom among Israel to drink in the early morning hours. He began his sermon with a reference to the Old Testament prophet Joel that in the last days, God will pour out his Spirit upon all people (Acts 2:12-14). Peter’s sermon was filled with many truths. Jesus is Lord and He is the fulfillment of God's promise to reign over Israel (Acts 2:29-36). Peter preached that “Christ’s death and resurrection was according to the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God". But Jews unknowingly put him to death. But God raised Jesus from the dead, for death could not keep Him in its grip. Peter supported his message by quoting from Psalms 16:8-11. David was writing about Christ because his prophecy did not find its fulfillment in David. His body is still buried in a sepulcher. Christ is glorified and exalted to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Peter concluded his message by saying that “Therefore let all Israel be known for certain that God had made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). The greatest crime Israel committed was crucifying their Messiah. Peter supported his message from the Old Testament (Psalms 110:1). Though they crucified Jesus, God raised him from the dead. By his death and resurrection Jesus has reconciled us to God. Being highly exalted and he has given the church the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). Peter preached that no one is beyond the reach of God's salvation.
What shall we do? Acts 2:37-40.
Because of their rejection of Jesus, people were "cut to the heart". They asked Peter ``What shall we do?” There was no altar call. When God is at work, people will be convicted of their sin and drawn to Christ. Peter said “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ''. Despite their original sin, those who repented and identified with Christ by faith were forgiven. Here baptism symbolizes their faith. On that day 3000 people were saved. They were baptized and added to the church. The result of repentance and faith in Christ made them receive the blessing of salvation, including the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 is one of the misunderstood verses in the Bible. Some link this verse to their baptismal regeneration theory. The Bible does not teach that salvation is dependent on baptism (1 Corinthians 1:17). Peter quoted from Joel 2:28-32. Here we see what God had promised through His prophets. Those who turn from sin and identify with Christ will be saved. True repentance brings changes in attitude and actions (Isaiah 55:6-7). Baptism symbolizes our identification with Christ in his death and resurrection. Those who put their trust in Christ for the remission of sins will be saved. How wonderful to be forgiven of Sin (1 John 1:7). God graciously extends this promise to all who are far and near. Gospel is not confined by ethnic boundaries. None are so far removed that God cannot save them. Those who trust Jesus become a new creation in Christ and become partakers of his divine nature (John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:4; Titus 3:5). This promise is available to all who trust in Christ Jesus (2:39). Christ's righteousness is what provides our right standing before God.
Early Church Gathering:
(Read Acts 2:41-47)
Those who believed Christ devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayer in the early church. What made the early church so dynamic was their commitment to Christ. The Holy Spirit brought forth devotion to apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayer, and worship among them. They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching. There was unity of heart among these believers. They were devoted to fellowship and sharing burdens with one another. Though believers retained rights over their property, they cared for one another and "Had all things in common". The early church was committed to the teaching of the apostles. They did not neglect the gathering of believers (Hebrews 10:24, 25). Christian fellowship is more than being together. Fellowship means “having in common”. Their sharing was motivated by their love for Christ (2 Corinthians 9). The breaking of bread refers to regular meals and the Lord’s supper at the end. They observed the Lord's death to remember and appreciate the death of Christ for them (Acts 20:7). The corporate worship and prayer allowed believers to express their thanks to God and to make their request known before God as a body. It was a witnessing and growing church. Because of the unity and love among them, they enjoyed the goodwill of all people. The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). On the day of Pentecost 3000 people were saved and their number increased daily (Acts 5:14). Christ is building the church with those who are saved and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The gospel centered and Spirit filled preaching draws people to Christ always. Pray that our church would follow this example. The early church was a growing church, strengthened in the faith and increasing in numbers daily (Acts 16:5).
What to Look for in a Church:
People are looking for a church to join for worship and fellowship. What makes a church dynamic and attractive? The early church enjoyed the goodwill of all people. When you look for a church, make sure that it is a Christ centered church and devoted to the teaching of the Bible. Studying the Bible is important to every Christians for spiritual growth. They cannot know and understand God's will for their life without studying the scripture. Healthy teaching is essential for healthy living. Secondly look for a church that places priority in corporate worship and prayer. Worship focuses on the praiseworthiness of God. It gives believers an opportunity to express their thanks to God. Also, it enables them to make their request known to God as a body. Thirdly, look for a church that meets together regularly. The church is the place of instruction and fellowship. When we neglect the meeting, we miss out on great blessings and become spiritually weak. Fourthly, look for a church that takes care of fellow believers. Believers are living in an unfriendly world and they long for friendship and encouragement. A church should take care of believers who are in need. It is the place where we enjoy the belongingness in the fallen world. Fifthly, look for a church that is spiritually dynamic and growing. The early church turned the world upside down with its message. It is true that church growth comes from God, but we are bound to do our part (1 Corinthians 3:7-9). Early churches gathered to worship and scattered together to witness. When a church has these characteristics, it will enjoy the goodwill of all the people.
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