We continue today in our study of the church. As you can see, I have entitled this series: ‘The Church: Rediscovering Who We Are and Why We Exist.’ Please turn with me to Acts 2. Most messages preached from Acts 2 deal with the birth of the church. Today I want us to focus on how we become a part of the church.
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord 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 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.
Acts 2:5 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?…
Notice first of all ‘what’ was happening. The disciples were speaking in the languages of those men who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
Notice also ‘why’ this was happening. It was to raise the curiosity of those listening.
Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
The supernatural ability to speak in tongues caused the listeners to ask ‘why.’ Peter’s sermon explains to them why.
I. The First Sermon Ever Preached
Acts chapter 2 is one of those passages of scripture that you could preach on forever. Between the events that took place that day and Peter’s message, it’s an enormous amount of material. Therefore, today, I want to focus just on the content of Peter’s message.
What was Peter’s first sermon about? It was about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our need to receive Him as our Savior.
Acts 2:14 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: 17 ‘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. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
A. We Are Living in the Last Days
Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days…’
Notice that Peter referred to the ‘last days.’ (see vs 17) Are we living in the last days? Most Christians consider ‘the last days’ to be that time period just before Jesus returns. Indeed, the Bible does refer to this as a part of ‘the last days.’ But actually, we have been living in the last days for the last two thousand years. We read from the book of Hebrews-
Hebrews 1:1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son…
According to this passage of scripture, Jesus was a part of the last days. Many believe that ‘the last days’ began with Christ’s first coming when He was crucified to be our Savior and will end with His second coming when He is glorified as our King.
B. The Events of the Last Days
Peter tells us that three major things will happen during the last days:
1. In the Last Days God Will Send His Spirit
Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…’
Ezekiel 36:35-37 teaches us that the coming of the Holy Spirit is a part of the New Covenant. The coming of the Spirit signifies that the Old Covenant has ended and the New Covenant has begun.
But the coming of the Holy Spirit also signifies something else. It gives birth to a new movement known as the church.
2. In the Last Days God Will Empower His People
Acts 2: 17 ‘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. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
Who are the sons and daughters upon whom God will pour His Spirit? It’s the church. Not only did the coming of the Spirit signify that they were now living in the day of the New Covenant, it also signified the church Christ spoke of had been born. Notice why God pours out His Spirit upon His people during the last days. It is to enable us to boldly proclaim His gospel to the world. Actually the Day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Christ’s promise.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
3. At the Conclusion of the Last Days, God Will Judge Those Who Reject His Son
A third thing we should note is what will happen at the conclusion of the last days.
Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
Many of you recognize that these are details found in the book of Revelation. At the end of the last days, God will judge all those who have rejected His Son.
C. Today is the Day of Salvation
Acts 2: 21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The Bible says – “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) The prophet Joel said, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Whoever hears God’s message and receives His Son as their Savior will be saved. Today can be your day of salvation if you will turn to Christ.
Peter said: ‘…whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Acts 2:21)
Who is the Lord? In whose name do we call on and why?
Acts 2:22 “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 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.
Up until this point in time, Peter’s sermon has been pretty generic. He’s referred to God. He’s referred to the Holy Spirit. He’s even quoted some from the Old Testament. But now it’s all going to change. This is the point in every message when you can hear a pin drop. Peter boldly proclaims that name that everyone else tries to hide.
Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth…”
Why did he say ‘Jesus of Nazareth?’ It’s because other men in Israel had the name Jesus. Jesus is the New Testament version of the Old Testament name Joshua. Peter wants there to be no mistake about who he is talking about. He’s talking about the Jesus whom they rejected and crucified.
I would imagine that there’s a great deal of tension in the room at this point. You think people are fearful to speak the name Jesus today, what about two thousand years ago when it had been less than two months since many of these same men had cried out, ‘Crucify Him!’
Peter reveals three important truths about Jesus to help the men see Jesus as their Messiah
1. Jesus is the One Whom God Has Confirmed Through His Miracles
Acts 2:22 …Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know…
Everyone knew that Jesus performed many miracles. One night a leader of the Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these miracles that you do unless God is with him.” (see John 3:2) Here’s an interesting fact concerning something Nicodemus said. The word he used for ‘miracle’ is normally translated as ‘sign.’ In other words, Nicodemus was saying, “These miracles that You are performing point to something. What?”
Whenever God performed miracles in the Bible, it was for the purpose of authenticating His message. Nicodemus started the conversation about miracles, but Jesus immediately changed it to salvation. Nicodemus said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these miracles that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (see John 3:2-3)
Pentecost was not about the supernatural phenomena of speaking in tongues. Pentecost was about the world recognizing that Jesus was sent to be our Savior.
2. Jesus is the One Whom God Has Confirmed by Raising Him from the Dead
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken 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’ death was no accident. Jesus was not the innocent victim of an angry mob. The Bible says that before God created the world, He formed a plan that would require His Son to be our Savior and God the Father delivered His Son into the hands of lawless men in order for them to crucify Him.
The religious leaders had Jesus crucified and then they sealed Him in a tomb. Yet the tomb is now empty. No doubt the Jewish religious leaders had been frantically searching for the body of Jesus, yet no one had found it. Why could they not find the body of Jesus? It was because God the Father raised His Son from the dead and seated Him at His right hand.
Acts 2:34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, 35 till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
That’s a direct quote from Psalm 110 and all of those men knew it.
3. Jesus is the One Whom God Has Confirmed by Sending the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 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.
Jesus, being exalted to His Father’s right hand, has sent the Holy Spirit to empower His church so that we might preach His gospel to a lost and dying world.
II. The First Invitation Ever Given
Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
A. Know that Jesus is:
1. The Lord
What does it mean when we say that Jesus is Lord? It means that He is the sovereign ruler over the universe. He is the Son of God. He is the King!
2. The Christ
What does it mean when we say that Jesus is the Christ? It means that Jesus is our only hope. He is God’s answer to all of our problems. He is our Savior. He is our King. He is our elder brother who will share with us all of His inheritance. He is our dearest friend. He is our all in all.
B. Receive Jesus as Lord
Acts 2:37 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?”
1. Spiritual Conviction
The Holy Spirit had penetrated their hardened hearts and they were under deep spiritual conviction. Most of us do everything we can to avoid spiritual conviction. We hold on to back of pews. We turn our heads and look the other way. We try to fill our minds with other thoughts so that we will not have to listen. We hate the feeling of conviction over sin, yet it’s a good thing. It tells us at least three things?
a. It tells us that God loves us
If God didn’t love us, we would never experience conviction over our sins. Our hearts would become hard and calloused and we would never know any difference. The worst thing that can ever happen to a person is when God stops speaking to them.
b. It tells us that there is still hope
The reason God convicts us of our sins is because He is trying to deliverer us from the wrath and judgment that is to come. Conviction in our hearts tells us that there is still hope.
c. It tells us that now is the time to change before it is too late
2. Spiritual Conversion
The reason for spiritual conviction is to lead us to spiritual conversion.
Acts 2:37 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?”
Acts 2:38 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.”
To tell someone to repent of their sin seems so stiff and old-fashioned and out-of-date; yet, it is the first step in coming to God and finding His forgiveness.
What is repentance? Literally the word repentance means to have a change of mind. It’s a 180 turn in direction. It means that you’ve been going one way and suddenly you turn and go in the opposite.
Sometimes people want God’s forgiveness without repentance. We say we’re sorry, yet we keep going in the same direction and we doing the same things. Yet the Bible teaches us that genuine repentance is a choice of our will to turn from our sin and to God for His forgiveness. The Bible says –
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
God will have mercy upon all who turn from their sin and seek His forgiveness.
b. Be Baptized in the Name of Jesus
Will baptism save us? Only the blood of Christ can wash away our sin. Why then must we be baptized? What does baptism symbolize? Look at Romans 6.
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Water baptism symbolizes two things:
i. It symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ
ii. It symbolizes our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
The Bible says we were crucified with Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for the sins you and I have committed.
The Bible says that we were buried with Jesus. Who do we bury? We bury those who are dead and are no longer living. Being immersed into water symbolizes the end of our old sinful self.
The Bible also says that we are raised with Jesus. Jesus was crucified and then laid in a tomb. But on the third day, He arose again to live forever more. So it is with us. We are crucified with Christ. We are buried with Christ. And we are raised with Christ to walk in the newness of life.
III. The First Baptismal Service Ever Held
Acts 2: 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
A. They Gladly Received His Word
No longer were these men rejecting Jesus. Now they were embracing Him as their Savior. To demonstrate their faith in Jesus, they were baptized in His name.
B. They Were Baptized in His Name
To be baptized in Jesus’ name means that we are openly and publicly acknowledging our faith in Him as our Lord and Savior.
C. They Became a Part of the Church
What a glorious day that must have been. First there was the sound of the rushing mighty wind and then there was the supernatural phenomena which enabled them to speak in foreign languages. Then there was the conversion and baptism of three thousand individually. Finally, at the end of the day, there was a church body of over three thousand souls.
Without a doubt, the first Sunday morning service at the First Baptist Church of Jerusalem was a day none of these individuals would ever forget.